As producer for this research and development phase of A MAN WITH DOWNS SYNDROME TALKS ABOUT LOVE AND TELLS A STORY, working to a schedule, budget, and outcomes agreed with funders Arts Council England I am my own Chief Executive, Marketing department and Outreach Director.
Lines of communication are clear and in spite of occasional altercations with an internal 70’s throw back with ‘time and motion‘ written on her overall all areas of operation click along fairly smoothly.
This isn’t the first project I’ve produced by any means and I’ve ridden many large and small headed monsters when in post as Artistic Director at Dark Horse and in other past roles but it is complex in terms of new relationships and developing audiences all over the UK, and, fundamentally, working with a new play.
The writer coughs. Apologetically.
Not that she should. But she knows what a precarious position the writer can sometimes find herself in where ethical processes aren’t followed (As can the designer, composer and the rest of the creative team) in a theatre collaboration.
Increasingly playwrights, where they have the skillset, fulfil an ‘Independent producer writer director’ role, the hat I’m currently wearing, in Arts Council funded research and development processes, and beyond.
The reasons for this are many but are in part due to a reduction in financial support for literary departments in theatres with a new writing remit; where once there was a Literary Manager and budget for new work development now there’s a nudge towards project/play specific funding for individual writers via the Arts Councils Grants for the Arts scheme.
For me, as someone who has produced and written my own work before, this provides a fluid movement from original idea (The writers voice, script, play and vision) to other voices (Creative team) to production (Solo or with others, co-production, and the retention of control over vision that allows).
Producing my own written work, not to mention being a theatre committee member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain, makes me I hope very aware of the creative inputs of others and the risks of ‘artistic material theft’ or the erroneous assumption of ownership.
Where processes are devised completely different sets of rules apply (Though the editors and writers of these pieces of work also deserve acknowledgement for the highly skilled job they do).
A MAN WITH DOWNS SYNDROME TALKS ABOUT LOVE AND TELLS A STORY is a major collaboration with a big team of exceptional creatives, ethical company partners and co-producers and venues, developing their work and ideas through a vehicle, which is very much a play, written by me, the writer.
The original and first hat.
Worn with pride. No apology.