With this, Stumble’s new website, I am clear that I want to avoid the generic tool to get supported (God forbid!), to attract funding or kudos. I aim to build something that will genuinely share STUFF to feed off. I am rapidly realising that this is a truly difficult task. The mould is set. Company’s have websites to advertise their sponsors, to announce successes, to boast a huge audience, among other preoccupations. This is all well and good. However presumably it isn’t the only way to use your own site. I am looking for a sense of belonging, of community and to stretch my focus beyond my daily experiences, as afforded to us by this incredible tool, t’internet.
I now see that if I do not want to be distracted by box ticking the credits in the hope of future sponsorship, I am creating a potential petard on which to hoist myself. I am going to offend people who have truly helped Stumble. I do need to make sure that credit is given when it is properly due. So (for example, not to exclude anyone intentionally, etc. etc.) let’s talk about Jacksons Lane!
This small theatre in London has done more for Contemporary Circus development in London than can be truly calculated. At the helm, Ade Berry (who we love despite the lady man dress sense) drives a love affair with skilled performance. I have been lucky to be the recipient of support for many projects. For Bipolar Ringmaster we used studio space to try out film ideas. For a Northern company it was invaluable to be given space to work with London collaborators. I think I have worked in their every studio since then. Bipolar Ringmaster also featured in a scratch night, at which the images that were to flourish in Box of Frogs years later started to rumble… and where I received my favourite ever review “…a bit slow to start” of a seven minute exercise in communicating how hard it is to get up out of depression.
One might be devising away in a studio at Jacksons Lane (and don’t make the mistake of ever thinking that the Lane belongs to Jackson. There is no apostrophe.) only to come down for lunch (lovely café) to discover half of London’s circus artists emerging from the different spaces. The foyer café becomes a who’s who? of circus experiments. Again, great for a Northern Artist, as you can catch up, join up dots and get to see how the other half live.
For Backgammon for Beginners, Jacksons Lane gave indefatigable support, which allowed us to take our time without panic on a project that demanded TIME and SPACE. We were given both those things as well as being able to show work in progress, receive feedback and have the knowledge of dates in the Theatre to work towards. For Box of Frogs, JL brought us back a second time and took a gamble on hosting us for CircusFest. This kind of support allows people to concentrate on the work. Ade never interferes with the creative process. He trusts artists to make their own decisions and mistakes, and supplies audiences and energy to applaud the successes and unpick the other. When I was struggling to book a tour for Box of Frogs (manic depression is not an easy selling point), Ade gave me advice, encouragement and rang venues on my behalf to sanction my work. To try and encourage braver programming.
I have since been enabled to run auditions at JL (The Second Breath) and recently was afforded a whole week in the Theatre with the fabulous Jules Millard on hand, for Transmission Festival. A Festival of giving what is needed to fledgling ideas.
Jacksons Lane is a flagship venue. Other venues can watch and learn. May it go from strength to strength.
If you would like to share a thought about your experience at Jacksons Lane in London you can comment below. Comments will be moderated, so no immediate gratification I am afraid.