Johanna Thea: We need to talk about value

Blog | 09 Nov 2017

Johanna Thea: We need to talk about value

In her first post for Curtain Call, actress Johanna Thea explores the question of personal value in the wake of the multitude of sexual abuse allegations

It is always interesting as a writer being given an assignment to write about your own life. It starts with a bright sparkle of delight, followed almost instantly by sheer terror. What if there is nothing of interest to write about?

Well not this time Satan! I knew instinctively that as my first blog for Curtain Call I needed to write about value. It just made sense having recently broken up with yet another 'ex', (the line is much longer in departures than arrivals these days folks), coupled with the Weinstein scandal and subsequent proliferation of #metoo cases.

These factors, strangely intertwined a trip to The Ferryman (given to me by Curtain Call as a welcome-on-board gift) all culminated in me musing over the question of what is value - mine, yours and ours?

I acknowledge that as an artist this is constantly being addressed, challenged, lauded, celebrated and ultimately judged. Also how we value ourselves, others, and opinions, more than what we actually "do", might determine the trajectory of our career, and quality of our lives.

As abhorrent as the Weinstein and other cases have been, the upside of any illumination of abuse has to be the potential for it to empower victims, so they receive recognition as victors.

Equally, as artists the consistent struggles we face, against the tide of conformity within society, through all sorts of adversity - seen, unseen, national, international and personal - must have a common value binding us together in our collective humanity. Is our value attributable to our experiences, and the manner in which we face these daily? Or has it more to do with whatever we feel ourselves to be worth?

Watching The Ferryman (pictured) was a paradigm-shifting experience. The question of value seemed to proliferate thematically throughout the play, as it highlights how relationships are foremost an expression of how we value ourselves. It raises crucial questions of a world where worth is attributable to your hierarchy within a family on one hand, and whether you engage in violence against your oppressor on the other.

Yet what rings true throughout each characters' journey is that those who commit crimes necessarily place more value on others' attribution of them, and of the perceived collective, rather than their individual desires, hopes and possible achievements.

For me, The Ferryman illuminates that it's not always a choice, but most often a consequence of circumstance, temperament, timing and environmental triggers. It may even be that our capacity to make such decisions is a great privilege, because it's not always possible. Indeed this vein coarses through modern life also, and is most apparent in the juxtaposition between an army official and an artist.

The Ferryman is nothing short of a gift in terms of the acting, directing, and writing. Watching it I could feel the importance of each participants' contribution. For how can such a thing of beauty exist were it not for every single individual giving what they felt their worth was to it so that, in the immortal words of Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

So all of these disparate elements got me thinking about how I value my time, myself, and if I might arrange things better to increase these. As an actress, model and writer, this must be at the forefront of my mind if I am to produce, and help co-create great work.

Furthermore, if we truly value ourselves we can gift that to the world around us. Perhaps even in doing so, making it kinder and more beautiful. Indeed, when being shown by someone you love that they value you makes you feel so good, imagine what might happen if we all contributed that sense of wellbeing to each other? 

Food for thought, until next month.

- Johanna Thea

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