Whilst being the best catch-line ever invented for a city (and so good I even bought the t-shirt) it truly is never dull in Hull! We (Sophie, Jimmy and I) were honoured to be Hull Truck’s first ever residency artists as part of their artist support scheme #BeOurGuest. We felt incredibly welcomed and by the end of the week we felt so at home that it was a real shame to leave.
Sophie Postlethwaite (aka. Productions by Sophie) is the newest addition to the He Ain’t Heavy team and will be my co-performer! We spent three days generating as much material as possible, with the added luxury of throwing things together knowing that Jimmy (Whiteaker, He Ain’t Heavy Director) would be arriving to edit and mould all the material we created. By late on Wednesday afternoon we had covered an entire mirror with notes and devised a ton of material. We also had the pleasure of working remotely with Alexandra Hamilton Ayres (He Ain’t Heavy Composer) who created some amazing soundscapes for us to experiment with, one of which we have named “The Dark Tinkle.”
The final two days with both Jimmy and Sophie went far too quickly! We explored some themes of the piece and experimented with repeating motifs – I’m tempted not to say anymore though so the end result remains a surprise. We also had an inspiring chat with Rowan Rutter, the Creative Producer at Hull Truck, in part learning about the amazing engagement work that is happening there and how integral Hull Truck is to the city. I for one am grateful for their Youth Theatre as that has had a massive impact on where I am today!
Last but certainly not least we also went to visit the main protagonist of the show – Mr Sean Pickard! Unforunately he had a chest infection (which is a lot better now) so he wasn’t quite his ususal self but this did mean I got lots of cuddles.
I’m delighted to announce that we have secured funding from the Arts Council and additional support from The Elmgrant Trust to develop ‘He Ain’t Heavy’ into a full length piece, and R&D an accompanying outreach programme!
Work has already started and rehearsals will kick off with a residency at The Point in Eastleigh, which is incredibly exciting. I met the team at their Pitch n Mix session earlier in the year and it’s brilliant to have their support, as well as the dedicated studio time.
I will be posting updates on the project here as it develops. I confess I have more exciting news that I’m not allowed to share yet, but I will let you know as soon as I get the nod!
A lot of her experiences felt familiar, but the questions she encounters are slightly different to those I’ve heard. Also I don’t mind having those conversations which I guess is why I’m making a show about it! The two most common ones recently are:
1. How does Sean feel about the show?
2. Will he be coming to watch?
In answer, he is completely oblivious to it as it has no relation to his essential needs (chips, pie, sausage roll, jigsaws etc) so even if I were to tell him he wouldn’t understand and he won’t be coming to watch as if he did as soon as he saw me he would walk on stage shouting ‘ya-ya’ and the drag me out demanding to be taken in the car! Hopefully though he’ll feel the benefit if a few more people understand him better.
On Friday I submitted the arts council evaluation report and metaphorically drew a line under this stage of the project. I reckon the most exciting finding of the research & development was discovering how much material is there and how much more there is to explore! So this has led on to the next logical question – what next?
Next I will be working with Lina B Frank (Ausform) to plan the next stages leading up to a full hour show! Whilst we haven’t a fixed timeline in place the rough aim is to have it complete and on the road by Autumn 2016. Between now and then imagine building structures, rehearsing in warehouses, more doodles of stick people, meetings over coffee, sleepless nights and tiny intense moments of joy. Watch this space to hear more.
We wouldn’t have reached this stage without everyone who was involved so thankyou to all the following:
Arts Council England, Lina B. Frank (Ausform), Alexandra Hamilton Ayres, Jimmy Whiteaker, Jo Munton (Vagabondi Puppets), Lyn Routledge, Alex Harvey (Ockham’s Razor), Giles Bennett, Joshua Wakely, Nathan Keates, Paul Blakemore, Nicole A’Court-Stuart, Amy Dartington, Circomedia, The Invisible Circus and The Island. As well as a MASSIVE THANKYOU to all the brilliant individuals who donated to the online fundraiser.
It’s been nearly three weeks since Volt, and now that the dust has settled I’m sifting through the remains to write the evaluation report for the Arts Council!
Going through all the videos, photos and diary posts has reminded me what a roller coaster ride the process was, and how pleased I am with the end result! There’s still plenty of work to be done before I can take the finished piece on the road, but thanks to Volt audience feedback I now know which direction to take it in.
It’s the day before Volt. At 5pm. 27 hours till standing in front of a sea of (hopefully friendly) faces. The costume, small though it is, is ready. Props are gathered and tested waiting to be packed in the car and Seamus Mark (3), seems to be pretty cool about the whole thing…