I’ve just spent the week in R&D with Arron Sparks of Circus Geeks. I met Arron when I started doing Smashed. He’s a nice guy and works hard. He’s making a new solo show which is beginning as a commission for Glastonbury then hopefully ending up as a 25-30 minute solo called Down_Up – all about the Yoyo which he has spent a lot of time (especially in his youth) obsessing over.
Arron has had an interesting performance career and I think is one of the few guys who gives me more of an understanding and appreciation of trad circus. He’s worked his act all over the world (which he came out with after studying at Circus Space) and worked with the Gand crew for years corporate and artistic. In the last year he’s turned his popular blog into a company and made a three person show called Beta_Testing. It’s on at the Roundhouse’s CircusFest this year. I’d recommend it alongside a few other shows: La Meute, the hair hanging one (been recommended by friends), clowns and queens (haven’t seen it but look forward to seeing it after being in Smashed all last year), puffball (don’t know if it will defo be good but interesting concept and I have some friends in it whose stuff I like) and Beta Testing. I’d also be interested to see Silver Linings which is a new company out of London. I’m hoping to take my double bill of Game and Extract there in 2015 under Unstable King.
It was early stages, Arron mainly had research but loads of it. Having so much research to structure a show around is so helpful. We spent four days at Pangottic’s space near Bristol airport. We would spend about half the day writing and coming up with ideas, mostly in a static way, sat down with pens and keyboards. We would then try out the new sections, Arron would show stuff and we’d generally just see what worked.
I like writing and am finding more of a joy in it. The last week has definitely got me excited and confident about doing more. I usually like to either improvise stood up and record it all then write out and finish off the things that worked, or I like to talk into a dictaphone until something good comes. But we wrote a lot this week and by the end of the four days had about 25 minutes of material, varied and interesting with a load of jokes and comedy bits.
Directing is something I would one day like to do more of. I’m in no way a director now but am giving it a go here and there and want more experience. I think by creating work, having ownership and responsibility those skills will develop.
We talked a lot in the evenings about process and creativity. I often work alone in a space but I think working with someone else can help speed the process up and push you much more. A way in which I aim to work more in the future. Funding helps there to not be asking favours of people all the time. As I work alone a lot I am not going for funding for my solo show as I already have everything I need so I think maybe my next solo I can get people in from earlier on. He bought me and Rachel a great book called Steal Like an Artist, I’m getting through it now and enjoying it. Arron also had a really nice minimal piece of writing software on his mac. So last night I found something for windows called Ommwriter. It’s donation-ware and excellent. Already it’s got me psyched to turn on my computer and write. I won’t say much more about it but if you find yourself easily distracted, you like minimalism and tools to help creativity get it on the d/l.
Remember, there are enemies everywhere, get them first. It’s better to be safe than sorry.