Trainee Producer, Rachel, joined the team in May and has been managing Nathan’s development with us since then. Here she give us an insight into how she put together the development workshop and what she learned from it.
Producing toolkit: Notepad, iPad and, most importantly, a diary!
I remember sitting with my friend Nicola as she spoke about the play she was writing while we were at uni. She was struggling for a title that communicated the themes and also got across a sense of where the play was set, in the world of DJ-ing.
Nicola: It’s the word for the thing they do? When they put one song into another…?
Nicola: No… It’s like that, but… Not.
Me: (struggling) Uh…Fading…?
Nicola: Yes! Well… Kind of, I feel like there’s another word they use…
I’m wracking my brains, at this point trying to remember something, anything at all, from when I studied music at school – school now a distant, foggy memory.
Me: What about… cross fade?
The word hung in the air in front of us for a moment.
‘YES! WRITE IT DOWN!’
I almost fell out of my chair with relief and, with a laugh, that’s how the title of her first play, and subsequently her theatre company, came about. Over a cuppa, sharing ideas in the student union.
I didn’t realise it, but that’s producing.
Of course there’s a bit more to it – scheduling, budgets, casting, and loads more I’ve still to learn – but at its heart it’s listening to each other, sharing ideas and making it happen.
So when it came to putting together a development workshop for Nathan, that experience is what I drew on. I have worked with emerging writers and directors in Scotland (now that I look back on it, coffee shops seem to be a recurring motif…) and I’ve seen the excitement, the fear, and the nerves that come when people share their ideas with you, and experienced the wonderful madness that accompanies figuring out how to make those ideas become a reality.
Once Nathan had chosen a date for his workshop, the next thing to find was a director. After a meeting with George and James, we approached Titas Halder to see if he’d be interested in being involved and after meeting with Nathan, he agreed to come on board. We drafted in Trainee Director Nadia as Titas’ assistant in the room and the next thing I knew, I had a creative team.
After this my foot really hit the gas as we went full speed into casting, looking for actors who’d be active and engage in the discussion in the room to help Nathan get to the core of what he wanted to write about. A list of names was drawn up and I spent my days trawling through Spotlight like a woman possessed, contacting agents, doing availability checks… I was sorting through CV’s, communicating back and forth with Titas, and making so many phone calls that I felt like an octopus. Offers were made and accepted, and after an energetic few days I was able to relax and confirm with Nathan, Titas and the rest of Team PP that our cast was finalised.
I arrived for the first day of workshopping to set up the room and print out the stimuli that Nathan had compiled for everyone. Our actors – Tanya Fear Tunji Lucas, Michael Hadley and Llewella Gideon– arrived and after some warm up exercises and a little bit of time to get to know each other, we got down to discussing the contents of Nathan’s dramaturgical pack. Soon the ideas covered the walls and surrounded us.
It was a fascinating, scary, intense, relevant and necessary discussion. It felt theatrical in itself as the various subject matters – ethnicity, identity, class, family, belonging – provoked strong emotions and feelings from everyone in the room.
Each new day brought with it more writing from Nathan, and it was fascinating to see how the conversation in the room filtered in to his writing, stretching and reshaping his ideas in to what would eventually land on my desk a week later – the first draft of his brand new play.
Without realising it, I’ve found the work I’ve contributed towards having a decidely musical slant in both Crossfade and Mix Tape. The aim in putting together the development workshop was to help Nathan try out new ways of writing and telling stories. Inadvertently, it’s also helped me to start shaping my identity as a producer and how I want to work with other creatives in the future.