At a special event in FRINGE LAB this February, Show in a Bag alumni Sonya Kelly (The Wheelchair On My Face, 2011), Bryan Burroughs (Beowulf: The Blockbuster, 2013) and Margaret McAuliffe (The Humours of Bandon, 2016), shared their words of wisdom about making your own show. They covered everything from the spark of their initial ideas, to how they turned them into a play and shaped their work while out on the road.
Here are some of their top tips for potential Show in a Baggers:
1. Your passion will convince people, so be brave and be prepared when making an application. Sonya suggested imagining your idea as a blurb on the back of a book, or talking about it with a friend. The idea will evolve over the making process so you don’t need to have all the answers yet, you just need a strong instinct about the story you want to tell and why you are the person uniquely positioned to tell it.
2. Consider the audience experience when conceiving your show. What kind of journey do you want to take them on? Sonya quipped “For the price of a ticket, I think the audience deserves to feel four feelings!” Bryan shared that in his show, he wanted to influence and challenge audience loyalty to each of characters. It’s important to think about the tone and style of show you want to create.
3. Commit 100% to the project. Bryan asked, “How do you want to feel on the day of the first performance? Like you have done everything you possibly can.” Margaret advised that you build time in to your process for the many responsibilities you have as a Show in a Bag maker. You won't just be making a play; you’ll also be producing and planning for everything from poster designs to RSVP lists. The Show in a Bag partners will help you, but you are the one making it happen.
4. For all three artists, Show in a Bag was the very first time they wrote a play. All three encouraged everyone to give it a go, if they wish to. Sonya urged new writers not to over-think their first attempt, “Don't even stop for spelling mistakes. Just get something down, end to end.” Bryan and Margaret emphasised that there are lots of ways to make a play – devising on your feet, improvising with a friend, filling pages and pages of notebooks- it’s different for everyone.
5. Margaret advised “Don't be embarrassed about the fact you want to create something.” All three artists described moments where self-doubt got in the way. But they pushed through and are so glad that they did. Go for it! Take a chance! It might just change your life.
Beowulf: The Blockbuster is on at the Civic Theatre in March.
The Humours of Bandon is on a nationwide tour this Spring.
How to Keep an Alien by Sonya Kelly is at Droichead Arts Centre in March.
Note: closing date for Show in a Bag applications was 27 February 2017.