A great deal has happened since my last blog post. Indeed, a great deal happened between the lines of my last blog post, but one has to stay professional and make the best of things.
I said in my very first post about Blowfish that my future involvement was not certain, because deep down I knew even then it was not likely to continue forever. I wanted it to continue, but it simply wasn't sustainable unless certain important things changed, and change they did not.
It has been frankly devastating to come to terms with the loss of a project and social circle that filled my every waking moment for well over a year. I worked extremely hard to get that company off the ground - disregarding my own health and sanity to do it - and I hope it continues in the upward trajectory that I helped to set for it. I also hope that, as I assess my own mistakes and try to improve for the future, core members of Blowfish will also do the same.
Since leaving, I have had some very dark times but I've also set some hopeful plans in motion for the future. Teaming up with another former member of Blowfish, the inimitable Liz "Gove" Kearney, we have formed our own theatre company called Lioness. Since September, we've come up with a theatre show that blends historical and scientific fact with humour and song. It focuses on the life of Charles Goodyear, an inventor who changed the world but lost sight of the ones he loved the most. We now have a full-length draft of the script and ten songs, which we recently showcased parts of at Brewery & Tap in Doncaster.
Now we're ready to recruit more actors, and to start applying for festivals. We've also been offered some performance opportunities as a result of the showcase, which went down very well and resulted in feedback which was both positive and useful.
As well as founding Lioness Theatre, I've also been dipping my toes in other projects. After joining the Open Exchange network run by the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, I was approached by two groups wanting a composer and sound designer for an opportunity taking place there in February. One of the groups was shortlisted for the opportunity, but sadly didn't get through. Still, both projects look set to continue anyway, and I've also been offered a further opportunity for the week that I would have been in Manchester, had the group been successful.
This new opportunity is a scratch night for new writers, taking place in Bradford. Since they want a particular theme, I need to write something for them very quickly, so I'm not sure if I can manage this challenge or not, but I'll certainly try.
I'm also taking part in Theatre Deli's "28 Plays Later" challenge, which prompts writers to write a new short play each day for 28 consecutive days in February. The chances of my getting through the first few days (let alone the whole month) are miniscule, but I'm just seeing it as a bit of fun and a prompt to practise my writing skills.
In other news, I've been asked to work as a sound designer for a project as part of this year's SheFest in Sheffield, which runs in March. It'll be a quick turnaround, so I hope I can rise to the challenge!
I was also pleased to be asked to help curate an event for Right Up Our Street in Doncaster, but sadly it would have clashed with plans for Lioness, so I had to turn this down. I did offer a list of contacts and some advice though, which I hope will be useful.
Doing all this alongside my other work at the University of Sheffield is becoming increasingly difficult, and I'm beginning to learn that I need to say no to some projects. There are also other problems at the University. Because there are Blowfish associations there, it is not fun to work in constant fear of who I might bump into. I'm currently considering whether it's healthy for me to continue my work there. It would be an awful shame to give up an excellent job, doing something I love, surrounded by a great team in a beautiful city. But I cannot shake the trauma of the summer's events. As much as it pains me, I think I might need to cut ties with Sheffield and accept that I will never, ever understand what motivates certain people to act as they do.
I realise that, for readers out of the loop, I'm not being very specific here, but it was never my intention to hurt Blowfish and it still isn't. I'm grateful for the opportunities I was given, and I'm ultimately glad to have left, but I just wish it had ended differently.