What is Where We Are?
Where We Are is an ongoing project which attempts to capture the feeling of Sonder through the exploration of Place. We are interested in unique or undervalued places that form integral parts of the community.
As well as this it is an attempt to draw new audiences and new voices into theatre. We believe that often art can be inward looking and that, if you are sincere about wanting people to be interested in your work, then you must go and and be sincerely interested in them.
We want our writers to broaden horizons, explore new perspectives and be out in the world. So we ask four of them to visit a particular location, interact with the space and meet the people who inhabit it.
How does it work?
We send four of London’s most interesting early-career writers to write a piece that responds to a place of our choosing. Beginning from whatever they find, these singular stories are woven together in one play in one place and time.
The result is a unique portrait of a diverse community of people who may have nothing in common other than they are collected under the same roof. In doing this, we hope Where We Are is re-imagining the possibilities of a new writing night and taking community theatre to new heights.
What’s the brief?
Four writers produce the equivalent of 15 minutes of work over six weeks, as a direct response to a place. Each piece is written for one performer, but can include as many voices as you like.
The writer will begin their work by visiting and interacting with a place and the people in it. Importantly, it should be made clear to anyone they speak to that the conversation is for a performance. It should be clearly stated to them that this will not be a direct representation of them, rather they are providing the inspiration for a new character.
No real names are used.
Why do we need to visit the Place?
In going to the space (on a date to be confirmed) we want the writer to take a journalistic approach to beginning their piece. This is an opportunity to gather information, gain a sense of character and focus on detail. For us, this is the most important part of the project and we’re looking for writers who would be comfortable to go into someone else’s space with a good deal of curiosity. Much like a journalist, we are not there to make judgements, simply observations.
We’re keen to explore the life of contemporary Muslims at the Suleymaniye Mosque on Kingsland Road. We want to look into the communities that gather around the mosque, the individuals inside it and what keeps them all coming back.
We want you to put Place and all that goes with it at the forefront of your minds and there’s no better way to do that than by being there!
What’s the commitment?
Once we have chosen our four writers, the writing process will take seven weeks. As it stands we are still working out exact dates, but writers will need to be available for the following (which will all take place between the end of November and 20 January):
Week one: site visit.
The writers will visit the Suleymaniye Mosque and spend several hours there meeting people, gathering informations and interacting with the space.
Week three: first draft meeting.
You will have completed a first draft of your piece and sent it to Anima. We will meet both individually and as a group to discuss the piece as a whole.
Week five: second draft meeting.
Writers will have completed the second draft and we will begin to piece the play together. This is the point where the casting process will begin.
Week six: third draft meeting.
Week seven: Deadline for finished script and first full read-through with actors.
Week eight: (optional) second read-through and beginning of rehearsals.
How do you make it one play?
Anima collects the texts and present them as one play. We mostly do not edit the language of pieces, instead we overlap them, cutting them together with others, dipping in and out of each character’s story. The work the writers produce does not run as its own short play, but rather as part of a whole.
Anima casts and rehearses the pieces. We encourage our writers to attend rehearsals, and will have two read throughs. However, it is important to emphasise that once the pieces have been handed over, opportunities for editing or adjustments will be limited, although we attempt to do this where we can.
When’s the performance?
The play will run for three nights from 25 – 27 February (with potential for a fourth performance matinee) at the Arcola.
Have you done it before?
Our first four editions (under the title Place to Be) have been set around The Gym, The Barber, The Canal and The Laundrette.
These played at The Rosemary Branch and VAULT Festival 2018 and have included sell-out shows, writers and actors who have gone on to acquire agents and most importantly, a number of audience members who went to the theatre for the first time theatre.
A part of this success has been down to reaching out directly to the communities who inhabit that particular Place. We aim to give discounted tickets to those members of the community where the play is set and to those who have influenced the writers piece.
Is it paid?
Where We Are is currently a community project and relies on a good deal of voluntary work. However, we are able to pay writers £50 for their piece.
We appreciate that for many, this will be an issue. As a company, we will endeavour to do everything we can to work around schedules and make this fit around other paid work you are doing. If you are keen to apply but unsure whether you will be able to commit because of financial constraints please put that in your letter and we would be happy to have a conversation about what we can do to support you through the process. This will not affect your chances of being part of the project.
Above all we understand that everyone has unique circumstances and that artists deserve to be paid for their work. We are trying our best.
Who is Anima?
Anima’s work is primarily based within the world of non-fiction and is often focused on the faltering line between what is real and what is not. Working in the realms of experimental theatre and new writing, we came together through our mutual interest in inclusive theatre and giving voice to those who struggle to be heard.
Our most recent work, The Sleeper (Theatre 503, Edinburgh Festival 2017, The Space and Brighton Fringe 2018) is a minimal portrait of a woman struggling to find refuge an overnight train and questions the way we choose to tell people’s stories.
In each project we undertake, our aim is to promote collaboration, conversation and connection while bringing new ideas and new audiences to theatre. It is run by writer and director Henry C Krempels.