Stefanie is a first-time writer. She went through drama school and became an actor, only to discover that she found that existance pretty unsatisfying. So, she went into a life of teaching, and a harsh reality dawned on her suggesting that teaching was not for her, either.
The Hive offered three artists the opportunity to develop a brand new piece of work, with mentoring from industry professionals at the top of their game. Along with support from WriteForTheStage, we were looking for a playwright, a stand-up comedian, and a spoken word artist.
Our mentors were:
Tim Firth for the playwright
Dave Williams for the stand-up comedian
Ben Moor for the spoken work artist
Each artist would be supported by a small budget to help bring their show to life, and a fee for creating the work, along with marketing support from the festival PR, Debbie Manley.
We asked for initial expressions of interest in the form of a short document detailing the intentions of the work.
Stefanie explains in the podcast how she put her successful pitch together.
From the pitch, we narrowed our search into a selection of 50 (from 200 applicants).
We asked for three pages of the script or the text, along with any supporting materials that might help us get an idea of the type of artist they are.
And from those three pages, we narrowed down the applicants from an initial list of over 200 to just twenty.
We invited the twenty to a scratch night at Salford Arts Theatre.
The Scratch Night
If you haven't been to a Scratch Night before, it's basically an evening of sharing. Each artist shares a section of the work they're proposing; generally performed script-in-hand, and brought to life on the stage.
Each performer has a limited length of time: in this case, we gave five minutes to each performer.
At the end of the evening, the panel of judges and the mentors sat down and had a LONG conversation about the pieces they thought were most suitable, narrowing the list down to the final three.
The winners were:
All of the pieces were at an embryonic stage, so it was the work of the mentors to help the artists to develop their ideas and steer them along a path towards a piece that would be ready for performance.
The shows were performed, back-to-back, over a period of seven days; touring around Greater Manchester, to strong critical acclaim. It was an exhausting week, but a great experience - performing at The Kings Arms Theatre, The Way in Accrington, and Bury Met.
We interviewed the three artists at the end of the process to find out what they learned through their participation in The Hive.
Stephen M Hornby and I interviewed Stef, with the intention of sharing the process of mentorship. We wanted to understand what mentoring had meant to Stef and how her work as an artist has changed as a result of the process.
Stef articulately explains how her mentoring experience worked with Tim Firth during the development of Blue Lines: the process of sending drafts, waiting for feedback, actioning feedback, as well as the emotional side of things when you're deeply invested in a piece of work.
It's a funny, insightful look at the feedback process - and we discuss various models of feedback that puts the writer back in control of the process. Stephen explains Lucy Kirkwood's approach to feedback and how that changed his approach to working with mentors.
The podcast is available to listen to or download from the WriteForTheStage website, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and a wide range of podcast distributors.
Search for "The WFTS Podcast" or listen on our website.
The Hive, 2020
Applications for Greater Manchester Fringe Festival 2020 open on December 1st, 2019. Watch this space for details of next years Hive.