To Freedom – In A Cardboard Box

Bluestocking has taken over my life. It’s already grown well beyond what I imagined 2 years ago when I launched it with a solo show I rehearsed in my one bed flat with no heating. Now it’s a growing community of hardworking creatives ready to put Manchester on the map theatre wise. My once meagre ambitions have been blown into space.

Now we’re coming up to our first real event, two evening’s of brilliant new writing from emerging women writers at 53Two in October. Our community and visibility has increased hugely on social media, we’ve connected with artists all over the UK and have just raised £500 from generous souls donating to our Kickstarter (thank you thank you thank you).

There’s a palpable need for new stories and space to create work that represents women/Humans as we are – complex, intelligent, foolish, wise, scary, hideous, vengeful, blissfully in love. All of the above. The full spectrum of everything Humanity gets to experience. We want to see that, we deserve to know our stories and experience matters so we each feel we belong in this world. Loneliness is one of the most painful things we can experience and storytelling eases that pain.

Last week we got the big NO from our ACE funding bid. This is the second NO to funding we’ve had and though it changes very little for our next production, it raises questions about the sustainability of making new theatre. I remind myself it’s normal (shouldn’t be…) for new companies to produce work on nothing for the first few years. What scares me and can slow me down is when sneaky thoughts arise in my mind asking ‘what’s the point?’ Voices that whisper about how hard, how challenging it is get funding, that the company will never be viable because it’s next to impossible to get funded, that I might as well not bother. Urgh. It takes energy to constantly be aware and transcend the conditionings of our childhood.

Nobody expected anything from me. There was little support, encouragement or belief in my ability to achieve anything beyond a soul crushing 9-5. I’m not alone and we all have to deal with our demons. Lack of funds/money was common for a lot of us growing up and is a real barrier to artistic creation. The majority of us are conditioned to believe we can never become artists because the word evokes ideas of free time, constant streams of ready cash, freedom to dream, take risks and experiment, to indulge yourself and your passions. Who’s got time for that when the rent needs paying and your lekky’s running out? This is the reason we’ve found ourselves with an elite class of actors, writers, directors and producers who come from families with plenty connections, cash and freedom. We just didn’t have that. The idea that we’d grow up to be successful artists was literally laughable. Those people aren’t us and we’re not them. We’re excluded from theatre and artistic spaces all our childhood because we can’t afford it – if it’s not skidding down the dirt track behind our house in a cardboard box then it probably isn’t something we get to do. As kids, we know no one, not a single person who’s achieved anything like worldly success, let alone artistic success. But here we are, doing it anyway. Even when the internal voices whisper ‘you’ll never make it,’ ‘it’s impossible,’ ‘look at them they’re much better than you,’ even then…we crack on. We grab the battered cardboard box with our dreams scribbled all over it and we launch ourselves down the dusty slope towards freedom because… what else we gonna do? So no matter how many No’s you’ve faced and all the No’s to come, get up, dust yourself off and climb back up that hill one step at a time.

And look around you, there’s thousands of us doing the exact same thing.