Monday, July 03, 2006

Work-life balance

Mark Ravenhill must have known what he was letting himself in for when he argued in The Guardian that a balanced family life and creativity don't mix.
I have to confront the fact that, although I don't think heroin or bi-polar disorder create art (on the whole I think they make it more difficult), I do believe that there is something about the focused energy that goes into the making of a work of art that doesn't sit well with the balanced life. There is something about the dramatic form that benefits from the flash of inspiration - which means throwing away the real world for a time, to work in a totally concentrated way.
His comments drew an angry response from playwright April de Angelis:
...let's find another way to condemn women playwrights who may have the audacity to mother the next generation of Mark Ravenhills, as well as trying to pen a few of their own. Is it our fault that childcare is not free and universal?
And, today, father of four and artistic director of Bristol Old Vic, Simon Reade, insists that his chaotic family life actually enhances his creative work.
Life and work can never be perfectly balanced; the scales are tipped in favour of work. It earns us money; it is tax-deductible; we spend more of our lives with colleagues than we do with family. But it is still worth trying to live a little. I think Ravenhill's assertion that decent art is created in bursts of single-minded intensity is worrying for a playwright: without the fuel of life, artistic inspiration will run out of juice. In short, it will be all work and no play. If you're an artist, you enrich the lives of others. Your own life, therefore, needs to be enriched to start with. Don't believe that the ultimate flash of divine inspiration comes only through being a stressed-out workaholic. That way lies ulcers and a migraine - which you'd never get from bringing up four children while trying to run a theatre.

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