Working Freelance in the Arts - A Week In The Life

I was chatting to a friend who doesn't work in the arts today (that's a more unusual occurrence than it should be...) they asked me what I was up to and, having explained my week to them, they looked at me with horror. "That sounds like a nightmare."

For me, however, it was a great week that was varied, interesting and rewarding. "I like to go to the same place every day, know I'm starting at 9 and finishing at 5." They continued. That didn't sound like fun to me...

I thought it may be of interest to those who are perhaps thinking of going freelance to see what an average week looks like for somebody like myself, a self-employed theatre practitioner. I don't really like that term to be honest, but it's the best way to describe the various bits and pieces I do. Here's my diary for the last week:
Monday - Auditions 9.00-18.00 on Monday was taken up with sitting on the audition panel at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It was the last da…

Some Audition Tips for School Leavers

I see a lot of auditions for drama school, I pop in and work for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and do first and second round admissions for their BA Acting and Musical Theatre courses.

It can be a really exciting job, attempting to spot the next great talent, but it can equally be demoralising as I see a lot of young people who come in either under-prepared or, even worse, badly prepared and don’t give themselves the best chance to show off what they can do.

The brilliant Ali De Souza has made this video hereabout auditioning and I thoroughly recommend watching it.

Ali’s notes are more about what to do on the actual day, so I thought I might write a few (hopefully) helpful tips about how to rehearse your scenes and what an audition panel is looking for. I would say that these notes are mainly aimed at those who are just about to leave school and perhaps have little experience in the way of auditioning. I should note that these suggestions are from my own personal experience and ar…

Some Notes on Youth Theatre

I finished up teaching at the youth theatre I co-founded in Greenock this week. I've been doing classes there since 1998... every Saturday for almost twenty years.

My work with young people has taken me some interesting places and I've learned a massive amount from the scores of shows I've directed and written. I've made so many mistakes over the years as I tried to work out what on earth makes a youth theatre tick, but bit by bit I chiselled away, alongside my partner in crime Marianne Yeomans, and I think we've come up with a way of running youth theatres that works.

Before I forget it all, I thought I would be useful to write down what I think that is. I absolutely would not say that this is a system that those running youth theatres would all agree with, but they worked for me and for the hundreds of young folk that I have worked with over the years and I'm sure there are many people who would vehemently disagree with me, but here they are anyway.

YT Is Not …

Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon

It's been a busy few months (which has included making a new website - you can check it out here) as I've worked on a couple of fast-paced musicals. First up was Vinyl Idol - which I co-wrote with Debbie Hannan - and was performed at Glasgow's Oran Mor as part of Play Pie and a Pint. I had been involved in PPP productions before, in very small ways, so it was fun to co-write and direct this mad little piece about golden-age idols appearing out of a girl's closet and causing chaos!

Currently I have my show for children, 'Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon' on at Assembly Checkpoint as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. It has been getting great responses from the public and press alike. Here's a 5* review from The Herald. The show went through the same development scheme that my musical 'Towards the Moon' started on back in 2011. It's a great opportunity where the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Musical Theatre Masters students get to work on and perform…

Does Scottish Theatre's Future Lie In The Community?

The last couple of weeks I have made the hour long journey down the coast to the wee seaside town where I lived for almost 30 years. Largs has a population of around 11,000 people, it sits in it's own wee pocket of relative prosperity compared to the other Ayrshire towns that surround it. At the heart of the town is the large Nardinis ice-cream emporium, a beautifully art-deco bedecked cafe where you can indulge in all your ice-cream based fantasies. 
However, I wasn't heading down to eat ice-cream or visit family or even to conduct experiments on the pterodactyl-sized seagulls, but I was heading a little further along the road to the somewhat oddly-name Vikingar! centre. A building that hosts a gym, a swimming pool and (of course) an interactive Viking experience. Oh, and a theatre, and that's why I was there, to check out a couple of shows that the local community groups were bringing to the stage in quick succession of one another.
The first show I was attending was the…

What I'm Up To

It has been ages since I updated my blog. Mainly due to me being stupidly busy, which is always a good thing. Since my last blog I have made a whole host of shows, including 'Flora's Fairy Challenge' at the Citizens which received fantastic five ***** reviews in the Herald and The Stage! I was also extremely privileged to have won a New Playwrights Award from Playwrights Studio Scotland, this will give me a fantastic opportunity to really spread my creative wings and give me to the time and space to write something, hopefully, very good indeed!

I am now working on a number of exciting projects and am currently writing this blog from my new workshop space/office thingy, which will hopefully give me the time and space to get all the work done!

Projects I'm working on: I am delighted to be writing a new musical called 'Vinyl Idol' with Debbie Hannan for Play, Pie and a Pint at Oran Mor. We worked on this a few years ago as a wee side project but it has developed i…

The Making of Love 2.0...

The Making of 'Love 2.0' - a 3 year journey of silliness  This is a blog I wrote for Sleeping Warrior's Blog Page, but I thought that it should be here as well, there is a link at the bottom that takes you to the online programme that I created for the piece. The show is currently touring Scotland, we've just got our first review through which you can read here.

***SPOILERS ALERT*** Before I go any further I should say that this blog contains a number of spoilers, so if you are currently sitting in a theatre waiting for the show to start, or checking it out before you've seen it in the flesh, then you may want to save this link and have a wee look post show!

In the Beginning The genesis of the show is one based on pure circumstance. In 2012 I was asked by my friend, who was an acting student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, if I would be interested in working on devising a piece of theatre for a couple of weeks with some fellow students. They had electives …