Have you been feeling stuck during the pandemic? In May, Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts is offering adult students a way to explore their creativity and find wellness through our Spring Adult Workshops in theatre, visual arts, music, and dance. Local theatre artist Luke Brown is offering an exciting 6-week ‘Unleash Your Creativity’ class that will help participants get out of a rut and begin creative projects they’ve always wanted to pursue. Through a series of practical exercises and on-your-feet activities, participants will come away with a sustainable creative practice that will propel them forward.
We recently spoke to Luke Brown about his artistic start, thoughts on creativity, and what to expect in his workshop. Register today at our Adult Workshop page!
Can you describe your creative journey? What are some of your favourite creative projects or experiences that you’ve worked on?
I’m not going to lie. It’s been a frustrating journey. Initially, I became interested in creativity as a subject due to my seemingly never-ending disappointments with how creative projects turned out. I began as an actor, but I was terrible, so I switched to playwriting. A play I wrote went on a four-month tour of schools (YAY!). But it was awful (BOO). I was horrified when I saw it, I couldn’t grasp how I’d written something that bad, so I stopped writing. I told myself I wasn’t creative and refused to do anything creative for years. The truth was, I didn’t have a process in place and had gotten away from what my initial impulse was to create.
In recent years, I’ve developed and continue to refine a process that serves me well. I’ve been able to implement it while directing and sound designing theatre shows like Mary’s Wedding, There’s No Place Like Home and Ordinary Days, and co-creating Strange & Unusual and Seance with magician Nick Wallace. During the pandemic, I’ve found great joy in creating weekly videos for my infant daughter, so that someday when she grows up, she can know what her life was like when she was tiny.
During the pandemic, many people feel creatively blocked. Can you speak to that a bit and describe how the ‘Unleash Your Creativity’ course can help individuals move past barriers they may be experiencing?
For many people, myself included, the pandemic was a loss of identity. If my form of creative expression disappeared, what was I? How could I continue to create if the format I used was gone? There was a lot of soul searching. Eventually, I concluded that what I did was tell stories, and that theatre was merely the form of delivery I had been utilizing to do that. Once I realized that, I felt a freedom to explore and create that I hadn’t felt in years.
The course is designed to help people examine these sorts of blocks to move beyond them. Participants will find paths to reconnect, or depending on the individual, connect for the first time to their creative impulses. Everyone in the class will get personalized attention to help them overcome whatever their block is.
As noted in your workshop description, “creativity is usually regarded as a mysterious, rare gift that few possess.” Why is this idea so prevalent in society, and how do we demystify it?
For the most part, we only ever experience art after it’s finished. Therefore, it can give the impression that the art was created effortlessly when there was actually an entire process to get to that point. The Beatles, long regarded as musical geniuses, gave the world a unique gift when they released their Anthology albums. It revealed that their songs didn’t emerge fully formed. Early in the process, many of their great songs sucked. The liner notes shed light on the fact that what we had taken as pure original genius were their attempts to emulate Bob Dylan, The Loving Spoonful, The Beach Boys, etc. In essence, they had a process and worked tirelessly at it.
It’s best demystified by learning about the process, applying and adapting that process to work for you and then, most importantly, being patient with yourself.
What are some ways that people can incorporate creativity into their everyday lives?
There are so many avenues to be creative every day. You can write, draw, compose music, shoot film, take pictures, create a Spotify playlist – and that’s just with a cellphone. There are endless creative opportunities at your fingertips that can be attempted wherever you are. Creativity doesn’t have to be giant acts either; it can be as simple as how you approach preparing dinner.
If you want to explore a new creative avenue, though, here’s my advice: just try it. Don’t worry about it being good. Remove the pressure of there being a result or a return, or worry about what others will say. Remember when you were a kid and you’d sit down to draw just because you wanted to draw? Do that. What you get for creating is the act of creating. Nothing more, nothing less.
When you facilitate workshops, what guiding philosophy do you use to teach and lead?
I’ve learned to keep at the forefront of my mind that anyone participating in something like this is doing a hard thing in putting themselves out there. With that in mind, I emphasize kindness, compassion and honesty.
This workshop obviously takes place in a group setting. How important is collaboration while forming a creative practice?
Depending on the what and why, collaboration isn’t always essential but it is almost always beneficial. Writers collaborate with their editors, composers with the musicians who will perform their music. Visual artists collaborate with the gallery for lighting, placement, etc. Even if you’re not physically creating a piece with another, when you share it you are collaborating with an audience.
A course like this could be done one-on-one, but for in-class purposes I want to bust some myths about creativity. That is best done by witnessing others’ struggles, as well as their development and achievements. The goal is to help remove the feeling of isolation that often comes with creating.
What do you hope that workshop participants will come away with at the end of your course?
There are two things I want every participant to walk away with:
1) A process that brings them closer to having their creation resemble what they originally envisioned.
2) A deeper appreciation and understanding of the potential they can realize, if they are patient and put in the work.