Key observation 
The impact of the pandemic–lockdown, shutdown of theatre buildings and cancellation of live performances. An enforced pause/stop to practice has left many feeling the need to question their practice. To allow time to reflect on what has gone before and decide whether those were useful or fulfilling ways of working.

Practice on pause

  • Before lockdown I was 8 weeks into a 10-week project. You’re thinking about the finished piece, putting everything in place at that point and obviously that stopped. There’s lots of stuff sitting getting dusty and it is unable to be finished. That was really disappointing, and there was no chance to say goodbye to anyone. 
  • Now that everything is on hold, we’ve been able to step back and use this time to spend more reflective time on the pieces.  

Carrying on 

  • I’m progressing in little chips. I did three applications last week. 
  • I did work in lockdown for the first time. It was good. It was hard. It worked! It made me think that maybe that’s a way for me to think about progressing my work into this new normal. Not just transferring my work online but that the online platform might be the most relevant for that piece. And that that would cut out a carbon footprint if presented internationally.  
  • I’m only at the beginning of that potential slightly because I want them to pay me for it at some point. I’ve really enjoyed that process of pretending I’m still a maker. 
  • I feel like I have very little time. I have to prioritising. What’s important and even that takes up time and energy.
  • I’m finding play-writing very difficult because “what’s the point?” but I’ve always written prose and short stories and I’m enjoying focussing on that.  

Working online

  • I’m trying to think of non-Zoom ways of reaching them. Zoom doesn’t work for everyone. 
  • Should I be sharing all this for free? It made me think about creative practice and IP around the things we make. What needs to be shared publicly and what other people see and could take and develop further. 
  • I can Zoom and walk. That’s been a discovery. (If you don’t need to show your face). 
  • I’ve been trying not to do screen time. 
  • I was originally meant to do 2 x 2-week slots on one project but now everything has spread over weeks and weeks. I have another project in development and that’s the same and everything’s started to morph into one.  
  • What’s frustrating is that those who are forced to tread water, we probably have the skills to help many institutions – and we are apparently in Phase 4 somewhere…  
  • I love football and I get so frustrated that in football that they aren’t looking at a new future. I feel like writing to the SFA and say, “You need a creative director, not a sports coach!”. 
  • We’ve been finding different ways to work online – using cut out figures and using voiceover. We haven’t got the space to do it, so we’ve created little bits of scenery. There’s part of me that finds it really interesting to work this way and another part of me just wants to shout, “Stop everything! Let’s not continue until we can work together in a space.”     
  • I’m excited by the new ways of working but if it all ended tomorrow I’m not sure I’d continue in this way. 
  • The process of working and not being in a room and touching and smelling and feeling and singing and it’s just incredibly difficult. I’ve really struggled with that but over the weeks I’m coming to terms with it. 
  • It’s slower, it’s harder, more difficult but it’s doable. It’s not a substitute though. 

Thinking about the future 

  • All of that is just a way of not really having to think in the future of what’s happening when all these things finish and I think I’m extending these projects so they don’t finish because once they’ve finished then I need to think – What am I going to do next? 
  • Sometimes I feel positive, I’m doing all these positive, practical things and then BOOM – you see the bigger picture and it feels really scary. Then other people are more positive, and I think that maybe I’m being too negative. Or I feel fine then something hits me hard. I don’t know how to think. Sometimes it’s satisfying to just be in the present. 
  • Freelance theatre makers are being unrepresented – they aren’t members of FST, or a Union like Equity or BECTU. People are falling through the cracks.

Impact on Venues and programming 

  • The promoter doesn’t want to “cancel Christmas” 
  • I had an audition for a panto last week! They didn’t mention Covid-19(!) 
  • The venue announcing they were closing until spring gave me some clarity – and selfishly, the ability to work on my finances with banks and the Inland Revenue is really helpful. 
  • Really interesting to hear what promoters and programmers are saying and hear how things are internationally. 

Questions for Venues

  • What is your approach to planning? 
  • What is your interpretation of Nicola Sturgeon’s Route map? Is theatre in Phase 4? 
  • Do you have questions for freelancers? 

Travel restrictions / Considering journeys   

  • Can I go home? Is it morally okay? I want to be with my loved ones. 
  • After being in locked in/locked down for so long, I’m worrying about going to Asda! 
  • It’s now 12 weeks since I haven’t seen my parents. We’re considering ‘doing a Dominic’ so we can see them. 

New learning 

  • Attending webinars for TV and Film industry.
  • I’ve been learning another language and trying to figure out if there’s a way of turning that into something else I can do. 
  • I’ve been learning lots of film editing techniques from a backlog of film footage from projects which has been really enjoyable. 
  • Can we investigate and share multiple ways of sharing work in a period of social distancing? How playing with alternative forms that could take place out of theatres / venues could happen. What can we learn from each other in terms of working online? What are the things to avoid?

Creative Scotland’s Sustaining Creative Development / Open Fund

  • An opportunity for Artists / Theatre Makers to sustain their practice. The equivalent of an athlete going to the gym to maintain their fitness. 
  • Feeding back to them about the challenges with the new application form. 

Silver linings

  • Making time for meditation, yoga and writing. 
  • Picking up groceries for some else gave us a legitimate reason to see others 
  • Regular yoga practice. 
  • In the mornings I do R&D work, and Zoom meetings, in the afternoon I draw and because it’s physical – it’s great. 
  • Gardening 
  • My new flatmate. 
  • Working with new people on new conversations.  
  • Emma Jayne Park’s ‘Daily Dancing’  
  • Christine Devaney’s ‘Three Minute Dance, Writing and Drawing’