Inspired by the Twitter account Humans of Theatre, Mind the Gap presents Humans of MTG – an online campaign celebrating the people we have worked with over the past few years and beyond.
Globally we are all experiencing difficulties and challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, which are shared within the arts community. So here’s to all the amazing freelancers and artists out there who deserve a shout out!
Alan Lyddiard has been a collaborator and friend of Mind the Gap for many years. He first worked with the company in 2003 to create the touring theatre production Don Quixote – a collaboration with Northern Stage where Alan was Artistic Director. More recently Alan worked with Mind the Gap as Director of the critically acclaimed CONTAINED (2015 – 2017).
I first became aware of the work of Mind the Gap in the late 1990’s, when I was the Artistic Director of Northern Stage in Newcastle. I was incredibly impressed with the vision of the work and of the power of the performances from the company. After long discussions Tim Wheeler,
the then Artistic Director, and I decided we should create a co-production together. In 2003 members of the Mind the Gap Ensemble worked with members of The Northern Stage Ensemble to create a version of the Don Quixote story and toured it across England. It was a wonderful experience and I learnt so much from working with the team.
Photo: ©Mike Pinches
Years later I saw “Irresistible” and was completely blown away by the experience. A true ensemble of wonderful performers led by the extraordinary talent that is Jez Colborne. I felt there was a shared philosophy in our work and I wanted to get closer to the company.
Fortunately I was asked to mentor Joyce Nga Yu Lee on her first step in devising “Trickster” in Galway with the That’s Life team. I saw how the work developed. The combination of the two companies working together produced phenomenal theatre – filled with music, dance and spectacular imagery. It felt like the company was emerging into creating a new form of theatre, developing on from their adaptations of well know stories, and creating new stories with new voices that demanded to be heard. Oh and the poster for ‘Trickster’ is still my favourite of all Mind The Gap shows.
Image: ©Tim Smith
I then had the privilege of creating a piece of theatre, “Contained”, with ten performers – developing their stories from their own life experiences. Working with Joyce again and with Charli collecting the stories and finding the best way to present them to audiences was a terrific process. We made a piece of theatre that could only be performed by that group. Their authentic stories told by them in an honest and generous way was wonderful to see. Nobody else could tell these stories. They were the experts of their own lives and they shared them with love and humour and sometimes with tears. It was an unforgettable project.
I think there are many shared values between Mind the Gap and The Performance Ensemble, most importantly we both believe that everybody is creative and has a story to tell.
I’ve spent about 50 years working in the theatre. Touring shows across the UK and abroad, working with some of the most exciting international and home-grown artists and creating work in so many wonderful places from Dundee in Scotland to Guangzhou in China and now in Leeds. My time with Mind the Gap, co-creating work with them, is still one of best memories – I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Alan Lyddiard is Artistic Director of The Performance Ensemble – making work with the experience of age – www.theperformanceensemble.com
Chris Singleton has worked with Mind the Gap in various roles over the past few years. He first worked with the company in 2014 to lead on the Magna Carta on Trial project and later joined the company as Community Engagement Coordinator. Chris now runs his own Spoken Word company called Brave Words.
Memories of Mind the Gap
One of my favourite memories was when we toured Mirror Mirror to the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle.
We’d just packed up all of the costumes on a dolly and were dragging them back across the city and aimed for one of the bridges across the river.
We were about to set foot on it when they began a huge firework and drone display – walls of sparks and fire flowing off the side of the bridge, the whole sky lit up. The whole cast just stopped and watched – beautiful.
I first started writing poetry after sitting for hours by the poetry stage at Bestival.
Scroobius Pip was compering and I remember seeing Luke Wright, Mark Grist, Tim Clare – and starting to realise that poetry could be more than words on a page.
This, coupled with some time at the Vancouver Fringe in 2019, has influenced my writing massively.
Find out more about Brave Words here: www.bravewords.co.uk
Follow Chris Singleton on Twitter here: @singletonpoet
Faye Dawson is Mind the Gap’s PR Agent who first worked with the company when Mia appeared at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. She has since worked on various projects including our giant co-production with Walk the Plank, ZARA in 2019, which received a huge amount of press and media attention due in no small part to Faye’s invaluable PR skills.
Working with Mind the Gap
There are so many wonderful memories of working with Team MtG because they are a joy; the first time I saw them perform was Mia at their home in Bradford’s Lister Mills and I was blown away – I laughed and cried throughout and remember thinking ‘I like this lot’.
But, of course, working with them on ZARA was incredible. Finally seeing that baby in position at The Piece Hall in Halifax was quite an emotional experience!
On the day of opening night, it was red hot. We were welcoming photographers and media for interviews, chatting with an inquisitive public and generally getting excited.
Opening night was magical. Thousands of people in a beautiful venue engaging with a story rarely told – as I say, a joy.
I’ve worked in the arts world in a host of guises; theatre bars, as an actor, a brief stint on crew (ended up in A&E), on box offices, and of course in PR & Communications.
My earliest memory of visiting the theatre was going to Panto at Leeds Grand in the 70s. My Grandparents took me and my cousin and we sat in a box – I was upset because I couldn’t catch any of the sweets that were traditionally thrown into the audience by the Dame. (I’ve never sat in a box since – but I still bloody love panto.)
Then I saw the film Grease, decided I wanted to be Rizzo, and figured I’d better work at being an actor so, on leaving school, I went to do a Performing Arts course in Wakefield which of course led me to a whole host of jobs; pulling pints, waitressing, cleaning, call centres, tax office…
It was when working as an entertainer in a hotel in Majorca in 1997 that I decided I no longer wanted to pursue a career in acting but I still enjoyed being in the theatre world so I got a job on box office. This is where I discovered the Marketing & PR team – I thought ‘I’d like me some of that; writing about and promoting theatre? Yes please.’
In 2000 I dropped pretty lucky and got a job as a marketing assistant in a visitor attraction – within 6 months they created a PR role for me, and the rest is a rather fabulous history!
Follow Faye Dawson on Twitter @fayedawsonpr
Emilie Flower is a filmmaker who has worked with Mind the Gap for many years. Her credits for the company include the I’m Me music video, Magna Carta on Trial, My Story project and most recently the pre show films and live editing for ZARA.
Jessica May Buxton
Jessica played various roles including Curley’s Wife, Curley and Suzie in the adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men by Mike Kenny in 2011.
Find out more about Jessica’s company The Bookworm Players here…
Katie Jones is part of Bradford based Cecil Green Arts and has over thirteen years experience in community and professional art. She worked with Mind the Gap Artists in early 2020 to explore large scale puppetry.
Katy Rubin is the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, a nonprofit organisation that partners with communities facing discrimination to spark transformative action through theatre. Katy spent some time working with Mind the Gap back in 2011.
Manuela (or Manu to us) worked with Mind the Gap in 2018 as the London Community Cast Director for our giant co-production with Walk the Plank and Emergency Exit Arts, ZARA.
Maria is one of Mind the Gap’s photographers. She has worked on various projects with the company including the promotional and production photography for Mia and Anna as well as community events such as Celebrate Manningham.
Mok has been a friend and collaborator with the company for almost two decades. Mok is a Hong Kong-based change maker producing festivals, performances and events.
Find out more about the Centre for Community Cultural Development here: www.cccd.hk
Nicola is a writer and was selected to run a series of Play Days with Mind the Gap Artists in early 2020 as part of our R&D year.
Find out about Nicola’s company Highlight Collective here…