Annual Review

Sitting here. At my desk. Looking out at the frost. At the beginning of the new year. I’m reflecting on the end of last year. A year of personal change. A year of political change. A constantly-shifting landscape in which to make work. John Berger, whose A Fortunate Man (1967) I am reading at the moment for a new project, wrote that ‘to understand a landscape we have to situate ourselves in it’.[1] So for a moment, I want to situate myself in it, to conduct an annual review if you like. Now I am not an NPO, or even a resident artist at an NPO, so I don’t have to do this, and you don’t have to read it, but it might help to calibrate my thinking this year to see where my work has been and where it is going. If anything my touring life is cross fading into a more academic life now, but in taking stock I realise that I have actually reached a wide audience across contexts and there are personal milestones, like achieving the hat trick of performing at three main local venues: Nottingham Playhouse (The Trilogy), Nottingham Contemporary (Sucking Stones) and Nottingham Lakeside Arts (Concerto). There is a wide geographical reach, from Plymouth to Leeds, Prizren to Lincoln. There is a wide artistic reach too, from galleries to theatres, from concert halls to conference halls.

bolero_poster_kosovoBolero – Toured to Pristina and Prizren in Kosovo in March 2016. The last date for a show that has toured across the Balkans and started life in 2012 as a co-production between Nottingham Playhouse, ODA Theatre (Pristina) and Sarajevo War Theatre, supported by Arts Council England and the British Council. You can find out more information about Bolero here.

The man who flew into space from his apartment – Installed at the Usher Gallery (Lincoln) as part of the Freedom Lies exhibition visited by 5000 people. Presented at Axis Arts Centre (Crewe), Wrought Festival (Sheffield), A Nation’s Theatre at BAC (London), The House (Plymouth) and InDialogue 2016 (Nottingham). 40 guest performers have now taken part in the project  supported by Arts Council England. More information about The man who… here.

The Trilogy – Shown for the final time at Nottingham Playhouse at neat14. The End and The Beginning were selected for the British Council Edinburgh Showcase and supported by Arts Council England. The End toured internationally supported by the British Council. The Middle was shown at festivals including the Forest Fringe. More information about The Trilogy here.

Concerto – After four weeks of R&D, this new show was presented at Y Theatre (Leicester), Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Nottingham Lakeside Arts supported by Arts Council England. The show will tour nationally starting at Axis Arts Centre (Crewe). More information here.

Sucking Stones (After Samuel Beckett) – Performed 10 times at Nottingham Contemporary as part of Otobong Nkanga’s installation A Taste of a Stone. This was a rare opportunity to perform a text by Samuel Beckett from Molloy. More information about the work here.

stonesI have delivered papers and provocations at the following conferences:

Expanded Practice and Curation as Creative Process, Manchester Metropolitan University – February 2016. Presented a paper entitled No rehearsal is necessary: The politics of the guest performer in The man who flew into space from his apartment alongside the performance. The paper has now been published in Repertorio, a Brazilian theatre journal, here.

What Happens Now, University of Lincoln – July 2016.  Presented No rehearsal is necessary: The politics of the guest performer in The man who flew into space from his apartment.

The Man Who ACE 1

TaPRA, University of Bristol – September 2016. Directing and Dramaturgy Working Group. Presented a paper entitled Making Bolero: Dramaturgies of Conflict.

Where From Here: 21 Years of Third Angel, Leeds Beckett University – November 2016. Presented a paper entitled Building the Room: Remembering Third Angel’s Presumption (A provocation written and presented with Linford Butler).

Owning Your Walrus – Interdisciplinary symposium on loneliness, University of Central Lancashire – November 2016. Presented a paper entitled Sit with me for a moment and remember – A provocation. You can read the full transcript of the provocation here.

bench-copyI also co-convened the following conferences:

Staging Loss: Performance as Commemoration, University of Lincoln – June 2016. Co-convened with Dr. Andrew Westerside (Proto-type Theater) at University of Lincoln.

Where From Here: 21 Years of Third Angel, Leeds Beckett University – November 2016. Co-convened with Alexander Kelly (Third Angel), Oliver Bray (Leeds Beckett) and Hannah Nicklin.

I led workshops at the University of Nottingham and delivered artist talks at The Collection in Lincoln. I worked with the following artists as a dramaturg on projects which are now touring:

LaPelle’s Factory (Desperado) – Derby Theatre

Jack A. G. Britton (1.9 / I used to hear footsteps) – Attenborough Arts Centre (Leicester)

Hetain Patel (American Man) – Sadler’s Wells

I have blogged about working with Hetain Patel here.

fc-american-boy-hetain-patel-point-stripe_1000Finally, I have recently completed my PhD at Loughborough University exploring the role of the dramaturg – Acts of Dramaturgy: The dramaturgical turn in contemporary performance. So there you have it. A whistle stop tour of 2016. I look forward to making more work this year and taking Concerto on the road to Axis Arts Centre in February. More information about the world premiere here. I might go to Edinburgh. I might write a new play. I might make a new show. There is an exciting new project in the pipeline inspired by John Berger, who sadly passed away recently. I have written this blog post to make what I do more visible. As he would say: ‘Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible’.[2] 

[1] John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin, 1972), p. 4.

[2] John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin, 1972), p. 4.

Images: Julian Hughes