I have always thought the greatest currency I have in my life is not money, nor what I look like- but my time. Time is one of the major artistic challenges in theatre. We are bound by a timeline to make, then show work – and our work lives only for as long as it lives in the hearts and memories of others.

And life is finite. Time is inexorable sliding along. We march forward. We grow older.

I’ve been making theatre for over 13 years… some here, some overseas… and I have a trail of credits behind me. Each show, each piece of theatre I’ve made has been an offer to the world of what I think or how I feel – things I worry about, ideas I love, people who puzzle me, moments that delight me. I have spent my time in the service of writers, actors and ultimately the audience.

I found it completely disturbing when I stumbled across this:

The major message of the slide show is that relationships don’t last – but your career will.

Possibly one of the most ugly, harmful and bizarre pieces I’ve read in order to “motivate.”

Completely at odds with my thinking and feeling about work.

And it’s true. I work a lot. I like working. I like my day job, and I love my industry and I struggle with it – and myself in it. But it is not the only thing in my life and I don’t focus on it because it won’t “leave me.” I focus on it because it is something that connects me to people – people I know and love and work with – and people I don’t who spend their time engaging with it.

People are at the heart of all businesses. I’ve met many many many men who have woken up at 30 to discover they don’t have the language skills, experience or emotional toolkit to really connect with another person. Not connecting in a genuine and authentic way equates to true, deep loneliness and loneliness breeds selfishness, and a way of regarding the world without compassion. And that, I believe is the greatest challenge of our times.

That is why theatre is here – to connect people – to remind each other to spend time with people and things and ideas that we love – that challenge us and make us grow. And nothing is more intense than theatre – ruled by the temporal – ruled by extreme focus, long hours, high energy.

What seems to be most unfortunate is that there seems to be a culture of “busy” which is pervading trend amongst theatre makers. The truth of the matter is that you need space an money in order to make something – but above all you need to have time.

Time to think.

Time to muddle over a thought.

Time to try things out and abandon things.

And theatre is largely the gift of other people’s time.

What I don’t understand is a pressure I am noticing across the field (even in my own project) for people to be superhuman and do ten times the amount (of whatever) that is reasonable for a person to do. What is this? Where did this culture come from? It’s not linked to greed as many are “Busy” with unpaid jobs.

It may be a fear of missing out? A rebellion against being seen as lazy?

I’m not sure.

But there is a difference between working hard, and having a focus. There is a difference between pursuing a career – and running away from relationships.

I don’t think a life in the theatre is about a life of exhaustion, or loneliness, or “busy.”

A life making theatre is a life full of generosity, curiosity and patience.

Well – in my experience so far it is.