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sometimes i see a play and…

This is a blog post…I am not re editing, re-shaping or re-checking…i just want to write from the sense of satisfaction that I am feeling right now…I have just arrived home after watching the QUT Final Acting Students perform in Mnemonic, a beautiful contemporary performance directed by Adam Cook and designed my Jessica Ross. I wish i had a list of the final year acting students, because I would address every one…so you will be referred to as a wondrous ensemble…Dianne Eden has held you together for the last 2.5 years, nurturing and guiding you so that you would shine…and shine you did…sometimes but rarely I watch a play and say…yes, I could have written that…I don’t mean as good, or as profound…but the ideas in Mnemonic were ideas that I hold close: James Hillman, the father of archetypal psychology, talks about the individual not being made up of history, rather they are imagination…this was a strong message for me tonight…we are what we imagine…

The other theme I adored (and those of you who know me will know why)…the search for belonging, the search for HOME…

We began with a leaf. We finished with the world.

Thank you actors. I will not forget your storytelling tonight. The image that is still resonating with me is the rolling of time, bodies spilling over the stainless steel table, spilling, spinning time…

Thank you!

TEN THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT ARTOUR as a NEWBIE

So as some of you may know, after four decades of theatre making, I am now training myself in the wild world of producing. My first attempt is to attend Artour and ’sell’

HOME: A Story of Belonging

MARGI in the Redwood Forest

MARGI in the Redwood Forest

PHOTO AND ART INSTALLATION BY BEV JENSEN

First of all, here is a glimpse of what HOME is: I wrote these notes as an introduction to the performance excerpt, twelve minutes of a collaged version of HOME: to remind some of you who have seen the show, and to whet the appetite of those who have not yet seen it. Due to time limitations it could not be used, so hey, I will publish them instead!

The idea of HOME, a story about belonging, began when my youngest daughter was living in Palestine, witnessing homes being bulldozed and people being removed from homes where they’d been living for generations.
It was in stark contrast to life in Brisbane: “the place we love to hate and hate to leave”…

And so in 2011, I gathered a team of dedicated artists and we began our journeys HOME.

After
• 3 creative developments in Chicago, Mexico and downtown Brisbane at Metro Arts Theatre
• An indie season up the hill at La Boite
• A Gold Matilda Award and multiple other nominations
• The creation of a new company “Force of Circumstance” – Queensland’s 1st specifically multi-generational theatre company
• Secret ongoing negotiations for another Brisbane season in 2015 (Shhh)
• The HOME team are ready to share their work throughout Queensland and to hear more stories of HOME from around the State: so here we are at ARTOUR SHOWCASE!

SO, WHAT DID I LEARN?

1. ARTOUR caters extremely well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Ab.Fab. Catering Team did a brilliant job at keeping the wolf from the door: and I was hard to please, being a coeliac. Thank you Ab.Fab!!! Brilliant!

2. JO CURREY, ARTOUR’s Tour Producer, was a terrific organiser of the event: Jo answered tens of emails, sometimes on a Sunday evening! I was researching in Greece until five days before the showing, so everything was arranged at the oddest times, yet Jo still managed to address each issue with enormous care and respect.

3. PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE: As a new producer, I think I needed to write to the Presenters of shows BEFORE the conference. The producers who had toured before had a HUGE advantage in that they knew who the folks were who presented work.

I had no idea!

Meetings were happening everywhere, except in my ‘own back yard’! I think this is easily rectified by getting a list of the presenters who are coming to Artour Marketplace, and sending them a friendly hello.

4. BE ON TIME: Due to ridiculous jet lag I missed the opening session. As a result I felt an hour or two behind all day! Make sure you are there early enough so you get the lay of the land BEFORE the action begins.

5. GET CARDS PRINTED, both postcards and business cards: these were a great asset. I went on line to Vistaprint. Being a newbie, it had to be simple. And it was: I selected a design, filled in my details and pressed send. In three days I had cards and postcards delivered to my door!

6. FIND A PRODUCING MENTOR: this is a hard gig, though extremely friendly. With colleagues supporting you, it is much easier for the Newbie. By email, I had approached two wonderful women who were very skilled at producing. Both of them offered very useful advice, not only beforehand but throughout the actual day.

7. DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALONE!!!!!! I have marvellous creatives who came on board to create HOME’s visual presentations, set up the selling table and the performance as well as ‘call’ the performance. Bring your theatrical community with you!!!! It means that you can just put on your performer hat when the performing time comes. Have your creative team help work the crowd!

8. FOLLOW UP IMMEDIATELY: again, work collaboratively. Leah Mercer, my working partner, and I write collaboratively: I write something, send it to her, she adds to it, sends it to me and this continues till we are satisfied. Theatre making is a collaborative art form, and I think producing has to be collaborative also!

9. DON’T PANIC: i think a lot of work can be done after the fact. Four companies (including HOME team) were chosen to show a short extract of their work in the evening after dinner break. This happened four hours AFTER the presenters had gathered together to discuss what they were interested in purchasing: now this was a difficult thing to hear! We had not even shown our work!

After voicing our concerns, we were assured that this would be addressed, and I feel confident it will be. I approached the creative broker of Artour, Luke Harriman after my showing, presented him with a hard copy of HOME: a Story of Belonging’s Presenters Pack (with all of the workshop material as well as the details of our performance:
http://www.artour.com.au/files/documents/HOME_Force%20of%20Circumstance_Presenter%20Pack.pdf) and will follow up within 24 hours.

10. ENJOY YOURSELVES!!!!! It really is a friendly crowd. Everyone is out to do a good job and Artour was so enthusiastic as they embraced this new approach to the marketplace. Because I am a newbie, I don’t know what used to happen, but I know now that with preparation, energy, enthusiasm and a sense of humour, only good can come out of this.

Congratulations Artour for a strong experience. You will be hearing from us!!!!!

Margi and the HOME TEAM

10 Things I learned about APAM as a “newbie”

APAM, Australian Performing Arts Market, is over…five days of heat, sun, beauty, river, dark boxes, big tents and the occasional champagne, held from 18th February to 22nd February 2014 at Brisbane Powerhouse, Judith Wright Centre, QPAC and QUT Gardens Point. It was excellent, such a huge task to organise our river city with diverse performance spaces. Big congratulations for the organising committee.

Here is a list of 10 things that I learned after attending APAM for the very first time. What you will read is only my opinion, and I am sure some of you will agree and not agree:

1. Pitching your work is a great way of selling: 15-20 minutes of intensive interest from a large and diverse audience. I preferred the pitches over every other available avenue (you also have the opportunity to present as a showcase of 25 minutes, a full length show or a mobile booth).

2. Artists should pitch their own work, not rely on their producers to do so. The pitches I witnessed with artists at the podium seemed, to me, to be more powerful. Of course there was a producer near by.

3. It is crucially important to spend money on documentation: what I witnessed was beautifully presented material, with good quality sound and visuals.

4. It is important to go to APAM just to understand its complexity, then you can return in two years to pitch (if your work is chosen).

5. If you do not get showcased for APAM, find a way to do your show anyway. Keep it short. There were several satellite shows at the market. The artists were delegates at APAM and advertised throughout the festival. There were also several satellite forums outside the program that worked a treat.

6. Genuinely connect with whomever you meet: I had some wonderful conversations with people I did not know, and then was delighted to see them up on stage a day or two later. One veteran suggested that the best way to be present at APAM is to have conversations with whoever is standing there and stop waiting for ‘important people’ to come along.

7. Slowing down when you feel like you need to speed up is an ideal approach: pacing yourself for 5 big days (really 4 full days), requires commitment, tenacity and a sense of humour.

8. Research everyone you can (everyone is in the Delegate book) so you know who you need to chat with. And have good up-to-date business cards.

9. Take snacks. There is little time to eat so make sure you have fruit, nuts, water to keep you going.

10. Enjoy yourself despite the gruelling schedule and the heat.

APAM was fabulous for me: I saw tens and tens of shows, either 15 minute pitches or full length performances. I could not see everything, there was too much, but I experienced so many emotions and ideas, I felt compelled to make this list and encourage artists to attend in the future, even though you may not have anything to pitch.

More artists should attend. Treat it as a Professional Development Week. We certainly need opportunities like this here in Brisbane. And we also need to agitate for a special rate for artists attending for PD. For most artists, $680.00 delegate fee is too high. I am wondering if APAM would consider what “Australia Theatre Forum” proposed last year, a subsidy for the independent artists who attended. Most people who attend APAM do not personally pay that fee, their companies do, but that is not so for freelance artists.

APAM, a great experience. A great experience for all artists, regardless of whether they have work to sell or not.

Thank you APAM. You really excelled to make a fascinating five days of research, inspiration and friendship.