It wasn’t that long ago that my mentor, Kacie Stetson, pointed out that I needed to change my narrative.
And she wasn’t wrong. The narrative that’s been in my head was helpful when Morgan and I first founded Navi. The narrative went something like this, “You’re an immigrant here, no one knows you, and they (the arts scene) don’t make it easy for someone new to get amongst it and become known.” I wasn’t wrong. We weren’t wrong. The feeling that no one would let us in and that we didn’t want to wait for “permission” to make art here in Auckland is what pushed Navi into existence, but Navi is turning five years old soon and I am six years an immigrant… as Kacie pointed out, it’s time to change the narrative.
I started that process by identifying the artists/companies that have something going on that I would like for Navi and then I sat down and emailed them. That was step one towards changing my narrative/forming a new narrative which at the moment goes something like this, “People will want to talk to you and get to know Navi if you give them a chance. You are not an outsider. We are not outsiders.” I wasn’t wrong. Within a very short amount of time three generous creatives: Ahi Karunaharan (Actor, Director, Dramaturg, Producer, Writer), Justin Lewis (Indian Ink), and Miles Gregory (The Pop-Up Globe) all came back with an invitation to talk. From each of those conversations I learned so much and I left each chat blessed by the generosity of each person. Here were three well established and busy theatre makers who gave up an hour or more of their busy schedules to tell me a bit about their journeys in the arts, share some of what they have learned with me, and to encourage me in my own artistic adventures; those were invaluable conversations for myself and Navi.
There was so much in those conversations that I would love to share but I would need to write a long form essay to do that, so I will share one piece of advice that has been buzzing in my head since Friday. “If you are going to make something, make it UNMISSABLE.” Miles Gregory challenged me and inspired me with his one half business practical one half creative maverick approach to making theatre that I am still digesting, and I hope those words will inspire you as well. From Ahi’s love of the arts community here in Auckland and his passion for new works, to Justin Lewis’s NZ arts savvy tour making magic, to Miles Gregory’s studied and inspired way of making art that is both engaging and ticket selling…I have much to dwell on and lots of new narratives to consider.
For now, let’s all get out there and make something UNMISSABLE!