I have had a week of the strangest dreams with mixes of friends from all stages of my life all jumbled up and including last night Samuel L Jackson coming to return a coat that did not fit. It's not the moon but the 50th anniversary of the drama degree that I took at Exeter University. It was a rare beast set up by young theatre makers who were influenced by studio based laboratory style practices such as were happening in Poland with Jerzy Grotowski, or with Peter Brook's long rehearsal processes and long cycles. The brain child was John Rudlin who brought us his knowledge of Commedia del Arte, Dadaism and Surrealism. It was made possible by the genius mind of Shakespeare expert Professor Peter Thomson, and various others such as Les Read, Nick Sales and Glendyr Sacks.
What was unique about it? Many things but particularly the idea that a British university would offer a practice based course as opposed to looking at historical or literary aspects of theatre. It was a pioneer. The inspired and intelligent team fought also for assessments based on practice so out of the nine parts of our final assessment seven, if I remember correctly, were practical.
We had studio spaces. Another fight was to acquire and maintain the Roborough which had been a science lab as our performance space. It was a huge flexible space with beautiful tall windows and scary basement vaults that I never fancied going into.
What is more in my year back in the eighties the numbers were capped so that there were eight of us doing single honours drama and twelve doing combined with English and one or two more combined with German. That meant that for three years we worked together constantly so it was as if we were a mini theatre ensemble.
I think I will need many posts to put the experience into adequate words. We were young. far from home and swimming in a sea of creativity that was as overwhelming as it was wonderful. There was sweat and confusion. What held it together was the vision and flare of the founding team, including the strong presence of Les Read, Dorinda Hulton, Nick Sales and Glendyr Sacks.
We were kitted out with black karate suits, black leggings (which were the limit for most of the guys) and a black leotard. The idea was to take out personality from the process of the rehearsal room - these were laboratory theatre concepts - somewhere between Peter Brook's "Empty Space" and Grotowski's "Poor Theatre."
The truth is that it took years to be able to balance such an intense, exquisite and strange three years. We didn't have modules but worked on a theme or concept for five weeks leading to a performance. For this reason fellow graduates have become dramaturgs, opera directors, fine artists, writers, headmasters, community centre leaders, academics, researchers, and think there is even a diamond merchant - in other words people who found their own weird life combinations.
Five weeks of full time hours on themes like Kathakali dance drama; Mask work and Commedia; the structure of a Shakespearian five act history play (including writing and performing our own); and so on.
The feather in the cap was the final third year project which was to make 20 minutes of theatre - anyway, anyhow you wanted but with the rule that it had to be 20 mins. We acted in each others and each took responsibility for the tech in one discipline so I was one of the sound team.
I think I'm glad that this was all before mobile phone and even video cameras. So we were just making and doing constantly - most of it quite bad but with much enthusiasm.
My karate-suit's trousers ended up being faded and softer than a cloud. In my last move they got thrown out which in this 50th anniversary nostalgia, I know regret.
If I've learnt to make it up as I go along it was from these years. There were mistakes and it was damn confusing at times yet finally a catalyst for nearly all the other stages and impulses in my life.
So it brings me great joy to see faces I have not seen for many years, and to be able to feel all the same hope, desire, enthusiasm, emotion, vulnerability, tenderness and passion.
Youth is wasted on the young, of course. And as Picasso said, "It takes a long time to become young.”
I am enjoying from afar this 50th anniversary which far from making me feel old, makes me feel extremely young and more determined than ever to make similar experiences possible for other.
Deborah Claire Procter
It takes 21 days to change a habit, and so Adrienne Lloren, a young Toronto entrepreneur has prepared 21 days worth of interviews with creatives - 25 infact (including me!) - from all spectrums of the artistic sphere.
As a rapper, singer-songwriter, and YouTuber, Adrienne has been trying to figure out the challenge of how to bridge the gap between starving artist to thriving artist. So she decided to take on a research project to learn how successful creatives paved their way into crafting the life and business that they love.
This research project has turned into an interview series called: The Thriving Artist: How Creatives Create Flourishing Careers.
[You can register for a complimentary ticket using this LINK]
These interviews are short and straight to the point conversations with successful creatives who’ve built thriving careers.
In case you are wondering who the speakers are, here are just a handful of speakers you will hear from including me: Bree Noble (singer/songwriter & online radio host, USA), La Marie Ritchhart (Beauty Photographer & Mentor. USA), Nel Shelby (Dance Videographer, USA), Rodney Holder (Music business lecturer & podcast producer, Australia), Ryan Van Poederooyen (Drummer, Canada), Laura C George (Business consultant for fine artists, USA), Luna Jaffe (Jungian psychotherapy & holistic financial planner, USA) more!
As an artist, I understand Adrienne’s question all too well - how hard it can be to pave your way and build a viable career with your craft. Unlike other professions, the creative route to success is obviously not linear, yet it’s not easy to shake off the sensation that it should be clearer.
Adrienne is the founder of GetAMPED a content creation agency, based in Toronto who are a team of passionate communicators, cinematographers and storytellers helping local small businesses amplify their message, and providing marketing solutions to artists driven by passion and purpose.
She is on a mission to get her client amped-up and to craft the life and creative business that you love. “Never be afraid of being different,” she says, and that’s the same philosophy she uses to get her clients marketing with verve and energy.
This summit series starts on Monday 2nd July, 2018. Sign up here for free.
Hope you enjoy it and look forward to any discussions it raises. Any questions, let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
As ever I’m on Facebook here so I am curious to know your thoughts as my mission is that through clarity, insight and production we can enjoy a world full of new ways of being, doing and knowing.
Deborah Claire Procter
Clear Insight Productions in Facebook:
Good news for the arts in London: “Supporting the arts and creative industries will be a core priority for my administration — right up there with housing, the environment and security — as one of the big themes that I want to define my time as Mayor Sadiq Khan,” he added. “There is no question London without culture would be a much poorer place and we can’t rest on our laurels. We face stiff global competition."
CLEAR INSIGHT PRODUCTIONS / CYNYRCHIADAU GWELEDIGAETH GLIR Like on facebook:
Deborah Claire Procter (Cardiff) created CIP to explore lines between different art-forms and to hold out the idea that art and culture bring new ways of being, doing and knowing. Procter says “I enjoy using the Clear Insight Productions facebook page as a place to share inspiring ideas - the little things that make the world go around - as well as news of our projects and productions. I like to post things that are happening in Wales and Argentina, sometimes in Welsh or sometimes in Spanish especially as 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the Welsh community in Patagonia. But really I like to post the things that catch my eye or ear and stop me in my tracks for a moment. Clarity and insight are not always easy to find but they are ideals towards which it is always worth searching. "
Clear Insight Productions attempts with a spirit of curiosity to brave the big questions of how do we experience the world clearly and with insight. With a touch of irony, as "clarity" and "insight" are not always easy to find, the aim is to make new works and also to continually draw on the best of thinking from the past and the present with a spirit of curiosity that is as fascinated by Da Vinci and Freud, as Beckett and Beuys.
British poet, print maker and visionary, William Blake put it perfectly,
"To see a world in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."