I find I have been having a one step forward two steps back kind of time since blog one. Usually when I have an idea to do something, relating to events, I just go ahead and do them and then realise that I could have got funding, or pay, of free beer, or some help with setting up the stage/ sound/ lights. Useful stuff like that.
The thing with help and useful stuff, is that it often takes time, and meetings and form filling and means that some of the bright ideas just would not have happened. I’m also impatient. If you tell me I could get £2000 but need to wait 18 months to do it, I think I’d rather have the pennies and do it next week.
Lately, though, I’ve begun to wise up. I’ve been getting training and advice in fundraising and sponsorship (Arts & Business do a great line in that, in Wales and the rest of the UK. Speak to them). So, it follows, that with putting together my own one woman show, rather than running at Edinburgh head first and naked, screaming ‘LOOK AT ME’ (my back-up plan if all else fails) I’ve sent a bunch of emails out to people who may or may not be able to help me in some way.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spoken to some of the people who were kind enough to email me back and say ‘Yes, okay, come along and have a cuppa and a chat.’ The first of these lovely people was Phil Mackenzie, Acting Head of Creative Learning at Sherman Theatre. I met up with him in the swanky foyer of the newly refurbished Sherman Cymru building in Cardiff to talk about what I wanted to do, what I needed help with and how Artist Development at Sherman Theatre may be able to help me.
It turns out there are a lot of things Sherman can help me with from props and set and lighting and sound to space and support with structure and aspects of performance. The three biggest things I have to worry about is learning my lines, structuring the piece and having a rehearsal space as my garrett dosn’t allow much movement or privacy. Phil says he can help with all of these, and once I’ve got more of the show ready to work with I can call him up and book some time in one of their rehearsal spaces. Win!
After asking how much of a rush I was in to make the show: ‘Are you going to try and take it to Edinburgh this year?’ I replied that I wasn’t sure, if it were ready and if it were good enough, but it may be that I try and do sections of it on the free fringe instead, and aim for a small initial tour in the Autumn. Phil agrees. He suggests I make contact with Arts Council Wales about project funding and also flags up the Creative Wales Award as something that I might be eligible for as I am developing and altering my practice. It is a competitive award to go for, and has a proper pot of money behind it, but it has that one drawback that might not suit impatient me, there will be a long wait. Lots of food for thought. I leave him a copy of my book, to give him an idea of my voice and writing style, and he actually reads it that very weekend and emails back with nice comments about how he really liked it. A lovely man indeed.
Next up I have myself a Valentines Day meeting with another kindly and helpful chap, Matt Ball from Wales Lab at National Theatre Wales. I pop in for an afternoon cuppa and a chat on the sofas of their Cardiff office. It doesn’t go quite as well. I am not in Sell Yourself Susie mode, I have been baking cookies (just ruined my rock and roll image there), Matt is softly spoken and lots of faces I know are quiet at their desks VERY nearby in the open plan space. I feel awkward, and try my best to give Matt a sense of what I want to do, but being a writer talking about my own work in very early progress, I’m not very good at explaining myself.
Still he is patient, draws out some sort of info from me and suggests a few things. Firstly I need to get myself a short summary written up of what my show is about, a bit like a novel synopsis, the same principle. So I can do elevator pitches to venues and festivals and people like him. He also recommends making a website, and filming a very short extract of my performance of the show to use as a show reel for festivals, funding and venues. This could be used for the initial Edinburgh application, if I still decided to go for it.
In terms of learning lines he suggests taking sections to open mics and spoken word events and developing them that way, seeing what does and doesn’t work, and starting to learn small chunks, building it up. He is wary of beginning touring with Edinburgh, instead suggesting it might be something to build to. Or take part in the free fringe in a smaller capacity. Literature Wales can support organisations or venues wanting to book me for a tour within Wales, but they don’t offer funds to individual artists for this. Matt also explains that whilst funding from bodies in Wales can’t help to fund work toured outside of Wales, Arts Council England might be able to help with money for the English leg of it.
Finally Matt encourages me to go and see lots of things and make use of the NTW Community, and WalesLab who offer support to new artists and new shows, and have a Pollination summer camp coming up. Details of the application process are to be revealed at the end of this month.