On reflection – a review of 2012

It seems appropriate (and popular) to use the time of year to look back and reflect on the previous year. As things were a little tough in the middle/latter stages of the year for me I have been a little reluctant to do this but looking over my blog posts for 2012 I am reminded that I was involved in a great number of very positive things.

The Reservation publicity image
Photograph by Matt Tullett

So, and in no particular order, here are a few of them:

  1. At the beginning of June I was lucky enough to be selected to be one of 24 artists to play and make work over 24 hours at Contact Theatre for 24 Arty People. Contact’s offering was so completely generous – opening up their entire building for us to enjoy and offering numerous members of staff to make it easy for us to do whatever we wanted to do. It was utterly joyful and introduced me to new artists and friends.
  2. In May i was selected to go to Northern Stage in Newcastle and pitch for Title Pending. I was thrilled to be invited but quickly realised when I got there that I wasn’t ready. There time scale would not work for me and vice versa. However, this was the first test of my ideas for ‘One’ and as such it was really useful.  It was also a statement to my peers (and myself) that I am a serious, professional theatre maker and that that is the career I intend to pursue.
  3. In June I also discovered I had won one of the Emerge Mentored Commissions to develop ‘One’ over a year. This was an important first step as it was this injection of cash and support which undoubtedly led to me being able to successfully apply for Arts Council funding over the summer.
  4. October was very tough for me but when I heard about the open call for a community choir to record backing vocals for Hope and Social’s new album I knew it was something I should do. I’ve always loved to sing. It is something I do a lot when I am alone. Also, having watched Gavin’s workplace choirs I was convinced by the uplifting power of communal singing. I’d come across Hope and Social when they made Bring The Happy with Invisible Flock. They provided the music for the celebratory, raucous, party of a theatre show in 2011. The day was so open and the band created such a welcoming atmosphere. Everyone was encouraged to bring food to share and the day was full of fun. Not everything we recorded made the final edit sadly but every time I listen to the album I am uplifted, just as I was that day.
  5. I’m a big believer in Devoted & Disgruntled, an event which creates a unique space for everyone with an interest in theatre to talk about anything they think is important. It’s a conference without hierarchies. No key speakers. A space where artistic directors sit alongside students, where Guardian critics sit alongside administrators and everyone has a voice. I went to two this year. The annual event in London in February and the roadshow event in Leeds in October. The fact that they weren’t great for me is more to do with the head space I was in than any doubts I have about these events. It’s all about possibilities and BEING THERE. There aren’t many other events that get all of those people in the same room at the same time, so what happens there might be a small shift in opinion or the beginning of a whole new collaboration but it is always worth making the effort for. In fact I am heading to the annual London event later this month so watch this space for a debrief…
  6. In November I went to a fantastic workshop/sharing for Furnace at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Unlimited Theatre were hosting and managed to create a very open and accepting space for play. The group was very mixed and as with Devoted & Disgruntled I was very pleased to see lots of new faces (of all ages). There were early sharings of work in development and a joyfully, unruly attempt to make a group piece of theatre based on a few small rules. The conversations and joy flowed well in to the night as many of us found ourselves dancing til the wee small hours.
  7. 2012 was a fantastic year for ‘The Reservation’. Although Ellie and I didn’t do a lot of gigs the ones we did were very well accepted and culminated in a fabulous 4 star review from Guardian critic Lyn Gardner. She followed this up with another mention in an article on the therapeutic power of theatre in releasing grief a week later and finally inclusion in an end of year round up. This article named our teeny weeny show alongside the RSC and Stan’s Cafe. It’s incredible to think that we made such an impression on someone who is so well regarded. I cannot express how proud I am to have made this gently affecting show.
  8. I started making my first solo show ‘One’. On occasion I think I might be mad but mostly I am enjoying constructing something from scratch. playing with ideas and form, enjoying being in front of an audience again. This is something that comes from me. Perhaps this is the ultimate act of egotism but I think it is more than that. It feels like a rite of passage. That after this, whether a roaring success or a crashing failure, I will truly be able to call myself a theatre maker. It’s terrifying and glorious. 2012 is where is started and its already changed a lot. 2013 is where it will come to life and I am pretty excited.

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