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!
Jonathan Meth is a dramaturg who has worked with Mind the Gap on various projects over the years. Recently he has been overseeing our European partnership projects with Moomsteatern (Sweden) and Compagnie de l’Oiseau Mouche (France), Crossing the Line and OGMIUS.
Crossing the Line
It is March 2015. The Opening workshop of the Crossing The Line project
In the socialising area in the Mind the Gap building in Bradford, the TV plays images from the guest companies’ productions, so as they arrive the companies’ participants can see themselves and their colleagues. Mind the Gap (MTG) Resident Director, Joyce Nga Yu Lee, introduces the opening session by stating that in Hong Kong a teacher had described theatre as a collaborative risk in action. It is in this spirit that she launches the first Crossing The Line workshop. Lee approaches the difficulties of translation with a creative flourish, jumping over the issue of comprehensibility by running the session in Cantonese – among those present, a language that only she understands. This is of course combined with visual clues. The creative challenges of access for learning-disabled artists, as well as those of translation, are immediately connected in our minds. Each requires a practical, dramaturgical strategy. By equalising all participants’ access with this choice of Cantonese, the session works very effectively.
In the next day’s session Mind the Gap Guest Director, Alan Lyddiard, draws on Boal, but also Kantor and his own wealth of experience as theatre director and community theatre maker, to welcome participants into a workshop that will feed into the Contained development process. “I want to be like somebody else once was” is the opening line of Peter Handke’s Kaspar. The play is the depiction of a near-speechless young man destroyed by society’s attempts to impose on him its language and its own “rational” values.
In the Bradford rehearsal workshop the line is also deployed in French –“ Je veux etre quelqu’un d’autre qui a été”. This sentence is adopted by Lyddiard and becomes an individual and collective rhythmic chant. As a dramaturgical signifier for theatre making this process deliberately selects and then rejects what is widely understood as a play(text) and repurposes the opening line away from its readily yielded meaning to become a tool for another kind of theatre (and meaning) making: one that might combine sounds or textures of individual and collective Swedish, French, English…
Lyddiard’s slow walking builds layers through physical, simple movement sequencing. Daily morning warm-up exercises, given, as Lyddiard articulates it: “authentically – completely – sincerely” (all slippery words, to use Matt Hargrave’s phrase, in any language). Rooting / routing the performers to/through the space, each other and themselves; live music runs alongside. Jez Colborne (Mind the Gap Resident Artist) extemporizes on the keyboard. This serves to anchor, steer and underscore. Individual, personal stories begin to emerge from the participants; Lyddiard refining what works and what doesn’t. Next Lyddiard adds technology: screens, microphones and video cameras. These allow the generation of snippets: slow walking, stories to microphone, the moving of the screen and cables – three things going on at the same time. Starting with the personal stories, the action picks up pace, performers developing awareness of others in the space – as yet seemingly in a random order. Lyddiard watches, assesses, then creates further instructions which focus on this newly emerging performance text: timing, refining – picking up the process again. There is room for a different original creative contribution. This time in French, from Compagnie de l’Oiseau-Mouche performer Thierry Dupont. Simply stated emotions, working with material generated: the build is iterative, recursive. Lyddiard’s session concludes with the entire sequence run, so everyone has a sense of what has been attempted and accomplished.
Jean Ng trained at the Jacques Lecoq International School of Theatre in Paris, France, Jean Ng works as a director, actor and teaching artist in Singapore. Most recently, she was the Artistic Director of M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival.
From Singapore to Bradford
2015, Singapore. Our first encounter. Members of Mind the Gap came and held workshops for our students at the Down Syndrome Association.
It was a brief connection, but important revelations and questions were planted in me.
2017, the United Kingdom. I took a train ride alone from London to Bradford.
A quiet, searching journey. I was warmly welcomed into the beautiful MTG home and spent the day visiting their studios and spaces, observing classes, eating with the students and artists, had a long meeting with the office folks understanding the company and exploring future collaborations. I stood outside the building in the cold of February and had a coffee and chat with Joyce. Fresh nourishing air.
I learnt all about what Mind the Gap do, why they do it and how. I found the company to be:
You can find out more about the M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival here…
Moira Fuller worked with Mind the Gap in 2011-12 as the Business Development Manager (maternity cover). She is now a Business Coach for subscription box businesses, and founder of the craft subscription box Craftiosity.
Working with Mind the Gap
When I think back to working with Mind the Gap, the most specific occasion that’s firmly lodged in my memory (and body, I can still feel this) was during the rehearsals of Irresistible: Call of the Sirens. We did the first full run through, and the haunting sound of the air raid sirens lifted up and reached out across the studio space, bouncing back and forth, the vibrations resonating throughout us. Utterly magical!
I was incredibly lucky to be working for Earls Court Exhibition Centre in 2004 when Alexander McQueen held a private fashion show there – and quietly was able to watch it while ‘working’ (well, I had the duration of the show off!).
The theatre of his work, and the way he presented it, took my breath away. I was already a big fan, but seeing it in real life brought home to me that a real human being had and shared this much creativity. It was deeply moving.
I launched a creative subscription box for crafters in 2016, Craftiosity, and that’s gone from strength to strength – we design and create a new project each month, so our customers can try lots of different crafts.
In 2018 I started coaching and supporting small businesses with growth, and now specialise in helping people start or grow a subscription box.
Craftiosity – www.craftiosity.co.uk
Subscription Box Development – www.moirafuller.co.uk
Alan 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).
Alan Lyddiard is Artistic Director of The Performance Ensemble – making work with the experience of age – www.theperformanceensemble.com
Charlene Low is the Artistic Director of Sardines Dance Company, who we were lucky to work with as part of the London Cast for ZARA. As well as joining the community cast for the performances, The company also choreographed an awesome pre-show dance piece entitled ‘Don’t Drop the Baby’.
Chris 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.
Find out more about Brave Words here: www.bravewords.co.uk
Emilie 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.
Faye 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.
Follow Faye Dawson on Twitter @fayedawsonpr
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 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 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.
Leah is co- founder of theatre collective Speak Woman Speak, who are currently creating a piece called White Walls about Mental Health and Spirituality, which will be on in May 2021 for Mental Health Awareness week.
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.
Mike Auger first worked with Mind the Gap as the course leader for the Academy One Day Music course when it was first launched in 2016. He has since worked for the company in a freelance capacity in various roles including working with our Youth Academy and facilitating the Performance Academy theatre sessions.
Find out more about Mike’s company Displace Yourself here…
Miquel Barcelo, an artist and musician from That’s Life, Galway, worked with Mind the Gap in 2014 when the companies joined forces to create the site-sensitive music performance Trickster.
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…
Rhiannon Hannon (or Rio to us) worked in the role of Theatre Director for Mind the Gap from 2004 to 2010. She has remained close to the company ever since and worked alongside us on various projects over the past few years.
Rob trained with Mind the Gap in the 2000’s and appeared in some of the company’s most memorable national touring productions including Boo (2009) and Of Mice and Men (2011).
You can view Rob Ewens’ Spotlight profile here…
Follow Rob on Twitter @Rob_Ewens_
Sarah Llewellyn is a composer, sound artist and musician who works in theatre, film, radio and circus. She composed the masterpiece that became the musical score to Mind the Gap’s giant co-production with Walk the Plank, ZARA.