Failure is good. Failure is great. Failure is welcome.

I am of course talking about healthy failure.

You see, there are two kinds of failure in my opinion, one of which is necessary, the other is not. In class, I like to talk about negative failure where someone has stepped out to offer something on the rehearsal room floor or even take part in a game but, out of fear, they have not truly committed to the offer or to the rules of the game and so they fall flat on their faces, drop the energy in the room and generally look a bit daft. This is always a shame and always unnecessary. Through fear of looking bad, they have ended up looking bad, it was a self fulfilling prophecy.

In a way, this is a selfish act because we are all there to learn, grow and develop but this kind of failure sucks creative energy out of the room and usually requires that the director has to rev everyone up again.

Committed failure is something completely different. This is when an attempt to try something has been bravely and boldly made but the outcome was not as expected, possibly even disappointing. This can sometimes cause one to shy away from trying again but it mustn’t. Committed failure or, failing forward, is the only way to build a thick skin, to become a brave and playful artist.

I was talking to my 6 yr old; Molly the other day about Thomas Edison. Molly had just used the word ‘fail’ in regard to something she had done. I don’t think it’s a particularly healthy word to have in her lexicon unless she understands the difference between types of ‘failure’. Once I had got her to understand that there was a time without electric light I told her the famous story of Edison’s 1000 attempts to design a working lightbulb. In response to the question ‘what stopped you from giving up after 999 failures?’ Edison politely replied ‘ I didn’t fail once, I just discovered 999 ways that it won’t work’.

To you, the artist.