Outside the play. The influence of other mediums.

One of the best lessons I ever had was to be told to produce some writing bases on another piece of creation. Music, dance, art and all other aspects of creation can feed into and inspire each other.

The cadence and rhythm of poetry lend itself so well to dialogue. The emotive effect of music can be layered over a piece or inspire it. The human relationship explored so physically through dance can develop characters.

There are two things you could do with this.

You can add different mediums to your creation to enhance its effects. Recent works Let The Right One In and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time were ground-breaking and effective in their multimedia approach to the play. Partly because of this they were so successful and celebrated in their west end runs.

On the other hand, you could use other mediums as starting points for new works. All creative expressions share similarities. The outburst of emotion or the need to tell a story are universal across all sectors. If you can find what you wanted to express summed up in a painting you can start finding your own way to that same end by a different means.

The best way to get the benefits is to expose yourself to as many different types of work as you can. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Many galleries in London are free. There are public exhibitions of dance all over the city. Leicester Square and Covent Garden are good place to catch flash mobs or exhibitions. Every street corner and tube is flooded with buskers.

Whether it’s to add innovation to a piece or invent a new project all creators should expose themselves to other mediums. London is bursting with works old and new. The very streets are lined with art and artists.

We must push the boundaries of our own medium to create a creative medium where we can influences and sustains each other.

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Creative Spaces. Finding your place to work.

Senate House Library reading room

Senate House Library reading room

coffee, cake and creativity

coffee, cake and creativity

Living in the city that never stops life can feel hectic, rushed and loud. Creativity is pursuit which requires patience and concentration. But then how do you find a place to write in London? Firsts things first you need a desk, a chair and probably a power point unless you like things the old fashioned way. London has a myriad of inspiring places that offer these facilities.

The coffee shop is a favorite of mine. The distraction of people coming and going, as well as a bit of eves dropping helps cultivate ideas. Not to mention an endless supply of caffeine to keep you going. If you’re not a fan of corporate, commercialized chains then there are plenty of independent places. From Bloomsbury Tea Rooms to the Charles Dickens Coffee House there is a whole host of one off gems to find and get the creative juices flowing.

Libraries have the allure of silence spaces where you can be surrounded by your literary heroes. In an environment created for study it puts you in the right frame of mind for productive work. Because of the number of students in London there are a variety of locations to choose from. The beautiful leather sofas scattered in the reading room in Senate House Library has both comfort and grandeur (above). Just to the north the British library has all the reference texts you could ever need. It makes research a lot easier. Their downfall is usually a membership cost. It might very well be a price worth paying however.

Your own home gives the option of reorganizing the space, reading your work aloud and never having to get out of your pyjamas. Its possible downfalls are the distractions of a full fridge or comfy bed. If you’re lucky enough to have the space to create your perfect environment then it can be the ultimate hive of activity. More likely though in London, you will find your desk next to your bed and the ability to netflicks without judgment can be a downfall.

Outdoor writing is a risky game in the changeable British weather. But it is always something worth being prepared for. Have a notebook with you always. You never know when what you see or hear will inspire you. It could be on the tube, on your walk to lunch or a sunny evening in Hyde Park. Sometimes it can be where we least expect it that we find our perfect place to write.

London can be a creative’s haven if you can figure out where you work best. Don’t be afraid to change up your creative routine as well. A change of scenery can do wonders for your work. There is sanctuary in the city, go and find it.

Getting your work seen. Tips and tricks.

Scratch nights

These are a great opportunity to get your work on stage.

They are run by a variety of different theatres. They can work in a few ways. Some places will provide you with some rehearsal time, a director and actors. Other places want a fully formed piece meaning you’ll need your own actors and staging already set.

Usually held once a month or a few times a year there’s a lot of opportunity to get involved. Maybe head down and watch a scratch night first to see the sort of thing that theatre is looking for. They are very informal and very fun.

Place to go –

Freshly Scratched

Paines Plough

Theatre Project

New Britannia Theatre

Theatre 503 (rapid write response)

The Place

Rich Mix

Etch

Is art feminine? Sexism in the industry.

I often think of the art world as a girls’ game. If you’ve ever been in am dram there always seems to be a plethora of female participants and only a few males to counter them. People often say the arts is where you should go if you’re a single straight guy.

However, the fact that there are more females in the industry often has a negative impact on our gender. The competition is much higher for female roles.

Whilst this is especially prevalent in performance role where the number of participants per gender is specifically outlined, it is not absent in the behind the scenes artistic roles.

Writing from experience is an inevitable part of the creative process. Therefore, the industry is not crowded by too many of the same type of writer. Therefore, there is still competition to be the younger writer on the scene, the international writer or indeed the female writer.

With the unfortunate trend of anti-feminists there are waves of people complaining about too many angst ridden females whining about inequality in the work they produce. This is undermining the work of many great female creators.

A writer may be discussing an issue that people find uncomfortable but that is ongoing in the industry today. This voice needs to be heard because it is still being stifled. But the fact that it is being stifled means that it is not adequately being elevated in the creative or commercial world.

It seems that the fact that there are many more women in the arts industry is not aiding us into having a fair and supportive work environment. It in fact seems that we may have to work harder to reach the same level as the less crowded field of males.

How can we counter this? If every work was anonymous and judged only on talent maybe the current field of writers would look different. And maybe it wouldn’t.

As women we must challenge ourselves to diversify our work to say what needs saying in a language that will engage with those who need to hear it.

It may not be fair and it shouldn’t be only our responsibility but if we do not fight for it ourselves we will not get it. The fact that the industry is filled with women means that we can influence its direction.

We may have to be sneaky, but nothing is more powerful than a women once scorned.

Art is life. Is it?

Art is food for the soul. It nurtures the mind and provides moral comfort.

Unfortunately, art doesn’t always pay the bills.

It has before been motioned that I am a student. Not for much longer though. As the real world approaches me I’ve began to search for a way to make money whilst being a creator. It’s been hard. For writers the residency positions we all crave are like gold dust. So often we need experience, professional productions, agents even before we can get ‘beginners’ residency opportunities.

So we’ll just get a job and write on the side, right?

I foolishly said to a writer friend that this year hadn’t been a good time to finish my play as I was writing my two dissertations. Even though it is challenging it certainly is not taking up as much time as a full time job will. How do you juggle life and art when art cannot at that time be your livelihood?

With piling debt, council tax and living in one of the most expensive cities in the world how do you jump from outside the tightly knit art circle into its core?

I truly believe it’s by having friends on the inside.

The arts world is an old game. It is precious of its future and doesn’t want to put it in the hands of just anyone.

Writer’s labs, workshops and conferences are essential to the new writer. We all need to get lucky and make that connection. You don’t need a foot in the door you need a friend on the other side with the key.

If you want to make money out of art then you are surrendering to the fact that art is a business. Everything is a business. Therefore, networking is no longer a pursuit reserved for those in suits.

This doesn’t remove the integrity of our world. The simple fact is that life cost and if art is to be you’re life it better pay.

Here artist need to develop a new skill, selling themselves. If someone else will believe it you and give you a shot then you can spend the rest of your life proving them right with your work. However, in the beginning artists need a business mind, a lot of guts, patience and maybe a part time job.

Life is a cabaret and you need to pay at the door.

The extraordinary in the ordinary. Does real life have a place on the stage?

Works of fiction are hyper realities. We chose to show the moments of life and death as they naturally lend themselves to the dramatics.

But in doing this, are we ignoring the beauty of normality?

Many people argue that movies and plays give unrealistic expectations of life, of love and of happy ever afters.

But then again, an audience would likely complain if they spent two hours watching an actor drink tea and wait on hold to the tax office.

Are we doing an injustice, or even selling a flat out lie if we only present a dramatic life?

We may set people up for disappointment, or may even be looking for our own escape from the mundane.

Our own lives are dramatic, intriguing and special to us as individuals. Perhaps, what we try and create on stage is a reflection of what we feel about life. What happens is that is comes out in extraordinary scenarios as this is the only way to convey the emotions we often feel in the ordinary moments.

It could very well seem that any life that is not our own is extraordinary. Even when we talk to friends and family we talk about the big moments not the tea and tax office.

It may be that we do convey an ordinary life, but that it seems exotic as anything different from own routine does.

If this is the case we are not selling lies. We are, in fact, selling stories. Stories do not run in real time. Each of us will probably experience great joys and great tragedies but they may just not seem as epic as one does not run straight into the other but are separated by years.

The theatre is an escape and we do not want to see a representation of our own exact lives on stage. If we did we would just stay at home and experience it for ourselves.

What we want is to see all of the possibilities that life could be and then to go home and live whatever life we want.

This is something I wrote for a play.

It’s the ordinary that you remember at the end. Not the times of life and death, but everything in between.

Who’s allowed to write? Exclusion in the arts as in life.

I can’t spell. I do not follow grammatical rules. I am dyslexic. But I am a writer.

Having a learning difficulty which centres around my construction of language it may seem strange that I chose to be a writer.

It’s a challenge I face in my academic life as well. However, I choose to think that I can still say something important, even if I can’t say it very well.

Education itself often creates exclusivity. You have to qualify. The revered writers of our generation are predominantly Oxbridge and I doubt you’d find even one who wasn’t university educated.

It comes back to the question of training. Is being a writer something you do or something you are? I still don’t have the answer to this one. However, it seems that training is important (or even a prerequisite) in the eyes of the industry.

Creativity brings a lot of joy. It should be open to everyone. However we just don’t see inclusiveness at the professional level.
This is why it is important to reach writers at a young age. The motivation to learn to help fulfil a passion is perhaps why successful writers felt education was a necessary step for them.

 However, great writers would probably still be great writers even if they hadn’t got that degree. Here the problem facing older new writers is the societal pressure to be established in your career at a young age. What if you arrive to the game late?

It seems that there are so many opportunities for exclusion in life. You shouldn’t have the fear of missing out if you didn’t get it right first time round. It is an attitude that needs to change for the benefit of everyone, not just for writers.

Embrace the things you cannot change and make it work. If you have a formal education or not. If you need to relay on spell checker or not.

I think my mixed up brain allows me to make wonderfully eccentric connections in my academic life. In my writing I hope it will make me different.

It is something I have to work at. But I like to think of it as a face your fears scenario. And if you’re bad at something, if you’re starting at the bottom, the only way to go it up.