As a performer and director for many years I never feel more privileged than when working with young people. Engaging with young minds gives me purpose to create and feed not only my imagination but also those around me. This certainly wasn’t the dream that made me go out and haul my backside through drama school. My family all thought I would be on coronation street but fate and the need, I hate to say it, to earn money turned me in a different direction. And thank goodness it did!
20 years on I have created a range of works, from musicals to Shakespeare. Usually veering towards devised and original works, as they can so often take you in a direction you never thought when the ideas were first conceived. Also creating your own work is liberating, not only creatively but in these ever increasing times of pinched funding, financially.
I have ventured with impressionable youngsters to the Edinburgh Fringe and know that for some it made a significant impact on their lives that has never been forgotten. This is a goal I want achieve again, to show young people their abilities can be limitless when they open themselves to possibilities.
My vision now is the continuing pursuit of making theatre with young people. Giving them the tools to be able to try new ideas and not to be afraid to experiment with drama in its many forms. I want them to react to the world around them and the stories that can be told. I want those that collaborate with me to see that they can be unique and bold in their choices. I want them to rebel against the mundane and expected routes presented to our youth. There is a need to re connect with young people and present them with alternative ways to express themselves.
I want to be able to present audiences with something unexpected. Original work that shows ideas of what young minds can achieve. I love working with visual imagery and exploring movement. My early pieces leaned heavily on trying out these forms and as I move on I want to develop more work that can embody a performers movements and gestures just as much as the dialogue when exploring the narrative of a piece.
I take my inspiration from companies such as DV8, Frantic Assembly and I have a huge love of how mask companies such as Trestle and Vamos engage with their audience. Each have unique story telling concepts that challenge the audience to take notice.
It is important for me to continue developing as a director and performer myself and find my inspiration, in this way I think I have the tools to inspire others and to get them to look at the world with a new perspective. For me it is sometimes the simple thoughts that won’t go away are worth looking at to see if there is a piece of drama unfolding or certainly a chance to start a journey that may reveal a whole new potential to create and devise work, often spontaneous improvisation can yield a starting point and shows that we can truly create from anything.
As a performer I never got as nervous before a performance as I do when allowing others to step in that role and perform a piece. I know it may scare them to death for a multitude of reasons. But I know that the hard work of getting them there reaps so many benefits. The confidence and skills they build, the ability to mentally and physically engage with work they have an active role in creating. Having ownership on your efforts and the journey you take to get there is something real and tangible and a gift that can be given again and again.
Reflections on my Artist Statement
If someone had asked me to write an artist statement 6 months ago I truly would be thinking “for who?”
My first attempt at this was during the introductory module with Frantic Assembly and it is something I had never done before. The idea that I’m an artist was ridiculous. I just do something I love, the only way I know how!
It is a unique feeling, being able to acknowledge what it is you do and a deeper recognition in seeing the value of your own self worth. For me I have had the validation that yes, I have been able to have a positive impact on young people interested in making theatre, or even just signing up for something they never really knew what they were getting into. You accept this as a huge positive as a teacher it doesn’t always happen, but in the arts when it is something you feel passionate about and you know how richer your life is for this medium. You have to share it.
In writing an artist statement you truly do share. You accept that this is a calling. And it sounds like an arty farty thing to say. You get used to hearing these phrases bandied about because what you do doesn’t seem as important as maths and science and it’s ‘not a proper job!’ Well I see plenty of these proper jobs on the credits of a film or in the programme of a theatre production. These people who don’t do proper jobs, enlighten, amaze and engage millions, via a goggle box at home or with those who do actively engage to spectate with live performance or visual art or the many forms that arty farty may take. It makes the world an interesting place and for me I realise I need to embrace that I am part of the movement for making the place more interesting. My artist statement shows I have grown in confidence. So I can truly begin to realise what I do and actually why I do it.