On the 17th March, it will be exactly one year since UK theatre came to an overnight standstill. Every day as we approach the anniversary, Theatre Bubble will be releasing personal accounts from theatre makers across all areas of the industry, telling us what this unexpected and unprecedented year has been like for them. See the full series here: Hands Face & Empty Space
Ravelle-Sadé Fairman: poet, performer, writer and director
In March 2020, I was still exuberant after writing, directing and starring in my own one woman poetry play. This was a part of Prototype – a festival which had taken place in mid-February. I took part alongside fellow New Associates as the culmination of a year-long project masterminded by Nottingham based New Perspectives Theatre Company to explore our ideas and creative practices. In hindsight, we were fortunate that weeks of preparation wouldn’t be reduced to a Zoom session. This sadly became a reality for some of my creative counterparts.
Interestingly, the pandemic did not rob me of opportunity in the creative industry. It actually made them more accessible. After being asked to write a poem for the local art and culture magazine Left Lion, I was asked to be the first orator, as well as recite at the Black Lives Matter March in Nottingham – to a crowd of nearly four thousand! Naturally, the circumstances which created the opportunity were far from ideal but the sense of unity set off a spark which ignited a creative fire inside me. This time with a different aim – to express the general census of those around me who were being marginalised. The resulting poem was then published in a digital version of Left Lion. I was then spotlighted as a “featured contributor” in the next issue.
I would be lying if I stated that I have had a harmonious relationship with creativity though. The truth is, I continued to dance the fine line of love and hate. Loving the feeling of having time and space to be creative, whilst hating the pressure to be creative with all the spare time. All whilst trying to home-school and teach my young child how to navigate a QWERTY keyboard!
It soon turned to July and I was given the opportunity to recite a set for Nottinghamshire Pride at Nottingham’s Council House. This was a glorious experience. Not only because I had not been able to watch any live performance since those of my fellow Associates back in February, but because the set up was absolutely breath-taking. It honestly felt as though I was at an X Factor live show with all the professional equipment. It was so refreshing to see other adults and talk about creativity, if only from a 2 metre distance.
By September, I was once again inviting new opportunities. This one in the form of being asked to become a Trustee for New Perspectives Theatre Company. At first, the notion daunted me! I had looked up to the New Perspectives family as knowledgeable mentors whilst being a New Associate and so to be asked, first triggered a bit of imposter syndrome. Me? They want … Me?! After a pep talk from a trusted friend, I agreed and shortly after I was graced with a letter of congratulations from Company’s House.
It was after running a workshop for a local organisation and being asked to feature at the Nottingham Poetry Festival, I ended up fracturing my knee. At this point, I had accepted that I wouldn’t be as productive but again, I was proven wrong.
In November, New Perspectives’ Artistic Director, Jack McNamara got in touch about shadow producing The Fishermen – being recorded for BBC Radio 3. Yes, BBC Radio3! Fractured knee or not, I could not miss out on an opportunity like that, and so I didn’t. I am convinced that if it wasn’t for the lockdown, I wouldn’t have been able to fulfil the role as I was still on crutches at the time and schools weren’t open. The radio drama is scheduled to be broadcast on the evening of Sunday 4 April and I was elated to have my name featured on the BBC Sounds website under ‘Assistant Producer’.
Just when you thought I had run out of opportunities, the Producer that I was working under, asked me to be a part of another BBC project. As much as I’d love to spill all, I am sworn to secrecy for the moment but it is definitely an exciting chance to gain new skills and challenge my creative practice.
I am very much aware that the pandemic hasn’t been a bed of roses for most and many have had to adapt in ways that they had never thought possible. I too have struggled with loneliness, isolation and a general anxiety to return to “normal”. What I do appreciate however, is having an outlet and the ability to reflect that in my work. As Nina Simone says, “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”