There’s something strange about January, well this January, my January – I feel in limbo. Okay I know the whole country is in limbo as we await the fate brought upon us by being asked to prefer yellow socks to red socks when we should have been asked to consider the whole sartorial offer, and so much more than just that. But no, each year I sense that I have “irons in the fire”, or that my boat may come in, or that I am waiting on someone to get back to work or through a meeting. Strange times.
I’ve worked on my New Year’s Resolutions and I know what I need from the universe, and where I have the capacity to welcome some unexpected enquiries or surprises. I’ve checked my bank balance and I can survive for a few months as I juggle the possible. I have counted my blessings, and am being good and also counting my calories. Now to get on with what I know.
One resolution was to go and see Scottish theatre and get to understand more of the theatre and arts landscape. In the last week, I’ve been to visit the V&A in Dundee, had a great meeting with Dog Star Theatre, written a budget for a project in Glasgow for 2020, reviewed a touring project for 2019 (which sits in the boat-may-come-in section), been to Dundee Rep and the Royal Lyceum Theatre to see their Christmas shows, and signed up for a meeting for composers and lyricists, musical theatremakers in Glasgow. I look forward to getting to know many more projects and shows which I should try and see.
As I wait for new projects and work through my current 10th-anniversary play publishing project with Stagescripts, I return to one of my first loves – the CGO Surgeries that I started in 2007/8. Every month for most of each year I have found a space and settled down for the day. Individual artists, theatremakers, composers, filmmakers, dance companies, international event producers, photographers and sacred spirituality practitioners come and visit.
Over 50 minutes we look at where they are now and where they want to be. I use my big ears to listen. I try and ask open questions which get them thinking differently. And sometimes I come up with my own idea or contact name to throw into the mix. It is invigorating for me because I start each meeting with a blank brain, and they fill me with inspiration as they show their passion (or frustration) for their art form. 95% of the sessions are a joy.
Over the next two days I will be in London meeting a teacher, a composer, a live art producer, a new theatre company, a poet, a theatre director and others. By the end of each hour they will, hopefully, have some actions to take to move forward and/or some of the fog may have lifted. After this week, my next date in London is Tue 29th January, and my next date in Edinburgh is Thur 31st Jan. In the past I have done Surgeries for Home in Manchester, the Young Vic in London and Newcastle, NSDF in Scarborough, Jabbawocky Market in Darlington, Northern Stage in Newcastle, the University of West of Scotland in Ayr, young producers in Tokyo. Each year I do a day at Edinburgh Fringe Central. I so look forward to getting some unexpected invitations to places and groups of creatives I have not met yet.
So for now I have to hold in my core an acceptance that January is usually an odd month of uncertainty. I have to get on with what I know, and then each year I have the chance at the end of January to re-boot my system. On Sat 26th and Sun 27th of January I will join an amazing array of theatremakers, solo artists, managers and policy makers for the annual Devoted and Disgruntled. I have no idea, this year, what I will want to talk about with people. Kath and I will be there meeting friends we only see at D&D, close friends we have known for years, new people we will spy across the welcoming circle, and by the end of 2 days we will have been inspired, worried, frustrated, enriched, and maybe have some new strands of our creative life to take forward into 2019. Who knows yet. I am totally prepared to be surprised.