A Master stands in front of a class. They don’t know they were asked here to draw in an unsuspecting class.
Master: I’m the Master. And this is my Masterclass.
Class: [is on mute].
Master: You can all be masters [he doesn’t believe that] now let me tell you about me.
When Masterclasses work well its because it isn’t a ‘masterclass’ but an in-depth, honest Q&A (yes, Tamsin Greig, I'm looking at you) but there are those times where you turn up ready to feel inspired but end up getting the idea that neither the master nor the class knows exactly what they are there for… Forging a career in the creative industries is such a varied experience, that talking through it takes time and effort. Time that the Master simply doesn’t have. And so, they talk in abstractions, generalisations, not necessarily truths.
Master: None of this can be taught. Teach yourself. Make yourself. Learn on the run. You should have learnt by now. I never went to school. I made my own opportunities. My father is a director. My mother a producer. But that doesn’t matter. I’m a Self-Made Artist.
Class: Could you explain your process?
Master: The creative process cannot be explained. I am special. I am extraordinary. I’m Self-Made.
But as much as the Master can be unprepared to teach, the class places bonkers expectations on them (which I know I have been more than guilty of).
Class: What’s the formula?
Master: I don’t know. I don’t think there is—
Class: [gaining anger] Go on, tell us: these are the rules, follow these rules and you will get answers. Art is questioning. Fine. But there must be answers?
Master: Why are you here?
Class: ...Because we want to be you
Master: But you can’t, you do know that right?
Class: Can you tell us we're special?
Master: I don’t know you.
Masterclasses work best when they’re a candid look at where the 'Master' went wrong, what they would do differently. When it works well, you come away thinking maybe the Master isn’t that far off. Maybe what we need is a shift in title, and the expectations – and power dynamics — it brings with it.
Master: The theatre industry sucks, and you probably won’t make it. But I’m going to tell you about all the times I almost didn’t make it, and maybe, hopefully, that will help.