Freelancers Make Theatre Work is run by a small voluntary group of freelancers. The group is not fixed but fluid and welcomes participants who are willing to give time. Each week, a different member of the team writes the newsletter...

I want to dream again

By Beth Steel

When stuck, some writers go for a walk, others wash the pots; I lay down and close my eyes. Every play I’ve written has formed itself from dreams. The very first sighting of a play can come to me in a dream. Those are the big bangs: out of nothing, darkness cracks open and a new world is pushed out. But with every play I have dreamt scenes, dialogue, endings. If I can’t solve a problem consciously at my desk, I lay down.


During lockdown I stopped dreaming, it was like someone had poured concrete into my skull and left it to set. Is this what they mean by writer’s block? I wondered more than once. But writing is as much (more) about doggedly turning up at the desk as it is inspiration. So I kept going.


I’ve come to realise that to create is to live with fear, to constantly battle the self doubt that says this is never going to come together – and there really aren’t any guarantees it will. It can feel impossible and lonely. Then there’s the real-life fears: will anyone even want this play I’ve dedicated two years of my life to? I’ve always written without a commission – in the beginning from necessity, later out of choice – but it does mean holding your nerve. Or being completely insane. 


There’s a lot of fear in our community right now. I myself have swung from wild optimisim to deep dread, sometimes in the same day. Will we work again? Will more venues close? What will we be coming back to? Will previous gains made now be lost? Each of us have different questions but we are, all of us, in the dark waiting for the future to emerge. 


Sometimes I think I see it. Like my writing dreams, I catch glimpses of how it might look this new world. That change can bring gains as well as losses. These visions aren’t my own: for months now I’ve been surrounded by people at Freelancers Make who imagine and demand more than me, who are perhaps more generous than me. 


I do know that creating that world will be hard going and seem impossible and feel frustrating and require large reserves of faith, not least because it’s so difficult to see change: like a moving body of water, it runs out your hands as soon as you try and get hold of it. The direction of current is all. 


This is my first newsletter for Freelancers Make and it might read like an odd one. I could’ve written about Rishi Sunak or any of the other things that happened this week. Maybe I should have. But honestly, I feel tired of reacting to the body blows – that just keep on coming. I wanted to put some words down that look beyond the painful present. I wanted to dream again. 


They came back by the way. In fact, I might just go and close my eyes now.

Future Labs: Round 2

Our first round of Future Labs concluded at the end of last week and was a great success. We will be releasing reports from the conversation later this week but in the meantime we are delighted to reopen applications for the next three topics:

  • How do we protect the freelance backstage workforce, including technical and making professions, if we can’t go back to work until next year?  (Monday 26 October, 11:00-13:00)
  • How can we provide support, ongoing training and meaningful opportunities for the future freelance workforce?  (Wednesday 28 October, 11:00-13:00)
  • How can we ensure the freelance voice is heard in ensuring that theatre that we come back to is sustainable?  (Friday 30 October, 11:00-13:00)

If you would like to participate in any of these panels, please complete the form on our website, selecting which topic you would like to apply for and outlining what you would bring to the conversation. Applications will close at 6pm on Thursday 15 October and we will be selecting panellists at the end of this week.

The Freelancers Make Theatre Work Merchandise Store

Over the weekend we launched the FMTW Merchandise Store thanks to the generosity of Promotional Warehouse

For those who are fortunate enough to have returned or are returning to work, & for those who want to support Theatre Freelancers, this is for you.

Help us continue to fight and raise awareness of the plight of freelancers in our industry.

The funds will be used to enable fair pay for more theatre practitioners to run FMTW initiatives around the UK like our Spa Days, Future Labs and more as well as support our continued lobbying of government and championing of Freelancers in The Arts.

Updated MPs Letter

Last week we updated our MPs letter and we encourage you to continue to write to your local MP. They need to understand the dire situation of Freelancers in The Arts and this is your direct line to them, and subsequently, government. 

Come and join us in our virtual Green Room for a coffee and a chin-wag.


No agenda, no pressure. Just a chance to meet up with your extended Theatre family in a safe space a mug of the good stuff (and a cheeky slice of cake).

Find out more here.

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