Humans of MTG - Mind the Gap
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About

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!

Rhiannon

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.

Working with Mind the Gap

I loved working on Boo (National Touring piece) and seeing the piece develop from the early workshops with Tim Wheeler (Artistic Director) and Mike Kenny (Writer) and the brilliant cast. Mike developed lots of the ideas and the dialogue from the actors’ offers in these early workshops. I also loved working with actor Jonny Ide who played Boo in a way that made the audience feel so on edge when he was so in control and I think he enjoyed that too!

Oh and of course the inimitable Susan Middleton in the beautiful Moth Dance at the Moth Ball moving closer to the exposed light bulb…So beautiful!

Inspiration

I loved working with Emma Gee (then Head of Outreach) on forum theatre pieces with the Acting Company. Emma is a very experienced ‘Joker’ (the tricky and nuanced role who facilitates the forum) and I was really inspired by how she would break down the skill set that it takes to be a joker and work with the (then) Acting Company members Alan Clay, Zara Mallinson (and others) so that they were able to take on the Joker role with complete autonomy and run the show. I think for me that was the biggest takeaway from Mind the Gap; the work was richer when the LD artists build, develop and run the show! Not only to be a protagonist in a piece of forum theatre but to joker the piece too. Why not? It was always better for it. I’ve taken a lot from that experience.

What's Rio up to now?

Rhiannon is now Head of Learning and Participation at Theatre Royal Wakefield (since 2010)  as well as a highly experienced Director/ Facilitator and project manager.

theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk

Charlene

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’.

ZARA

My most unforgettable memory of working with Mind the Gap has to be working on ZARA! This was just such a powerful, beautiful and awe strickening piece of performance art. Breaking so many boundaries and with a such an important message – it brought so many of my performers and myself included to tears of joy, anger of wanting justice and just for more equality and life.

ZARA also allowed me to create ‘Don’t Drop the Baby’ which was part of the pre-show acts which I loved creating and touring after – so a huge eternal thank you to MTG.

(Image ©Andrew Youngson)

Inspiration

For me it was never just one thing that imprints on me, I feel as artists we are always developing and soaking in life as inspiration. So here are a few of my inspirations that keep me going when I’m sweating in the studio, having a creative block or panicking about not meeting the funding deadline.

 – My participants and dancers, they are who I do it for. when I enter the creative space (may that be a church hall, classroom or theatre) I aim to create a better world, full of the best of what we can all bring through hard work whilst having fun to amazing music before we unleash it onto the real world.

 –  Pop art, geometry and shapes, I’ve always been a bit OCD, I love the clean lines, clear colours of pop art, the order that forms on geometric shapes to create beauty.

 – ‘If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to do it’ a quote that carries me through life from my ballet teacher Teresa Kelsey at Laban.
(Image ©Anna Kiss)

What next...

During lockdown, with all my creativity festering around inside me, I started a modest home baking business called ‘Petite Caker’. I’ve been baking on and off for the last decade, and at first my cakes were horrible! They looked pretty but you would spit them out! guaranteed. After a lot of perseverance (I remember baking about 100 cupcakes one week to try to get one batch just right!), I finally got my cakes tasting great, and I was always the person who arrived at parties with cupcakes.

When COVID19 hit and all the bakeries shut, friends and family started asking for cakes for birthdays and weekend treats – I was so stressed making my first paid cake I think it took me nearly 2 days, but my friend loved it and I really enjoyed making her happy. So with no formal culinary experience, I relied on YouTube tutorials, baking groups for tips and slowly created more, which made me really happy to be able to express my creativity in another form – also it must be my asian genes, as I love feeding people!

After all the formalities of registering and getting legit I launched ‘Petite Caker’ and have created anything from a batch of brownies to fully stocking a baby shower.

Find out more about Sardines Dance Company here…

Find out more about Petite Caker on the Facebook Page here…

Miquel

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.

Trickster

How can I forget the time I was working with MTG? We got stuck in Inis Oirr (an island in the West of Ireland) for 3 days because of a storm. We were not able to go anywhere. That time was precious and it became crucial to the creation of the show ‘Trickster’. The intense experience from the island was palpable on the stage. But most importantly we got to know each other really well. Nature gave us a beautiful present.

Then when I visited Bradford with our company ‘That’s Life’ a few months later, I encountered something very special: a family. A welcoming family that treated everyone as equals. Collective spirit, discipline and humanity, all those ingredients that are sacred in my work, I found them in MTG. I always wonder if there’s a before and after in my practise due to the collaboration with Mind the Gap.

Miquel's Work

I think of my work as a journey, every step counts and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now without all the little steps and discoveries from the past. But the 10 years I worked with our company ‘The Gombeens’ with my fellow artist Jonathan Gunning will remain in my memory for many years to come. The work we did together really shaped my view on the arts. We performed theatre for all ages and ethnicities, in the streets, public squares, football pitches, schools, community and city halls, hospitals, churches, pubs, universities, people’s houses…even funeral parlours. And of course theatres.

One day while presenting one of our shows about the struggles of Brazilians arriving to Ireland, a woman stood up at the end of the performance and expressed that thanks to our show she now had understood the sacrifices that her husband had made leaving his homeland. That day we understood why we were doing this work.

Alan

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).

Don Quixote

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

Trickster

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

CONTAINED

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

More Humans

Alan Lyddiard

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

Chris Singleton

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 Flower

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.

See more of Emilie’s work here…

Faye Dawson

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 Jones

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.

Find out more about Cecil Green Arts here…

Katy Rubin

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.

Follow Katy on Twitter @KatyRubinTO
Visit Katy’s website here…

Manuela Benini

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.

Find out more about Manuela’s projects below:
The Red Dress Project
Tambores Livres
Trans-Form Project

Maria Spadafora

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.

See more of Maria’s work here…

Mok

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 Schofield

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…

Rob Ewens

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_