Many of us will be familiar with sayings such as “patience is a virtue” and “look before you leap”. On numerous occasions we at Filskit have been told we are far too impatient and expect results overnight. But to those who would seek to slow us down, we play the trump card: “he who hesitates is lost”. On several occasions we have um-ed and ah-ed over whether to apply for funding, try out for certain festivals or commit to dates – and just like that, the moment’s gone. We have the advantage of youth on our side (despite getting a bit creaky) and this is the time when we should possess boundless joie de vivre and take the leaps of faith before having to worry how to pay the mortgage or who’s taking little Jimmy to football.
But aside from being impatient, we are also frustrated. We are hungry for more exposure but are at that rather difficult phase where we’re no longer the bright young things fresh out of drama school, ready to take the world by the horns. Neither are we the well-established, regularly touring company which venues will programme solely on reputation. We are in that grey, in-betweeny area of limbo; neither wet-behind-the-ears nor old pros at the game. When first starting out we were really encouraged by the numerous opportunities for new companies, providing the platform to inspire your first ‘proper’ show. But once you have exhausted those routes you start to wonder now what? And undoubtedly we are not alone in this. We recently applied to a festival that we’ve been desperate to take part in, only to be rebuffed. The fact that it had only received (what we’d call) a small number of applicants somewhat burst our joyful little bubble. What had we done wrong? Was the marketing pack not strong enough? The reviews not prestigious enough? Then we realised we still have a long way to go – that we are not quite ‘in’ yet. True we may be familiar faces at scratch nights or small scale fringe venues but we are not a bookable name (yet!).
This can be the breaking point where the honeymoon period is over for companies and the lure of the more consistent nine-to-five seems a safer bet. So what can be done to help companies overcome this humbling stumble block? Perhaps more established companies could look at instigating programmes not just for new companies but also for those looking for guidance to get to the next level; mentoring to show you the ropes when you do get a bit higher, or even the chance to do a small collaboration. Perhaps festivals or venues could offer several slots to newer companies, allowing a temporary ‘open door’ policy. Yes, this may be a bit of a risk but just taking a chance could unearth some genuinely brilliant work in this very talented country of ours – shouldn’t more people be allowed a look in?
So here we will put out a call to The Younger Theatre community – where should we all be looking? How do we take the next small steps towards world domination? Where should we ‘emerge’ to? Can more venues, companies and individuals collaborate and help each other to climb up to the next rung? Many questions to be answered that may take some time. In the meantime we’ll just continue making the work we enjoy and keep moving in the right direction, however frustrating the pace may be!