BLUSH by Snuff Box Theatre

Job Opportunity: Assistant Producer with Making Room

Making Room is seeking to appoint an Assistant Producer to work alongside its two co-directors to assist in the delivery of the company’s projects and shows in 2017.

This is an excellent paid opportunity for an individual who is seeking to gain further producing experience to build on their current portfolio.

We’re looking for someone who is willing to throw themselves into a range of projects and roles, who can work independently as part of a small team and has a shared understanding of Making Room’s mission to “boldly strive for a shift in society through culture”.

The Assistant Producer role will work across Making Room’s shows and projects in 2017 including supporting the co-directors in delivering aspects of three national touring productions, one London production, three shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a festival of feminism.

For more information please download the information pack.

The fee for this role is £1200 for 20 days work across 15 weeks.
Deadline for applications is at noon on Wednesday 26th April.

If you have any questions please email hello[at]making-room.co.uk

Image from Snuff Box Theatre’s BLUSH playing at Soho Theatre and on Tour.

 

Announcing the Foot in the Door Artists

Lancaster Arts and Making Room are proud to announce the artists that have been selected for the inaugural Foot in the Door scheme. Selected from a call out in the North West, the artists announced include James Monaghan and Ali Wilson with companies Tin Can People and Theatre 42.

Foot in the Door is supported by Arts Council England and gives artists based in the North West the opportunity to develop new work in a week of structured workshops, rehearsal room time, networking and supportive feedback through work in progress showings.

As well as developing new work, Lancaster Arts will host performances from Ali Matthews and Leo Burtin with The Best of Both Worlds: A Busker’s Opera and Paper People’s Theatre’s Do Geese See God.

Read more about the selected artists and what they hope to achieve through being part of Foot in the Door below.

Tickets for performances as part of Foot in the Door can be bought via the Lancaster Arts Website.

james-monaghan

James Monaghan

James is a person who makes art, theatre and performance. His practice is built upon openness and a commitment to developing challenging work through high-risk experimentation. He co-created SheepKnuckle whose work blurs the boundaries between digital misuse, audience collaboration and live art. He is also a collaborating artist with Quarantine Theatre Company. James is based in Manchester, the city of rain.

James is looking forward to challenging himself to explore making work as an individual practitioner alongside the support and guidance of respected peers. He will use the opportunity as a springboard to further develop his ideas around patterns in communication within a post-truth world.

ali_wilson_by_-garry_cook

Ali Wilson

Having moved to Manchester for university in 2013, Ali has been making work and learning more about theatre in the north west with a keen interest. She has a particular interest in quirky solo performance and work that explores issues regarding identity and autobiography. Ali is an associate artist with Facade Theatre and has performed with Quarantine. Aside from making theatre and watching live performance, Ali likes cycling, going to zumba and watching German soaps.

Ali says, “taking part in Foot In The Door is really exciting for me. Since graduation I’ve worked hard to adjust to the making work without the help of university tutors and I think spending time with other like-minded artists will be a big boost for that. This scheme will enable me to explore new ideas and develop current ones in a friendly environment, whilst also offering me a chance to gain new skills in other areas. I can’t wait!”

tin-can-people_katie-pip-2017Tin Can People

Tin Can People are an artistic collective led by Charlotte Berry & Rob Gregson who live and work in Preston. They make interdisciplinary theatre and performance, often question where we are, how we got here, and try to place ourselves in the worlds’ big issues. Tin Can People like to laugh at themselves, talk about the mundane and fantasize about alternative futures.  The company have shared work for the past two years at festivals and emergent platforms both nationally and internationally. Currently they’re collaborating with participants Katie & Pip in the development of The Katie & Pip Project. 

Tin Can People say, “Our commitment to Foot in the Door should prove as a vital stepping stone in the development of our practice, specifically for our upcoming performance The Katie & Pip Project, a performance that celebrates the relationship between Katie, a 14 year old type 1 diabetic girl and ‘Pip’ her 4 year old border collie, trained by Katie to save her life on a daily basis. As we are working with both a child and an animal, to have the support of professional practitioners will allow us the opportunity to experiment and fully scrutinize our material, whilst enabling us the chance to develop a strategy for future funding. As artists from Preston it’s important that we’re creating meaningful relationships with partners in the North West.“

theatre-42

Theatre 42

Theatre 42, formed in 2016 by six Lancaster University graduates. Their first piece Nothing is Coming, the Pixels are Huge was performed as part of Manchester’s Emergency Festival and at Lancaster Arts. It is now undergoing further development with a view to touring next year. Their latest piece of work is being developed in collaboration with FITD. T42 is Anna West, Beatrice Sutton, David Callanan, Liz Duggan and Louise Cross and supported by Making Room.

As an emerging company, T42 is looking to take advantage of the opportunities presented and develop their professional image as well as the theatre they strive to make. The workshops and support offered by Foot In The Door is invaluable as it is based in the place where it all began for T42, but will open their eyes to the horizon and beyond.

 

Foot in the Door is supported by Arts Council England in a partnership between Making Room and Lancaster Arts. Featured image by Julian Hughes.

 

Making Room Produces The Conker Group’s Gutted in 2017

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be working with The Conker Group in 2017 to produce and present their latest show Gutted. Created by The Conker Group’s director Tara Robinson with performer Liz Robertson, Gutted is a co-production with HOME, Manchester. First presented to a sell-out audience in May 2016, Gutted is a shameless story of love, laughter and lavatories, exploring Liz’s real-life experiences of living with ulcerative colitis.

Gutted has been supported by the Wellcome Trust People’s Award, IA: The Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group*, and Arts Council England. and will be touring around hospitals in November 2016. Making Room will be working closely on producing the show for a national tour in 2017 (more details on tour booking soon).

As Making Room continues to grow in supporting artists and companies, we’re particularly excited about working with The Conker Group. Continuing to fulfil our mission of creating and supporting work that has an impact in society, we were drawn to Gutted for its human and humorous look at a long-term condition that affects 146,000 people in the UK. Gutted has already made brilliant steps at transforming and inspiring patients and relatives and we look forward to shaping the continued success of the show.

You can find out more about Gutted and The Conker Group on their website.

Tea with Making Room at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Making Room will be up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with two shows this year. Amongst the flyering, the get in and gets out, we know that sometimes all you need is a cup of tea and a chat. We’d like to invite those at the Fringe to have Tea with Making Room.

Whether you’re looking for respite in the Fringe chaos, advice on producing, being an artist/company or touring work, Making Room is here for you. These informal chats can be booked in advance via our snazzy booking system (see below), all that we ask is you turn up and that you like tea or another hot beverage, (we’re not that obsessed with tea… honest!)

Across the Fringe, Making Room’s Co-Artistic Directors Leo and Jake will be available to meet you, offer advice or just have a conversation, whatever you need, we’re here for it. Consider it our way of giving back. Leo and Jake are both experienced producers and artists. They’ve toured work across the UK and further afield, worked with large and small organisations, regularly programme festivals, support artists and write a lot of funding applications. You can find out more about Leo on his website or Jake on his website.

Happy tea drinking.

Book a Slot:

Tea with Making Room will happen between 8-28 August, at various times throughout the day based on ours and your availability. If you’re keen to book a slot do so via the form below.

If you have a question drop Making Room’s Ambassador, Kirsten, an email here: kirsten[at]making-room.co.uk

Photo by Louis du Mont

The Treadmill of Theatre-Making

I loathe the end of a project. Evaluation forms and statistics, stepping back and seeing what you achieved and what you may have missed. If I could I would skip the end of a project and bathe in the joy of the liveness. Long live the ever present project! Realistically that would be impossible, someone has to tie up the loose ends and reconcile a budget. More importantly though evaluation and taking stock of lessons learned can only make you stronger in the long run, even if the thought of having to write another Arts Council England report sends a shiver down my spine.

That’s the thing about working in theatre. You’re constantly living for the live moment and as quickly as that appears on the stage it soon vanishes into a memory. You can record theatre, stream it online or write about it in fine detail but nothing will really capture the moment like sitting in front of a stage in a live moment. Having just finished a four week run producing Snuff Box Theatre’s Weald at the Finborough Theatre I suddenly find myself back at my laptop staring into another funding application deadline. Over the course of those four weeks we had some 900 audience members see our work. Whether they loved it or loathed it, those 900 people experienced something in the theatre and now they are out there in the larger world slightly changed because of what they saw. Even if that change is so small they may not notice it themselves, or perhaps so large they can’t stop thinking about what we made. Either way, the audience have been, they’ve left now, and we’re back to being in front of our laptops, planning and plotting.

So how do we keep the momentum going? How do we keep those audiences engaged with our ideas and work when the next time they might see something of ours is several months down the line in a different city, in a different country? That’s the difficulty of being a company that has no physical home, no bricks or mortar. Of course having your own building comes with a whole host of issues but being able to have audiences return again and again, to feel part of the community that make up that building, even if they go sit in the foyer and not see a show; that’s the experience I’m wondering how we replicate.

There’s mailing lists and social media, that keeps people informed, but without an actual piece of theatre living in a space in which audiences can experience something, what do we have left? Our ideas, our desires, our god damn funding applications? (Can you tell I’m really bitter about having to write the one I’m doing at the moment?).

Then there’s the perpetual problem of always being one step ahead in your work. As one show opens you’re already onto the next, securing a venue, opening a crowd funder and hoping that you’ll get paid in the process. As a freelancer that ‘always chasing the next job’ suddenly becomes a reality when you sit and find yourself on the other side of a show and a few months of empty diary pages. When do we have a chance to really sit back and take stock of what we’ve achieved if we’re constantly chasing the next pot of money or next potential run of a show?

It is something I’ve been questioning a lot recently. The need for evaluation (yawn) is actually paramount to improving your work, as an individual or as a company. At Making Room we have Vision Days and Strategy Meetings, which sound far more sophisticated than what they actually are (cups of tea and scribbles) to ensure we have some sense of continued narrative and development. It helps that there are two of us who can question and challenge each other’s work on a weekly if not daily basis. Why this work, why this venue and why this funder? Its a skill that they don’t teach you at University or Drama School, the evaluation of the industry, yourself, your work and the audience. If anything, we, and I definitely include myself in this, often take leaps into the dark with theatre expecting an audience to follow suit without shining a light on the way.

All of this makes me question; how do we keep the momentum going in our work when so much is required to get that work on in the first place? How do we evaluate and see the merits of our work without succumbing straight to the next funding application? How do you get off the treadmill of theatre-making if only for the briefest of moments to take stock of everything you’ve done so far?


On a lighter note. Here are some things you should read / watch / see.

Making a Commitment in Theatre Making

Normally with blog writing there is a burning question or point you want to make, but this week I find myself perplexed. I could talk about the new Arts Council portal for grants, or the What Next? group discussion on arts and climate change or maybe a talk with a friend about the need for universal access to theatre and then theres that nagging feeling that we’re not hitting the right diversity in the work we are presenting…and… and… Which is more important to write about? Which needs to be addressed and pull my focus the most?

When it comes to producing theatre there are always questions that are a constant. Most of the time they go unnoticed because to face them could potentially open up an avalanche of question marks and budget lines that just won’t add up. We at Making Room want to be the best producers we can be for the artists and venues we work with, but when it comes to choosing what draws our focus and what we need to be tackling sometimes it can just feel overwhelming. Climate change, funding, accessibility, diversity and that’s before we step into art for social change and education. Where do you begin with these sorts of questions when really all you want to be doing is all of them all the time because they are all just as important?

Leo and I founded Making Room with the statement of being a company that “boldly strives to make a positive change within society through culture”. During meetings we keep coming back to this statement and revising it. Not always in the words but in the meaning. What do we really mean through this commitment? How does it affect the artists we work with and the projects we undertake? Does a play about the pressures of young athletes and their well being have more weighting for us as a company compared to a play on male identity and rural farming? Which do we undertake as Making Room and which do we keep as freelancers? It feels good to question, but at the same time the more we interrogate our ideals of producing the more it throws open the larger questions of ‘how can we do more to make a difference?’

I want the theatre that I produce to be accessible, to reflect diversity and I want equality in genders of creative teams and everyone has to be paid a fair wage. Then I’m looking at a budget and I’ve got a choice, do I add a BSL performance or employ a graduate to learn about producing or remove all printed marketing and boost our digital output for environmental happiness. There is no right answer but when you’re a producer the decisions made when you first put together a budget has implications throughout the entire process. At what point do you make a commitment and how do you ensure that the commitment is seen throughout the process? Who holds us accountable as producers to that commitment?

These decisions can often feel overwhelming. You can have all the good intentions in the world for creating the most accessible production possible but there will always be something that can be improved upon or doesn’t quite meet the standard it should. During the Independent Theatre Council’s 40 year celebrations I attended a conference in which Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae, responded to a question from a young practitioner, “how do we do all of this, thinking about equality and accessible and genders – how do we start?”. Her response has stuck with me and one I constantly come back to. Sealey commented that the first step was to “talk about it. Ensure in every meeting you have the conversation.” Allowing the conversation to begin will open up something within the process and planning, even if that discussion stays as a discussion for now. It has longer commitment if you continually question and ask how we can improve the work we make.

So I’ve just written 600 odd words about how much I want to be making the best theatre possible which doesn’t tick the boxes of diversity and accessibility but smashes them apart. Then I’m thinking “how?!” and I’m projecting a mental image of my producing partner Leo and I’m thinking, “Actually, it’ll be alright, we’re committed to those conversations and that is the first place to start”. Let’s not be overwhelmed by all the questions that get thrown at us as theatre-makers. Let’s question ourselves, our work and working practices but most importantly lets engage in that conversation first and foremost. As my friend noted yesterday, “make sure you ring-fence that accessibility line in your budget” and whilst he said it with a knowing wink he’s absolutely right. Some things can’t be outweighed by others on a budget, you’ve just got to ring-fence it and make that commitment.


Some Making Room plugs:

Some shows worth looking at:

  • I was balled over by Complicite’s The Encounter at the Barbican. It has smashed its way into my top 5 shows ever, so take a look.
  • Vaults Festival runs for a few more weeks and there is such a diverse lineup that you can’t really go wrong.

Photo by Spiva Arts via a Flickr Creative Commons Licence.

Theatre that looks beyond its walls

I’ve just done three twelve-hour days back-to-back as Snuff Box Theatre prepare to open their new show Weald at the Finborough Theatre. Sitting in the darkness of the theatre for stretches of three or four hours at a time and you can easily forget about the world beyond the theatre’s walls. I couldn’t tell you what has happened since Saturday. Perhaps the odd snippet of information has broken through in our breaks but during the last few days everything has been focused on getting Weald ready for an audience.

That’s one of the joys about production week, it is all heads down and getting the show where it needs to be, but I can’t help wonder who is keeping an eye beyond those theatre walls, connecting the show with an audience and how that will have an impact upon society and culture. Perhaps that is a big ask and it throws up many questions about the purpose of theatre which isn’t what I intended to write about.

When I give lectures to students I always find myself coming back to one phrase:

You can’t make art in a vacuum

For me and I think I can speak for Making Room with this too, art is vital to the running and understanding of a society; art runs through the very veins of society. It has to constantly be looking outwards just as much, if not more so, than looking within itself. Self-indulgent art has no place in my vision of how I want society to be informed. In practical terms I’m not sure how this is done. Is it my job as the producer of Snuff Box Theatre to keep one foot rooted in the external world? Or does that role belong to the director, Bryony Shanahan, as she carves out the world within the theatre for an audience beyond it?

This stems from a worry of mine. As we get closer to opening this show we get more focused until we’re almost wearing blinkers and can’t see anything but the world in which this show has created. We’re practically living in the world of the play, occasionally reminded that there is something beyond as we clock off to get some sleep before we start it all again.

I might be exaggerating slightly and I know any production has an element of having to narrow its field of focus to ensure the work becomes the best it can be but I do wonder who is allowing that membrane of the real world to filter through and where does that responsibility lie? And how do we ensure that this play we’ve made is more than just some theatre we’ve created.

Thankfully I know, having gone through the process of producing the show for Snuff Box Theatre, just how rooted in the world the play sits. How every word and action has been thought about not in terms of theatrically but authenticity. I know Weald speaks to a wider audience but it doesn’t always feel that way when you’re tucked away in a darkened auditorium spending hours perfecting the sound and lights.

It’s about perspective. Theatre can just as easily zoom in on the micro but it has to constantly question and explode outwards again. At the Fringe last year I ended up shaking my head and asking the question ‘Why?’ constantly. ‘Why are you making this work? What is it meant to say, where does it sit within society? Why now, why here?’ I think it is important for us as theatre-makers to be rooted in the why, to question and challenge it. Otherwise what is the point? Great art has to be rooted in the society and culture of today. We have to keep perspective.


… and with that, here’s a video of a TED talk I’ve enjoyed in the past. Looking at how to build a theatre that responds to an ever changing set of needs, thinking beyond how it functions inside but opening it outwards.

 

Photo by Hernan Pinera via a Creative Commons license.