Picture by artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer. Her work is beautiful, as is she.
I was nominated by the inspiring Pat Wheele of the blog, In My Wheele House. You should definitely have a look at it. It’s “A blog about the sometimes disastrous, sometimes fantastic, results of D.I.Y. furniture restoration, decorating, and interior design” but more than that, you get to experience Pat’s spirit and nosey around her wonderful world.
I met Pat many years ago when I was floating about, newish in London, and wondering what to do with myself. I’ve learned a lot through her and she was one of the first people I met who really pierced my consciousness and got me thinking about forging my own path through life. I hadn’t really been aware of the options before me before. I had always followed the crowd or rebelled against the norm, but in a flat either or way. Pat was part of the beginnings of my wider life and I am grateful to her forever for being someone I think of as being true to herself, upfront, and no-nonsense WITH a huge dollop of fun craziness thrown in! So much respect for Pat Wheele.
Anyway, to keep the blog hop going, I have to answer these questions:
What are you working on?
Here’s a list: I am working on the post-production of a recent outing of a work in progress showing of an opera I have been making with some excellent folk. This is what we performed at the lovely Tete A Tete opera festival and here are some festival photographs. I am looking to hire a professional producer to help make this show happen, following the success of the outing. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, I am making rewards for the amazing people who helped crowdfund the show, and recording a track of a song representative of our project so that I can show people what we sound like. This is happening soon on the 21st and has been very tough to organise simply because my team are so damn successful and always working here and abroad!
I am also curating a corporate event with a very uncorporate slant. The Multicultural Network for a legal firm are throwing their annual event and I have been so lucky to be invited to put it together, based on the events I have produced over the years. The line up, with a spoken word slant, includes Malika Booker, Deanna Rodger, Bengali fusion band Khiyo, and dance company Motion Dance Collective with Omari Carter, with MC Phil Whelans and featuring live drawings from the wonderful Sophie Herxheimer.
I start being represented by a new agent on Thursday and I am nervous about this move, but she seems very lovely and I hope that this will mean more projects that I can learn from.
My band Friends of Friends is playing very soon to raise money and awareness for the charity MIND. Made in Mind promises to be an interesting evening, hosted by the gorgeous Bernadette Russell. Details here.
AND I’m very excited to be working with filmmaker Christine Sherwood next weekend. Filming a short which has some gorgeous bits in and I get to be a part of movie-making magic again! Thanks to Kevin Shen for connecting us. I have since roped him into the film with me so we can play together. We never had a scene together during Chimerica so this should be fun.
In my personal life, I am doing a Big Tidy and throwing out everything I don’t need. A life purge. I intend to get back in shape, eat better, live better!
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Gosh. First I’d have to answer the question, what is my work? As an actor, I think my approach is a tiny bit broader than the traditionally trained actor. I am very influenced by European-trained folk who do more physical work and clowning. The attention to detail and body awareness really helps me in my approach to the most traditional of acting roles and absolutely expands my non-traditional performances. So I’d say, simplistically, I combine great attention to textual detail, to the point of looking at text from a literary way, with a physical awareness of what my body is doing in the performance space. I also think about space achitecturally and performance in terms of musical structure i.e. with an eye on phrasing, movements, 3D texture and layering, tension etc.
In writing or in making my own (solo or otherwise) work, I am always aware of the particular gifts the medium I am working in affords. I like drawing on the best bits and principles of one medium or field of study and trying it out in another to see if it enlarges the experience I am working on at that point.
It may be worth mentioning that the poetry I write usually aspires to be the kind that feels great when it’s read out loud by the reader. Some feedback has been that it looks tough on the page but when heard or read, it all makes sense!
I find that I usually struggle to describe what I’m doing in a succinct way, which probably indicates something about the nature of the cross-disciplinary approach I take. I am equally interested in process and the audience experience and look at big picture stuff as well as the detail of moment to moment so I am interested in the status quo surrounding how theatre is being made for example, and wish e had more buildings as arts hubs, as opposed to production- and season-led theatre houses which have very particular pressures to make, commission and show work.
Why do you create what you do?
“Make what you’d like to watch/read/experience” is something I heard once and it’s stuck with me.
In London, I started organising events because of Charles Adrian Gillott who I saw and loved on stage. I organised a workshop for him to lead because I wanted to learn from him and couldn’t do so without a reason or a group to learn with. I then produced events showcasing him as I wanted others to experience his beauty and skill and then had to add to the line-up so found myself platforming lots of other acts.
I create networks and groups that are supportive and happy, loose and free. I remember now that at uni I started an arts festival in my college so that the boundaries between graduates and undergrads, staff and the public, was broken down a bit, at least temporarily, through creative activities.
I make work for friends, current and future. It’s important for me to remind myself that, as much as I seek approval and love, I will never gain universal acceptance etc. So whose regard do I want? Friends. Isn’t that rather general? Not really, given that I am pretty damn careful about who I surround myself with and who I give time to. I am careful with how I use the word. I look forward to the people I may inspire, for whatever period of time, and even if I don’t have real contact, if my work reaches them in some real way, then they are a friend in some way.
How does your creative process work?
I have surprised myself in the last year or so, and learnt things about my process that I never knew.
I work well to deadlines and have a system which involves letting ideas percolate, then working a loose draft out based on starting somewhere, anywhere, then taking time off again before whacking it together.
I like cleaning, cooking and pop music to be part of my percolating process.
I make stuff associatively. So draw on things like a sponge – often my brain goes into hyperdrive mode – and I link many, many things together very quickly, skipping across mediums. Often I am slow to speak or respond in conversations or situations because my brain is going too fast and my mouth is too slow. Also, I don’t quite know how to express myself verbally and am often second-guessing myself due to a confidence thing. I am bad in groups and better one-on-one.
i think in sensory and visual terms. It was good to be reminded in my writing class to think about creating to appeal to the five senses, even in writing.
I don’t work as collaboratively as I thought I did. If I have a big idea, I like to lead it and have good people facilitate this. I draw inspiration from artist Lucy Pawlak who is a great visionary. Realising that this is not a failing is a step forward for me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t work well with people. Not at all. It means that if I work with a group, I work best if the individuals are strong and are able to make their ideas and plans known well. I love working with inspiring folk. Working with people depends on the terms at the outset, the expectation laid out, and the communication during. Oh, and of course I mean that a starting point for coming together to collaborate is mutual respect and interest in each other and each other’s work. It gets much harder if you’re thrown together and are expected to make something beautiful.
I enjoy listening to people tell me things. I like asking questions and linking ideas, pictures, smells, experiences. This probably happens unconsciously although I am forever hooking people up with other folk, not in a romantic way, but in a compulsive connect-y way. I figure, if good folk find each other, the world is a better place.
That’s it for now!
Oh, I forgot. I have to nominate two people to keep this going. I have got the wonderful Luci Willis. Read about her adventures HERE on her blog, Create Educate Deviate, and enjoy her considered writings about her travels and her life. Luci I met through my MA in writing and she’s been a light, a kind friendship across the miles (she is living in Japan at the moment) and a good, sensible shake when I’ve been feeling wobbly, sad and unconfident about being myself.
My second nominee is Michelle Neeling. Check out her blog here WA woman to world. I met and lived with Michelle when I was working in Ipswich many years ago, renting a room while I was performing there. It was a revelatory encounter. Never had I experienced such generosity, openness, insight, wisdom and acceptance from one person in such a short space of time. Michelle’s calm and grace really affected me and she has been another inspiring rock in the world, again despite the distance. (It’s amazing, isn’t it, how the internet keeps people connected in this way?) Michelle has been courageous and generous in sharing her world with us. I love hearing from her.
If you’re a blogger or social media user and wonder if people out there are listening, they are. Stay well, stay in your shoes, keep trucking.