Producers’ Place #3

If you are working in the arts and making things happen (whatever your job title), the Producers’ Place network and its events will be of interest to you…

What are producers doing in relation to creating a sense of place through cultural activity? How is the producer working with artists where art, regeneration and the environment interact? How are producers sparking dialogue across communities and igniting new strategies for energising struggling urban areas where Mary Portas’ magic wand has failed to spark transformation?

The next Producers’ Place session will take place on Monday 30 June in Swansea at Volcano’s 229 High Street venue from 7pm-9pm

At this session, Producers’ Place will be hosting a discussion between Seth Honnor (http://kaleider.com/) and Paul Davies (http://www.volcanotheatre.co.uk/) where they will talk about how the multi-faceted role of the producer can shade into that of a cultural activist, future thinker and radical entrepreneur.

Seth describes himself as liking “to play a lot and make stuff” and as “being one, several or all of the following: an artist, designer, choreographer (not a real one), theatre maker, sportsman (#captseth), teacher, musician, facilitator, consultant, husband, dad.” He is the Artistic Director of Kaleider based in Exeter and Director of online performance network albow. He is an Honorary Fellow at University of Exeter and on the Steering Board for the AHRC funded REACT Hub which is a collaboration between Universities of Cardiff, Bristol, West of England, Bath, Exeter and Watershed. He was the founding Director of Theatre Bristol stepping down after 6 years in April 2010 to make work as an artist again.

Paul is a writer, performer, deviser and director who holds a doctorate in Politics and a black belt in karate. He is, with Fern Smith, one of the founder members of Volcano and is now its Artistic Director. He has performed in many Volcano shows, written three plays for the company and directed or devised a number of others. He has directed work in Montreal and Croatia and taught in various academies around the world.

Producers’ Place is a new network for producers in Wales. The network aims to strengthen links between people who self-identify as producers in the arts (whether they have that job title or not) – to foster dialogue, share ideas and offer practical support to participants.

This event has been made possible through support from Arts Council Wales.

This is a free but ticketed event. Please book here to attend:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/producers-place-seth-honnor-and-paul-davies-tickets-11929887615

Refreshments will be available at the event. We look forward to seeing you there.

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show business

Fiona Baxter – Creative Producer at Farnham Maltings – is coming to speak to The Producers Place network in October.  In the meantime, she has asked that I pass on details of this event to anyone who might be interested…

show business, Thursday 19 June, National Theatre
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a one-day symposium towards greater connectivity between commercial and subsidised models in theatre’s independent sector

Thursday 19 June 2014
National Theatre

Aimed at producers, theatre companies and venues working at the small to mid scale, show business will explore how the commercial and subsidised sectors might work better together.

With examples of best practice, provocations and discussion, this symposium considers the potential for greater resilience, fairer pay and larger audiences that might result from mixed models and unlikely alliances that borrow the best from both worlds.

Speakers include:
Nick Starr (National Theatre), Neil Darlison (Arts Council England), Eleanor Lloyd (Eleanor Lloyd Productions), Lyn Gardner (The Guardian), Charlotte Jones (ITC), Robert Noble (New Adventures), Peter Wilson (PWProductions), Jo Crowley (1927), Richard Jordan (Richard Jordan Productions Ltd), Julius Green (author of How To Produce a West End Show)

Tickets:
£35 London delegates (within zones 1-6)
£25 Out of London delegates

Book now via eventbrite
Earlybird Discount: £5 off tickets booked by Sunday 1 June

show-business.org.uk

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Producer Sarah Jane Leigh talks about her walk with Lucy Davies

A couple of weeks ago I was given the chance by Simon Harris to go on a walk with Lucy Davies. The route of the walk had to be chosen by Lucy and be a walk that has provided her with inspiration.

 

Since meeting Lucy a couple of years ago, whilst being part of National Theatre Wales TEAM and by carrying out work on small projects for the company, she has become a very big inspiration to me and my career, but before the walk I hadn’t realised quite how much.

 

I’d never really chatted to Lucy because the occasion hadn’t really arisen, as Lucy was always incredibly busy doing the work that Executive Producers of National companies do and I hadn’t wanted to waste her time, or get in the way, or say something stupid. Basically, I hadn’t had the confidence.

 

When Simon ask me whether I’d like to go on a walk where I’d receive informal mentoring and advice from the Producer running my favourite theatre ever, I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe that  I was the best suited person for the experience.

 

Whilst arranging the date and time of the walk via email with Lucy and Simon I couldn’t quite believe that it would actually happen, and after months of arranging around busy work schedules, bad weather and family lives, the day arrived.

 

I sat on the train to London trying to think up appropriate and interesting questions to ask Lucy, and in my head they all sounded clichéd or like nonsense. By the time I’d got the tube and was standing there early looking up at the big red neon signs of The Royal Court Theatre I was a little petrified. Why would Lucy Davies want to speak to me and pass on her wisdom?

 

I went to the box office and then they directed me to the stage door. So I sat there and waited for Lucy’s PA to come and collect me. So many times I had sat in that café or in that auditorium but I was now deep behind the stage in a lift ascending to Lucy’s office.

 

After all that build up I was finally met by a massive smile and gigantic hug – all those feelings of inadequacy and fear vanished. I was talking to a real woman in her real office at the real Royal Court. I’ve been in many offices before but here I could feel the history of the building and see all of the old show posters on the walls.

 

I’d run out of power on my computer and needed to do some work on the journey home and so timidly asked if I could charge my computer. I placed my laptop where Lucy’s had been and we had a joke along the lines that I was taking over which ended in a selfie showing me sitting in Lucy’s chair. We were laughing and having fun!

 

Sarah and Lucy 1

 Lucy gave me a tour of the building and we even ventured out onto the stage. The stage where so many unheard, exciting, genre creating voices had been heard and had done their bit to change the world we live in.

 

We left the Royal Court and walked through London until we reached the Donmar Warehouse, which is where Lucy’s producing career had begun. Lucy told me all about her career progression, the tough decisions she’d had to make, the opportunities she’d grasped and she also reminded me that as well as being a producer I was a woman. I’d never thought about what would happen if I decided to have a family. I’d never really thought of the realities of being both a Wife and a Mother whilst still working. But Lucy is proof that none of those roles are mutually exclusive.

 

Lucy questioned me not only about the work that I help to make but also about me, and since meeting her I have a list of very practical things I want to do to develop and strengthen the business elements of what I do and am starting to think strategically for the future.

 

We talked a lot about endings and pondered about what made an ending good. We never came to a conclusion but I think that this is something we will both continue to think and hypothesise about.

 

I have found that being a producer can be quite isolating, especially as I work freelance, but when I was talking with Lucy I no longer felt alone. It became apparent that she had either had, or was having, similar worries to me and was coming across similar issues and problems. Knowing this has left me feeling more positive about the work that I am doing and feeling less isolated.

 

Lucy is such a generous person. She made me feel completely at ease and like I was having a gossip with one of my best friends. The advice and insights she gave me have motivated me and made me feel more confident in my own process as a producer. I feel completely inspired by Lucy and her career to date, and am looking forward to our next meeting.

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Guided tour No. 5# with Lucy Davies

Sarah and Lucy 5If you’re writing your first play, here’s my advice: take it to someone just starting out at the Donmar who will one day become Executive Director at The Royal Court. That’s what happened to me. Lucy Davies was a young producer working with Sam Mendes at the Donmar and came to see a show based on a novel I’d adapted and directed. She asked what I was planning next and I began talking about this mad comedy set in a second-hand goods shop. It eventually became my play Badfinger, which featured Rhys Ifans, Jason Hughes, Bob Blythe and Richard Mylan. From that point on, Lucy backed the idea against all the odds. She found us the money to produce the play, she recommended me to a great Literary agent and I got nominated for a London Evening Standard Drama Award. Lucy has been an amazing supporter and advocate ever since I have known her. As a producer, she doesn’t just makes things happen (as all producers should) but makes impossible things possible. And she does so in the most positive and radiant way. I’ve been lucky to have worked with her and kept in touch, as she has moved from the Donamr to film production to the RNT Studio back to the Donmar and via National Theatre Wales to The Royal Court. I couldn’t think of anybody that I’d rather have or who could be better as a mentor to a young producer. Lucy took Sarah Jane Leigh on a walk from Sloane Square to Covent Garden – both areas she has come to know well on her professional journey.

You can see Lucy’s introduction to her walk here: https://vimeo.com/93258343

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Director Ffion Haf Jones talks about her walk with Marc Rees

DPP_433‘What day is it today?’ asked Marc Rees on the 8th November as we were looking at Dylan Thomas’s grave that noted ‘Died 9th November 1953’. What a coincidence that would have been! A walk around Laugharne was a joyful experience as Marc Rees shared his artistic vision in great detail. It’s interesting to see how an artist, like Marc, discovers what gives a location its identity? Immersing himself in the village’s day to day activities, getting to know the village’s regulars and characters is important to him as well as studying the landscapes natural rhythms and historical context. Walking around Dylan Thomas’s home of writing allowed time to stand still and the imagination to play. From peeping your head into the writing shed and then onwards to a nice warm ‘Cawl’ at the Boat House, the endless artistic possibilities Marc brought to the village was enriching. I realised that being surrounded by people and allowing coincidences to happen, is just as part of the creative process as forming ideas and developing concrete work. You need to allow the imagination to be free, and the exterior world to feed you opportunities.

As a theatre director, time can be a precious thing and one can sometimes rush ideas to get the work done. But what Marc showed me that day was the more you relax and truly take notice of the world around you, the possibilities for creative experiments are already there. Trusting your ideas and motivations is an extremely important habit, and only through practice and perseverance can artistic work truly flourish.

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Guided tour No. 4# with artist and curator Marc Rees

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The weather omens for guided tour no. 4# were not looking good as I travelled through torrential rain to Laugharne to meet up with Marc Rees and Ffion Haf Jones. However, as with every walk so far, the skies turned miraculously blue and Laugharne was as tranquil and as beautiful as ever.

Ffion is a theatre director and lecturer who has just participated in an emerging directors programme with Theatr Genedlaethol and recently opened a new production with Cwmni Fran Wen. She was nominated by Arwel Gruffydd, Artistic director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

Marc talks here about why he wanted to explore Laugharne with Ffion.

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Dance artist Kylie Ann Smith talks about her guided tour with Fern Smith

Kylie Ann Smith is a dance artist and member of Kitsch N Sync Collective that is making a name for itself with its fun, ironic and innovative performances. Here Kylie talks about the walk she undertook with Fern Smith her guide around the Gower coastline between Mumbles and Pennard.

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