The Hive was the Greater Manchester Fringe festival's first step into curating artistic work and developing the artistic practices of three artists. We received generous support from Arts Council England to support the creation of three new pieces of work that we could tour around the Greater Manchester area during the festival and we achieved a high standard of both quality and participation.
We announced The Hive as a prospect for participation back in December 2018, when applications for the GMFringe opened, and after going through the many applications we received, we chose a shortlist of artists who would perform a segment of their proposed project in front of an audience at a scratch night at Salford Arts Theatre.
We were certainly spoilt for choice, and the selection process was arduous, to say the least. However, we managed to whittle it down to three participants - and they were Simon Widdop (spoken word), Siân Davies (stand-up comedy), and Stefanie Moore (playwright).
Each of the participants was assigned at least one mentor: Ben Moor was the mentor for the spoken word artist; Dave Williams was the mentor for the stand-up; and Tim Firth was the principal mentor for the playwright (along with Mike Heath from WriteForTheStage).
The development process started straight away, with initial meetings between the artists and their mentors to ascertain development points and targets for writing, rewriting, and performative work.
As part of the process, Stefanie Moore was given additional support from WriteForTheStage, where she attended the WFTS Progressing course which is an online programme of sharing and developing with other early-career playwrights; supported by Mike Heath. Additionally, Stefanie used The WFTS Podcast to help her develop her skill set.
As part of the development of the work, each artist tried their work in front of an audience. We used Studio Salford Development Week for a rehearsed reading of Blue Lines, by Stefanie Moore, and Siân Davies staged a development performance in the Studio at The Kings Arms in June to try out the work so far; asking for verbal and written feedback from the audience which went towards further development of her piece, About Time.
Simon Widdop is based in Wakefield, so most of his development meetings were over Skype with Ben, who helped him develop his one-man show about a tattoo parlour, Stained.
Find out what the artists had to say about the experience:
Stef talks about the process of being mentored:
Stef discusses what she learned and how she developed as an artist and how it has changed her aspirations for further artistic work:
Siân discusses what she learned and how she has developed as an artist and the future for the project:
Simon discusses the mentoring process and how The Hive has helped him develop as a spoken word artist and the future for Stained:
Our aim at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is to offer a similar programme of artist development for the 2020 festival.
We hope to support more artists and to reinforce our position as a supportive festival which helps artists to develop, rather than simply offering a platform to develop.
For more information about the achievements of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, check out their blog.
We're hoping to bring The Hive back in 2020. Watch this space for news as it becomes available.