I was invited to write 'a Day in the Life of', so now that I am (once again) in a place where I am reminded that no one is promised tomorrow, I'm going to write about THIS day. Wednesday 18th May 2017
I woke up at the Royal Hotel in Hull. This is my home from home for the next two years. Our eldest son had joined me to watch James Baldwin's, ‘I Am Not Your Negro' at Hull Truck Theatre Studio. This cinema viewing was made possible because of a partnership with Hull Independent Cinema. It had been a sold out viewing, followed by a mournful discussion. The next morning, I thanked our son for joining me and wished him a lovely day spending time with the rest of our family.
Nowadays my working day consists of time in Hull and the rest of Yorkshire or London. I also have the occasional adventure in Manchester or Birmingham, where some of my fellow Change Makers are based. Change Makers are based right across the country and it feels good to have a connection with them all.
I started this day with a conversation with Marcia Layne, my Co-Artistic Director at Hidden Gems Productions. We discussed the arrangements for our planning meeting the following day, as well as our general well being. I've enjoyed a good honest friendship and working relationship with Marcia for a number of years. It has often empowered me, knowing the amount we have achieved over the years as creatives - and for our audiences - despite the stiff competition to apply for funding for the Arts in the UK right now.
I followed our conversation with a walk to Hull Truck Theatre which, from the train station, is a matter of minutes away. My desk is in an open plan office and our section of the office has had to get used to my random stretches and noises. As a freelancer working from home, I usually have dance and singing breaks - but I don't think that's really the done thing in a shared space - so I sometimes sneak in the rehearsal room when not in use (rarely) and bust a move. I say rarely free because I've joined Hull Truck Theatre in an exceptional year, the UK City of Culture 2017. Since being here I have witnessed back to back productions, received warmly and to critical acclaim and smashing box office records in the history of Hull Truck Theatre.
I spent the morning planning for my script exploring days with Ola Animashawun (Euphoric Ink) and Moji Kareem (Utopia Theatre). My Change Maker role has given me the opportunity to explore my own practice and ask the reaching questions that I've had little time (or financial resources) to attempt to answer, under the usual circumstances. 'Usual circumstances' in fact is what the Change Makers Programme is challenging...why is it that talent is going to waste, under discovered, underrepresented, misrepresented (if found) and left to flounder (if lucky) ? What a waste for the entire theatre industry.
It really is a question of questioning why in the Theatre industry, we put up with such a narrow view of representing our world from where we are, replacing leadership with a version of what went before and pretending otherwise. The legacy protected, even if dysfunctional.
I've taken every opportunity to challenge, support and make change happen over the years. Now as a Change Maker alongside every single person who works and is associated with Hull Truck Theatre, it's what Hull Truck is challenging themselves to achieve.
I attended rehearsals for The Mighty Atoms by Amanda Whittington, Directed by Mark Babych. I've valued being in the room and observing the detail of crafting this production together, whilst having the privilege of being one step removed.
When I was a very young and green Director I didn't want anyone in the rehearsal room, preferring for the end production ‘perfection’ only to be viewed! Then as I learnt to harness my talent and support others, I loved the process so much, I wanted others to see how it was achieved. Like viewing a moment in the studio when a base line drops for the first time and everyone runs around the room shouting with joy to the sky. Or in athletics when you finally get that PB you've been working hard for and your coach told you that you had it in you, or said you didn't (depending on their style) and you pull it out of the bag and hope to God you can smash it on the actual day.
I ended my day by heading down to the Eclipse Theatre, Slate launch in Leeds. It was both comforting and affirming to see Black Artists from the North championed with passion and fierceness that will not be ignored.
At the end of the day, I with my work wish to represent and reflect human life, dignity, loss, joy, pain and love in such a way as to catch your breath. It's an incredible craft that we as Theatre Makers work towards every day. James Baldwin said he looked for his place in the Civil Rights movement, how could he help? He realised his place was to write, to tell it as he saw it. To stand in his truth. Today I told every artist I knew what he had said.
Rehearsals HD100, Chol Theatre. Photo: Paul Floyd Blake.