I’m not from here… where do I fit?

Convener(s): Emma Deakin

Participants: Jennifer Pearcy-Edwards, Rosalie White, Allen O’Leary, Barry Wilson, Anna O’Brien, Stella Duffy, Andy Harman

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Four from New Zealand

Three from the States

One from Devon

NONE from London… originally! 

When we’re not from this place (London) how do we fit in, find a home here? When we think we don’t quite fit how do we create here, and feel like we deserve be creating/making here? And who is from London anyway? Does anyone here feel like they fit?

We talked about the fears we have when we open our mouths that we’re instantly judged on where it is we’re from and therefore who we are and what we can contribute creatively. This pigeon holing is entirely based on where we’re from, and what people perceive that to be… Example; a Kiwi only being auditioned for New Zealand (and of course Australian!) roles when she is more than capable of playing another accent. And an American writer receiving a surprised reaction when he wants to base his play in London rather than writing about America.

But, we all thought not being from here (ie London or UK) does gives us a different perspective on creating work here, on the industry here, on the way things work, and don’t work here. London is not our home so we can see it with a kind of ‘outsider’ view…

And what/where is home? Maybe its not geographical, but more about our creative home; ie when we’re in black box theatre, when we’re in the rehearsal room… that can feel more like home than the geographical patch of land we’re from.

Talking about how we work here, why we work here, led to a discussion about ‘just doing the work’. Some of the group felt that there were frustrations arising within themselves when hearing others over the weekend talking about needing the money in order to make the work. Or having to have the Producer, or having the Fundraiser – having these things before ‘just doing the work’. Two of us experienced, independently, that when we voiced those frustrations we received… a strange… look…like we were speaking another language. But surely when a company and/or project is new and young there needs to be a period of seriously hard slog (which includes taking most of, if not all the roles on) in order to make that work happen, to realize it. That hard slog doesn’t stop if we want to continue to create and build our piece of beauty, that thing we feel most passionate about. And over time the company and/or project grows, people come and go, support (in every sense of the word) begins to increase, and so on and so on. The company, the project, the relationships and people develop and the work grows and evolves. And these things take time… Probably never stops, just continues…

London is a hard place, thriving, which is great! But its hard too. Because we’re not from here do we feel we need to work harder to prove ourselves? And with this thing we need to prove, does it make it harder to give ourselves permission to work, to do, to make? 

We need to don the dress of entitlement! Wear the waistcoat of entitlement! Feed our imagination with a secret that gives us permission to take space and believe we deserve to be here.