Hello folks and welcome to Black Toffee's first blog post for our production of Parallel. I've called it 'the start of the line' as we commence rehearsals next week and this is the first foray into sharing our creative process with you. But of course, in actual fact, it is not the start at all, more the middle. This play and the production has been gestating for some time. Journeying from the first tentative scribblings of ideas, to embarking on four weeks of rehearsals with a cast and full production team, has taken nearly two years. That's longer than it takes to make an elephant.
I should probably introduce myself, I am Laura Lindsay and I am an actor/writer and producer - but I prefer the title 'Theatre-Maker' as it's fewer letters and actually describes more accurately what I do. I run Black Toffee alongside my husband Jim McDonnell. I trained as an actor and then diversified to a theatre-maker as I wanted control of my career and to establish my own artistic voice. I graduated six years ago and I still consider myself to be an 'emerging' artist. Not quite sure when I'll shed my career chrysalis, maybe I never will, but at least I can see a bit of daylight and occasionally get to stretch my wings. I know how difficult it is finding work and keeping going in the arts. They can be dark, lonely days when you have no opportunity to do the thing you love and trained for. I have benefited from incredible support, advice and generosity from other more experienced individuals and companies in the industry, so I'm keen to do the same for others.
Parallel is my second full play that I have written, produced and acted in. The first was Hidden, co-written with Black Toffee's Associate Artist, Peter Carruthers. Hidden was a massive learning curve - we started small - playing to audiences of 15-20 and built up to being selected for Re:play at The Lowry, followed by a sell-out three week run at Underbelly at Edinburgh Fringe and a national tour to 11 regional theatres. Hidden became a platform for building relationships with theatres, audiences and other makers. Black Toffee and I were made Associate Artists at Harrogate Theatre in 2013. I am forever indebted to the support, mentorship, advice, and above, all belief in my work, that Harrogate Theatre has given me.
My hope is that by sharing our journey of creating the play, we will give emerging artists and theatre-makers an insight into a professional making process, including timescales and methodologies. I am by no means saying this will be a definitive model for theatre-making, but I hope it will provide some helpful information, insights and reflections that will benefit aspiring theatre makers' understanding of what goes into putting a play on.
I'm going to stop jibbering on at you now. But before I go, allow me to introduce the fantastic team behind Parallel:
James Baker - Director
Stephanie Upsall - Assistant Director and social-media marketing
Victoria Hinton - Set and costume designer
Aaron J Dootson - Lighting designer
Owen Rafferty - Sound designer
Amy Chandler and Rob Athorn - Stage Managers
Jim McDonnell - Executive Producer
Emma McDowell and Harrogate Theatre - Co-producer and marketing
Arabella Gibbins - Actor
Seda Yildiz - Actor
Anthony Robling - Production photography
You'll get to meet this bunch over the next few weeks, as this series of blogs will include contributions from all our production team. They will offer insights into their particular area of specialism in the process as we traverse the Parallel line together (!) (#sorry #notsorry).
The next blog will be another one from me on the R and D process, including applying for funding, booking rehearsed readings, and receiving and processing feedback. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think will find it useful. Thank you to Stephanie Upsall and the fabulous organisation, West Yorkshire Theatre Network, for helping distribute the blog.
Working in partnership with West Yorkshire Theatre Network we'll be sharing the creative process of our next production, Parallel from start to finish.