It is traditional to write a round-up of a year at Christmas time and maybe include it in a Christmas card to nearest and dearest. Well this year my round-up is more a look forward. My year has been about getting things in place to make 2020 a fun filled and fun-filled year. And the Christmas cards have remained unbought, with donations instead going to the RNLI and Refugee Community Kitchen. These are two charities I hope I will never have to call on for help, but two which are close to my heart.
So allow me to share some excitement.
Today the Royal Conservatoire for Scotland formally launched the MA in Creative Producing which I have been working towards for nearly two years.
Many discussions with key players in the School, papers suggesting ideas and proposing budgets, and finally a raft of meetings to shape the ideas into validatable (if that’s a word) detail to put before the academic and planning experts. I am most grateful to the amazing Helen McVey who has been my guide and challenger, and the person who has gathered so many thoughts into the right documentation. I never had that luxury when I created the course for Mountview, and this has made the early stages a delight to explore. Now we will see who wants what we have to offer in Glasgow.
I am humbled by the fact that so many ex-students of mine, and people who know me well through the early stages of their careers, are cheering the creation of the course and spreading the word. The next steps are a) write the detail and get that through the validation process, b) recruit wonderful people to be in the first cohort c) apply for the job to run the course which I have conceived for the Conservatoire. [I hope some young whipper-snapper doesn’t come along and get the job, but that is the risk I take]. And then make it a great success, because Scotland deserves this new Creative Producing pathway.
And now to Kath Burlinson who is just completing her “year off” or “retreat year”. Anyone who has been part of her world over the last 12 months will be exhausted looking at what she achieved for herself, for the Authentic Artist community, for her mentors Paul Oertel and Nancy Spanier, and for the Grady Burlinson Wilcox household. But hey ho. Let’s call it a quieter year. But now she is off at a pace I don’t think I’ve seen before. New Authentic Artist retreats, major projects for RADA Enterprises, 2 courses with Paul Oertel already announced, her own show Invisible Lines chosen to be part of the February 2020 Audacious Women Festival, grant applications in for a longer run of this production, awards in place for early development of a new Scottish-Pakistani piece and a new piece by Mairi Campbell. Oh and a birthday festival to get together.
She and I have put in place what we call Sacred Grady Burlinson Days to ensure we have time to be still and be together. The diary is plotted with full daily detail through to June 2020 and sketched out with big projects through to November 2020. We are blessed to have this demand for our creative activity in our lives. We just have to remember to breathe.
And talking of Breathe…Kath and I are re-awakening a programme we first developed for the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds which brings core understandings that an actor might have around preparation for, and presence on, stage. Kath uses the core of Breathe Body and Voice to help each individual become the most authentic presenter, manager, teacher, speaker, board member that they can be. The Art of Being Heard works with business leaders and managers. For 2020 we are starting with two Masterclasses (23rd Jan and 18th Feb) in association with the Edinburgh Training Centre. We will be delighted to share this work with HR Managers, marketing teams, individuals who may feel their Board or Senior Management need a bit of help. In the past we have found that if one person attends, they take back the learning and enthusiasm for the work. With one company we went on to work with over 70 Senior Managers overall. The course is one, or possibly two, days. The masterclass is 3hrs in the evening. Do have a look and spread the word. Thank you
Some of you may know that I used to work with Musical Theatre, and then had a lovely retirement party from Musical Theatre Network and other organisations in 2009. Since then I have coached individuals through my CGO Surgeries and cheered new work and new developments as funding bodies and major players at last get the need for r&d into Musical Theatre across the UK. I’ve continued to be a reviewer for the Musical Theatre Awards which I started in 2008, and which is wonderfully led by Fiona Orr. But 2020 may be a year when I come back into the fray in a couple of ways.
Firstly it is a pleasure to be one of the assessors for the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton’s massive collaborative project on new Musical Theatre development. A big programme involving Wendy and Andy Barnes’ Perfect Pitch, MMD and MTN with their BEAM festival, Scottish Opera, Improbable, and the development power centre which is China Plate. Fascinating to sit around the table with all these NPOs and see them working together to make the world a different place.
Then in March the “artist who thrives on breaking the mould (The Stage)” Conor Mitchell and I go to Perm in Russia to work with 12 lyricists and composers on the development of new Russian Musical Theatre. We are taking my old “Month of Sundays” programme and re-invigorating it across 8 days, working bi-lingually through interpreters. I can’t wait to go back to the City which has so many amazing artistic institutions at the foot of the Ural Mountains. Enormous thanks to the British Council for their support. It will be Conor’s first visit, and our first time re-thinking the course after 12 years. We stooped because it was felt that it wasn’t needed any more in the UK. London is blessed with Book Music Lyrics now as a much longer more formal programme for writers.
And finally, I am working with two Academic colleagues at the University of the West of Scotland on a brand new Musical Theatre training MA which, if approved, will offer practical collaborative opportunities to anyone aspiring to dedicate their professional life to the artform. It is for writers, composers, directors, technical and production specialists, producers and musical directors (not actors). It will, subject to validation, start in January 2021 and have a key sharing opportunity at the annual Edinburgh Festival when the world of Musical Theatre lands in the Capital to sniff out new talent. This course feels completely unlike anything else on offer in the world. I feel sure we will get International interest. The campus has great facilities alongside the beautiful Gaiety Theatre. A creative retreat MA within a stone’s throw of Glasgow and Edinburgh. I look forward to being able to announce this.
So rather than look back, rather than send out cards, rather than send a retrospective letter, I hope this blog will look forward with a sense of purpose.
Whatever you are doing at Christmas may you be in harmony, and if you are supporting those who need your care, love, cooking skills, chauffeur talents, or just attention/attendance – remember to care for yourselves too. I can’t wait to see the delight of the adults as my grand-daughter opens her presents. For her, at 9 months, another day of exploration. For us – her first Christmas.