Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 15th August

Whenever I do a production with schoolkids (and now students, it seems), I reach a stage where I think, “Why?” because, unfortunately, there are inevitably those moments of sheer frustration when individuals are late, or simply don’t arrive, for rehearsals. It is difficult when one is working with non-specialist Drama students and there is not a strong culture of commitment, for whatever reason. There is also the complication that real life just keeps getting in the way.

Then, like today, we move into the theatre and everything just falls into place and I know exactly why I do these things. I think there is something about being ‘real’ that just speaks to people. There is still a lot of work to do and there will still be ups and downs in the next 10 days, but it is all worth it in the end.

When it comes to theatre, I’m not a performer, I am a director and writer. Above all, though, I am a teacher and what fulfils me is to see the learning, enjoyment and just sheer immersion that takes place when I do a production. That is why I do these things.

I don’t think this is any different because of the cancer thing, because I’ve always done productions like this – and with these purposes in mind. I do think, though, that there is an enhanced sense of going ahead, despite some pitfalls; making things happen, just because they can; and pushing the edges just a little bit because of my experience with the cancer. It does make you look at things a little differently.

I don’t have a sense of urgency, like it’s imperative to do everything that can be done just because of an increased awareness of mortality. After my experiences last year, I don’t think anyone would blame me for having that increased sense. It does not govern how I think and what I do. What I think it does, is to make me aware of the value of everything we do and how we continuously have opportunities to contribute to this world and this life.

And we should take them.

I feel pretty much exhausted all the time at the moment – mainly because I am just very busy and giving all the time. But, boy, do I feel alive and on the go!

‘Onward and upward’ is not only something to be said when there are (literal and figurative) mountains to be climbed, but maybe it is what we should say about life in general. There will always be a little hill or a huge mountain somewhere along the line. Life may be a series of plains and plateaus, though. Whatever the terrain, we need to keep moving forward, doing what we can for whom we can to the best of our abilities.

That is what life is all about.


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