The Creative Associates of NST Laboratory are celebrating what Southampton makes now! Their upcoming performance of I Won’t Make It On My Own will be on the main stage at Nuffield Southampton Theatres 4-7 October. We met up with Katherine to find out more...
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Katherine and I’m the Associate Producer for NST Laboratory. I was selected to have a year-long associateship and have been lucky enough to be attached to some of the fantastic Nuffield Southampton Theatres productions such as Grapes of Wrath and the NowHere festival.
The Lab Associate Producer role has been a really great way of seeing how a theatre operates internally – it’s an insight into venue producing that I would not have been able to gain so early in my career without the Nuffield’s support.
As well as shadowing the NST producers, I act as the main producer for our own Laboratory Associate work. Through the attachment, I’ve got to know Chloe (Lab Associate Director) Sam, Josh and Charlie (our Lab Associate Designers for Set & Costume, Lighting and Sound). They are a group of incredibly creative people, and NST have given us a fantastic freedom to collaboratively come up with a production that we want to stage. I’ve been able to have invaluable coaching from the Laboratory department on how to fundraise for this project, develop the ideas, and make what we want to stage happen.
What does your role as Producer entail?
As Producer, I’m in charge of organising, planning and developing the project so that the artistic ideas can be realised. It’s a very hands-on role that also involves pitching for funding opportunities, organising how a project can be achieved, creatively coming up with ways to get more support, and gathering resources. It’s learning how to spot problems before they happen and also how to keep calm when they do.
A big part of my role is also talking to people about our work – getting community groups on board with our projects and workshops, making connections with other early-career artists and representing the Lab Associates generally.
Why did you decided to become an Associate Producer, especially on this project?
I graduated from drama school - where I started producing sort of by accident, to get the plays we devised put on, and found I really enjoyed that process. I then worked for a couple of theatre charities organising events and community projects, but I missed working closely with a group of theatre-makers and producing new work. I saw this role at NST as a perfect opportunity to learn more, develop my skills as a producer and meet new people. I Won’t Make It On My Own is a devised show – which is great because I can use the background I come from, and it’s a way of working that all the Lab Associates enjoy.
What are you enjoying about the process of I Won't Make It On My Own?
It is really great to be involved with something from the very beginning – our concept was completely from scratch rather than a play text, so we’ve been running development workshops with the community, and we will be refining those ideas with actors throughout the summer.
Working with the local community, building ties and connections with Southampton by learning about what crafts people do here on a daily basis (and getting them to try new ones) has been fantastic. We’ve had participants from our development workshops say that the process has shown them something new about themselves, that they can be imaginative – which has been very rewarding.
It’s so much fun to make a show about having fun and about making. It’s also forced me, and I think all of us involved, to pinpoint why we care about being creative and why we all should not lose that side of ourselves. We are trying to find really imaginative ways to stage the topic for our audience, and start a discussion.
Tell us what’s happening in addition to the main performance?
As this is a project about making, we’re doing free creative workshops on Saturday 10th June (TWINE game programming), Saturday 24th June (puppetry) and Saturday 8th July (lighting / sound effects) which are open to all Southampton residents.
Getting the local community involved with making things is a large part of this project, and the free workshops are designed to share and develop skills. We are offering ways of telling stories that people may not otherwise get to try.
What can we expect from I Won’t Make It On My Own?
It explores the idea of making – devised from questionnaire responses we gathered from around Southampton to everything from ‘how do you make a cup of tea’ to ‘how do you make it through the day’? This gave fascinating stories (how to make tea proved the most contested topic). The show is also informed by our community workshops and the crafts made there will be brought into our design.
We will be using some really clever staging, turning the main stage of NST Campus into an intimate and homely studio space. The audience will be sat on the stage and offered tea and coffee whilst the actors perform close by. We want to create a show that happens around you, but in an atmosphere that puts you at ease rather than pressuring an interaction. The main thing to expect is that it will be fun, and a priority of our Designer is that the seats will be very comfy.