Wearing More Than One Hat

I’m not a blogger but I’ve been asked to write a blog. So here I am, doing my best at this task – yet another hat to the collection of hats I’m happy to wear for the love of theatre.

Have you ever woken up one morning, jumped out of bed, picked up your diary to discover which hat you’re meant to be wearing today? Will you be fundraising? Teaching? Directing? Producing? Temping? If you have, you’ve probably got the freelance syndrome.

It might seem a bit of a brainf*** at times but I’m actually loving it. I sometimes struggle explaining what I do to friends and family who aren’t in the field. I probably give them a sense of panic at the unclarity, (for them) of what I do, but deep down I am loving it. Why? Because it keeps me on my toes, no two days are alike, and most of all it exercises that muscle in our brain so precious to a happy life, I think.

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(The StoneCrabs Team; Lorna French, Kwong Loke, myself and Franko Figueiredo at The Mac, Birmingham)

StoneCrabs Theatre Company has offered me many opportunities to challenge myself at different roles. Most interestingly is seeing how one role has led to another and yet again to another. As if, all these roles, as diverse as they can be have in some form or shape a common thread.

Let’s go back in time a bit. We’re in 2010. Recently graduated, I join the company as their new Literary Associate. There’s a buzz, an excitement from Franko and Kwong, the two Artistic Directors, towards bringing new unheard voices from Europe. After much reading and discussion, we program a 3-day event at the Soho Theatre; Off The Wall 2010 is created. The idea is simple but effective: we present three major European contemporary plays (unheard in the UK) and pair them up with three commissions of short plays by up-and-coming British playwrights; Bola Agbaje, Lorna French and Rosaline Ting.

Three years down the line, all three commissions have developed into full-blown scripts and I  find myself involved in all three: directing Rosaline Ting’s Gerbils in a Glass Cage at The Space, acting as a Dramaturge for Lorna French’s City Melodies (recently performed at the Capital Plays Festival at The Mac, Birmingham) and producing Bola Agbaje’s The Burial at The Albany.

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(‘The Burial’ by Bola Agbaje at The Albany Theatre) 

From one role, three others had emerged.

This is just an example, and I’m sure all StoneCrabs’ Associates can share similar developments in their work with the company. Of course, it takes time, commitment and passion to go from one role to another, and quality work is always the main motto. But I love how StoneCrabs Theatre Company embraces its Associates as three-dimensional Creatives who, according to their passion, skills and availability at the time of the project, can pick up different hats, and immediately be respected as such.

I think versatility can save us from dead-end routines, from repeating the same successful formulas, from assuming things without knowing and can open up doors we wouldn’t have imagined existed. For a creative team, all this feels so essential.

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(The cast and creatives of ‘City Melodies’ by Lorna French at The Mac, Birmingham) 

Also, if I am one mind, one body, one heart doing multiple roles won’t all these roles always be in some way related? In my case, I feel everything is always about wanting to tell really great stories and understanding therefore the nuts & bolts in making this happen. Even a temping job, which might at first seem totally unrelated, can be a wonderful treasure box full of characters and stories waiting to be explored. Theatre is all around us after all.

Thankfully there are diaries to keep track of what hat I’m wearing tomorrow, next week and beyond.  That makes me think; now that I have finished writing my first blog post ever, I’m off to the shops to buy a nice big diary for 2014. 😉

Happy new year!

Tanja Pagnuco

Associate Director/Producer

StoneCrabs Theatre Company

http://www.stonecrabs.co.uk

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