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THEATRE

Have a look below at examples of how an Artist Wellbeing Practitioner has worked with various theatre practitioners

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The Origin of Carmen Power

Toby Peach & Carmen

Ways of Working:

  • Group/Team sessions for the whole team

  • Individual session for cast and production members

  • Thinking about what it is to draw upon autobiographical material

About the show:

The Origin of Carmen Power is an interactive story full of superheroes, monsters and unicorns (plenty of unicorns!). The story has been made by Carmen and her friend (and side-kick) Toby. Carmen had a brain tumour when she was 7 and Toby had blood cancer when he was 19. In this story we find out how Carmen became a super heroine named Carmen Power and why she thinks Toby is a superhero too.

Writer & Performer Toby's words:

The approach of Lou has given me an insight into different methods of integrating wellbeing through my practice and how as an Artist I need to keep this at the centre to however I work in the future, be it with other participants, professional artists or just with myself.

2019-21

Imogen Mahdavi, Josie Dale-Jones, Lydia
dressed.
This Egg

Imogen Mahdavi, Josie Dale-Jones, Lydia Higginson, Olivia Norris, Lucy Adams

Ways of Working:

  • Group/Team sessions throughout the tour

  • Giving space to process, reflect, connect, release and re-energise

Producer & Performer Josie's words:

dressed. is a show I have made with my three best friends. We have an inbuilt support network - we’ve known each other since we were 10 but now we were playing together at work. I watched them make, think, challenge and care in the ways they do. And, also, just laughing. To an extent, we knew what to expect in our rehearsal room. I don’t think you can ever know what it’s going to feel like to perform a show in a room full of strangers, and how they will respond to that. When we took the show on tour, we decided to take extra care. That’s where Lou came in. She would visit us in London, Manchester, Bristol etc… and facilitate check ins with us (and of course super brilliant Lucy Adams who designed the lighting for the show and was our technical operator, and who I wouldn’t want to go on the road without).

The most important thing about these moments was the protected time. The time to be together in a space we could continue to do that thinking, challenging and caring. And, laughing, obvs
I self-produce and perform. Through working with Lou, I was also able to give space to thinking about care outside of the company and to the responsibility we hold as artists with the work we put on stage. How can we care for our audience? How can we care for other people that work on the show, for example, BSL interpreters? Lucy and I have recently begun thinking about wellbeing in technical theatre.  “The show must go on.” ... it is an option that it doesn’t. The people are more important than the project.

Rae Mainwaring
Bright Places

2019

About the show:

“I was 23 when it came crashing into my life; without warning, just when everything was going so well, just when I was really really happy…”

Bright Places is an unapologetically honest and sometimes comical exploration of one woman's unique take on life with Multiple Sclerosis.

Part of REP Foundry Festival 2019. 

Ways of working:

  • Individual sessions for Rae (Writer, Divisor, Subject)

Here's what Rae had to say:

Working with Lou is transformative; both artistically and personally. She gave me the tools to navigate where those two worlds collide and from that, create work that could be honest, curious and most importantly safe.

Photo credit: Graeme Braidwood

REP%20Foundry%20Sophia%20Grab%202(1)_edi
Sophia Griffin
Families, Fathers & F*ckboys

2019-2020

About the show:

Inspired by autobiographical events and conversations, Fathers, Families and F*ckboys follows one woman's journey to reconnect with her Father in order to connect with herself. An exploration of relationships and identity, the show looks at how we navigate through absence, the difference between our public persona and our private self and what happens when the two meet. 

Ways of working:

  • Individual sessions for Sophia (Writer, Divisor, Subject)

Here's what Sophia had to say:

I've been fortunate to work with Lou on three different projects and have found a space to unpack how I'm feeling, leaving me with the headspace to focus on what I'm working on. Our sessions have helped me step back and see through the mess of the process to find a clear direction and helpful coping stategies to move forward. It has been really helpful as a space to validate feelings that arise, especially when working on semi autobiographical work. The industry can be unforgiving when it comes to looking after artists' health and Lou helped me to centre care in my practice and realise that it was fundamental both to me and the projects.

Photo credit: Birmingham REP

KIT REDSTONE
& CO

PASSENGERS

2019

Ways of Working:

  • Individual sessions for Kit (Writer, Divisor, Subject)

  • Group/Team session to open rehearsals

Here's what Kit had to say:

From the first session Lou involved the whole group and worked with us as a team which massively took the pressure off me. The games that Lou introduces as well as the checking in and out enabled us to begin our process on a caring and compassionate note which massively fed into the work itself. My 1:1 sessions gave me an opportunity to blow of steam and talk about my anxieties which made me realise how much I’d bottled inside during other processes.

Voicing concerns and fears as a group was a really powerful bonding exercise which enabled us to be honest in an environment which is so often about saying yes to everything and masking worries. [This] affected our ensemble and the subsequent work in a really positive way. Lou was really gentle and caring - at first this felt quite strange in an environment that can sometimes all be about ego and presentation. But seeing someone bring a new energy to the rehearsal room was really liberating. 

URSULA MARTINEZ

A Family Outing:

20 Years on

2019

Ways of Working:

  • Primarily individual sessions for Ursula (Writer, Divisor, Subject)

  • Some family support

  • Team Support

  • Rehearsal & tour support

Here's what Ursula had to say:

"[Lou was] someone to talk to and lean on when the going got tough ... which it did.  The organic style worked for me. I don't know if this is how Lou works' generally, or if she was responding to an instinct around what works for me. Thanks Lou. It was a pleasure!"

RACHEL BAGSHAW
& COMPANY

The Shape of the Pain

2017-19

Ways of Working:

  • Primarily individual sessions for Rachel Bagshaw (director, subject & co-creator)

  • Individual support for Hannah (actor) and Rachel Lincoln (assistant director)

  • Group sessions and input for the whole Creative Team

  • R&D, rehearsal & tour support

Here's what Rachel Bagshaw had to say:

The show is a particularly challenging piece of work for me to make as we are drawing very actively on my own experience of pain, which in turn causes my pain levels to increase.  Lou’s involvement in the process has been vital to ensuring the safety of the work and provided an outlet for me to reflect on how to make the best possible show from my experiences. She creates a welcoming, safe space within which we have been able to talk freely about the process. I highly recommend her work to other artists where the work might require therapeutic support, and look forward to working with her again myself in the future.

B TEAM
(LAURA RYDER)

SLOW VIOLENCE

2019-20

Ways of Working:

  • Facilitated a Group session for Creative Team to begin and close R&D week

  • Focused on Check In/Outs, Hopes & Fears & co-created a Working Wellbeing Manifesto

Laura's words:

As a company that hadn’t all worked together before the wellbeing support was an excellent way of opening up the space. Introducing a clear and practical method of checking in was an very useful tool for setting up the space daily. And also having an outside voice leading the debrief and the check in meant that all the artists were allowed to partake fully and honestly without one artist being the one to facilitate.

Maria's words:

I would like to see a more normalized approach to artist well-being and good mental health practice across the industry, and was very happy that as a company we can be advocates for this. [...]  I felt the team gelled more quickly together during the rehearsal week after having such an in-depth check-in with Lou on the very first day [...] Lou was so personable and friendly and made us feel at ease with what we were feeding back.

DEMI NANDHRA

Overarching Support

2017-18

Ways of Working:

  • Demi had regular sessions to explore her relationship to her artistic process. Sometimes this was in direct relationship to specific shows.

  • Demi & her producer also had joint sessions to attend to their working relationship and wellbeing practices.

Demi's words:

I never considered my wellbeing in relation to my art before working with Lou. I know that sounds crazy but I never did. Anything related to well being felt like an add on if budget permitted. I learnt from Lou that can't and shouldn't be the case. It has to be a priority especially working within the context I do (neurodiverse, woman of colour). I learnt about the power of reflection, the power of taking an hour a week to centre well being. The practice, the ritual of going to a session with Lou started to tell my 'inner' voice that I deserved care and needed this. Great art doesn't come from suffering - that is a myth!

DEMI NANDHRA
URIELLE KLIEN-MEKONGO

Yvette

2018

Based on a true story, Yvette is a one woman show with original music about a stolen childhood and growing up with a secret.

Produced by China Plate.

Ways of Working:

  • Individual tour support for Urielle (actor, writer, subject)

  • In person and video/phone support

  • Chairing a Q&A after performance at WOW Festival, South Bank

Photo: Helen Murray

URIELLE KLIEN-MEKONGO
CHLOE KNIBBS
& CO

The Girl Behind the Glass

2018

Ways of Working:

  • Group session prior to the rehearsal process

  • Individual sessions with Chloe (composer, director, subject)

Chloe's words:

Lou [...] facilitated the opportunity for myself and the cast to create a space for discussion and exploration that genuinely felt safe and grounded. During the group session we explored our group dynamic and professional and personal connections to the project which allowed a better understanding of where we were all coming from. [...] I feel that these exercises had a positive effect on the dynamic, and allowed us to balance the act of being artistically vulnerable with maintaining our own personal boundaries.

 The individual sessions that I had with Lou leading up to the project developed a resilience that was useful once the rehearsal process had begun.

(image: Abigail Kelly & Suzie Purkis)

CAROLINE HORTON
& TEAM

MESS

2017

Caroline Horton is a multi-award-winning artist who makes theatre and audio drama. She has written and toured a show called Mess based upon her own personal experiences living with an eating disorder. Caroline invited me to facilitate Both group & individual sessions were offered.

Ways of Working:

  • Artist Wellbeing sessions were offered in order to hold a space for emotional release and reflection when in the pressures of touring a show in the UK and Canada.

  • Both group and individual sessions were offered.

  • An "on call" service was offered so that the artist could connect when the need arose.

Caroline's words:

I definitely remained engaged with my self-care and wellbeing during the tour and I’m sure this is a result of my sessions with Lou. The sessions helped me talk through strategies for tackling problems in the company [...] and my own emotional ups and downs. I really appreciated having the group sessions as well as the phone calls in between. It felt like a really good balance between group and personal concerns. I felt very supported.

STEPHANIE RIDINGS

The Road to Huntsville

2016

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for Stephanie (lead artist, writer, performer)

  • Focus on performance dynamics & overall relationship to artestry

Stephanie's words:

I committed to the sessions and uncovered and dealt with some issues, which were having an effect on me performing without me realising it. [...] It was a very safe, calm and relaxing space, which made me very open. On reflection it feels like I had been emotionally constipated for years and identifying issues and exercising some of them was the equivalent to a course of laxatives which has allowed everything to flow again.

I think it has made me a much better person to work with. I’m calmer before performances and actually enjoy performing the piece. If I start to worry about the audience during performance I ground myself and remember some of the things we talked about and I’m now able to ignore it. Before working with Lou this would not have been possible.

Image: Graeme Braidwood

ITA O'BRIEN

Does My Sex Offend You

R&D

2015

Ita explored themes of sexuality and sexual abuse in an R&D, shared at the Barbican Pit.

Ita has gone on to be an Intimacy Coordinator & Director, pioneering the creation of safe working practices when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity.

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for Ita herself

  • Being in the rehearsal process at times to offer insight and support

THE DARK ROOM

China Plate

Various Artists

2015

The Darkroom invests in creative relationships rather than pieces of work and aims to give each company they work with space, time, and money to experiment, to rejuvenate, to enliven their processes and to grow creatively. 

Ways of Working:

  • Individual Artist Wellbeing sessions for the core artists

  • Group open space discussion exploring wellbeing in practice

More about China Plate
KILN ENSEMBLE

On-going company support

2012-14

Ways of Working:

  • KILN faced critical conflict within the company structure. An Artist Wellbeing Practitioner was brought in to provide mediation and support. This progressed into being a monthly arrangement where a safe space was held for the company to explore and work through inevitable emotional narratives that unfold whilst running a theatre company.

Emily Ayre's words:

You were an incredible light when we needed guidance, kindness and warmth. Thank you so much for bringing in a new chapter with us.

Olivia Winteringham's words:

Thank you very much for holding us so that we could talk, think, listen and thank you for your honesty. Sometimes frightening but always vital.

JULIA VOCE

Ishbel & I

2014

Julia Voce’s 2014 solo piece ‘Ishbel and I’, explores Julia’s childhood and her family’s struggle with mental illness, in particular, her relationship with her sister Anne who lives with bi-polar disorder.

Ways of Working:

  • Julia invited me into the rehearsal process to offer support and guidance.  This helped her navigate personal experiences exploring the intimate, funny and often painful dynamics within her family whilst trying to balance the pressures of devising and putting on an original auto-biographical show. 

  • Individual & Group sessions

Julia's words:

Thanks for everything, Lou. The work with you was a truly invaluable part of the process.  I’ll definitely be in touch about working together in the future; I’ll keep you posted about the next wave of activity.