Turning the worst year of my life into the best week of my life.
This week, I turned 25. 25 is traditionally symbolic for plenty of reasons with the main one being that it is the final age-related indicator of manhood. Nothing you can do from this point onwards is that surprising, nor unusual. Buying a house, getting married, having a kid, emigrating. At 25 you’re a man and, quite frankly, you can do whatever the hell you like.
For me, turning 25 meant something very different.
As those of you who attended the launch of Creative Blue Balls are aware, I’ve referred to 24 as being the worst year of my life. I am aware that this came as news to many; I am not one to indulge in pity parties. However, I had to acknowledge and accept that it is part of the story of Creative Blue Balls, as well as the tales told on stage at the showcase. It would be both incomplete and remiss of me to not be truthful about how this was formed. From spending the last 351 days living out of bags and sleeping on couches, to a week in a bed bug-infested accommodation (yuck)… It’s been a long year to say the least. Honesty is so important. My past reluctance to divulge on the pains of my personal life has not been through a desire to maintain a perfect image nor due to feeling ashamed of my pains. Much simpler to explain is that it is just not in my nature to make a big deal out of things. I’m quite optimistic and live by the words ‘this, too, shall pass’.
As the launch of Creative Blue Balls approached, I had to come to terms with the potentially positive impact sharing my truth could have. So many of us are facing daily battles in our lives, at work, with our families, inside our heads. I’m rather hyper-aware of the fact that people believe that things have been smooth-sailing for me in this pursuit. It should now be apparent that they are not but, through thick and thin (and an incredible support system around me), I’ve continued. I am also aware of — and struggle to deal with — people considering me to be an inspiration. Such is the nature of my journey, I suspect it will be a title I continue to struggle to shrug off. Should this be the case, I wish to inspire truthfully. I wish to show all facets of my existent. The good, the bad and the entirely soul-wrenching. In sharing my truth, my hope is that it can encourage someone to stand strong against adversity and get back up every time they’re knocked down.
I would like to reiterate something that you may have seen on my social media platforms, should you follow me on any them. This week that has just passed, where I turned 25 and launched Creative Blue Balls, has been the best week of my entire life. If you had told me over the course of the last year that I would be able to say that at any time soon, I’d have found that very hard to believe.
This would not have been possible without any of you. You are the reason we had a sold out audience of over three-hundred across two nights to tell our tales too. Whilst usually it is best practice to extend gratitude on behalf of all involved in the project, my truest thank you is one which only relates to myself. I would like to thank you all so much in aiding my healing. In helping me, finally, overcome the year of being 24. Thank you for turning the worst year of my life into the best week of my life. At the start of 2016, I made a decision to start building my life back up, building block by building block and the belief that this showcase could take place was a definitive element of it all.
I would also like to thank our fantastic cast, directors, production team and friends who assisted (aka my ad-hoc production team). It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who buy into my dreams. There is no obligation and — frequently— a lack of remuneration. It is nothing short of humbling that there are people who observe the vision and believe in it enough to want to participate and give their all. As I mentioned in the programme, I try as hard to avoid singling out people in thanks because, inevitably, I always end up forgetting people. But there is a fact which I shared in the opening night Q & A that I did not share in the closing night’s so I have no choice but to break this rule here (this’d be a good point to say that — if you had any questions, feel free to email them through. Time was against us but, the work has been put out to the world now and I’m always happy to answer any questions on it).
I would like to give a special salutation to Jack Rowan who played Reece in How to Fix a Car Crash. Many on Wednesday were stunned to discover that Jack was a last minute replacement in this role and it has annoyed me ever since that I did not mention this at Thursday’s show. Jack was sent the script on Friday 3rd June, had his first of three intense rehearsals on Saturday and was one of six blow-away acting performances during our showcase, all the more impressive with these facts in tow. Whilst I will be sending some personal emails to you all, I felt that this should be publicly shared. Your professionalism is incredible, your commitment to honouring my work in unrivalled and I’m so grateful that you were willing to come on board so late in the game and absolutely deliver. Similarly, Jack’s co-star Michael Ajao not only for assisting us in finding Jack, but also for his astute professionalism during this very last minute change of affairs. The piece could not have been a success without him and we were so grateful to be able to have a reliable, talented actor to be able to rely on in what could have been a potentially chaotic circumstance.
I would like to extend my final thanks, here, to the incredible support system of family and friends I have around me. You have all been sensational. For years I have always said I have the best friends that a man could dream of in the entire world but, in this last year, you have all proven this point more than ever. In the last few months, in preparing for this showcase/launch, I’ve neglected many of you and I would like to thank you for your patience with me, as well as your support and belief in this dream I am chasing. Now that the showcase is out the way… My diary is yours!
It goes without saying that this is just the beginning of all we have planned with Creative Blue Balls. I hope you will continue the journey with us.
P.S. One very last thing to add. Over the last few days, I’ve had the same question over and over again… ‘Will we get to see Dionysus’ Smile again?’ I did not expect this play to be so well-received. It was me pouring out my soul into a character and, as I’ve mentioned, I’m not one to write about myself. Truth be told, in reflection, I think it’s one of the — if not the — best things I’ve ever written and perhaps that’s saying something in that I need to continue to overcome the fear of writing about myself. Like any of my work which began as a short form, I have inevitably fallen in love with it and want it to exist as more that what it has delivered in. I love and I am incredibly intrigued by Dionysus — the Greek god — and want to learn and explore him further…
On the other hand, somewhat selfishly, part of me feels it has served it’s purpose. I’m sorry I’ve not given a conclusive answer; at this stage, I don’t have one!
If you enjoy reading my blogs, I’d recommend you come and see one of my films or plays. They’re even better than the blogs, or so I’ve been told. To find out when next my writing will be on show, join the Creative Blue Balls mailing list, and follow us on Twitter/like us on Facebook.
You can follow me on Twitter, too: @abeislegend