It can feel like you're getting nowhere. But it’s important to look back and see how far you've come
We spoke to Grace Chapman, Marketing Manager at The Space about mine and Brooke's roles as writers, directors, performers and producers for our latest show ‘Little Fools’ and how we ‘do everything’ at Hooked Theatre…
You say you both do ‘everything’ at Hooked Theatre – what did you mean by this?
By ‘everything’, we mean, sourcing the set and costume, directing and planning rehearsals, producing and preparing music, online marketing for the show as well as flyering the local areas and all the admin and contracts for the company. In between shows, you can find us script writing, networking, casting the actors, pitching our shows to theatres, building up our online presence, watching new theatre, applying for funding and schemes… Basically, everything you can think of that is part of a show or a theatre company. This is what we do. Instead of having a big company behind us to do all the little jobs, we do them all. I guess it means we can do everything exactly how we want and we only have ourselves to rely on. This can be great but it can seem like you have a million things to do, especially in pre-production for a new show. It’s very much felt like this in the last few months leading up to Little Fools but we love it.
What are the biggest challenges to this?
The biggest challenges to this would be: Time. There are only 24 hours in a day and there are only 2 of us. We both usually have other personal projects on the go as well as jobs. So, it can be hard to fit everything in and we are usually off the social-radar leading up to shows. Running a long-standing theatre company is having another business. As well as, focusing on our individual career and life’s general hurdles, it can sometimes be difficult to prioritise spare time. Do I apply for some personal jobs? Do I update the Hooked website? Do I do some script writing? For our new play or for my own project? Or do I just… relax? (God-Forbid!) Sometimes you can feel like you are getting nowhere, especially in this industry. So, it can be overwhelming sometimes. However, it’s definitely important to look back and see how far you have come. And how much you’ve grown!
How do you manage to keep all the plates spinning in the air?
Communication is key. Brooke and I speak everyday. If one of us isn’t free to do something, the other will take it on. We’re both very giving and understanding when we work together, which is why it works. There are occasions where we maybe don’t have enough time to apply for a scheme or submit ourselves into a competition or say a scratch night for example, but no one can do everything, so that’s ok. It takes time. It took us a year to write Little Fools, whilst in and out of other projects and jobs, and we may have spent another year on it if this amazing opportunity hadn’t come up at The Space. But we’ve used this opportunity to refine Little Fools in the last few months and go full steam ahead with some risky ideas.
If someone was to say to you – ‘we can take all these jobs off you and all you have to worry about is the show’ – would you do it?
My inner actor screams “OMG, YES!” to this question, but actually after having spent so much of our time writing Little Fools, it feels good to implicate structures to our rehearsals, the directing and the marketing by us. Because, who else knows better about what we are working on than us right now? In saying this, we are definitely open to collaborating with others and working together to create something. With Little Fools, it’s been our baby, so we’d probably have ended up butting in with some of the creative decisions regardless.
What do you enjoy most about doing everything?
The skills you learn by doing everything. We’ve both gained skills in so many areas that we didn’t think we ever would. For example, sourcing set and costumes, online marketing, from designing posters and creating promotional videos. I program all of our sound onto software like QLab for all our productions, I know how to online market, I feel confident to pitch ideas, meet with more people, it’s great.
What advice would you give any theatre makers considering ‘doing everything’ and self producing their own work?
Take your time. Organise and plan. Writing and producing plays takes time. It’s better to spend more time honing your creativity than rushing it. Although this is a fast paced industry, it’s also an extremely competitive one, from all angles. There will always be people with more -and different- experience out there, which is why the little things like research and development can be so important as theatre makers. Do it once and tear it apart. What works? What doesn’t? HOW can this be more interesting?
There are lots of theatre companies out there making a lot of good theatre, but what makes you unique? Finding the type of theatre you like to make is important, but again, this also takes time. You might not realise this in the first few steps as a company. We’ve learnt that we love to write and perform spoken word so we’ve weaved that into ‘Little Fools’. We love true stories and realistic matters, hence Little Fools being inspired by true events. We want to make topical theatre and like to follow current affairs in our shows; the biggest ones have been the #TimesUp & #MeToo movements for Little Fools. We want to make sure our theatrical contributions are meaningful and we are getting the right message across. So, it’s about finding your style and niche and just going for it.
Little Fools will be performed 25-29th September. BOOK HERE.