A few weeks ago I advertised an opportunity for emerging(ish) theatremakers, and the experience was so positive I'm now advertising four more.
For those who missed it the first time round, I am undergoing some very broad-based and open-ended R&D on a range of different projects, from an overlapping set of starting points. Earlier in the process I wrote this about the project as a whole and it remains not entirely inaccurate.
I have some funding to support an emerging(ish) theatre maker to join me in the room for each of the eight weeks. Let this opportunity be known as Person in the Room. Here's a bit of writing by Emma Geraghty, who was Persons in the Room #1-2, and here's a bit by Kamaal Hussain, who was Person in the Room #3. Another piece by Umar Butt, who was in the room last week, will follow in a few days.
Now I'm looking for people to join me at:
Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, 30 Oct-2 Nov
Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, 6-9 Nov
ARC, Stockton, 27-30 Nov
Northern Stage, Newcastle, 4-7 Dec
Given the way these weeks have tended to roll, it makes sense if the Person in the Room is someone with a writing practice, or at least with writing as part of their practice. At least part of the time is going to be writing time. In most of these weeks there'll be at least one day with performers in the room getting work on its feet and on these occasions there'll be a chance to focus in on your work as well as mine. In all four weeks there'll be a range of different people through the room, my collaborators on a range of projects.
A couple of location-specific things: at least one day in Stockton will be focused on a project for young audiences: you don't have to have a special interest in this area, but let me know if you do. And one part-day of each Bradford week will involve an extended research trip away from the theatre on foot, aka a long run to the hills. You don't have to have a special interest in running 15-20 miles in which case you're very welcome to meet me and Boff at the end point. But again, let me know if this floats your boat.
The Person in the Room is required to prepare nothing, and to bring nothing into the room beyond their brain and their heart, and to do little more than to respond to what they see and hear, using the aforementioned equipment. Additionally, they'll document the week in some form - that could be a blog post but it could equally be a short video or a cartoon, or an imaginary animal. As you'll have seen above, it's mostly been blog posts so far, but I'm still holding out for that imaginary animal.
There's £500 to pay for your time, plus travel expenses. Accommodation can be provided if necessary, but do note that I'm committed to working predominantly with people who have some pre-existing relationship with the venue or the town/city in which we're working.
To apply, email me on danielbye AT ymail DOT com (not gmail). In the subject line, let me know which of the four weeks you're applying for (you can express an interest in more than one). In the body of the email, tell me who you are and what you'd like to get out of the week. Tell me a bit about what project of your own you'll be working on during the week, when opportunity arises, and maybe a bit about how I can help. Tell me where you're based and what your relationship is with the town/city in which we're working.
I encourage applications from people who don't look like me. Please let me know if you have any additional access requirements. I will meet them.
The deadline is one week from the time I post this advert, so that's 15.24 on Monday 1st October.
I'll get back to people as quickly as I can. My decision will be made on the basis of who I think I can help, as well as who can help me.
Two weeks ago (maybe a little more), I applied for and was accepted to be Daniel Bye’s PERSON IN THE ROOM. In my mind it was a longshot; Dan is a very experienced theatre maker, whose name I have known for some years, finally met him in Edinburgh last year, and whose show there, Instructions for Border Crossing, had made a rather large impact on me in terms of form and content. I, on the other hand, am an artist at the very beginning of my making career (I had my first show as maker in Edinburgh last year too), and despite Dan’s PERSON IN THE ROOM shout out being for EMERGING(ISH) artists, thought that my work was not at the level he would want for this R&D period.
There’s little false modesty in that; I like so many others, suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’, and am, of course, my own worst critic; but, in went the short application, and two days later I received my successful reply. Dan sent me a brief outline of the week, and said he would send through some stuff to read through. I settled myself down into the idea that we would be working on some very specific ideas, which had already gone though some of Dan’s process (both thought and theatrical).
The surprising part of that initial brief, was the offer to examine some of my own new work, within the room, and with Dan and the other artists present. There is a level of generosity in this that, in my experience, is almost unheard of. Every R&D I have done has been with a specific agenda – to work towards a product, however rough in form, a step along the process of making a show. It’s not that this wasn’t true here, but there was a freedom in both Dan’s thinking, and approach that allowed for others to individually create, as well as work towards his ends.
The week went like this:
Monday – Dan doesn’t work Mondays. As a father and maker, he has learnt to allow himself additional time to be just that, to spend time with his daughter, to run (a passion of his) and to just be. Great! He did, however, offer me the use of the room to pursue my own work. As a serial procrastinator, who can find any home distraction useful in pursuing the delicate art of not tackling things, the offer to get up in the morning and ‘go to work’ on my own work was a wonderful thing.
I was able to sit in the space, without either my husband or my dog, the washing up, the hoovering, ironing or a thousand cups of tea to distract me. I used the time to research my next piece, and galvanise some thought about where it was going. I went home having a feeling of better direction on the piece, and a warm virtuous glow.
Tuesday – we arrived at 10am, and Dan went through his vision of the week. We then spent a few hours till lunch discussing the themes Dan was working on, in general terms; ideas and thoughts, both personal and social, all of which led towards an idea Dan has currently. It was simply that, a conversation. Work adjacent; work informative, but a conversation. Ease-making.
The afternoon comprised the jotting down of ideas under a set of general themes, related to the morning’s conversation. A part of that was working with Dan through his process, valuable advice for collating ideas and zoning in on items of interest through that process. Having done that, we sat down again and wrote. Dan working through some of the stuff we’d come up with earlier in the afternoon, and me, at Dan’s prompting, further developing my own work.
Wednesday – after the usual ‘hellos and how are yous’ (Dan had been for a big run the night before), we sat down to more of the same – writing and developing our own work, till lunchtime (no small amount of coffee was consumed during this period).
At midday, a group of three performers arrived, and after the meets and greets, we dove into Dan’s written world. Movement towards the more traditional R&D. Reading his work, and discussing it. And then, the generosity I spoke about earlier kicked in. I was given the opportunity to do the same with the performers. My works was given the same time and space and discussion. It always astounds me (maybe it shouldn’t), what a group of intelligent, incisive artists can bring to my own thought process and practice.
Further discussion took place, Dan giving us some things to think about for the next day; and also made the same offer to the performers in the room, for their work to be shared with us tomorrow; and given the same space and time and discussion. And off we went.
Thursday – we started again in the same vein. Initially, Dan and I spending the first part of the morning writing, and further developing our ideas, this time under the influence of the previous day’s discussions.
Performers arrived a little later, and we again went through the process of working through the changes with them, the same time and space and discussion being given to our work.
And then the other artists offered their work, and we went through the process again. I know I keep saying it, but this level of generosity is so unusual to me; but something I’m discovering is more common among independent theatre makers, than in the ‘acting’ world. The day ended and we all trotted off, and certainly in my case, and I hope in everyone’s, a sense of having had some invaluable insight into my work.
Friday – came in slightly later, as Dan was auditioning some performers for an unrelated project; and then; after a brief chat, we were joined by another of Dan’s associates; a Creative Producer/Dramaturg; and we spent the day discussing theatre making; the industry; frustrations; ideas; collaborations; skill sharing; politics; theatre politics; social engagement; funding; diversity and a lovely fantasy of what we might do with a budget of £250k. And off we went, our various ways.
It’s been an incredible week, in many ways. I’m exhausted. But in that really good way. I’ve travelled artistically and mentally this week. I’ve been advised; questioned; encouraged and inspired in a safe environment, and felt I’ve been able to offer those things to others without at any time feeling like I was the junior artist in the room. It was wonderful.
And for that experience, Mr Bye, I cannot thank you enough.
Running with an idea
Running commentary on: