How would you describe your current job and what do you like best about it?
I wear a number of hats as a theatre maker – but in the main I direct and write. I specialise in making new work in a collaborative environment, and often with female narratives as a focus.
I am the Artistic Director of A Moment’s Peace Theatre Company, which is a Glasgow based theatre company dedicated to making innovative new theatre and working with diverse community groups to create high quality artistic work. We create productions, interactive arts events and participatory projects that explore the links between the personal and the political. I provide the overall artistic vision for the company’s work, and increasingly I also produce and facilitate other artists’ work.
My current project for the company is Endurance, which is a new co-production with The Arches about the stories of sportswomen who competed in the Commonwealth Games since the 1930s. I am working with over twenty women to develop the piece and one of my favourite aspects of the work so far has been the research – including conducting skype interviews with sportswomen all over the world.
What do you consider your best work and why?
Oh, that is a tough question. The most ambitious piece of work I’ve made to date is definitely Leaving Planet Earth, which I co-wrote and co-directed with Lewis Hetherington. It was produced by Grid Iron and presented at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival. We cast the audience in the role of migrants moving to a new planet – New Earth. They journeyed out to Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, where we proceeded to tell them the story of ‘humanity’s first migration into space’. It was a huge imaginative and technical journey for everyone making it – as well as for the audience. It brought together so many ideas Lewis and I had worked on and researched over two years – and the scale of the production was something I will remember forever. I feel very proud of that.
I am also incredibly proud of all the work I have created with A Moment’s Peace over the last ten years – particularly the work I have created with communities across Scotland.
What was your first ever job?
My first regular job was in a wee cafe round the corner from where I grew up. Saturdays and sometimes one evening a week. The banter was great and the food was even better.
What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
I’ve had a number of really great opportunities over the last ten years. I would say that my time as an Emerging Artist at the National Theatre of Scotland in 2007 was a really important one and through that I got to go to Alexandria, Egypt and create work on an international platform, with international collaborators. That was pretty exciting.
What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?
I am not sure I have one. Right now I feel really happy with the choices I’ve made so far.
What’s your favourite theatre production?
Again too tough. A couple that have been formative and have stuck in my mind for years and years – a production of Mother Courage at the Almeida in 1995 and a few years later I saw The Tricycle Theatre’s The Colour of Justice, which was my first real introduction to verbatim – and of course growing up in London – Stephen’s murder was just a massive event and so this piece felt vital. More recently I absolutely loved 1927’s The Animals and Children Took to The Streets 2013I and NTS’s Time O’Strife.
What do you like the best about working in theatre?
I like the variety I get in my work. No day is the same. Sometimes that can also be the challenge of it – but I can’t imagine working in any other way. I also love the opportunity it offers to work with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and interests – everyday I feel challenged and inspired. That’s pretty good 🙂
What do you like the best about being a writer?
That moment when it goes from an idea floating around in your mind to becoming some words on a page. That moment is when you feel you are ‘making’ something.
What advice would you give emerging female practitioners in theatre today?
A diversity of experience
Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
At the moment I am working with the Women’s Creative Company to create Endurance. The group meets every week at the CCA and currently I’m working with between twenty and twenty-five incredible women. I don’t know if this allowed but I would like the whole group to be my Stellar Quine of the month. Each individual brings an energy to the room that inspires each other – they are brilliant devisers and just such complicated and brilliant individuals. It’s a total honour to facilitate the group.