On my way from our office to meet the excellent people at Leeds newest “cultural destination Temple Works the other day, I found a new footbridge over the canal


I like bridges.

< More on Temple Works to appear at a later date. Suffice to say it’s a very exciting project down there and we’ll definitely be working with them in the future. What I was really interested in sharing was this… >

Last week Clare, Chris and I spent a couple of  brilliantly inspiring days together talking about how we work and how we can do more and be better for the future. We try to have these “Vision Days” at least once a year and they always send us back into the world excited and full of love for each other. Bit soppy I know, but true.

We invited long term friend and former board member Mairead Turner to facilitate one of the days and she helped us answer all the right questions. We reflected and de-briefed on what we’d enjoyed and had learnt from making The Moon The Moon, sharing what we’d do again and what we’d like to develop in our process. Also our personal, critical responses to the show itself.

Basically we agreed that we had a massively positive experience  making it, loved working with all the people that joined us along the way and are enormously proud of what we continue to achieve together. Always a good thing to affirm. I mean, there’s always room for improvement but I think we’ve really grown into a way of working together that’s both rigorous and comfortable. Maybe I mean relaxed. Confident? Secure. Yes, that’s it. We trust each other and ourselves to be in a room together and to make good things and to enjoy ourselves while we’re doing it.

It’s all about the process and this is something that we keep coming back to and interrogating. We even cracked an old chestnut asking ourselves “What is an Unlimited show?“. And I think we agree (Chris, Clare?) that it’s not an easy thing to define. It’s totally dependent on what we’re each and collectively obsessed about or fascinated by at the time we’re working together. That said, there’s definitely a constant return to a question about “What is reality?”. It sent me back to part of a ‘note’ I wrote for the programme of The Moon The Moon:

I think that often we (all of us) can be quick to judge or decide what is real.
Over the course of working, living, loving and being together over the last
15 years, we’ve become acutely aware that any one person’s perception of
reality can be fantastically different from each of ours. And each of ours from
each others, sometimes. We’re also aware that just because each of our
understandings of reality might be different, doesn’t make any of those
realities any less real for the person experiencing it.

This, I think, underpins all of our work together. A desire and an effort to try and see how things might be, whilst always trying to be emotionally honest (which, as anyone who’s been in a rehearsal room with me recently will know, I prefer to truthful).

And attached to this, I also believe that we’ve become much more comfortable/secure/confident in admitting that we do want to change the world. Not in the sense that everything will be changed by the work we create together. But that it will (or should) change or shift or inspire the thinking of everyone who participates in it – us, the other artists we work with, the audiences who join us along the way. And that we’ll all have something new to take back out into the world. And so the world will be changed. We don’t want to just create an entertainment. We absolutely want to change the world. For the better.

It’s a good ambition to have, I reckon.

The upshot of all this positivity and energy and desire and hope is that we’re going to be doing a lot of work together in the next 18 months. We’ve got a big new show we’ve been commissioned to make with the Polka Theatre in London, we’re going to bring the first side of our <mixtape> project together as a walk through Leeds next year, we’re developing an ambitious outdoor show called “Look, I See You”, also a large scale show with songs is in the background and we’re taking The Ethics of Progress” back out on tour next year (including a trip to the National University of Singapore’s Arts Festival).

Alongside all of this, we’re going to be working closely with schools in Leeds and London to develop ways of sharing the work outside of “traditional theatre spaces”, making alternative reality games to accompany the shows and just playing a lot more.

One of the ways we’re going to play, is with some Dirty Pop-Up Dating. It’s a working title, alright? Basically, inviting people we meet or know of who fascinate us and spending a day with them. At the end of the day we’ll invite you to come join us all and share what we’ve learnt, heard, made or not made. Astronauts, trawlermen, a man with the ambition of stoping genocide are already on our “To Contact” list.

You’ll see/hear/read more from Chris and Clare on the blog too.

Right, I’m going to stop now. I’ve scared myself a bit with how much there is to do. Looking forward to sharing it all with you.

Until soon.


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