My final blog post.
My year as a writer in residence has ended. But not really. In September, when the theatre reopens after its refurbishment (I can’t wait to see the venue in its refurbished glory) I’m going back to read from the final writing, ‘From the Deck’. I’m excited about seeing how the writing is received. In addition, I’m going to be continuing my collaboration with Mayflower Theatre on a completely new project; as dramaturg on the Mayflower 2020 project (part of the Mayflower 400 city wide initiative to celebrate the sailing of the Mayflower Ship) working on the development of a new musical.
It’s been an extraordinary year. It’s been more fulfilling and inspiring and enriching than I could ever possibly have imagined. The organisation is a place that I feel has become part of me. It’s a place that I love, with people whom I respect and enjoy being with. It’s a place where I feel truly at home and a building whose majesty leaves me openmouthed. Though I’ve worked in the theatre in different capacities over many years, this opportunity offered me many new experiences and perspectives that I’d never encountered before.
The ‘Gift of Writing’ initiative gave me so much joy. I’m very proud of it. Its impact has been tangible. It kept me consistently writing and allowed me to engage and chat to audiences, to talk about writing and share some of my ways of working with strangers.
This blog has also given me the opportunity to track the year, think about my processes and my writing and reflect on the experiences I had. It also made me engage with a new form of writing.
Each workshop that I ran was enjoyable, uplifting and the participants engaged and creative. These experiences, reinforced my belief that this was something that I enjoy and find fulfilling. An area of my life where I feel I’m in my element.
ArtfulScribe, always there as support, has pushed me to experiment, play and develop as a writer.
The writing that has resulted from this residency has taken me by surprise. It’s unusual to be writing playing cards, cards with which you can play rather than writing a play. The fragmentary nature of the cards has allowed me to examine and write not only about the residency and its inspiration but also about parts of my life that I haven’t written about before or shared with the public.
Writing these fragments has felt both raw and liberating. In some respects, I’ve returned to some of my common preoccupations; to classical Greek myths, to family stories, to the themes of memory, identity and journeys. But I’ve encountered and considered them anew through my experience at Mayflower Theatre and as a result, encountered and considered both my identity and my work as a writer.
Thank you to those of you who have been reading, who’ve been following the route and journeying with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Until we meet again.
Tuesday 23rd January 2018
A writer in residence…reflects and reflects again.
Happy new year to all!
I’m now in the final stages of the residency so forgive me if the writing becomes more reflective as I look back over the residency as well as start thinking about and working on the final writing. More of that in the next blog! Needless to say, it’s fascinating how the lived experience changes the direction you think you’re going to take.
This also seems like a good opportunity to provide you with the second instalment of the top tips.
I’ve been considering this very subject as last week I was part of a panel of 4 writers who have had experienced residencies. This was organised by New Writing South at the Writer’s Place in Brighton and was open to any writer interested in looking or applying for a residency. What was interesting was how different each residency was and also the range of residencies that there are- some advertised, some initiated by writers getting in touch with particular organisations or sites, some providing a space to write and others involving some sort of commission. Eight writers turned up on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon and for two hours we shared our experiences and answered questions about the benefits of residencies and also some of the challenges that some residencies (particularly unusual sites) can bring.
My first writing residency was in 2000 at the Chester Gateway where I was hired to write the city’s millennium production. It seems so long ago but it was absolutely instrumental in defining me as a writer and in setting me on a different path which has brought me to this moment and which has given me so much joy and artistic pleasure.
When I came into Mayflower Theatre today, after the winter break, it really did feel like coming home again. It’s been almost a year since I started and it’s clear that I’m now part of the organisation. I feel completely at home.
I was doing a ‘Gift of Writing’ night for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and It was also wonderful being out and talking to audiences again. People are so inquisitive about what it means to be a writer-in–residence and also what the process of writing involves. ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is a beautiful story and it was easy to be inspired by its themes and ideas so I particularly enjoyed writing the gifts for this production. It’s a piece about nostalgia and the past so it seemed appropriate to think back on all the previous productions I’ve seen here and been involved in.