With writing your first show comes responsibility.
I got a rubber stamp from the Arts Council to start the research and development for my first scratch show and it genuinely took me around five to six weeks to get my head around it all. It is a very strange feeling to get this kind of approval because it takes you from a different level immediately, no longer are you just writing off the cuff and for the odd gig or commission. You are taking that spark of an idea and trying to ignite into a fire that will warm all who sit by it.
I am now getting a real understanding of what it is to be a professional writer as such. I have never given myself the time to develop an idea or spent days writing. I have never put my practice first and it really is quite astounding, I have had to turn down things that I would have done before because I simply can’t give that spare time to them. Yep, I have had to be a little selfish and not say yes to everything or everyone that has needed my help. That is hard for me as I was in a habit of always saying yes, yet I could not keep doing what I was with my time and creativity, it was becoming damaging.
If there was a way to describe it, then I would lock up the poetry/artist part of myself in a box somewhere and would only bring it out when someone pointed it out. I became really alarmed when I was no longer even responding to when people asked if I did poetry and that is when I knew I had to do something.
I know along with lots other artists in Peterborough that I have given a lot of energy to the city and the cultural scene within it, I have done this not with any grudges but with an enthusiasm to change things, help people achieve and to express my love for the city. I have helped to inspire people, projects and events because there was a slight gap in the market but now with everything that is happening in Peterborough culturally, those gaps are closing and the city needs artists to now be artists and follow their craft.
I would say this to anyone who has that locked box within themselves to maybe sit down for moment and decide whether they really want to keep it closed because if they don’t you can achieve anything.
As a footnote I have not stopped doing all those things I described previously, I still project manage, run events and support where I can but its now alongside my arts practice.
I also have to say a huge thanks to everyone who has not minded me saying no, or have offered me support and said things like you deserve it and those people in my life who said what are you doing? why are you squandering your writing away, THANK YOU all.
After this little bit of self discovery, I then had to get on with it. The first part of the research was to talk to my mentors, my collaborators and start this weird ball of wax rolling! I am working with the incredibly talented and humble Ross Sutherland who will be helping me to make sense of it all and believe me I really need that. I am over the moon excited because I am going up to Edinburgh Festival next week to see his wonderful show again and also check out some other shows to help me in my own writing. I can’t wait as this is not something I would do normally or see as an investment so if you see me making notes or being clandestine then you all know why.
I have also just completed two days of a writing residency at John Clare Cottage which was really fresh for me and an incredibly perfect setting too. I am also sure that Mr Clare was looking over me a little bit too. I did write quite a bit, researched and soaked in the atmosphere of the village the cottage is in and I am happy to be going back there in the Autumn too.
But my personal hi-light has been going to Trestle Arts Base who are mentoring Ann Bellamy my partner in weird crime. Ann is designing the masks that are featured in the show and Emily Gray from Trestle will be supporting the volunteers who will be playing the masked characters, that I and Ross call the ‘Others’. Myself and Ann travelled to St Albans to meet the Trestle team at their base and it had already been a blast with me and Ann chatting all the way from the borough, some of the conversation even scaring people away from us on the train platform.
Then when we got to Trestle, Emily told us some of the history of the space, that it was a chapel that was part of a psychiatric hospital, then how much their work helps people with mental illness , that they sell masks all over the world and the tour of the building was great! We knew straight away we had met a team that are passionate and thankfully got my silliness and Ann’s wonderful illustrations. Please check them out and also if you fancy being in the show as a masked character then please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org or keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming workshop that Emily and Trestle will be leading in the Autumn.
All in all campers its started and I am so thankful for that rubber stamp and the wonderful people who are working with me too, here is a picture of me harassing John Clare mostly trying to be cool. I will keep everyone posted as to when I am performing the scratch show, the workshops that people can take part in and any other new developments too and if you have any questions then please do get in touch.