Over the course of the last few years I have come to realise that I thrive on being rushed off my feet. I perform best when I have to work out how to fit everything in; when it’s stressful and I’m running on adrenaline because I have to make the most of every spare minute. Thanks to Music Theatre Society my first term at the University of Leeds began exactly like this, as we put on Confessions, a new musical, in about 4 weeks, and it really didn’t let up until Christmas – I was very lucky with the projects I was involved in.
My second term moved at a much more civilised pace. I performed in a play (‘Miscellaneous’ with The Toasted Peacocks, a new company based in Leeds) and still felt involved in the other societies I am a part of. But life wasn’t quite so crazy. I think at this point in the year, I did need this because I felt like I lived up in Leeds more this term (rather than just staying there) and became more comfortable in my flat and in my life up there. I also enjoyed working on my degree way more in second term (crazy I know!).
Now, however, I have six months ahead of me with way less structure than in term-time life. There will be busy weeks in there, and there are projects coming up which I am aiming for but I want to stop just waiting for things to happen to me. I spent a year after I finished school creating my own structure and fitting various things around each other – I want to get back to doing that, instead of relying on other people because I’m not very good at doing that anyway!
So last night, when there were four million things whizzing around my brain and I couldn’t sleep, I got up and made some lists. Lists of things I want to do, and how to get them done. Some bigger goals like things I want to do in second year, and what I want to do with the next six months, right down to what I need to do this week. Most of the bigger targets have internal steps to help me get there, and some haven’t quite got a clear path yet but I think plans will unfold the more work I get done.
One thing that came up was ‘Hey what’s stopping me getting the Theatre of Minds blog going again?’ I hope that I can make it as regular as it was last year, with posts about theatre and mental well-being to keep inline with the project we created, but who knows – this is the plan at any rate! Let’s face it this is a post for me more than anyone else, but if you were here before: welcome back, and if you are new: I hope you stick around a bit and find something interesting in our project. Anyhow, here I am taking control of what I want to happen; making myself busy with self-set targets and not waiting for people to hand me life on a plate.
Base Layer is going to be a devised production, so that we can tell our own story and raise awareness in our own way. However, due to the exam commitments of our cast and crew, we only have two weeks to rehearse the piece. Therefore, Base Layer is going to be made up of extracts from pre-existing plays so that we have a script to work from and to speed up the content creation.
To find the extracts which are most useful to us, we have to read lots of play scripts – some of which prove to be useful but others aren’t so relevant. I have found reading scripts a very different experience to reading a book written in prose. Looking at a script on the page, you get through the text a lot more quickly than you would in performance. You can speak the lines in your head a lot quicker than if you were on stage, and pauses aren’t as relevant at this stage.
One thing that I have noticed is that I have become more comfortable reading in this format the more I do it. I have become less aware of the character names at the side of the page, more accepting of the style and more involved in the story. With experience and practice, I have been able to visualise the play in my head more easily. I can imagine what I would do with the play: the people I would have on stage, the movement they would perform and the design in the space around them. It has become fairly obvious which plays we should be using, because I have connected with those ones and been able to visualise a production more easily.
Although I have only been looking for extracts, reading all of these scripts has made me excited for other projects in the future where I could use the entirety of one of these scripts. The creative side of this project is the reason we started doing it in the first place – we had to get through all of the organisational things to get to this point, but now that we are here things are beginning to flow more easily.
Base Layer rehearsals begin at the beginning of July, and by that point we will have a plan for the entire piece which extracts from all over the place. Our first performance is in just over 6 weeks so buy your tickets and come and help us support Young Minds, the UKs leading mental health charity. Tickets available here.
Once upon a time, Theatre of Minds was just a team of two. Me and Lucy would set aside some time every so often and set out a plan for the next half-term or so: blog posts we wanted to go out, people we needed to contact, lists of dates and deadlines. Nowadays, we have a cast and crew and lots of support from the community, so our meetings have grown bigger and more frequent.
On Sunday, our management meeting got bigger. I met with Katie about the next steps of the project. She and Francesca are going to be taking on some new responsibilities in the project – making my life a lot easier. Expect to hear a lot more from these two in the coming weeks!
A couple of weeks ago, I met with Kat Cormack – a mental health activist, working for CLASP and Young Minds along with several others. Counselling, Life Advice and Suicide Prevention are working to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. Kat’s work means that she sets up events like this a lot (most recently the Walk Out of Darkness in London) so she had lots of ideas of things that we could do for Theatre of Minds. Lots of things came out of the meeting that I had never thought about before, and I hope that we can continue to be in contact throughout the process.
Side note: this project is so exciting but it is bigger than I ever thought it would be. So many people seem to know about the project and everyone wants to help. it’s amazing, but sometimes things can be quite over-whelming because I feel like a very small fish! This project has become very personal to me. It’s a fantastic creative outlet and so the positive response we have received has been very special. It’s massive, but so good.
I also went in to Beaumont a couple of weeks ago and met with Miss Shepherd. We talked seating arrangements and performance logistics, and made the whole thing even more real! Now I am further along the path to creating our very complicated rehearsal schedule – we have actors who have lessons, over three locations and only two weeks to put it all together in. Logistics meetings are starting to become very important!
Base Layer: A production by young people for Young Minds – come and join us in supporting young people’s mental health. Tickets available here.
Theatre of Minds presents…
Tickets available soon. Watch this space!
Three things that you might be interested to know:
- Our fundraising campaign has been going better than we ever could have expected. After a month of our crowdfunding page being live, we have raised 50% of the funds we are aiming for. This is incredible and we are so grateful to everyone who has donated so far! The support we have received has blown us away, so thankyou for making this project possible. Please make sure that you carry on sharing the link (www.gofund.me/theatreofminds) and spreading the word so that we can reach our goal and put on the best production possible!
- If you would like to be involved in the project, as a performer, crew member or as part of the marketing team, make sure that you have filled in our form so that we have all of your details recorded. We would like to have our company finalised (as much as possible) by the end of February, and definitely by easter, so if you would like to be involved (especially as a performer) you haven’t got long to put your name down. We would love to have as many people involved as possible as this is a project for our local community, so check out the dates and then get in touch. Any questions, email us on email@example.com
- The creative process is beginning to become a priority as well. We are taking inspiration from around us and collating a long list of material which we could use to create our piece. If you have any suggestions of media/research we should look at (whether it is a play around the theme of mental illness, a piece of music that we could use for a physical theatre sequence, or an article from the media with particular relevance) we would love to hear from you. If you would like to get in touch. Send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @theatreofminds
Please get involved and spread the word if you can. Thankyou for your continued support: this would not be possible without you.
Over the half term holiday, Lucy and I had some time to plan the next steps for this project. Our first steps (securing dates and a venue, and getting this blog up and running) are now underway, so over a mid-afternoon waffle we had a meeting to focus our energy.
Budgeting and working out how to finance this project has been one of the hardest things for us so far, as we have very little experience in this area. However, thanks to research and many, many questions posed to the staff at the Trestle Arts Base, we have reached the point where we have a vague idea of how much money we need to pull this off. Something that we feel very strongly about is that all the money from tickets sales and collections on the night goes directly to Young Minds, the charity that we have chosen to raise money and awareness for. However, this means that we need to fund-raise prior to the performances in order to cover the costs of production.
Setting the ball rolling for this fund-raising is now our main aim for this half term. We are investigating the use of online crowdfunding, to try and send our message out to as many people as possible. Finding a site that will work for us involves lots of investigation, but we hope that this will for a major part of our fund-raising program. More details soon to come, so keep your eyes peeled.
We are also starting to think about sponsorship as a fund-raising option, because this will also help us to form connections with local businesses and infiltrate our message throughout a wider network. Getting people involved in all aspects of the production and liaising with people within our community is just as important as the final piece. So, if you know of anyone who owns a local business, who might like to sponsor us in return for some advertising space in the program or on our posters, send us an email at email@example.com or tweet us at @theatreofminds
There are lots of things coming up for theatre of minds, so keep your eye on twitter and facebook for when our latest blog posts come out so that you stay informed. Thankyou to everyone who is supporting us and getting involved with this project; we couldn’t be doing this without you.
We are very excited to announce that as part of our rehearsal process, director Holly Race Roughan will be leading a workshop for our actors. Holly has most recently worked as Staff (assistant) director on People, Places and Things at the National Theatre on the South Bank, and is going to be bringing her expertise to our rehearsal room. Our actors (and crew members if you want to get involved) will be able to learn from a professional in the industry as part of the rehearsals for our production. If you want to be a part of this amazing opportunity, fill in our form to let us know you are interested.
There have been many developments over the course of the summer holidays – our brains have been whirring with ideas. Plans for Theatre of Minds are slowly getting up and running.
With the help of the local community, we will be putting on two performances in July 2016. This will be a devised piece of theatre which we will create over a two week rehearsal period with our cast and crew. The basis of the production will be extracts from several different plays, alongside physical theatre movement sequences performed to music. Some dialogue will be spoken live, but we will also record lines and passages during the rehearsal period to be played back over the performance on stage. Among many other options that this gives us, we hope that this will help to put the audience in someone else’s shoes.
The message of our project is simple. We want to use theatre to show the many different attitudes towards mental health issues in young people; to show that anyone can be affected. The emotional well-being of young people today is an issue that affects us all, directly or indirectly through the people around us. This project is about spreading awareness to help people suffering in silence, as well as raising money for the charity Young Minds.
Following us on twitter and keeping an eye on this blog will help you to keep up to date with our developments here at Theatre of Minds.