London-based theatre company Part of the Main has launched a programme of theatre workshops delivered over Zoom to continue its mission of supporting artists during the COVID-19 closure of the theatre industry. This month’s offerings include reprises of popular former courses such as QLab and Dramaturgy, as well as new four-part courses on writing short plays and creating digital theatre work. Part of the Main is matching a generous donation from playwright Matilda Ibini to make twenty bursary spots available for Black artists across the month’s courses.
Founded by Artistic Director Olivia Munk in 2017, Part of the Main’s mission is to provide opportunities and support to women, trans and non-binary artists in the UK. Its programme of theatre tech, design, and producing workshops, entitled ‘Part of the Grid’, was launched alongside Part of the Main’s company residency at the Drayton Arms Theatre in 2018. These workshops are open to anyone interested in gaining new skills and training within the theatre industry.
Olivia first conceived ‘Part of the Grid’ in 2018 whilst producing Part of the Main’s 2018 Edinburgh Fringe show, The Squirrel Plays. Faced with a three-venue tour and a shoestring budget, Olivia wished there were quick and affordable hands-on training opportunities to learn basic tech, design and producing skills. Discussions with fellow theatre artists confirmed a gap in the market for basic training programmes designed for theatre-makers of all backgrounds.
Part of the Grid officially launched in December 2018 with a sold-out, two-day course on Lighting and Sound Design at the Drayton Arms Theatre. Subsequent courses have included Stage Management led by Ellie Muscutt, stage manager for Heathers and School of Rock; Costume and Sound Design led by scenographer Alison Neighbour; Tech for Fringe Festivals led by Will Alder, lighting and sound designer, and Gabriella Slade, costume designer Six, Spice World; Producing for the Edinburgh Fringe led by Tanya Agarwal, Programme Coordinator for Assembly and Producer for Burnt Lemon) and How to Run a Theatre (led by Audrey Thayer, Artistic Director of the Drayton Arms Theatre.
Part of the Grid’s first foray into virtual workshops began in April and led into May, featuring free workshops such as ‘Producing for a Theatre Company’ led by Assembly programme coordinator and Burnt Lemon producer Tanya Agarwal, and ‘ACE Emergency Funds’ assistance workshop led by Old Vic Artist Development coordinator Alistair Wilkinson. Workshops with £8 price points included three QLab workshops led by Applecart Arts associate producer Will Alder, and a four-part Movement and New Writing series led by Christina Fulcher and featuring playwrights such as Matilda Ibini and Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm.
This June’s workshops, of which there are twelve overall, include a reprise of Will Alder’s QLab workshops (Introduction, Video Basics, and Intermediate), as well as a new QLab Tutorial, which takes place over the course of a day and is capped to six participants. Will Alder will also be leading a new course on the basics of Lighting Programming for ETC desks (June 24).
Laura Horton of Laura Horton PR will be leading a crash course on publicity for theatre artists (June 19), and marketer Isabel Dixon (The Pleasance, VAULT Festival, Chloé Nelkin PR) will coach participants on the basics of marketing theatre on a shoestring budget (June 24). Director Sepy Baghaei (RSC, National Theatre Studio) will introduce participants to her process of beginning a project with music and sound inspiration (June 18). Manchester-based writer Aisling Caffrey will lead a four-part series guiding new playwrights through the process of writing a short play, culminating in an invited reading and feedback session (June 16-July 4).
Further workshops include a reprisal of ‘What is Dramaturgy?’ (June 22) and ‘Making Work Online, and Making Online Work’ (June 19-July 5) from director, dramaturg and performer Jo Tyabji (Associate of Milk Presents, co-AD of ivo theatre, former Resident Director at NT Studio, Almeida Theatre). ‘Making Work Online’ began as a single workshop session in May and is being expanded to a four-part course guiding participants through the creation of digital theatre, and will culminate in an invited showcase. Director Jessica Bickel-Barlow (The Space, Theatre503) will lead a free ‘laboratory’ session exploring Viewpoints for Zoom (dates to be decided amongst participants).
Free bursary spaces are available for Black artists on the majority of June workshops, and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
In addition to Part of the Grid workshops, Part of the Main maintains an open-source ‘Digital Theatre Resources’ spreadsheet listing all of the paid and free writing, acting, and streaming opportunities available for artists bit.ly/digitaltheatreopps. Part of the Main’s monthly newsletter features the most exciting paid opportunities. Further, Part of the Main is collating and maintaining a Freelance Artist Database, featuring theatre artist and the skills they can offer during and after COVID-19 lockdown.