“There’s a buzz in theatre here at the moment – there’s so much going on.”
The perception of a rising feel good factor in Welsh theatre is a common one. There are plenty of individuals and emerging companies bubbling away with fresh ideas and new energy.
All this is good. Perhaps it signifies a deeper change too – a change that reflects how insurgent, networked groups can mobilise and create momentum around their ideas in competition with less responsive, but better resourced organisations.
At the same time, it is promoting thinking around the primacy of the artist, the sustainability of our producing structure, the need for tailored and bespoke solutions, and fundamental concepts about how and why work is made and who it is for. While much of this change will have permanence, some of the outcomes that seem so welcome right now are by no means guaranteed and there is a good argument for laying some deeper foundations.
Lucid – the new initiative that I am launching – has grown very much from the impulse that we really begin to have influence collectively when we move beyond self-interest to something more generous and inter-connected. It is exciting to report then that much of Lucid’s work in the coming year is born from conversations, partnerships and collaboration with a host of individual artists as well as with key partners, such as Chapter, Sherman Cymru and National Theatre Wales, to move the focus beyond the immediate needs of those involved to a vision for a thriving, inter-connected and resilient artistic community.
Lucid’s initiative is by no means the only one out there, but in the coming twelve months, you will hear about a range of opportunities for artists to develop their individual capacities through dialogue, mentoring and reflection. For example, this month, Lucid will begin recruiting for artists to take part in a process called Action Learning. Ideal for freelancers who sometimes feel isolated or who would welcome a reflective space to explore the issues and ideas underlying their practice, Action Learning is a structured activity that gives individuals time to explore issues that they need to resolve in an environment of peers which is empowering and which helps the individual to find a solution.
In September, Lucid will be collaborating with Devoted and Disgruntled who are bringing their pioneering Open Space event to Sherman Cymru in partnership with National Theatre Wales for an entire weekend. Open Space has been described as allowing “diverse and often very large groups of people to get together, discuss issues of heartfelt concern, share ideas, pool their knowledge and develop plans for collaborative action.” It does this without speakers or formality while remaining openly accessible to all-comers. Lucid will build on this event by hosting a monthly satellite Open Space alternating between Sherman Cymru and Chapter and convened by artists with questions they really want to explore.
At the same time, Lucid will be seeking participants for a series of encounters between emerging and experienced artists. Entitled Creative Walks, the idea is that an experienced artist goes on a walk in a place that is personally inspirational to them while accompanied by an emerging artist. A form of mentoring session, one of the artists taking part is Michael Sheen who wants to revisit the scene of NTW’s extraordinary Passion and walk with someone through the streets of Port Talbot.
As a theatre-maker myself, Lucid will not focus exclusively on developmental projects such as this. This summer I will be working on a contemporary version of an early Chekhov play – Platonov – for an innovative new production as well as working on a fantastic new play by Meredydd Barker. But it’s part of the emerging philosophy of Lucid to apply itself practically and creatively to circumstances as they arise. Idiosyncratic and bespoke in its approach, it’s important that Lucid’s work is relevant and timely. Indeed, this felt like it needed to happen and, if you’re interested, I hope you’ll want to get involved.
Director – Lucid