Ment-Well #3: Why me?
Author: Charis McRoberts
Why me? Why now? Why today?
The collective mode of being, listening and sharing continued nonetheless. As I arrived - 30 minutes late because of completing and ACE app of all things! - it was a relief to enter a Zoom Call with the friendly, welcoming and forgiving faces of others, rather than the dreaded black rectangles with names in bold plotted across the screen. A feeling of connection, empathy and openness then fills the meeting rather than an uneasiness, an anxiety of who or what you cannot see.
A new sense of hope filled today’s call, one of possibility - ACE Project Grants have reopened. After months of fear for not only our own careers but with the worry and weight of the creative industry’s future on our shoulders, this news provided a spark of hope and possibility in the darkness of our current climate. This spark ignited in break out rooms as the beginnings of project ideas were shared, causing flames of creativity. Like Alice, we fell willingly down the rabbit hole to a wonderland of ideas (which we coined as ‘kernels’). Kernels of escapism, activism, and personal journeys, each full of vibrancy and promise.
We came back together to share these with the collective, focusing on the “stage language” (terminology which confused many of us) and the question of “Why me?” The stage language of the show is a term used to discuss and describe the style, tone, genre of the script – will there be direct address, asides, monologues? Etc. Discussed to give the group a taste of what the show will be like. We previously created an agreed contract as a group which included having the door always open, the ability to leave when needed and asking questions we are unsure of, amongst others. This discussion alone formed a huge sense of trust and understanding within the collective and therefore when the term ‘stage language’ came up, we felt we could ask what it meant without worry or judgement.
“Why me?” a huge question. Should I tell this story? Is it my story to tell? Should I write these particular words, dance these moves, create this show? Why me? Why now? Why today?
“Why not?!” was one response. “A shared experience, a lived experience,” another. These questions help us to make our work personal, relevant, bring us fulfillment as makers and focus to the work, adding a deeper layer and reasoning to create something. “Why me?” This question gives us the fuel to create not just a flame or flicker of possibility but a roaring fire, a depth and clarity to the work.
These kernels might be stowed away for a later date or the beginnings of a new ACE application.
ACE Project Grant Tips:
Organise your project timeline practically – leave room to resubmit your application.
Look for and engage with potential partners & venues for match funding, mentoring and support in kind (like rehearsal room space).
Allow time for online sharings, performance opportunities etc in your planning
Guidelines for rates of pay are on Equity and ITC for your budget.
Who is connected to your project? They want to see that people are interested and invested.
Personal access costs are counted as separate: For example, if you’re requesting funding towards a BSL interpreter as part of your own personal access costs to help you deliver the project, then this would come under ‘Personal access costs’ and this would come out of a separate pot of funding. E.g - If you were requesting £15,000 with an additional £1,000 of personal access costs, your application would still count as an £15,000 and under grant. If working with challenging material, an access cost could be inclusion of a mental health practitioner.
Ask friends and colleges who have had successful apps to read yours.
Venues will also have staff members willing to read your application and offer advice – approach and request respectfully.
Before we left the session, we checked out, taking the time to share one thing to summarise our feelings. On one Zoom in a number of different rooms, in different houses we listen, connecting with one another through our screens. As we leave, a sense of renewed hope clung to the air.
What are 'Ment-Well' articles?
Between July and October 2020, eight early-career theatre makers will come together to explore different aspects of their making process. They will be guided by writer, theatre maker and performer Caroline Horton who will facilitate five Mentoring sessions. In between the mentoring sessions, Artist Wellbeing Practitioner Lou Platt will facilitate Wellbeing sessions. In a hope to share discoveries and learnings with the wider community, each participant will create a 'Ment-Well' article that will capture something of one of the nine sessions. These articles are for collective self-reflection and a transfer of knowledge. They are to be approached by the author and audience with a sense of lightness, spontaneity and curiosity, and may be a seed or starting point for further thought and exploration - nothing more, nothing less.