We are now living in the DIY Era. Instead of waiting around for the phone to ring or complaining about not seeing the stories we want to see on stage, creatives are being called to arms to make the work they want to actually see. Slaying in your lane is still cool, but being a theatre-maker is cooler. A Jack of All Trades or multiple / title Twitter tag line is now more common than ever. The lines are blurred between actor, writer, director, producer, performer etc. and so the list goes on. At Mono Box, this is being brilliantly facilitated and well and truly nurtured by the nature of their courses.
On an extraordinary course led by the original DIY Queen that is Amy Gwilliam, we collectively took a deep dive in to making our own shows. Spread across four weeks, over three Saturdays, we deeply excavated the make-up of making a show. With this new found and at times stressful pressure to be and do everything, the thought of making your own show, attending auditions, working your day job, going to the gym, making sure you’ve got your packed lunch and catching up on Line of Duty can seem slightly overwhelming. However, working as a company, we supported and carried each other as we fumbled our way through our individual processes. Some of us arrived with a looming date for a first show and some of us came with nothing but an idea.
So, where do you begin? We began by working with ways in which you can research your source materials. Constructing bibliographies and things that inspire us in day to day life. We went back to childhood plays, drew portraits of one another and pitched shows about each other’s life journeys. This exercise of having yourself being reflected back at you solidified the fact that that there is a show within all of us. From the off, we were radicalising and dynamizing the way in which we work. Writing or making alone can sometimes make me feel stagnated or uninspired but through working with the other fabulous individuals in that room, I not only found stories and inspiration from them but from within myself. Sometimes taking the pressure off of yourself to constantly generate output can unblock you. Through everyone else, I rediscovered some inaccessible creativity through self-liberation, giving myself permission to not know all the answers and to listen to others - to just close your eyes and to stop apologising. It made me realise the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will push you but who will push you safely, who will encourage you to carry on writing or improvising when you feel like there is nothing else left to give. Our best work came out of not being precious about putting endless restrictions on our work which can push it into places we could have never imagined.
We shared, we laughed hysterically and cried together. We talked about stories that we might not be quite ready to tell but would let each other know when we were feeling brave. We discussed what frame or what lenses can we use to release the truth of a story. Through rigorous questioning and exploration of our ideas we worked on the grounds of pushing through each journey, constantly considering where we started and where we are heading to. Our final session planted the seeds of where do we want this show to go in the political/social landscape - how will our show extend a hand to the audience to find a common ground or point of relation? Ultimately, why are we making these shows. The beauty of this course was that everyone had something to say, a moment in their lives, an experience they wanted to explore or a story that was burning to get out. We are creating a community of DIY-ers. We are coming and come join us in asking questions, having fun and just making it happen.
Amy Gwilliam's DIY YOUR OWN SHOW course returns in July. Check it out www.themonobox.co.uk/devising
DIY - MAKE YOUR OWN SHOW
with AMY GWILLIAM
DATE: Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st July
TIME: 10am - 5pm
LOCATION: The Mono Box Studio 30, Block F, The Biscuit Factory, 100 Clements Road Bermondsey, SE16 4DG