So how has 2021 been for you? The gift that keeps on giving, yeah?
As ever, there are positives to be found. It was another year where we adapted to find ways to support our vital partners in education and find creative outlets for our brilliant practitioners. We still managed to travel the country, engage with young people and make new work in all kinds of places. We took on new, ambitious challenges, finding new skills and flexing new muscles.
Earlier in the year we created a series of online Masterclasses for professionals and Advanced Teacher Training as well as providing Intermediate and Advanced training for artists, performers and teachers in person, attracting participants from the USA, Australia and Italy. Thankfully we made it back into schools and colleges across the UK and even delivered a residency in Switzerland.
A huge highlight of the year was Ignition. In a much-adapted version we worked with 11 partner venues in 11 cities across the UK to train and make work with a diverse array of young people, many of whom had no experience of a Frantic Assembly workshop or making work through the Frantic Method. The result of this intense engagement was a 45-minute film made with the participants in each city. As ever it highlighted the energy, generosity, bravery and creativity of these young people and our practitioners. We held an informal premier of the film for the participants but will be sharing it on our website early next year! Stay tuned for more info on that one!
What is wonderful is that, despite the surreal and crushing realities of the past few years, Ignition WILL have provided that spark that tells many of those young people that the Arts is for them, that they have a voice and a creative presence within it. We are still looking for financial support for this vital program. It is more important than ever. We will keep fighting.
If you would like to make a donation to support Ignition you'd go to the top of Santa's good list and can do so here.
A major development we are very happy to shout about was the award of a £200k grant from Garfield Weston to support our digital projects in 2021 and launch our online platform The Frantic Assembly Studio in 2022! The platform aims to support education establishments and offer an insight into the Frantic Method and contemporary collaborative theatre making. It aims to bridge the gap between the professional rehearsal room and the school drama studio. We have been very busy creating lots of content throughout the year!
And we also made two films!
I defy you to find yourself shouting ‘Action!’ to a room full of brilliant performers and film makers without a huge smile on your face! What a beautiful steep learning curve that was! It was a real privilege to make work through a lens, to find what Frantic can bring to a different medium. Our film of I Think We Are Alone was streamed in November and there will be more information about our second film, Touch, available next year. That particular project was a total dream and I cannot wait to be able to share it!
We have worked very hard in a difficult year. I think we come out of it in position of strength due to the brilliance and tenacity of our greater team. We are also very grateful to have received vital support from the Cultural Recovery Fund. It has been another year of adaptation and innovation. At times it has felt beautifully normal, be that face to face workshops or making performers fly as part of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. At times it has all been about the ‘pivot’ and the application of new skills. I think the future will be about both of these.
So you have been a funny one, 2021. As frustrating as you have been you have given us a lot to be thankful for. We welcomed our brilliant new General Manager Myra Tam, we all became film makers, we took over the internet, three of our practitioners brought new life into the world and one got married!
And what about 2022?
2022 will begin with us recruiting for some new positions within the company. We also wave off our fantastic Producer Peter Holland who begins his new job at English Touring Theatre. Our loss is their gain. They have got a good one there.
I haven’t mentioned our big news about productions for 2022! And that is because it is a big fat secret and you are just going to have to wait! Believe me, it will be worth it! Stay tuned!
Until then, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Stay safe and well. See you in ’22.
Scott Graham - Frantic Assembly Artistic Director