Devoted and Disgruntled Open Space Event
An invitation from Tom Mansfield, Artistic Director, Upstart
Hi! I’m Tom, and I run Upstart, a small, scrappy and ambitious theatre company based in South East London. Last year, we started work on our biggest project ever, Phone Home –a transnational collaboration with partner companies in Germany and Greece. The project has only just got started, but it’s already blown our practice wide open. We’re exploring new ways of writing and rehearsing, experimenting with new technology, reaching out to new audiences, and navigating labyrinthine funding bureaucracies. It’s great fun. Especially the last bit.
Me and my colleagues are getting a huge amount out of our collaboration, and when our show goes into production this autumn I think our audiences will too. But with the EU referendum coming up, not to mention funding cuts here at home, it feels like there are huge forces rearing up against this kind of international co-operation. I’d even say it feels like there are people in power across the continent who want to stop us all talking to one another. I feel like my world as a theatremaker has opened up recently, but there are a load of people – and institutions – who are keen to close it right down again. Maybe you feel that way too, and maybe you have some of the same questions I do. For example –
How can we form collaborations with other artists across Europe, and beyond? Should we ‘be better’ at collaborating internationally, and if so what’s stopping us?
How can those of us who’ve already managed to establish relationships with European colleagues support others to build similar partnerships?
How can we get outside of the London bubble, the UK bubble, the West European bubble?
How can we use technology to facilitate international work?
How can we make work with European and international partners without having loads of money to spend?
How can we get more non-English-languages plays on here in the UK? If we get them on, will anybody come?
How can we navigate the EU funding labyrinth?
Creatively, what can we learn from our colleagues elsewhere in Europe and beyond? What can they learn from us? What can we offer one another?
Should the UK stay in the EU? As artists and as citizens, does the answer matter, and if so, how?
I’ll be honest – I’m new to pretty much all of these questions. Maybe you are too. Or maybe you’ve been working internationally for years. Maybe you’d like to find an international partner but aren’t sure where to start. Maybe you’re from elsewhere in the world and you’re working here in the UK. Either way, if you’re passionate about international arts in general and theatre in particular, it’d be great to talk.
See you there.
35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road