One Year, Year One….
It’s been a year since graduating from Contemporary Theatre and Performance at Manchester Metropolitan University and therefore my first full year as a self-employed theatre maker – And what a bloody GREAT year it’s been!! I’m using this blog post as a chance to reflect on the past year, as work slows down for the summer and I begin to shift focus onto making something new (ohhhhh mysterious). I also hope it may serve as a tiny bit of help to those still at uni who are assessing their options because it is absolutely possible to do this theatre-making thing, look I’m doing it right now!
There have been three big projects for me over this year. Firstly, came the incredible project of Concerto, devising a show with Michael Pinchbeck from a piece he made with us at university. The initial stages of this project meant 4 weeks of devising and three work-in-progress shows in Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham. Looking back, having the opportunity to make work straight out of university has really helped me in the long run. It’s meant that I have still felt in ‘university mode’ in terms of having time to think about making work. The other surprising thing that struck me about making this project is how relaxed everyone was. It’s really apparent that making work in university as a student can be unnecessarily stressful, especially when the work, most likely, will only ever be viewed by a small amount of people. In ‘the real world’, the reality couldn’t be more different, it feels like everyone in the team has a purpose and therefore a value – I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the professional world of contemporary theatre. It also helped making the project with Katt Perry – a great friend of mine and we are touring the project this Autumn and next spring.
In January, it was confirmed that I would take on the role of Front of House Producer for the Flare international festival of new theatre 2017. I was really excited to add the string of ‘producer’ to my bow. I feel I have learnt so much from this experience, the struggle of answering emails, organising meetings and being organised in general, before the festival, was slightly daunting. However, when festival week hit, I found a new energy within myself. Being surrounded by so many artists willing to share their different perspectives and at the same time working with a really great team of people meant I could enjoy the role and deal with its pressures well (I think, I hope). I’ve made some amazing contacts from this festival too which is amazing. I started volunteering with Flare two festivals ago as a first-year student and every festival I was exposed to some incredible work. I must thank my younger self for volunteering as a student because it’s without doubt led me to paid producing work. This year’s festival, in particular, brought a new level of responsibility and helping pull off a really great festival has been overwhelmingly rewarding
Michael and I looking in the distance (presumably at Katt doing something strange) whilst working on Conncerto in Nottingham. Photo credit: Julian Hughs
A highlight, for me, this past year has been my on-going work with Anglo-Belgian collective Reckless Sleepers. Once again, a company I started working with when I was a student and now feel very much a part of. Continuing to deliver technical assistance for their project ‘The Last Supper’ has taken me to Brighton, Grassington, Lancaster and Brecon. In October came the opportunity to work with the company further, on their big set spectacle, ‘Negative Space’ which has taken me to Lancaster, Ormskirk, Brighton, Aberystwyth, Liverpool and Montbelliard in France with a few dates also in Manchester presenting ‘Schrodinger’. There is something about the ethos of this company that really resonates with me. There is a value on people, on honesty and on happiness which results, not only in some of the most beautiful work I have ever come across, but also in some of the greatest experiences on my continuing journey into the world of Theatre so far.
There has also been further work running workshops and other technician roles which I hope to continue into next year. In this year, I have learnt many things but most importantly I have learnt that there are opportunities for young people in this sector, there is work out there and every person you meet in this small world has the potential to help you in some way. It’s all quite simple: work hard, stay relaxed, be humble.
The Flare producing team!
Setting up Negative Space in Montbelliard, France in the most beautiful theatre.