This is a bit of a long post, but please stick with me, it does come full circle and has a point (as well as some geeking out fangirl moments).
|My brief meeting with the exceedingly charming|
and multi-talented, Neil Gaiman.
So, let's get back to the article...
I should start by reminding readers that Derek and I can be hermits - so it is safe to say that even when things like this happen, we often don't end up getting involved. That has improved since moving to Tasmania, but the last MOFO event we attended was way back in 2011. I decided that this year we would break out of that habit, and what better way to do that then with the amazing Neil Gaiman.
Our small island state near the bottom of the world, is one of Neil Gaiman's favourite places. He started coming here almost 20 years ago, and is a patron of the Bookend Trust, with which he is currently filming a documentary on cave spiders. But I digress... Thanks to this love affair with our state, Neil and his amazing wife Amanda Palmer, are semi-regular performers at MOFO. So this year, we decided to take in both of their shows, and this blog post starts as a review of sorts.
Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle
A reimagined fairy tale, the voice of Neil Gaiman, projected illustrations from the book, animations and a string quartet combine to make this a lovely storytelling experience. Neil's book, The Sleeper and the Spindle, is a combination of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, but with all of the quirks and missteps you would expect from the mind of Mr Gaiman.
It was made even more special for us because this was the first time that this work had been performed in this way, and we got to see it first in Hobart, which was pretty sweet. The whole event was made even more special for me, because I got to briefly meet with Neil after the show. See, a lovely friend had passed on some of the Dust of Other Worlds to Neil - a vial and pendant each of Faerie (because it comes from his book Stardust) and Gallifrey (since he wrote an episode of Dr Who) - and I had a quick chance for him to put a face to the gift, and for me to grab a photo with him.
I find it increasingly strange that by moving to this small island state (with a population of about half a million people), I've had more opportunity to meet people who have inspired me, than I've ever had in the much bigger states I've lived in.
Anyway, if you get an opportunity to go and see the performance, I highly recommend it. If you don't get the chance, well the book is excellent anyway; even without having Neil reading it to you.
Amanda Palmer and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
I thought about doing a whole separate post on this, but this is a whole story, so...
I enjoy Amanda Palmer's music, it is a bit quirky and probably not to everyone's taste, but I think she has an incredible voice and is a fantastic storyteller. Seeing her with the TSO was always going to be a little special though, and they didn't disappoint. Most of the performance were Amanda's songs, arranged for the orchestra by Jherek Bischoff (he also did the arrangements and played with Neil's string quartet). There were a couple of other songs; a Lou Reed cover (with Neil Gaiman), a duet with Robyn Hitchcock and Amanda performed John Grant's Glacier.
There are some artists who you 'watch' live, but with Amanda Palmer you are somehow part of the performance - like I said, she is a storyteller who takes you on an emotional ride. And then you are invited to be part of the show, when she performs the Dresden Dolls Sing. It's an experience to be ordered onto your feet and instructed to sing along, but when you give into that (like the vast majority of the audience did) it's wonderful.
Amanda didn't close with Sing though, because she was in Tasmania, and there is only one song she could close with in Tassie, even when she was performing with our Symphony Orchestra. That is, of course, Map of Tasmania - and for those of you who are not familiar with the reference that goes along with this, just Google Tasmania and you should be able to quickly work out what a woman's map of Tassie is.
I completely concur with Amanda's comment in the performance, we do have an awesome symphony orchestra here is Tasmania, and we loved the performance. She is touring with this, using other cities' orchestra's - but I'm sure they will do just as well as ours :-)
Amanda Palmer and The Art of Asking
Okay, so TED had to pop into here somewhere, and that is through Amanda Palmer. She recently released a book called The Art of Asking, which expands on her very popular TED Talk on the same topic.
Amanda gave her talk at TED2013, and it's had well over 6 million views so far. My Year of TED had ended a few months beforehand; had it not, an activity would probably have been developed around this talk. It resonated with me beyond the conversation about music fans and paying for music; it resonated with me because of the underlying discussion about "is this fair" and this quote
But the perfect tools aren't going to help us if we can't face each other and give and receive fearlessly, but, more important, to ask without shame.Like many people I know, I've always been afraid to ask for help. I've spent a lot of time considering this in the last couple of years and I think it was generally down to a mixture of four reasons:
- I didn't want to admit that I needed help, that I wasn't perfect.
- I didn't want someone to help me with something that I was then unable to complete or follow through with in some way - I hate disappointing people or feeling indebted to people.
- I didn't want to risk being rejected (this probably should have been number 1).
- I didn't like to impose on people.
Some of this started shifting with My Year of TED - the perfectionist trait was certainly given a huge kick, and I became far more open to the concept of being rejected, or failing in some way. Then Amanda's talk sat in my brain for a while, and when I started selling my creations at markets it came back to me. I was not a street performer, but I was suddenly standing face-to-face with people, asking them to pay me for the things that I had created - and I spent a lot of time wondering whether the price I was asking was "fair".
So now I ask - because what's the worst that could happen
The markets have definitely improve my ability to ask things of people, and last year I put out a number of asks. What I discovered was that the majority of people were happy to help if they could, and that any rejection I experienced had little to do with me, but more to do with the fact that I was asking busy people who only have so much time to give away. There is a way to ask that doesn't put you in a vulnerable place where you tie all of your value to them saying yes. I will write more about that when I review Amanda's book - because I'm hoping I can find a way to articulate it, or she might have done it for me.
This all leads full circle you know - without Amanda's talk, and how it seeped into my experiences, I might not have had the courage to ask a friend to connect me with a stranger, so I could ask them to pass my gift of Dust onto Neil Gaiman. If I hadn't asked for that, then my friend would not have been able to help me, I wouldn't have made a new friend, and I would not have had the chance to meet Neil Gaiman.
When I took The Art of Asking to get signed my Amanda Palmer after the performance, I thanked her for her wonderful TED Talk - I didn't want to take up too much time explaining what she had started though :-) Neil was there as well, so I took the opportunity to say hello again, get a Sandman comic signed for my brother (who introduced me took the creative genius of Neil Gaiman through that series) and to have a slightly longer conversation about Dust.
He was very lovely and generous, and those stolen couple of minutes would not have occurred if I hadn't learned to ask. I'm still learning, but then again, there are many skills and lessons from My Year of TED, and subsequent TED Talks, that I continue to learn and grow with all the time.
Are you someone who asks other for help or assistance? Someone who asks for what they want or need? If not, what do you think stops you?