STEP UP Creatives ensemble: Lesley Emery (Actor)

Lesley Emery as Marcia in The Misanthrope, May 2011

Lesley as Marcia in The Misanthrope, May 2011

As a more mature graduate I was delighted when I discovered the STEP UP programme as I believed it would help me onto the next stage in my career. I have not been disappointed and the workshops so far have been a fascinating mix of practical advice and stimulating methods of working which have opened my mind to new opportunities in the future.

Saturday 31st March was no exception. The morning began with a session with New Perspectives Fundraising Associate Sally Tye.  She said there were three golden rules in fundraising. Firstly make sure you are ready. Do your research on the organisations you are approaching, be aware of funding cycles and prepare a comprehensive appeal of no more than two sides of A4 outlining what you need and how the money will be used. Secondly be confident. Sally said it was important to understand that, when giving, organisations have particular goals in mind so it is important that you listen and engender confidence that these goals will be achieved. Thirdly be communicative: create a profile, evidence the work you have done, network, keep organisations that have funded you in touch with how things are progressing, measure outcomes and don’t forget to say thank you. Although a very practical session I was also struck by her phrase that we were brokering dreams so never to underestimate the value of personal relationships.

After lunch we started to look at the scripts we will be using for our show in June. The task of weaving together such diverse pieces is a daunting one but having worked together as a team for some time now, and with such a variety of talented individuals, I have no doubt that we will achieve something special. Gareth, our dramaturg, had identified unifying themes of revelation and confession and Tilly highlighted the need for coherence and cohesion for a variety of audiences. Tallie and Beth, the ensemble’s designers, were already thinking in design terms and linking the themes of memory and knowledge with objects and sensory perceptions and Becci started us looking at incorporating multi-media. We then began the task of analysing each piece of work in turn which will continue at the next session.

This was a long time to be thinking rather than doing so in true step up style we adjourned downstairs to do some playing. This time it was with Tallie’s Lego. The weird and wonderful parts of our brain emerged as we created scenes with bridges to another dimension, divided worlds, swings of gigantic proportions, and Ollie the Lego man watching a Hollywood blockbuster.

Too soon it came to an end, but it had shown us all the importance of the placing of objects and people to create the world of our performance piece. This was well illustrated in a practical context as we heard from Beth about her course on the director/designer relationship with Tamasha Theatre, and saw fascinating images of the development of a set she had created using her vision  adapted to the photographic way of working of a director. I can’t wait to see what our talented designers come up with for our show.

So the end of another exhausting day. We were together eight hours but as usual the time had flown by and we were all excited at the prospect of what we would learn and create in our next session.

Follow Lesley on twitter: @lesleyacts – or the whole STEP UP Creatives training ensemble in one handy list.


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