Interview with Freelance Theatre Maker, Amie Taylor

Amie

Amie is an actress, director, puppeteer and workshop facilitator working in London. She is also the Artistic Director of 10-33 Project, creator of The EXchange and a new member of the Femalearts review team!

---

You're a Theatre Maker/Director/Puppeteer and all round talented creative! Which area of theatre do you most enjoy working in and why?

There's so much I enjoy, and everything feeds everything. I love making devised performance. One of my favorite projects last year was The Chaosbaby, a show made over three years, worked on by more than 50 people committed to working in a non-hierarchical structure. The final show had 19 performers in; it was a truly wonderful experience and one of the things I cherished was the chance to work collaboratively with artists of all ages, so often I find myself stuck working with lots of twenty-somethings similar to myself (which is never a bad thing, but it's also good when it's not that.) The youngest member of the final Chaosbaby company was 18, the oldest in their mid-fifties, this for me was wonderful, we learnt a lot from working with one another. It's this kind of collaborative work that I thrive from.

I also love facilitating and working with children, I work for a few brilliant companies, MakeBelieve Arts and Studio Film School, to name a couple. I find that this work feeds my theatre making, and my theatre making makes me better at this work. I could never give one or the other up.

What are you working on at the moment?

My baby at this precise moment is called The EXchange. It's an initiative to offer free professional development to artists by training and learning from one another. It seems there is a gap in the market for this, three venues have already jumped on board to support the event and we have four EXchange days planned so far in 2014. I'm now looking to host the event in more venues across the country.

I'm also working on the edit of my first book, a play and a blog that I'm writing for my one-month niece. I also occasionally blog for Shaky Isles Theatre.

As well as these, I run my theatre company; The 10-33 Project. We are a site-specific, immersive theatre company, and are about to enter our first year being based at Harrow Arts centre, where we will make work throughout the year, as well as initiating and facilitating projects with the Harrow Community.

And when I'm not doing these I teach Site Specific theatre at PPA (a drama school in Guildford), drama for children aged 4-11 at Putney Arts Theatre, film making for Studio Film School and day workshops in schools for MakeBelieve Arts.

Where did you train and how long did it take?

I started at Playbox Theatre, at the age of 14. In 2006, at the age of 20 I continued to train in contemporary theatre at Dartington College of Arts, where I spent three years. My training continues now with the theatre companies and artists I work with.

Do you think there is equality in the workplace? If not, why?

Gender equality? No. If we look to the to the big production houses (and the smaller ones) female artistic directors, directors and writers are outnumbered, the gap is lessening, but still slowly. Onstage we also often (but by no means always) see more male roles than female roles, which is frustrating as there are many more females entering in to the profession than men.

It's not just a problem noticeable in the in the arts, it's a problem in our society, time and time again we are seeing a higher percentage of males in top roles and jobs. On stage, we need to cast off our old ways (84% of Shakespeare's characters were male), we need to move in to a new age where there is an equal representation on stage of males and females (as there in in real life) , I sometimes feel that until there is a shift in other workplaces on this, we will continue to see more male than female parts on (and off) stage reflecting other areas of society. Or maybe we could be bold, and change it in the theatre first, and carry the rest of the world with us.

It is noticeable that as a result of this there is a massive shift happening on the fringe, where you'll find many successful female artistic directors / directors / producers / writers and a more equal spread onstage. I presume this is where all the women are turning to (the ones that don't give up) to continue their making. I know some fantastic female led companies working across London, such as Butterfly Theatre (Artistic Director Ailenne Gonsalves), their current production of An Ideal Husband, at The St James Theare is co-directed by Hayley Cusick and Caroline Colomei, and Smooth Faced Gentleman (Founded by Ashlea Kaye, Michael Grady-Hall, Yaz Al-Shaater, and Mariam Bell), among many, many others.

Earlier in the year my friend, director and producer Jennifer Lunn, hosted a brilliant event at Theatre Delicatessan's space in Marylebone to raise money for Stonewall and LGBT groups in Russia. Several theatre companies (including my own) directed love scenes from Chekhov played with same sex couples. I saw some brilliant pieces, and in particular some fantastically strong and interesting female characters (originally written to be men). It made me question my opinions on gender blind casting and is definitely something I want to explore more in my work.

Who inspires you?

Wow. Big question. I'm inspired by a lot of people. People that dream big and make it happen, and people that work hard and often selflessly.

The members of the Chaosbaby company always inspire me in one way or another, they are a group of extremely generous, caring, hardworking people and whenever I spend time with any of them, I leave feeling refulled and ready to pursue my ambitions more fervently.

My friend (and previous director), Stella Duffy, is a huge inspiration. We first met working on Chaosbaby (which she founded at D and D in 2010), and worked with her again when she directed Expectations for Shaky Isles Theatre in Autumn 2013. I find her passion, determination and dedication to her work inspiring, and it always makes me want to be better at what I do.

Mary King and Stewart McGill, who founded and run Playbox Theatre in Warwickshire- back in 2000 they got National Lottery funding to build the first theatre in the UK, solely to be used by young people. It was a huge dream, and they realised it beautifully, making a difference to tens of thousands of young people across The Midlands and Warwickshire.

Josie Lawrence- she went to Dartington too, and is from the Midlands. I pretty much love everything she ever does.

Julie Walters and Meryl Streep, because they're AMAZING actresses.

My students at PPA who are SO excited and enthusiastic and generous when making Site-specific work, I learn a lot from them.

What are the most challenging and most rewarding parts of your job[s] and why?

Juggling a freelance schedule can be really hard. Sometimes I have to let people (employers, that are often also friends) down. Living in London isn't cheap, and I have to keep afloat financially, sometimes a better job will come up that pays more than a regular job I do, it's then a case of negotiating with current employers to find a way to make it work for everyone. I'm lucky, most of my employers are really understanding; I had to take a bit of time off teaching work in November, whilst was in a Shaky Isles show, one was my bosses was HUGELY supportive in letting me take time off (and was possibly more excited about it than I was!)

The single most rewarding thing about my job is that I get to spend every day doing things I love doing. I never get that Monday morning feeling. I love the variation in my weekly schedule, and the fact that no two weeks are ever the same, there are always new challenges to be met; I LOVE this!

Do you have any words of wisdom and/or inspiration for aspiring theatre makers out there?

Be bold. Get started today. Don't wait for the right conditions, because they may never come. Take the plunge. Talk to to people that have already done it. Find a venue and make work (some pubs offer rooms for free if you can guarantee you bring them in a few punters on a quiet week night)! And be loud about it on social media. Talk about your theatre company, make sure people know the name, I've have got us quite a lot of work in the past though being vocal on Twitter and Facebook. Don't expect instant results. We're three years in now, and we're only just about to start making money from our work. It won't necessarily happen straight away. (I'm not saying I either agree or disagree with this, but this is how it was for me. That's not to say, don't try to get money for your work, but I, personally, don't stop making work because I don't have the money. I make work because I have to. It is just something I have to do to be fulfilled in other ways.)

Finally, what does 2014 hold in store for you, creatively?

Writing more, acting more, playing more, talking more, laughing more, crying more, to keep dreaming, to keep planning, to keep going, to get better at playing my ukulele (and all the other things I've mentioned earlier on)

(C) Amie Taylor, 2014.

---

Email the-1033-project@live.co.uk if you would like to attend their first EXchange day in South London on 16th Feb 2014, or are a venue interested in hosting an EXchange.

Read Amie's blog for her niece: http://auntiespudge.wordpress.com

Follow Amie on Twitter: @SpoonSparkle

Author's review: 
0