It has been so long since I have used the website I have almost forgotten how which says something about the year that Third Thread has had. It was, again, quiet. What else could we do? We still can not access a space that will allow us to return to work. It seems that the specter of lack of space continues to haunt us, COVID of course has not helped. So there is much we did not do. We were not entirely asleep this year either, with new areas of research opening up, a surprising residency, and much to be said about the ongoing commitment to a shared practice. So here’s what we did do:
Navigate is a project that started the year before and died a death in early 2021. Sometimes these things happen! The initial intention behind Navigate was to investigate the possibility of the digital ensemble as well as to interrogate further the relationship between improvisation and the camera. Any project with ensemble at its core, however, requires a particular level of commitment to process which, unfortunately, due to the pressure of people returning to life post lockdown, did not emerge in this particular occasion. What it did do is point us in the direction of what needed to happen next.
Ensemble Excavation – Three Month Dig
Out of the ashes of Navigate, a smaller, committed group of performers arose to meet the challenge of a three-month intense investigation into Digital Ensemble. This included weekly meet ups, monthly on-line intensitves, including one run by voice ane movement artist Zoe Katsilerou , the commitment to creating digital work together each month and then, joy of joys, culminating in the first ever Third Thread Ensemble residency. You can read a blog I wrote about this project on the QMU website here: Training the Digital Ensemble.
Holy Island Residency
Given that I have been trying to arrange a summer residency for Third Thread for years it seems strange that the time I finally managed to make it happen was during a global pandemic. Somehow we managed three beautiful days on the magic that is Holy Island, where we ate together and played together. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Next year is already on the wish list.
Rythym in Acting and Performance International Conference
In March I presented a small part of our work at the Rhythm in Acting and Performance conference run by Eilon Morris . It was a privilege to be part of this conversation with practitioners from all over the world sharing their practice. You can read a write-up of the conference in the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal.
Letters from the Landscape
Finally, I completed a personal project in which I committed to making a short film a week for a year and sharing it on social media. You can find all 52 on my Instagram. This work came out of a period of funding I had from The Work Room which allowed me a period of mentorship into solo practice with Henry McGrath, both of which I remain very thankful for.
In other news…
Not directly connected but in a way, everything is as the work I do with Third Thread is the foundation of everything else I do, I was also very lucky to collaborate on a couple of projects other people were running. I participated in some ongoing research with Organic Theatre into online training and practice which both supported my own thinking in this area and helped me to look with fresh eyes at what could be possible in this way of working. In the summer I played a very small part in bringing Sweet FA by This is My Story Productions, to the stage – or rather to the stadium as the show took place in Tynecastle Park. This was the first rehearsal process I had been able to participate in since lockdown and to be in the room with so many clever creative practitioners was both a joy and a privilege. In April I did a small amount of mentoring of long-standing ensemble member Eleanor Walker, artistic director of Tangent Dance Theatre, who created a series of beautiful short dance films exploring softness, and towards the end of the year, I had a lovely day in the studio supporting Jenna Corker at Dance Base as part of her work for the Love Dance Scotland Scheme. It reminded me how much I miss working with others in a studio space and I hope next year some more in-person work will be possible. Finally – I got a job. Well, I got four actually. I feel that I taught everywhere that it was possible for me to teach this year, I am not sure I recommend trying to juggle four institutions but I never tire of being in a studio space with performers in training and I was thrilled to end the year with the offer of a permanent post from Queen Margaret University where I hope to continue to research, develop and learn.
That’s it for 2021. I wish much love, wellbeing and, happiness to all who have been a part of Third Thread, past and present, and to anyone else who took the time to read this post! I hope next year brings connection, creativity and care to all your endeavors.