I have a dream. Actually, let me rephrase that. I have a nightmare. A recurring one.
It is toward the end of the festival, day seven or eight, and I suddenly realise that I have been so busy having a good time that I have completely neglected to review any shows or post anything on Artsblog.
There follows mad scheming whether I can still place enough posts to redeem myself, mixed with the prospect of trying to explain to Tony Lankester why I should not be fired as a blogger and barred from ever receiving media accreditation again.
This nightmare has been recurring with worrying regularity, about once a week for the past two months.
It may seem an obvious performance anxiety issue but I don’t believe that’s the case. If it were, the nightmare would involve sitting rooted on a chair in front of a blank screen. Grabbing a keyboard and hammering out an (hopefully lucid) opinion or observation not the problem, the difficulty is finding time for food and sleep in between.
No, I believe it’s more to do with so enjoying being at festival, and writing about it, that it doesn’t feel like a job. I think the nightmare is the result of a deeply rooted Calvinistic view on work. It’s not supposed to be fun. Apparently.
There’s the guilt that everyone else who sweats to make fest happen, from actors in the lights, to the techies slaving away in the dark, to admin et al balancing the highwire up on Settlers hill, to restaurant and B&B owners, are all frantically busy with preparations during these last couple of weeks while I don’t have to do much more than peruse the tantalizing programme and decide whether I should take the N2 or the R62 when I travel to Grahamstown.
Actually, that decision is already made, there are few roads more spectacular than the R62 in winter.
Meanwhile, I am very well aware there is an army of directors, designers, producers, actors and organisers who are at this moment living on energy tablets and fingernails in a desperate race to put a show in place before the curtain goes up.
Follow some of these people on Twitter and Facebook and you’ll notice their posts vibrate with tension. There are desperate calls going out all over South Africa. For props, for rehearsal space, for ink, for blood, for time, time, time, before Grahamstown’s maw inexorably pulls them in where, ready or not, a horde of people like me, who’ve been aloof from all the pre-festival angst, wait with battered laptops and dodgy internet connections to cast judgement on their efforts.
No wonder my conscience plagues me.
But to hell with Calvin and co, this is such a flippen sweet gig. I can’t wait. — Steve Kretzmann