Making new connections for ongoing professional relationships.
We have been awarded an Arts Council Project Grant for a new piece of work called ‘Spymonkey Would Like to Meet…’. It’s not a show, or a workshop, or a training opportunity but we hope it will inform all of these in the future. It is a major piece of work and one which we want to inform our plans for 2022-2026. Following a significant amount of change within the organisation, not least the unexpected death of our friend, collaborator and associate artist Stephan Kreiss, and founder Petra Massey’s continued secondment to Speigelworld in Las Vegas, we are rethinking who Spymonkey is, what we do and why.
Spurred on by the pandemic & the BLM movement, Spymonkey’s freelance part-time team have spent time reflecting on our diversity practice & Action Plan to ensure our work is reflective of a society which welcomes and celebrates the diversity of race, ethnicity and the lived experiences of a broad range of people. ‘Spymonkey Would Like to Meet…’ is part of our ongoing work to engage with artists from the Global Majority for our creative productions and training programmes but also to explore ways our artist-led organisation can support the theatre-making ambitions of others.
Due to our 20 year ensemble & project-funded production model, opportunities to grow our creative teams have been limited. We must urgently address this in practical & meaningful ways. The make-up of the Spymonkey team is not representative of our rich & ethnically diverse culture. Our small team and pool of freelance creatives are white, cis, non-disabled and mostly male, and going forward we need to take positive proactive actions to change this. You can read our BLM statement and Action Plan for more information about this [https://www.spymonkey.co.uk/wordpress/spymonkey-blm-statement-and-action-plan].
In the past we have worked and supported people from the LGBTQ+ and nuero-diverse communities and whilst we must not stop this, our engagement with people from the Global Majority has been limited, so this is a priority area for immediate change.
Having worked with theatre makers in our shows & education work, we are also particularly aware of the lack of ethnic diversity in comedy performance and we want to play our part in addressing this.
Spymonkey Would Like To Meet is a practical step in addressing diversity within our creative teams by meeting new performers and creatives to ensure broader networks when we bring together teams for new shows. We hope it will also allow us to meet professional performers who can work as associate artists to deliver our training and education programme.
Spymonkey Would Like to Meet will allow us to meet new theatre-makers in a couple of different ways.
Workshops for performers
We will pay highly-skilled & experienced performers from the Global Majority to spend 2 days in creative workshops facilitated by the two of the Spymonkey ensemble to ‘get to know’ each other.
The workshop will take place in London (dates tbc) and will be facilitated by Spymonkey’s Artistic Directors Toby Park and Aitor Basauri. It will be an opportunity to workshop & ‘play’ together and will cultivate an opportunity to open up our process in a more shared and convivial way than a traditional auditioning methods. We will facilitate a non-hirachacle space with the desire to allow everyone taking part to share their own performative style and form of comedy expression and to support the wider group in doing doing that too.
We would like to meet people who have worked in comedy theatre before, or those who are interested in doing so. They might also be brilliant physical performers, singers or musicians. They might be based in London or elsewhere in England but they should have 5+ years as a performer with experience of working collaboratively to devise theatre.
Meetings with directors, writers & other creatives
We would like to have meetings with directors who are interested in directing a Spymonkey production, writers who like to write scripts with input from the dividing process & creatives who have experience of working on the mid-scale. (e.g. designers, stage & production managers, lighting designers etc). Beginning conversations with creatives from the Global Majority we want to start new collaborative relationships and expand our pool of creatives for future projects. We will pay these people for their time to understand their work, interests and talk about some future projects.Our hope is that some of the people we meet over the next few months will be able to work with us and our wider team of freelance creatives on new shows and projects we’re planning. We hope the people we meet will help to change the representation on our stage and backstage going forward and also represent more varied viewpoints in our devised work, so we in turn appeal to more diverse audiences on our tours. If you think we describe you, or someone you know, please drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.