The Smell of Success

My time in Dublin has sadly came to a close. I tried taking in every last moment from the smells to the sounds of the city. I wanted to remember every little thing. Getting to stay in Dublin for two months was an amazing experience that helped define what it really means to succeed. Is it measurable? Is the definition of the word “success” concrete? Living in a new environment and getting those fresh points of view helped me answer all of my questions regarding how I could become successful.

When someone thinks of success in the arts, it is easy to immediately think big. We imagine the Kardashians or chart topping singers like Taylor Swift. For the theatre industry, I think about Tony winners and shows that have stayed on Broadway for decades. I had no idea what to imagine when it came to successful theatre in Dublin. I knew from some research before leaving to study abroad that my company was still pretty new, being founded in my lifetime. My company has had some amazing accomplishments under their belt though for only having been around 12 years. Still, would that mean that it was a “successful” company?

My first few weeks of my internship revolved around setting up the new office space. It was by no means a flashy Times Square skyscraper like in the movies. The office was red brick and had a black gate in the front of it that had to be opened with a bit of force. It did have a nice charm to it with friendly artists filling the building and greeting you when you walked by them. There was no elevator or AC, so some days were harder that others if there was a lot of heavy lifting. Looking back though, those days seemed the most rewarding. When I successfully moved bulky theatre belongings from our office, I felt accomplished afterwards.

I of course also completed a lot of traditional office work from managing receipts to organizing calendars. I loved watching the calendars become covered in highlighter or finished receipts end up in envelopes to be put away. Seeing the office become more organized and having belongings get stowed away felt complete. It felt like a success.

A theatre company could not be defined as successful however without taking their productions into consideration. The show open during my stay, Party Scene, had a sold out show every night and merch was sold to satisfied faces. Our actors took their bows to standing ovations. However, watching the company’s staff mingle after every show and the joy that filled the office in the morning when we read a good review, that all felt the most rewarding. The joy on the audience faces’ was a sight to behold. The good feeling everyone shared is what made all the hard work feel like it led to success.

I think the successful employees in my field overall have one task, to have people experience a piece of work. If people get to experience it and share that experience as well, then I think the employee’s job is done. Yes, it helps to have a big venue, flashy billboards, and raging reviews. At the beginning of my internship, my corporate American trained mind would have thought that was what equaled success. My company however showed me that you can have smaller productions and allow them to grow into a success. Those small victories from standing ovations to one or two good reviews can become bigger venues and many raging reviews. As I have been mentioning though, I believe that as an art industry, the real measure of success comes from the work leading up to that. Knowing the creation process gives you a new appreciation for the final product. Even pleasing a small audience before a show goes big feels successful.

I believe that my internship did answer my questions about success. There is not one way to measure it and it comes from different aspects in waves. Everything from carrying those first pieces of needed equipment to closing our show to its last sold out audience all felt successful. Maybe someone thinks that a show has to have mega status to be successful, but I personally don’t feel that way. All the little victories from my internship made the company feel successful. As long as we each did our part, completing our tasks to the best of our ability, our company was successful. Even on the harder days, it was about how we put everything back on track. Success is not black in white but shades of grey. I experienced a lot of those shades and flew back home feeling successful as a result.