Georgina Elsom was part of the first ever STEP UP Creatives training ensemble from 2011-2012. Here, she reflects on what she learned by taking part and the work she has been creating since her time with New Perspectives:
I took part in New Perspectives’ STEP UP Creatives ensemble as a performer/deviser. That was the direction I wanted to take and had trained in, and I felt that Step Up could provide that step up I needed. However I also have a strong facilitation side to my work/life as an artist and try as I might to gain more performance experience, I find that I am constantly drawn back to creating work with or for the community. That is right back where I am now. Recently, I have been reflecting on what I have achieved since Step Up and what impact the programme has had on me.
I was in a very unstable place before beginning the programme. This I kept to myself. I was physically unstable due to a severe knee injury that had been causing me trouble for a few years; this had only been recognised by doctors at the time as a sprain, now I know that it was a snapped ligament. Yet I was determined that I would create some physical work. I also had very low confidence despite an outgoing personality and I was dealing with subject matter through my character that has had a profound impact on who I am today. It was these things that were the challenges, and it was these things that I overcame and came to terms with as I connected with people and saw their struggles, their worries, frustrations but also learnt from the boundless enthusiasm, and confidence in their ability to achieve, moreover to stay vital in the arts community. I couldn’t quite believe sometimes that I was selected to be one of the few people to have such an opportunity.
Because I am not currently performing, does that mean that I haven’t achieved what I anticipated achieving with the programme? No. Without Step Up I would still be creating small scale work in schools – essential and rewarding but not public, and there are things I want to say, I do want to be seen. I have a new confidence in my body as thankfully I have since had an operation and taken 3 months out for recovery, and I am now able to physically perform and teach in the way that I want to. I have added the experience I gained with Step Up to my CV, which ultimately has validated that I can and have continued to make work/performance. I have been to Russia and Italy to devise work with schools, putting my name in countries I never thought it would reach. I am working on the largest project I have ever done, I have been successful in funding bids, I have just moved into a director’s role. I am making puppets, I will be performing with them, and through them I will tell the story of the Ramayana at Curve. My large scale work will be seen by members of the public, I am working with schools, actors, engineers and I am delivering the Arts Award. I have had my own shop unit, I have told stories on a daily basis. I am working on a summer school in London and I have just managed Lounge on the Farm Music Festival’s Family Zone and made more contacts, been loved by and been rewarded for it being the best year for families yet at the festival.
The Step Up programme has contributed to my development as a practitioner, taught me new skills, provided me with contacts, been an ear to listen to concerns and taught me how small scale and larger scale theatre operates. Would I have achieved all this without Step Up? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t have the same aspiration I have now. I watch, follow and spy on (facebook and twitter) the journeys of the amazing and talented company I had the opportunity to work with. I see their achievements, I see them making work and I know that it is possible to carve pathways in devised performance. I’m just not ready yet. If I created work now, it would be self indulgent, it would be about me. For now creating work for the public, which is about them, for them, supporting religious festivals, history and heritage I can focus on giving and when I am ready to create devised theatre, for adults, I will.
Check out Georgina’s company Lover of Literature here.