Photo: Savannah van der Niet


“I’ve spent the last three years dealing with the realities of being an independent artist.”

Physical performance artist, poet, globe trotter and mental health advocate, Scott Wings, talked to us about the bittersweet realities of independent theatre making. His holistic approach to merging his creative writing with performance has often meant his work verges on deeply personal subject matter, and recently hanging out with his clown mates (red nose variety) has given him a new groove. In and out of poetry slams, directing, choreographing, writing text - his exploration into masculinity and mental health resulted in two highly acclaimed one man shows; Icarus Falling (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Colossi (Anywhere Festival). He describes himself as never completely satisfied, which proves to be great fodder artistically, but also highly problematic, teetering on boredom.
Here are Scott Wings’ choice pieces of advice around taking care of your work and yourself:
1. Don’t wait and don’t ask for permission: You were born, there you go, there’s your permission.
2. Never be afraid to be better: Try harder, work harder, show up on time, respect your teachers. All of the stuff. Always be a student. There’s always going be someone following you. Me being a ‘genius’ could be useful. But me having a genius ‘spirit’ floating around me sometimes is great (see Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’). To take everything on as “I failed, or I succeeded” is problematic. I show up everyday to create and sometimes my genius shows up with me, sometimes it’s just not there, but either way - I’m here to do the work.
3. On the flip-side, never be afraid to fail: Do your art and make it messy. It’s up to you, and your journey will and should change.
4. Don’t be a dick to yourself: The struggle for me is around mental health, with depression. I think the Arts in general handles mental health pretty badly, I don’t think there’s much professional help available. I think the existing concept of “if you can’t cut it, good riddance” for the Arts, is not right. I think the line between an AA meeting or a trauma crisis centre and artistic endeavours is a very fine line. Safe spaces should be genuinely safe, not just saying they’re safe.
5. It doesn’t have to be good: I’ve made friends with a fair few clowns over the past few years. And clowns are amazing because they can get on stage and fail, and learn from that. Now, I present work knowing that it might be shit, but do it anyway.

Follow Scott and his work here.


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Writer. Pleased to meet you.

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