Supporting New and Emerging Artists
Stars and Stories is providing a high quality development experience for young emerging artists. The project has been shaped by the young people’s input and mirrors Adverse Camber’s working process when working with professional artists who are developing work for national tours.
Every project begins with creative development. The creative team, which can include storytellers, musicians, director, designer, producer and others, explore their ideas, talk about the stories and music which are evolving and play with ideas. The director’s role helps everyone to share their ideas and creates forward momentum, leading towards making decisions about how the piece will unfold. This creative devising process, which Maria Whatton is leading on the Stars and Stories project, means different elements of improvisation, play, authorship and rehearsal combine to generate an experience which can be shared with audiences. It also includes the more scientific perspectives of astronomy, from Nick Spall and the young star-gazers, influencing the ideas being explored. During rehearsals, everyone contributes thoughts and ideas about how the work is evolving, as well as individuals who step up to take on particular roles.
This process supports young artists to work as a creative ensemble. Generating and being part of a supportive atmosphere of trust helps people be confident to make suggestions and listen to other people’s views, with everyone jointly sharing ownership of the work which is created.
Improvisation and Flow
In Adverse Camber’s work, typically the stories and music aren’t written down as a script or on music, but performed slightly differently each time. This doesn’t mean that the work hasn’t been highly crafted or thought about! A lot of work goes into preparation, so that in the performance, artists have freedom to be creative, from a strong foundation. The rehearsal process creates a flow between different sections of the story and music. The Stars and Stories ensemble are experimenting with different way to move between individual sections in a similarly semi-structured way.
This process supports young writers and performers to embrace the opportunity of not ‘fixing’ their ideas to a particular ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but be self-confident and motivated about their contribution to the whole experience.
Work in Progress
At key points in the creative process, early work in development is shared with small audience groups, to check how the performance feels from all perspectives. Audiences are sometimes asked to feed back to specific questions which the artists have about their performance. Often the director leads this process to manage the conversation and gain the most from it for the artists, as well as making sure the conversation flows.
This process helps build the ensemble’s resilience and confidence. Artistic work is daring – artists take risks when they share their ideas and perform to an audience. While this builds self-motivation and confidence in the long term, it is important to have staging posts at which ideas can be tested. This helps everyone feel more informed and confident in how the work moves forward.
Promotion and Marketing
As the artists and creative team work together on the performance, Adverse Camber’s Marketing Associate Jenny Babenko usually sits in on rehearsals to see the work evolving, to make sure the marketing materials are informed by creative work and vice versa. Some of the young people involved in Stars and Stories have contributed ideas and resources to the marketing process. A photograph taken on the sea front at Aberystwyth has been combined with a NASA/European Space Agency and Hubble Telescope image, bringing the science of the stars and creativity of the young people involved together in a visually interesting image. Calligraphy created by one of the participants and other images, including a logo, are being combined into a small programme. Social media presence will help enhance the project’s reach in the lead up to the festival event.
Marketing materials help reflect the ideas present in the project as a whole and participants are involved in promoting the event, helping to develop their entrepreneurial skills and experience.
Some Adverse Camber performances have a very low-tech minimalist approach. Some have professional designers who work with the artists and generate sets and or clothes which are specific to the production. Typically, designers come into the Adverse Camber process after initial ideas have been generated by the artists, so that their contribution reflects the direction of the creative team. On Stars and Stories, some of the young people involved are contributing ideas to this element of the process, thinking about the particular challenge of an outdoor performance in all weathers, at night, in an open space with no electricity generators!
This process draws on young people’s inspiration, as well as working within the limits of the project budget, an experience of making inventive use of low-cost resources for maximum creative effect.
Adverse Camber often asks someone from outside each artistic team to be a critical friend to the process, to help everyone reflect on what they’ve learned and to gather thoughts to help inform the next stage of work. Everyone has an opportunity to add their views into this discussion and future work picks up on the learning from each creative process.
Stars and Stories emerged through discussions with care leavers about ways for more young people to be involved in storytelling and star gazing. The evaluation stage is an important part of considering how well the project achieved its aims to help us all work out the best next steps in the process.