From Jabberwocky to NSDF, Darlington to Scarborough

I can’t believe I have never been to the National Student Drama Festival. I first met the founder, Clive Wolfe, when I was at Bristol starting the British Universities Shakespeare Company. He was wise and kind. But we met it London – and 35 years later, after his sad death this year, I arrived in Scarborough from Darlington.   Very much better late than never.

Jabberwocky in Darlington is about bringing high quality small theatre companies (established and emerging) to inspire and grow the aspirations and expectations of audiences and artists in Darlington [my description – not their mission statement]. I was there yesterday to run some CGO Surgeries – and wow were they inspiring and full of aspiration….And Surprising. Screenwriter juggling mother and grandmother roles, 6th former planning to study law, Chinese student music manager, Installation artist preparing her first monumental show exploring the representation of her own mind, experienced scenic artist and theatremaker finding her own solo voice, an epidemiologist exploring research topics, and a network marketer with a major personal goal. All in a day. All, I hope, exploring the power of mindful self belief. Thank you Jabberwocky and Caroline Pearce for being a beautiful spark to light inspiration within the Darlington community.     PS – do ask me why the amazing mix of Surgeries…it was special.

And now I sit by the seaside. Well actually I’m in a hotel room too low to see the sea, but I have walked along the path to the amazing Spa Centre where I lost my NSDF virginity.   I will be seeing 4-5 shows in 2 days, and offering a 3hr workshop for Creative Producers linked to the new MA at Mountview [PS – it will be suitable for anyone who might need to create their own work or opportunities in the future…feel free to drop in].

First show tonight was very special. New writing, unexpected idea, finely directed, emotionally present in the duet of performances, intellectually challenging in exactly the right ways, sad, funny, and immensely thought provoking. Thank you to Warwick University Walrus Theatre, writer Sam Steiner with complex and cracking writing, director Ed Franklin ensuring a flow and effervescence which kept us wondering, and to Beth Holmes and Euan Kitson – two performers who handled the complex material with a sense of truth, lightness, connectedness, and presence.   I don’t want to tell you anything about the show. I hope you will see it in Scarborough or at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.   I will follow all 5 of you…and would love Producers Josie Davies and Oscar Owen to pop in to the Monday workshop or get in touch.

And a very special lovely treat. I walked into the bar and there were two of my favourite Musical Theatre champions – Sally Rapier and Nick Phillips. Lovely to see them and catch up on x years…tooo long. Excited to be spending 2 days around the festival with them and learning more about the Musical Theatre Lab UK that they are establishing “in pursuit of excellence in making performance”

If you’ve never been to NSDF then can I recommend it (even from 4 hours in the town). It’s a lovely feeling of creative community without the madness and massiveness of Edinburgh. There are amazing people doing workshops like Tamara Harvey (9am tomorrow…early breakfast for me), Glen Walford with her legendary creative experience still working on new stuff and new ideas nationally and internationally.

Who knows who I will meet tomorrow…can’t wait.


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