Of course I ended 2019 with every intention of doing an end-of-year round-up. I'm not short of thoughts about the bad, the bad, and the ugly of it. Yet here we are on the 14th of January, and what little you might have cared about my favourite show of last year while it was still last year dwindled to nothing with the imaginary rip of a page on an imaginary calendar. And as for what you think about my opinions on the General Election, well, I couldn't even bear to talk about that on twitter.
Anyway, this year I've decided I'd like to be more of a looking forward kind of guy, so instead of dwelling on the past, here's a little round-up of everything I'm up to in the year ahead.
1. With Boff Whalley, I'm creating These Hills Are Ours, a new theatre piece. On the surface of it, it's about running absurd distances up big hills. But really it's about land ownership and our ability to endure. The show opens in London at the fag-end of March, and then from April to June it goes on a very extensive tour of venues the length and breadth of England.
2. As part of the wider These Hills Are Ours project, Boff and I are collaborating with four communities in four corners of England to create choral pieces about their relationship with their local peak. These will be sung on a journey from town to peak, in north Devon, Stockton, Lancaster and London, in March and April. If you fancy joining a choir for one of these, get in touch.
3. Then we're turning these into short films.
4. Funding permitting, we tour 666 Comments this spring and autumn. I love this show. It's a combination of utterly terrifying and fucking hilarious and I really hope you get to see it.
5. I Was Naked, Smelling of Rain gets an outing at We The Curious in Bristol on 27 February (there's currently an installation version in residence there), with a plan for more touring of the full show either later this year or early next. This is one of the more remarkable and unusual collaborations I've ever been part of: it's by the brilliant Aidan Moesby, a visual artist making his performance debut, and it is a really rare and special piece of work.
6. Although I'm not strictly "up to" this, as my work on it's pretty much all done, How Does This Politics Thing Work, Then? is touring throughout the year. Find a seven-year-old and get along.
7. I'm collaborating with Sarah Punshon to write and direct a new family Christmas show at the end of the year. It's not been announced yet, so I can't tell you much, but it's Beauty and the Beast. Other people's deadlines being what they are, I'm closer to having a first draft of this than of These Hills Are Ours. It's pretty exciting to be entrusted with something on this scale and writing so far has been a real blast.
8. I'm once again collaborating with second- and third-year students at Lancaster university to create their end-of-year shows. I love doing this. It's invigorating and it's refreshing. It's a trip to the well.
9. Running-wise, the current plan includes three marathons, two ultra races, one ultra-distance challenge and probably an ad hoc bunch of shorter races. The ultra-distance challenge is particularly silly and terrifying, not least because (weather permitting) it's in a fortnight. It's the final piece in the jigsaw for the making of These Hills Are Ours. Follow me on Strava if you want spoilers.
10. Over the last couple of years I've done an increasing amount of ad hoc mentoring, basically whenever someone asks me. Tonight, for example, I've two phone calls with artists and am reading an ACE application for a third. AREN'T I NICE. I'd like to continue being helpful to others in the way others were helpful to me when I was getting started, so please don't be shy about getting in touch. (Somewhat inevitably, those who aren't shy about getting in touch tend towards the white and the male, so in particular, please don't be shy about getting in touch if you don't look like me.)
11. Isn't that enough?
12. There's room for one more writing project. Get in touch if that's for you.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will