My First Time (At The Fringe)
21 August 2018
(sorry) is one of those shows that will always have a little piece of my heart, not only because I think it’s an urgent, brave and relatable account of the millennial experience but it also marks the start of a long collaboration between myself and playwright Susie Sillett.
Susie and I first met in 2014 when I co-founded Shoot Festival with Paul O’Donnell. Shoot is a platform for early career artists making work in Coventry and specifically supports grass roots talent. Susie applied with her show I’m Not Like Other Girls and I was completely bowled over by it.
Fast forward a few years and an email dropped in to my inbox asking if I’d like to work with her and Phoebe Frances Brown on a new project which had already been performed as part of Women and Theatre’s event Starting Out. At this point (sorry) was a single monologue which explored feelings towards employment and the hope was to expand it in to a full play. Susie felt very strongly that friendship and climate change were the pressing issues of our generation and so after a period of research, questionnaires and interviews she started to write…
The hope was to do a sharing in a rehearsal room at the Birmingham REP and get feedback from our friends but to our surprise, and utter delight, the REP commissioned (sorry) as part of their New & Nurtured Season in 2017. Susie and I had both trained on the REP’s artist development programme (Foundry) and it felt incredible to be making work in a theatre I had long admired.
It was a great run and I felt a real pang of sadness when it finished, I knew this play deserved another life but I wasn’t quite sure where or how. Enter the King’s Head Theatre. I had been working with the King’s Head for about three years (after undergoing training on their director programme) and was overjoyed when they told me they thought Edinburgh would be a great idea!
And here we are… my directorial debut at the biggest arts festival in the world. Pretty nuts eh? When I look back over the past few years of my career the main thing that comes to mind is how lucky I am to have received such wonderful support from a variety of artists and theatres. Trying to freelance in the industry can be a very daunting experience if, like me, you don’t have any connections when starting out. Only the other week Lyn Gardner wrote an article in the Stage about the crucial impact mentors can have on theatre careers.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, whether you’re a huge organisation with millions of pounds or someone who’s just beginning their career: please support each other. Making theatre can be a wonderfully exciting opportunity (especially at the Fringe) but it also can feel overwhelming and frightening, a kind word over a coffee goes a really long way.