The Theatre Bath Bus and the Creative Process (or YES! We bloody did it!)

The Theatre Bus has launched – wahoo!

I’m feeling incredibly happy, proud and thankful for everyone’s hard work and support. Particularly to Zoe and the Theatre Bus team for putting up with my mad ideas for the last year. But also to everyone who has donated money – however much and to everyone who has donated their time, commented on ideas on Facebook or supported the project in any way. The bus is for you. It’s not for me and never has been. This is about a creative space that can be used by the whole community and can benefit so many different people in so many inspirational different ways. We have merely provided you with a blank canvas to use; how you choose to fill it is up to you! I cannot wait to see what you all come up with and supporting your creative projects going forwards.

 

I’ve had a lot of people asking me how I do the things that I do and why so I thought I’d write a brief blog about my creative process and what works best for me. Different people work in different ways and if the arts teach us anything its that we all have unique individual strengths and weaknesses. So what works for me may not necessarily work for you and vice-versa.

1. Come up with an idea

“From small acorns grow mighty oaks”

The first thing is just come up with an idea. It does not have to be groundbreaking, original or unique. It doesn’t have to be something on a epic scale. Just an idea. Any idea. Even if it’s just the faint shimmer of an idea parked on your periphery and you have no idea what form it will eventually take. Grab hold of it. Write it down. Leave it in the desk drawer for a week and come back to it. Discuss it with close friends or colleagues. Find an idea that works for you and begin thinking about where it may go.

 

2. Expand Your Idea

Brainstorm or write notes. Expand on your original idea. Use keywords or word association to expand your thoughts about the idea. Your idea will change. It will evolve. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Don’t become so fixed on one final outcome that you miss other potential opportunities. See the bigger picture. Evolve with your idea and see where it leads.

 

3. How Will You Make Your Idea A Reality?

So you have the idea. You have played with it and expanded it. You probably have a whole load of other ideas now. How do you bring it into fruition? Think about the end goal. Why are you doing this? What is your driving force behind it? What do you wish to achieve from doing it? What is your purpose? What does your idea look like in its fullest form? Visualise the end product. Once you have that clear you can begin to move backwards from there. So for me the end goal was a multi-purpose mobile performance space situated inside a bus. That was the vision. I then looked backwards from there to see what steps I would need to take to make that happen.

In my case it looked something like this:

  • END GOAL – Mobile Performance space in a bus
  • Need a bus – where do you buy a bus? How much will it cost?
  • Need someone to convert the bus – who does bus conversions locally?
  • Need to raise money to make that happen – who will fund it? How? Why?
  • Need a team with different sets of skills – who? why?
  • Need help from a designer
  • Need a timescale – how long will this take?
  • Technical equipment – what will the bus need to be able to operate?
  • Paperwork and legislation – what will we need in place? Who will insure it?
  • Where will the bus be able to go?
  • Who will use it? What is its goal?

There were several hundred more bullet points to add to this list but already you can see how once you have an idea you can work backwards and create yourself steps. Each step raises more questions. More questions lead to more knowledge and more answers. Question EVERYTHING. Do not stop questioning. The more you question the more different ideas you’ll come up with and solutions you’ll find.

 

4. So I Now Have An Idea And A Massive To Do List – Help I’m Overwhelmed & A Tiny Bit Scared!

Good. If you’re not scared your project or idea is not ambitious enough. You’re being too safe and playing within your comfort zone. It is absolutely okay to be terrified. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. And it’s okay to not know where to start and what to do first.

Create yourself a to-do list. Actually create yourself several. We broke the project up into different sections and had to-do lists for each of them. Breaking the project down into manageable sections allows you to really focus on the details and not feel completely overwhelmed with looking at the project as one whole thing.

Our sections looked something like this:

  • Conversion work – stage one – emptying the bus
  • Conversion work – stage two – creating the wooden structures within the bus
  • Conversion work – stage three – electrics, cabling and distribution around the bus
  • Conversion work – stage four – painting the inside of the bus
  • Conversion work – stage five – Curtains, Seating and other fixutres
  • Conversion work – stage six – Technical equipment
  • Paperwork
  • Fundraising
  • Materials and sourcing
  • Research and ideas
  • Launch party
  • Marketing

There were more sections but this gives you an idea. Under each of these headings we then could look in more detail at what we needed to achieve each thing. So for example the first stage – emptying the bus. We knew that we needed to take out the chairs. All the metal vertical poles. Barriers around the front wheel arches. Old fluorescent lighting. Old display boards in the front, back and sides. Once all of that was done we then knew we could move on to the other sections.

A lot of these sections over-lapped and were running concurrently at the same time. But it became more manageable because we had a plan in place that we could follow.

 

5. My Plan Has Gone Out Of The Window What Do I Do?

Sit and cry!!!

No.

Projects evolve. They change all the time. You are constantly challenged by different things that come up and surprise you. No project ever goes 100% smoothly. That’s a fact. What you have to do is be able to adapt to the changes and challenges when they arise in a positive way. Don’t focus on the problem. If you focus on the problem it won’t go away. Focus on the solution. Or better still focus on different solutions. Rome was not built in a day. Which is just as well as the Roman’s would have all been knackered and wouldn’t have been able to enjoy all they had achieved. There is always a way forwards. Don’t become so obsessed with something having to be a particular way that you allow it to stunt and damage your end vision. Be open to change, embrace it and see it as a natural evolution of you idea.

 

6. Ask For Help & Share With Others

This is a biggy. Do not try and do everything yourself. You will burn out and the project will probably whither and die or will not live up to expectations. Two heads are definitely better than one (and four or five is an explosion of creativity). Be open to others suggestions and advice. A fresh pair of eyes on an idea can bring solutions that you would have never dreamed of. It can also help identify problems before they crop up. When you’re passionate about a project you become very close to it, attached and somewhat protective. Don’t be scared to let others in. Step out of your comfort zone and collaborate. Use other people’s knowledge and experience and fuse it with your own.

 

The Theatre Bus has changed constantly. In fact it’s still changing now even after the launch we already have a list of things we can do to make it better. To improve upon what we have already done. This has come from seeing the bus in action at the launch and also from the suggestions and ideas of those who were present. Their feedback, both positive and negative has been a massive help to us and will allow us to move the project onto the next level.

 

7. People Tell Me It’s A Bad Idea And It Will Never Work

You always get negative people with small minds who have the creative ambition of an overripe peach and if you leave them in the sun they start sprouting little hairs and grow moldy.

There will always be negative people.

There will always be those who doubt you.

But you know what – they don’t matter. Not an iota. Who knows why they like to put others down or rubbish their ideas. The fact is they exist. Acknowledge that fact and move swiftly on. Focus on the people who do believe in what you are doing. Focus back on why you are doing the project in the first place. Don’t let them suck the life out of your creativity and ambition. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too. When met with negativity always go back to your idea, find that inspiration, find that drive and hug it a little tighter.

 

8. Just Do It

Seriously. Stop procrastinating. Stop reading this blog looking for answers you already know and have inside you. Get off your arse and start work. No, put Facebook away… no more posts of hilarious cats or cute dogs… No… Twitter will still be there in a few hours… Put that phone down… Pull out your notebook and just get on with it. There never will be a right time or a good time except right now. Just get on with it. If you want my advice. Turn off the electronics. A notepad and pen (or pencil) are your best friends. Get away from distractions. Allow yourself the time to work. And then just do it. It will only happen if you make it happen. Do not wait for anyone’s permission but your own. Allow yourself the time and get on with it.

Happy creating!

xXx

 

So the world has gone nuts… but it will be okay… I promise…

So the world has gone bat-shit crazy. Dunno if you’ve noticed? It feels like we are precariously balanced on a knife edge, suspended upside down by our ankles dangling above a gaping void of hate, intolerance and stupidity. 

It’s coming from all angles. 
Brexit – leave – remain. Trigger. Don’t trigger. Lies on the side of a bus. 

Trump – women – men – race – Muslims – Mexicans – small hands – oompah loompah – quiffy. 

Protests.

Syria – chemicals weapons – refugees – migrants. 

Protests.

Iran, Iraq, Russia, China… 

Paris – Quebec – Turkey 

LGBT. Religion. Equality.

Protests. 

Food banks – benefit caps – NHS Privatisation.

Closer to home: Local Authority Cuts and ridiculous council schemes.

Post-truth – alt facts.
Did I miss anything?
We are currently bombarded with information from all angles. Thoughts, ideas, news, truth, lies, politics, hate, love. And it all meshes together in a hallucinogenic haze of distorted reality.

It’s like we’ve suppressed everything for so long it’s all erupting into one giant cataclysm of chaos.

Britain is divided. Parliament is divided. Friends and families are divided. The wealth divide grows ever bigger. Equality is divided. 

There no longer seems to be a middle ground. Just opposing forces of extremes. 
But this has to be a positive thing. The issues that divide us are firmly out in the open – practically smacking us in the face everywhere we look. It presents the perfect opportunity to understand the things that not only divide us but also unite us. Look at why. How can we fix it? How can we try and view things from other people’s perspectives as abhorrent as some of those perspectives may be?

We need to get back to the essence of what it is that makes us who we are. The one thing that unites us all. The fact that we’re all human. 

Nelson Mandela said: 

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

And I think that’s at the core of the problem. We’re so attached to labels, hierarchies, law governed by out-dated religious belief that we’ve forgotten the fundamentals of what it is to be human.

Before we were indoctrinated by society we listened more to our instincts. We didn’t judge people by something that was written down about them, we judged them by who they were and what they did. Rather than what society tells us we should think.

Real emotional feeling. Something that comes from deep within, the essence of being human. Something primordial that has always existed but we have somehow forgotten how to listen to and forgotten how to trust.

We need to get back to understanding those emotions and those deep feelings. And erase some of the negative labels that we’ve learnt to associate to things because our social upbringing or the media says that it’s so.

Same-Sex relationships. People struggle with this – they really do. And they struggle because society has an undercurrent that says it’s not okay brought about from years of prejudice and hate. But they forget the key thing. And that is love. Love isn’t bound by the same rules and regulations that we try and place upon the world. It’s a deep, powerful emotion. It doesn’t understand how we as a society try to control it. It transcends rules and boundaries. It works outside the realms of logic and what we can possibly even begin to comprehend. Love is powerful. Love just is. Love is. 

Once you begin to understand that then you see things differently. It no longer matters about male-female, male-male, female-female. It just becomes as simple as a feeling between two people. Two humans. It’s actually incredibly uncomplicated when you strip away the stigma and noise that surrounds it. Get back to the basics. Love just is.

It’s the same with race & equality. A key word is equality. We’re all human. We’re all beautifully unique but yet there’s that one common element that ties us all together. We’re human. We’re all people. We should treat other as humans and not as objects. 

The media have a massive part to play in this. Particularly around terrorism and refugees. We need to humanise people more. Stop banding around religious titles and creating hate and fear from labels. It’s unhelpful. And damaging. And fuels the problem. Next time you see the term Islamic extremist challenge whoever said it. We need to start calling it out when we see this sort of gross misrepresentation. By all means call them terrorists but don’t make it about people who happen to be of a certain religious belief of a certain skin colour. If a white person commits an act of terrorism then call them a terrorist. Not a murderer. We need to remove these soiled terms and replace them with more truthful statements that are a truer representation of what they are.

Refugees and migrants is another one. Stop calling them swarms. Or making them out to be bad people when you know nothing about them. They are human. They are people. And like all people they all have both good and bad within them. We sit on a throne of privilege. Where our biggest worry is whether we can get a wifi connection or like a photo of someone’s dinner on social media. We don’t have bombs exploding around us. We don’t have to watch family members blown to pieces in front of our eyes. We don’t have to pay thousands of pounds to board an overcrowded ship and risk everything to leave a place we love and people we know in fear of our lives. We are lucky. 

I guess all I’m trying to say is next time you find yourself judging someone else because of a preconceived notion – whether that be from social upbringing or because of floods of negativity from the media. Stop. Look passed the labels. Reconnect with what is human. And seriously weigh up what you actually, truthfully, 100% know to be true. To be fact.

The world is changing. And it may get much worse before it gets better. But now more than ever we can really make a difference and begin challenging each other to change positively with it. To question those who believe different things to us. To understand different view points. To help others understand ours. 

We have a unique opportunity to make a real change on a person by person basis. We definitely cannot rely on politicians or the media to do it for us. Trump is quickly becoming the British Governments seedy wet dream, the perfect smoke screen and distraction that makes them look less crazy and their ideas more normal. And as we get more and more distracted by things elsewhere we lose sight of what is happening on our own doorsteps.

  

Go back to basics. Remember what it is to be human. To be unique. To be beautiful and wonderful. Lead with love. Deny hate. And be the change that you want to see in the world.
X

When anxiety attacks…


It’s been a weird couple of weeks. As per usual everything happening all at the same time. High stress, which is unfortunately how I thrive – it comes with working on events and in a high pressure environment.  So all pretty normal… well normally weird…

Except for the unwelcome return of anxiety / panic attacks which have left me crawling back into my introverted cocoon to hide away, which given current circumstances, protests, campaigns, working on events is not exactly the most useful place to be.

I know what triggered it this time. A confrontation with a bully. Which in itself is easy enough to process. I thought when I’d figured out the trigger I could work around the anxiety. Normally if you figure out the cause you can find the solution.

But not this time.

If you’ve never experienced anxiety or panic attacks let me try and explain the feeling.

Normally it’s triggered by a thought. Something you’re thinking about. And if you know what that is you can train your brain to stop thinking about it and suppress the anxiety. You look for logic. Things you know to be true. Things that you can be certain of. 

But this time it’s not attached to a thought. It’s a pure feeling. And that’s much harder to keep in check. It’s all consuming. You feel it’s grip tighten the insides of your chest, muscles tense, hands shake and the head throbs. It puts you into a high state of stress. You can’t form words properly when trying to speak. You know what you’re trying to say, you hear the sentences coherently formed in your mind. But when you open your mouth to speak it all comes out garbled, breathless, strained – squeaky high pitched. Talking – that automatic function that just happens without thought suddenly requires large amounts of extra energy. When writing things down you miss out key words – like your brain has processed the fact they are there but the signals between your brain and your hand are not communicating properly. And you look back on emails, texts, tweets, facebook posts and realise that they make no sense. That mistakes are all over the place.

Because of the high state of stress you’re in you lose your short term memory – your mind is so consumed with just keeping steady that, that is all you can focus on. 

I needed to get out of the house today so decided to go for a walk along the Bath Skyline and take in the view from Sham Castle. Such was my state of anxiety I cannot remember how I got there. I vaguely remember being in town. The crowds and the noises being weirdly sharp but distorted at the same time. Moving in their own motion which wasn’t quite in sync with the rest of the world. I definitely remember getting on a bus up to Bathwick Hill. The motion of the bus and noises from other passengers causing more unrest. Catching snatches of different sounds at different frequencies all coming together in one distorted soundscape – closing in. A crisp packet rustling to the left, a broken phone conversation to the right, muffled music from headphones, conversations… many many conversations.

I got off the bus and I walked. And all became quiet and calmer. And more normal. All of the thoughts that had been suppressed by the high state of anxiety came flooding down in one go. You zone out, allow them to materialise, realise them and let them go as you keep walking. 

You meet people and you snap into “normality mode” however brief. Smile. Give way to oncoming pedestrians and hikers. Help with directions. Put on the mask of normality that shields you from the fear. And fake it ’til you make it.

And then alone once more. Walking. Thinking. Thinking. Walking. It was a good release. It cleared my head and calmed me down. I got to Sham Castle. Took a few pictures. Sat on the bench over-looking Bath and just let my mind go free for a bit staring out over the city. Enjoying the peace and quiet soothing sounds of the wind through the trees, a distant dog barking, birds singing. 


I lost a good 45mins sat on that bench. And felt much calmer for it. 


I eventually got up and headed off in the direction of Bathampton. As I walked I zoned-out – once more allowing thoughts to flow and materialise. Somewhere along the way I strayed off of the Skyline path. And when a brief moments break in thought occurred I looked up and realised my mistake. This could have been a panic moment but instead it was one of calm clarity. The quote “not all who wander are lost” sprang to mind. Through a gap in the trees I looked out and saw Bathford in the distance and immediately knew which direction I roughly had to travel in to get down to Bathampton and finally back home. My auto-pilot had been guiding me in the right direction which is a relief.


I walked through Bathampton and home and felt much calmer and more “normal”. Although still not quite right.

The walking and thinking had allowed for clarity and reflection about how I had been feeling the last week. I began to understand why I was struggling to converse with colleagues and felt the need to spend time alone. I’ve done an extrovert vs introvert post before. This week the introvert side of me was winning. And it was becoming awkward.

My next hurdle. I feel anxious in the theatre. Deeply rooted in the incident that happened. And that’s not only awkward but potentially disastrous. Even safe theatre spaces that I know intimately have become a real barrier and uncomfortable. It will pass eventually. But it will take time, and struggle and given the nature of the work I do it needs to pass soon – which in itself is stressful. 

So I’ve reached a strange period of doubt. And change. And uncertainty. Not fear but anxiety and there’s a big difference. It’s a big black nagging cloud that’s difficult to beat down – but be beaten down it will. At a time when I need to be at full confidence I’m feeling anything but. I’ve got some decisions to make. It’s definitely time for change. “The Times They Are A Changing”. And I know I’ll bounce back. It may take a while. But I always do.

So if I’m quiet or un-responsive or not as present as usual, or less sociable. Do not worry. It’s a process – it may not be the right one but it’s mine and it works for me. And I will be back. And I will kick some ass!

And if you’re reading this and it helps you. Great. If it helps you deal with your own anxiety then I’m happy to chat about your experiences. That’s the point in sharing and not hiding away from it. To everyone else – as mad as this post may sound I’m absolutely fine – I just need some time and to deal with things in my own unique way. Part of that is writing it down and getting it out of my head (that box is now ticked). 

So don’t worry. 

Us anxiety prone people are tough and we’d have our own club if we weren’t worried about attending or anyone else turning up 😉

  
Love, light & peace xXx 

#DandD12 – Day Two – Empty Shops, Female Leadership and other bits

Another empowering day of intelligent, thought-provoking open discussion… and a poetry reciting badger – only at D&D!

 

Session 5 – Empty Shop Theatre

A brilliant discussion which led to lots of easily obtainable action points. Lots of links to discussions that happened yesterday; particularly to the session entitled: Bristolians/city-dwellers: How Can We Share More With The Regions That Surround Us? (Link to the report from that session here: http://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/events/devoted-disgruntled-12/reports/bristolianscity-dwellers-how-can-we-share-more-wit/

 

Key Action points:

  • Help create a website which contains user-generated content about setting up and running pop-up venues.
  • Establish a network to help each other and to tour work between venues.

 

Useful organisations/Downloads:

The ABTT – Association of British Theatre Technicians

http://www.abtt.org.uk/shop/books/

Free guide to non-conventional theatre spaces
http://www.abtt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Non-Conventional-Theatre-Spaces-17-Aug-2017.pdf

Free safety guide for small venues: http://www.rusafe.org.uk/#download

ISAN – International Street Artists Network

Edinburgh Fringe Festival have a lot of documentation about setting up temporary venues, licensing, health and safety etc

Quotes/Provocations/Inspirations:

  • Learn council speak – speak to Local Authorities using terminology they understand – find language that’s not arts language i.e. Placemaker Activation
  • Realise that it’s not about always climbing up the ladder and heading for a big producing house – remember that we should be proud to produce good small scale work and that we should accept our work is good and not make it into something it’s not just because its the “normal” way of doing things
  • Take pride in the work that you do
  • Create relationships with property developers, town centre teams and councils
  • Don’t be put off by people telling you it won’t work
  • Revitalise thinking about business use that highlights the work
  • Holding more events across an area on one day attract more audiences than running different events over different days
  • Work with an experienced project manager
  • Social responsibility – Look at the larger impact of what you’re doing and understand the positive and negative connotations of doing this i.e. arts can help revitalise a city centre – but inevitably once that area is revitalised there is seen to be no longer a need for the art that helped it get there in the first place. Think about how the success of revitalising a city centre can impact on poorer areas of the city.
  • Licensing: No licence unless selling alcohol and under 500 people. Toilets and fire exits denote audience sizes. PRS music licensing. Insurance.

 

Session 6 – Female Leaders In The Arts: A Norm Not A Niche

I joined this session part of the way through after butterflying around for a bit and catching snatches of other conversations along the way. To begin with I was the only male there which was daunting as a lot of the talk was about men – but also a really great experience for once to be in the minority. I purposely stayed at the edge of the circle for this one – mainly because I just wanted to listen and learn and quite frankly there are enough white, straight, middle class men talking all the time and making their voices heard and this session was not about me and my voice. It was an opportunity to listen and learn and see what I can do to help the situation and to really discover how the gender divide has effected women in the arts and in society in general. And it was incredibly eye-opening. Thank you to those present for being so open and honest and allowing me to observe. I’ve made a few notes that people raised during this conversation and I hope out of context they make sense (please do suggest better ways of wording things if they do not!).

Notes/Key Points/Quotes

  • Self-empowerment – give yourselves permission to go for roles
  • Gate keeping – other women in leadership roles bringing women up through
  • Creating a new model of leadership which isn’t patriarchal
  • Women to take responsibility for how women are viewed in the arts
  • Women talking and advocating for each other – name dropping other women in conversations, twitter, interviews etc
  • Leadership qualities – how to change the male orientated view of leadership so that it better represents women and their qualities
  • Remembering that emotion is the sign of a strong leader and not a weakness
  •  Start empowerment through schools – governing boards – education
  • Need to change the vocabulary that we use – not just in the arts but in everyday life as well
  • Look at the Iceland model for equal rights of the mother
  • Get rid of preconceived and deep rooted ideas of what a mother should be
  • Equal childcare / paternity
  • Why should women have to fight their way back into jobs from the bottom after having children?
  • Change the culture of male language and put an end to questions such as “do you think you can deal with men” being asked in interviews to female only candidates

After this session I sat down and thought about everything I’d heard and discovered and one thing I’m going to do much more of is shouting about and name-checking the brilliant women that I work with or have conversations with. Especially on social media via my personal account and the Theatre Bath account. I’m also going to look very closely and the vocabulary I use and keep taking stock of how I say things to see if I can make them more gender-neutral. This discussion resonated and reverberated long after it finished so thank you again for letting me listen.

 

img_1523Session 7 – Making things easier to understand (or f**k art speak)

I accidentally wandered into this session and I’m so glad I did. Personally I hate jargon. It’s one of my massive bug bears. I work or have worked with a lot of large organisations that are full of acronyms and slang terms and I absolutely loathe it – just call things what they are and quit labelling them all the time. I also hate that we are expected to speak in cultural tongues in order for us to ascend the cultural leadership ladder. No! Just no! Talk proper like… :p

 

Notes/Key Points/Quotes

  • Whatever we say or think – not everyone has internet access – not everyone is computer savvy
  • Why do we rely on past success to sell shows? Are audiences really interested in some obscure production that someone they have never heard of by a company they don’t know has produced sometime in the past? Why not just write good copy about the actual show
  • Some venues use Skype/Facetime to get artists appearing their to talk about their forthcoming work
  • Realise the value of actual contact with artists creating the work
  • Getting people who have been involved with or seen the “product” to advocate for it and help to write the copy for it
  • Reconnect with why you are involved with a company. Why are you involved with doing the work? This shifts the ownership of the work.
  • Use of the word “Artists” – has it become a dirty buzz word? Is there a certain snobbery or elitism associated with the word? Search for a title within the word that represents what it means to us as individuals
  • Have a bullshit filter or a friend/colleague that can act as a bullshit filter to help us better describe our work
  • Use the 25 words or less method of describing the show / work

 

Session 8 – Want to perform a show in Bath? What can we do to help?

I called this session to try and help connect people who want to perform in Bath with the right venues and organisations and to share what I know with anyone who was interested.

The key points that came from the discussion were that Bath and Bristol do have bubble and cliques that from the outside can be very hard to penetrate. Theatre Bath is going to look at how we can help with this including potentially re-starting our informal networking nights / tweetups so that people can meet with other theatre makers and get the advice/help/connections that they desperately need.

Also pointed out that there is very little scope for development of new work in Bath or showing of new work. So to address this we’re going to look at potentially starting scratch nights so that anyone wishing to show work and get feedback on it from audiences or other professionals locally have a platform from which to do this.

img_1525

Closing Thoughts for Day 2

Usually at the end of D&D I feel exhausted and emotional. Today I felt empowered and ready to take on the world. The power of openspace and the ability to connect with so many people on an open playing field is empowering and beautiful.

I’ve spent the last two days walking around the space smiling at strangers, them smiling back and saying hello to lots of different people. I became very aware as I left the circle this evening and headed to catch a train that the feeling of open space didn’t exist in the world that I’d just stepped back into. The reality of walking up the approach to Temple Meads Station and for a moment forgetting that the people milling around me going about their daily lives don’t yet contain the open space magic that the rest of us get to take away with us. I forgot for a moment that if you smile at normal people sometimes they don’t react in the same way as they do in open space. I got some very weird looks from those loitering outside the station as I began adjusting back to the real world but still smiling madly at them. It just reminded me that we’ve got more work to do yet and that we need to spread the open space magic a little wider. Am I going to stop smiling madly at strangers… occasionally saying hello… not a bloody chance. We are all responsible for creating a change and being the change that we want to see in the world. Open space has again re-ignited something within me that I can now keep and take forward in a positive way and implement in the work that I do in the future. From small acorns grow mighty oaks and all that.

I can’t wait to see what the final day brings and I look forward to it with a heightened sense of optimism that things can change and be made better.

Until tomorrow.

 

Contact / Social Media:

Personal Twitter: @LukeJohnEmmett    –   Website: www.lukejohnemmett.co.uk

Theatre Bath @TheatreBath    –   Facebook: www.facebook.com/theatrebath

Theatre Bath Bus: @TheatreBus

 

Email: info@theatrebath.co.uk    –   mail@lukejohnemmett.co.uk

Repetition, Patterns and Déjà vu

Patterns, patterns everywhere. Things that seem to keep on reoccurring. Repetition.

This is going to be a bit of a ramble and I’m not sure where it’s heading but I felt the need to write it down. So here goes…

Do you ever feel that no matter how much things change, certain aspects of your life seem to loop back around again? Things go full circle. Not to go too Lion King on you but it’s very much “circle of life”. 

I’ve been noticing lots of things recently with family members and friends and I keep seeing patterns emerging. My life is very different now compared to when I was a child but recently I’ve seen events loop back around again and patterns of behaviour that I haven’t seen for probably 20 years are returning to those around me.

It’s surreal and unsettling. And hard to write about in detail without revealing too much about those involved.

My nieces are staying with us at the moment. One is 4 and the other is 11. The 11 year old in particular is almost experiencing the same issues that I had at school and it’s horrible to watch. It’s like looking through a portal in time and seeing yourself and watching yourself go through some pretty tough things. And again feeling powerless to do anything about it. She won’t accept help and the school are being less than great at sorting things out. 

We’ve had a lot of stuff to deal with over the last few years but recently it seems like the family is dealing with things by reverting back to patterns of behaviour from a long time ago and it’s weird to be a part of it. It’s weird to watch. And I don’t like it.

I’ve always been a big believer of carving my own path and being able to change to move forward. But I’m beginning  to wonder how much of the changes are real and how many are superficial, on the surface. Or perhaps we think things have changed and trick ourselves into believing they have when actually all we’re doing is acting out what looks like a change. Convincing ourselves that we are doing things differently. When actually, fundamentally nothing is really different. And when things begin to fall around you the false wall of protection comes hurtling down exposing an uncomfortable reality behind it. That there are certain mannerisms and behaviours that we revert back to when everything else fails. A core being that is at the base of what makes us who we are and to some degree is an unchangeable beast.

I am intrigued by it to say the least and although things have been tough it is interesting to watch these patterns emerge and perhaps when things calm down I’ll be able to understand them better.

Watch this space!

I’ll Have You Know I’m Approaching 30 – Yes but from which direction?

Couldn’t resist starting this blog post with an old panto joke as so much of my life has involved panto and theatre. I’m going or use this post to look back at some of the crazy things that have happened to me over the last 30 rebellious years.
 
My first rebellious act was at the moment of my birth. No I don’t remember it but it’s been burnt into my memory as the story frequently gets pulled out by my both my parents. The midwife who was looking after my mum when she went into labour wasn’t the friendliest person in the world and seemed to be dressed for a night out on the tiles when she was called in to deliver me. Bright pink make-up exploded from both her lips and nails like an hallucinatory flashing of a gaudy 80s nightclub. Her hair carefully up so as not a piece was out of place. She seemed very keen to get out of there. Anyway I dutifully did my bit and wriggled free and into the world and proceeded to urinate directly into her face. Maybe I sensed she wasn’t that nice a person… Who knows but I’m assured that my aim was perfect and I drenched her sufficiently (possibly from both ends I might add!). And that was how I came to be… Explains a lot huh?!?
 
Childhood was pretty normal I think, I was always a bit of an oddball and that kinda stuck. My mind was always away with the fairies and I had a deep desire to explore, to go on adventures and find out “what would happen if we did this?” Dangerous qualities in anyone, but especially in a child. That sense of adventure and exploration has stuck with me along with an incredibly rebellious nature.
 
When I was younger my mum was always reading to me. Every night we would have a story before we went to bed. Never my dad though. It was only in later years that I discovered reading didn’t come particularly easy to him but as a child you don’t understand these things and just think that your dad doesn’t want to read to you.
 
I grew up with a head full of the tales of Enid Blyton from the Folk of the Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, to the Famous Five and Five Find-Outers-and-Dog with the surly policeman Goon. The Tales of Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne and a little later Roald Dahl and Ted Hughes. These stories and tales became a massive part of my life and I would often find myself daydreaming about going on adventures with the characters. I remember actually going to the woods behind my house and trying to find the Far-Away-Tree and climb it and wondering what would these wild animals say if they actually could speak. There was a hollow tree in the top corner of the field along from my house, at some point in the past it had been struck by lightning and the charred edges left a hollow big enough for a small child to climb into. This became my magic tree which I nick-named the weather station… I can’t remember why? Perhaps it was because the wind whirled through it or perhaps I felt that the tree still held some of the magic from the Lightning that struck it. Who knows but for me that place was magic. 
 
The sad fact is I think at some point you realise that no matter how much you will them these things will never actually come true, that there is no Neverland, Lost Boys or a ticking crocodile, that no matter how many trees you climb you will never find a magical changing land at the top (but you do get amazing views!). And that’s a really sad day. When the spell is finally broken and your head pumped full of useless Maths Equations, facts and things measurable by science that you’ll never use in real life. I’m not sure we ever know when the changing point is, it just happens and life rushes passed in the blinking of an eye and when you do finally turn back you see the magic has faded and the grey reality of life seeps in and drains all the colour. And those characters you had dedicated a good part of your life to have returned to the pages of the book whence they came.
 
But their stories are far from over as they wait patiently for the next generation to discover them, to befriend them and bring them back to life. That’s the beauty of books and the imagination. When things are written down they are never truly lost forever. They can be rediscovered.
 
And sure I don’t climb nearly enough trees these days, although I do still talk to animals (if you own a pet you’ll understand – they totally know what you’re going on about). But I have discovered a way back to the magic – through theatre. Through bringing words on a page to life. To painting the stage with lights to help to bring these fantasy worlds into reality. The best part… Yes I’m nearly 30, but I still get to create magic, and play and watch others share and experience that magic as well. As jobs go that ain’t bad really is it.
 
I’ve rambled on long enough and I’m not sure this was even the post I was going to write, (I may write a few more “reflective” posts), but like so many things in my life I pick up the idea, set my imagination loose and just see where it leads me… Hey It’s worked out okay for 30 years.. And if it ain’t broke…

Goodbye 2015

Well 2015 happened. There have been many beautiful highs with some of the most amazing people I could ever wish to work with – I’m really proud of the shows I’ve lit or worked on this year and it’s been a joy working with all of my theatre family in the South West (you know who you are – love you all!).

 

To my amazing Theatre Bath team who keep on achieving so many brilliant things (you ladies are amazing!) and the support of the wider theatre community has once again amazed me and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

 

There have also been some devastating lows and I’ve seen friends and family go through things I wouldn’t wish on anybody but go through them they did and all of them have come out the other side slightly scarred but stronger for it – the amazing show of support from friends has been really heartwarming and seeing the wide net of support out there and people looking after each other is lush.

 

The one thing I’m gonna take from this year. Life is short. Live it. Enjoy it. Keep your sense of humour (that’s key). You don’t know how long you’ve got with people so let them know that you care. If you love someone tell them even if it doesn’t work out at least you tried and won’t have any regrets. I apologise if I’ve been short with anyone but my head just hasn’t had the capacity to deal with everything that’s been happening the last few years. As I write this my dad is once more in hospital (he’s ok, well he’s stable anyway). He’s been in and out so much this year we’re considering buying a bed up there. 😁 His COPD (chronic lung disease) is now at the final stages and he has problems with his heart and that’s a tough thing to deal with but you just have to pick yourself up and carry on – there is no choice. Take each day as it comes. You don’t know what life is going to chuck at you but I do know I have the strength to meet it head on and support of some amazing people in my life and for that I feel truly blessed – so thank you!

 

So no resolutions for next year – I just intend to live. To dream big and to follow those dreams, create some magic, to carry on learning, to carry on growing as a person and not allowing anyone or anything to hold me back. To continue looking at the world as a massive playground. I’m gonna make shit happen. I may be a little crazy and a little introverted but i know who I am and I’m happy in my own skin and I can’t ask for anything more than that.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful night and that 2016 is kind to you. Love you all (even the ones that I don’t really love – yeah you know who you are).

 

“May God (or you know whoever you believe in) bless and keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay forever young”

 

xXx