A blog about my first year making my way in the Manchester theatre scene as an emerging theatre-maker/director and newcomer* to the city. Any artist considering making Manchester their new home might find it useful.

After seven years of life in Oxford, the seven year itch was getting pretty itchy. The last five of these years were an incredibly exciting, formative period, of acting and directing training, development and making the switch into a new life in theatre. Yet, despite the many delights of Oxford, and the brilliant experiences I’d had as part of the small but vibrant theatre community there – it was time to leave. But where to? I’d already spent ten years in the Big Smoke and although I’ll always love London, somehow returning (at least at this point) felt like a backwards step. I didn’t feel excited by the thought. I had also discovered that due to spiralling rents, that if I were to return, it would probably be to live in a mouldy shoebox under Waterloo Bridge, eeking out a subsistence on crumbs of organic market fayre thrown to me by well-attired passers by. Thanks, but no thanks. All hail to the Mancs! I have decided to *return to the city of my teenage years, move in with my folks and find out for myself what lies beneath the undoubtedly shiny hype about Manchester’s creative scene. Brothers and sisters, wish me luck! Monthly posts follow below.

Summer 2018

So here I am, in the cafe at HOME, meeting with two representatives of the National Theatre, from the New Work department. I’ll be honest, it’s slightly surreal. We chat for about an hour about my work, what inspires me and why I want to make the kind of work I am interested in and…

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Spring 2018

2018 started for me, with a bit of a tough conversation with myself in the mirror. Although I didn’t have much in the way of time off over Christmas, January gave a bit more space for reflection. Although I had been very lucky to receive so many excellent opportunities to direct and assistant direct in…

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Autumn / Winter 2017

If I thought summer was busy, Autumn and winter has been a whirlwind! Not that I’m complaining. I’ve been extremely lucky and have had one excellent opportunity after another, quite literally back-to-back. By way of not sugar-coating things, I have to say, while it has been amazing, it has also been exhausting and by the…

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Summer 2017

If Spring was a lot to do with planning and preparation, Summer is all about putting those plans into action, or at least, mostly, but I’ll get to that. In early May, finally, after about 2-3 months of direct work on it, I submit the long suffered over Arts Council application (you may recall from…

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Spring 2017

2017 started, as new years in Britain often do, with high levels of enthusiastic planning, coupled with copious quantities of driving rain. In my case this delightful cocktail was also spiced with a tinge of absentmindedness and somewhat poor attention to detail, all of which led to the circumstance of me trudging in leaking trainers,…

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December

“And now, the end is near. And so I face the final curtain”. Ok, I’ll stop there but hey, a theatrical blog can’t draw to a close without a sprinkling of melodrama right? As is customary at this media-montage heavy time of the year, I’m diverting from the usual format to reflect on my first…

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November

After a few days pit stop in Oxford to catch up with some good friends and colleagues, I’m back on the Joy Unspeakable production trail. The month kicks off with meetings and more meetings, with Third Space Cafe (the venue we presented Joy Unspeakable in this summer), with Bolton Council’s Arts officer, with a social…

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October

October is a busy month! Everyone is fully entrenched in back-to-school mode and I am on a roll with the best of ’em. The fun kicks off with Contact Theatre’s Fun Palaces event, part of a national campaign for community participation in culture originally conceived by legendary theatre director Joan Littlewood in the 1960’s and…

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September

After the dizzying heights of A Streetcar Named Desire in August, putting my own hand to the plough this month feels a bit humdrum and pedestrian but the fact is, work ain’t gonna make itself, so I’ve gotta get hustling. Actor Jules Hill and I are back at the Octagon Theatre’s Lab to revise and…

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August

On one hand August is all about Streetcar. How could it not be? The opportunity to observe a top flight director, actors and production team at the Royal Exchange, doing battle with what is arguably Tennessee Williams’ greatest play, is an amazing one for an emerging director. Understandably a lot of the month is spent…

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July

Time for a holiday! Well, technically speaking it’s an artistic retreat but I call it a holiday. Two days after Joy Unspeakable comes down, I am on a plane heading for Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A. The next three weeks is spent in the company of twenty other artists – dancers, actors, painters, singers and musicians of…

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June

Five days to go till the preview. We are rehearsing every available hour. One thing I have learned from developing this show on a shoestring, is that doing it purely for the love creates a powerful sense of commitment and team. Although I wouldn’t vote for such straightened circumstances in the future, this is a…

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May

I am now in the tunnel. Every creative process must come to this eventually. The relaxed, enjoyable process of opening out possibilities, exploring new ideas, colours, sounds, styles and influences, of building relationships and trust slowly and patiently, and of having a spacious sense of time must, eventually, come down to this – focus, grit,…

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April

One of my big questions on beginning to devise Joy Unspeakable back in March was, what comes first? Is it the writing? The movement? Or the sound? I know that all three are key components of this piece but which one is the anchor, the fixed point around which everything else moves? In a more traditional, non-devised,…

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March

The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the slight delay to this month’s blog, put two and two together and come to the correct conclusion that yes, we are doing the Octagon show! That’s right folks, buckle up, we’re going in! It was a really tough call. At the point at which I had to…

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February

If January was a month characterised by continuous forward momentum, February has been more akin to me running headfirst through a wall, only getting halfway through it and then just sort of hanging there, wriggling. What I mean by this unflattering metaphor is that you can’t go far down the path of following your creative…

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January

I am ridiculously excited. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop! I can’t quite believe that what I get to do every day is explore the artistic nooks and crannies of a brand new city, meet other people who love theatre and start making new theatre of my own. What?! Pinch me, I must…

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