Flying Solo 2014: Reflections

It’s just over a week since I went through the Flying Solo programme at Contact, so I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the process and what I’ve gotten out of it.

For those unfamiliar with it, eight artists were shortlisted from 50 or so applications and invited to spend time with visiting and resident artists on a series of workshops before pitching their idea for a new solo show to a live audience. The winning artist would receive a £3,000 commissioning fee, as well as marketing and development support from Contact and a network of partner organisations including Fuel, The Albany and MC in Amsterdam.

The eventual winner was Louise Orwin (who had a very exciting pitch idea) but despite missing out on the top spot there were still plenty of positive experiences during the process to draw on: one of the main ones being that I’ve found ways of tapping into a more honest and vulnerable side of myself. I’ve attempted it in the past with Even The Lone Ranger Had Tonto but two year’s accrued experience and confidence has sharpened my delivery. Jo Bannon’s Exposure and Rachel Mars’ workshop were particularly instrumental in teasing this out.

I followed Dominic Berry’s advice beforehand and arrived with a draft pitch before even setting in the workshop space but allowed myself to respond to the exercises and performances. I found myself wanting to change my pitch quite significantly the night before the sharing, and decided to just speak the story I wanted to tell over and over again until a more concrete script stuck in my head (a method that’s not too dissimilar from Victoria Melody’s, I discovered later).  I sandwiched this in between some of the material that was prepared in advance, and made use of ambient sound and live ‘lipstick’ painting to evoke the atmosphere I wanted to create.

I was very proud of the pitch I delivered, and grateful for the relationships I’ve struck up with other artists and the venue staff. It was a real pleasure to be considered amongst such a diverse group of artists and I’ve got a brace of new ideas I want to explore in performance as a result.

By Gareth

London-based artist

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