March, a month for sprouting ideas

March is almost over and spring is definitely in the air. It’s been a month of sprouting ideas, blossoming connections and carroty conversations. Is carroty a word? It is now.

The first thing I did this month was attempt the Mensa-worth logic puzzle of figuring out how to attend as many shows, events, discussions and delegate socials as I possibly could at both Imaginate Festival (in Edinburgh) and Spark Festival (in Leicester). They both take place in May and so far I’ve got 43 things lined up over three weeks, phew… I’m particularly excited about this element of my fellowship as I really value the chance to watch/read/talk about other people’s work. There’s always that debate about how to find a truly original idea isn’t there? Often you think you’ve had one and then you realise there is already something similar out there. So I’m going to embrace that, let existing shows soak into my consciousness and inspire new thoughts. I will be attending everything from a totally non-verbal baby disco, to a family friendly re-telling of Henry V, so I’m hoping to emerge on the other side with a really broad view of what’s already out there and some fresh ideas of my own.

Next on the list was a first meeting with my mentor Mike Kenny. As he had a show opening at Derby Theatre we met there and it sparked a conversation about Mike’s original career as an actor (something we have in common) and the inspiration he’d found in his son (who shares the same name as mine) It was brilliant to open up the dialogue between us properly and being able to flit between professional and personal really put me at ease. I had a million questions lined up for Mike about being a playwright and in answering them we found ourselves chatting about everything from politics to poo jokes – At one point reader, I actually snorted with laughter. As Mike put it, it was a ‘proper conversation’ and I look forward to many more in the coming months.

Towards the end of the month the BBC had planned a Fellows Day so that all of us ‘Ones to Watch’ (never get tired of this tagline) could get together, along with our host organisations, and find out a bit more about each other. When they said it was going to be an Open Space event I didn’t quite know what to expect but it was the perfect format for the day. If people wanted to talk about something they could convene a meeting in a certain area of the room (all named after vegetables) and hey presto, a debate was born. I went along to a chat about ‘Kids and Headspace’ in the carrot area and had a really honest conversation about how to juggle parenthood around an unpredictable, and demanding work life. Some of us were good at being confident with employers, others were better at finding time to work at home etc. We shared lots of tips and tricks for navigating through the noise of it all and I came away feeling positive and empowered. I also came away with lots of links with other fellows. We all seem to be on the same page about really valuing our peers so the texts, tweets and emails about potential collaborations are already flying.

The last thing on the list was a trip to York where tutti-frutti have been spending some R+D time on their new show, Snow Child. Now when tutti-frutti do R+D, they do it with gusto. I was only there for six hours but in that time I found myself creating soundscapes, drawing costumes, learning movement routines, pretending to be a snow flake with a class of six year olds… And all of this under the half light of the solar eclipse. They say days like that only come round every ten to fifteen years don’t they? I would agree. It was a whirlwind chance to explore the story, the music, the design and the choreography and it’s left me hungry for more. April brings Rapunzel rehearsals and workshops in Leeds libraries to develop play ideas. Spring is going to be very springy this year, there’s a lot to look forward to!