Since January I've been working on Hannah Nicklin's solo performance A Conversation With My Father, and after a slightly convoluted (on my part) discussion about what to call my role (somewhere between mentor, director, dramaturg and co-devisor), we've opted for "Made in collaboration with". Sometimes, I think, that role is simply being in the room; or leaving the room, coming back with soya hot chocolate and saying, "how have you got on?" And sometimes it's saying, "Why not try this?"
I'm co-supervising a series of graduation pieces at Leeds Met at the moment, a number of which will be solos. The university has a no solo-working rule for the studio spaces - for Health & Safety reasons. I don't have a problem with that, and in fact an advantage is that it means the student/artists have to have someone in process with them. It puts me in mind of Alex Swift and Daniel Bye's great project, Can't Do This Alone, which was born when they invited anyone making solo work to join them in the workspace when they were making paperhouses and The Price of Everything, respectively.
In a lot of my work making shows with students (and also in our project Homo Ludens) I find that what I often do is create a frame or structure in which they are invited to create their own material - often solo performances - that are still made in collaboration with the group.
And recently I've been performing The Lad Lit Project again, which, as I've acknowledged before, is a solo show made by more than 40 people. The content of The Lad Lit Project was sourced from a number of people who came in to tell their stories, and was shaped by key relationships with my Third Angel co-director, Rachael, and with Dee Heddon. But the mode of delivery and storytelling was arrived at by having other performer/devisors in the space with me, at different stages. Initially this was because we thought there would be three people on stage. But latterly, when we knew it was a solo performance, it was still useful to have other people getting up and doing stuff with me; trying things out in pairs and threes in order to generate material that would eventually be performed solo.
So that thinking has informed the workshop for GIFT. Here's the blurb:
Saturday 4, Sunday 5 May, 10am-1pm, Gateshead Old Town Hall
Third Angel’s Alexander Kelly leads a workshop exploring group strategies for making solo performance work – as rarely is solo work actually made alone. Using rule-based devising exercises, the workshop will draw upon autobiographical, story telling and research-led approaches to making solo performance work. The workshop will conclude with a short group showing of some of the material generated.
This is a two part workshop, Saturday and Sunday morning. Participants will also be asked to carry out a short (30 minute) research task between sessions.Booking info here.