By Josie Underwood
There is so much to be said for the technical shift we have made over the last year - the ways we have embraced the change that COVID forced on us, the programmes designed for international corporate meetings co-opted for clown workshops and play-readings - but the chance to return to a real theatre space last week had an entire room of creatives (myself included) smiling from ear to ear.
After a year (plus!) of workshops in cyberspace I had the opportunity to attend one of FMTW’s in-person workshops at the National Theatre last week, and it was an absolute delight! I got to spend a few hours with Ola Animashawun in a creativity workshop with other writers, dramaturgs & theatre makers, playing with exercises designed to get us in a creative headspace. At first, the thought of returning to the rehearsal studios that used to be so familiar seemed quite daunting, having sat on my sofa feeling particularly unmotivated for so long, but when I was in the room it was such a joy to share a space and ideas with a bunch of other creatives and to peek a resemblance of what creative spaces used to look like.
Ola took us through exercises that we could use to spark creativity, a much needed cure for the existential artistic block that lockdown seems to have conjured. We thought about the people that inspire us, shared the stories behind our names, investigated how we were feeling in the moment and had the chance to engage our imaginations again and write short poems and plays. We then had the chance to share these, good and bad, with the group, giving us a moment to feel like we were a live audience again, in front of us a live performance.
The main thing I have missed about live in-person theatre is exactly what made this workshop so wonderful – the feeling of the room. The way a space changes when offers are made and creativity is shared. There was laughter and reflection, and a tangible sense of joy.
The past year has taught us a lot. We are extremely lucky to now be in a world where we can combine the benefits of both real life and online creative spaces. We have been presented with a great opportunity to make our industry more accessible and far reaching, which is exactly what it needs! I would be lying though if I said that I am not very excited to be creeping back to a world where we can see imagination in the flesh, and this workshop was a wonderful first step.