Right. Time to come clean. In the interests of transparency, I must admit that our entire ‘Your Room’ programme was devised in the wake of the loss of two shows from our Blue Sky programme in June. We had grand plans for a season of four shows and very suddenly we found ourselves with two, and a big gap in the middle of our calendar. We were really sad to lose those shows, by two fantastic young companies who we definitely plan to work with down the line. We saw a silver lining in the midst of the crisis though – here finally was the chance to do something we had always wanted and not found a way to achieve – open up our theatre and let everyone in.
I had recently become the Creative Producer at TOR, as well as continuing to run our marketing strategy, so Kate and Bizzy asked me if I would like to programme ‘Your Room’. I jumped at the chance.
The Other Room’s scale and focus on text-based work means that we can’t engage with nearly as many artists as we want to, and ‘Your Room’ was an opportunity to remedy that. We would start with three weeks of scratch performances, with one show a night and an open discussion chaired by one of our team afterwards. Together with our audience we would gather ideas for the future and find out how we were doing so far. We would invite Empty Deck, (who would have been part of the season) to take up residence in the theatre for a week to research and develop whatever they want, with a showing at the end of the week to a public audience. And finally we would present ‘Blue Sky Secret’, a totally secret performance that asks the audience to trust us and take a leap of faith; they won’t know what is being presented until they are sat in their seats and the lights come up.
I love (and wouldn’t change for the world) this programme for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it opens our doors and allows us to present a huge range of artists from all over Wales. We are presenting scratch performances from established companies like Hijinx and Scriptography alongside nights with newer and emerging companies like Neontopia and Critical Ambition, and three slots programmed with work from participants of our Young Artists Festival, who have banded together to create their own companies in the wake of their week with us in June, which is so brilliant to see and makes us glow like proud parents.
Secondly, because it allows us to formally experiment with what The Other Room is for. ‘Your Room’ gives us an opportunity to help develop and grow the artistic community here at a grassroots level and also to ask audiences to be a part of that conversation. It gives us the chance to experiment with one offs and pop-ups like Blue Sky Manifesto and Blue Sky Secret. ‘Your Room’ is us laying the foundations of our entire development programme and it gives us a great sense of what we need to do in the years ahead. The energy and feeling around the building only two weeks into ‘Your Room’ is so exciting; this city is full of incredible artists making and developing some fantastic work; platforms like this help us to find a way to drive them forward. It is so great to see audiences turn out and participate in a programme that is all about the development of shows that genuinely need and require their input, and to see them get something out of it in return. Over the past two weeks I have seen some work with the most amazing potential but more importantly, I have also had some incredibly spirited and inspiring conversations with audiences and artists (and witnessed inspiring conversations between the two) that leave me in no doubt about just how bright the future is for culture in Cardiff. ‘Your Room’ is a demonstration of just how committed we are to being a part of that bright future, and if you haven’t been along yet, please do come and join in. We can’t wait to meet you.
The Your Room season runs until ctober 30 at The Other Room at Porter’s. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.otherroomtheatre.com