It’s been a real learning opportunity - as an actor, I see theatre from one angle, so this was a chance to go behind the curtain and learn how decisions are made, how other roles in the organisation work, and about the breadth of talent and knowledge in the industry beyond the stage. I have been delighted to be able to bring some of my community and artists I admire to the Kings Head, but also to get to know the theatre’s cultures and audiences in turn.
I was really impressed with the quality of submissions to the open call. It’s always a gamble just inviting everyone to send proposals along but the standard was very high and where not all of them fitted my season, I could imagine lots of them at the Kings Head or on a London stage. With theatre still recovering in the wake of arts cuts, the Tory government and the pandemic, it was really enlivening to see so much good work.
My curation priorities were reframing and fresh angles, ambitious play with form, imaginative use of language, and unheard stories and erased communities. I programmed via both direct conversations and open call, because I wanted to broaden my references outside my immediate theatre community. The result has been work on a wide range of topics from anthropology to salad, from trans identity to abortion law to sex clubs. While their content may be diverse, what unites these pieces is unique viewpoint, authentic voice and respect for the sanctity of a great night out! I also wanted to make room for messy, electric ‘works in progress’, as well as polished pieces.
Joy, a fresh perspective, arousal, curiosity, motivated anger, a desire to make art of their own, draft tweets full of praise for the artists.
Don’t be shy! Shout about your work and your achievements, because you can trust that other people will be shouting about theirs. Put the effort into presenting yourself well, as well as your work; for better or worse in the arts, opportunities come when people perceive you to have potential. But alongside that, create relationships where you back one another. It can be a lonely industry and a boost from someone you rate will keep morale high and hopefully get you both some work/ audiences.
See other people’s work and think critically about what you liked, what you’d do differently. Also, keep abreast of opportunities like grants, workshops and networking events. There’s so much out there that people just don’t know about, and these can be a great start to a relationship with an institution too. Think of yourself as part of an industry you can both benefit from, and change for the better.
Lots of them are in my season! Bootycandy at Gate Theatre was unbelievably brilliant, and in a similar queer black vein I’m expecting Black Superhero at Royal Court to be a hot ticket. Sellout solo show Manchester Anthem has added extra dates at Vault Festival - that’s a beautiful piece!
I will be touring the UK in a brilliant new show this year, but I can’t talk about it just yet! You’ll have to follow my socials and watch this space… I also just wrapped on Re: Dracula, a cool audio project that releases the content of the book at the moment each diary entry or letter is set. The first episode goes out in May.