I was asked to write the end of year newsletter about Hope and my work on Incubation for Freelancers Make Theatre Work, an organisation created in 2020 to encourage more transparent and inclusive conversations within the theatre industry by listening to and articulating theatre freelancers’ needs. It was sent out to 20,000+ members on 8th December 2020.
Imagine your hope is a precious object…
Where would you keep it?
What condition is it in?
What does having it allow you to do?
Incubation: Hope is a new storytelling performance developed to share stories of hope with the intention of making a live event that gathers and amplify our hopes for ourselves, our communities and the places we live. Nicholas Barton-Wines tells us why this is so important.
This project was borne in a time where hope and touch became two of our most present needs. Under the invitation of Stephanie Katie Hunter, producer of Incubation – a project in association with myself, Amy Conway and Harry Josephine Giles – I found myself dreaming of an event where being hopeful and being hopeful together could happen. And as project after job collapsed into limbo in Spring, I wondered how I’d be treating my hope if it wasn’t so easily ignored.
Hope is sometimes difficult to define in action. Through this project I have found it to be rooted in reality: it is the action of taking stock of what we have in the here and now and formulating pathways to reach our goals. It is creating something from whatever we have left. It is active, and it is very social; an essential ingredient for hope is our social support structures – who we can depend on, and the meaningful people in our lives.
As a theatre maker I depend on my collaborators: like many of us my practice is highly social. As a theatre maker in isolation, I am missing much of that and making theatre (we’ll avoid the trap of what that product might even look like right now!) has become very hard. I began the process of asking Daily Questions about hope and opening the Zoom door for Creative Conversations to feel more connected to and inspired by others.Imagine your hope is a precious object… Where might you keep it? How do you maintain it? What could be a hope-object for your community? What made your hope-object look and feel the best it ever has? Each morning a new question throughout November fired out into the internet waiting to bounce back.
Through these prompts people have been generously sharing how they are feeling with each other, what is important to them just now, what they need, and where they’re going. People shared the questions among their families, discussed them with strangers online, and, in some cases, silently pondered them as they popped on their masks heading into the shops. Every response has been gorgeous, delicate, and heartfelt. I found hope in the hopes of others.In the future I aim to make a storytelling performance about a community and their hope-objects, inspired by the hopes I have heard in November. From this I will be making a storytelling production that will one day tour, encourage audiences to sculpt their hope-objects together with supplied materials at the end, and add them to the production. It is my hope together we will share our accumulated hopes with all the communities we meet along the way.
Hope is a supremely social act, gives us focus, and it keeps us moving forwards. Our hope is vital.
So, grab something to sculpt (or draw) your hope-object with, and I offer you this Question: what do you hope for?