A quick update

Hi All,

Just a quick update.

You may have noticed that I went a bit quiet after February, well don’t worry I didn’t disappear into the ether (still working on that trick) No, I’ve been quietly working away in the background to pull together a bit more development time and something of a tour for Paper People Theatre and our new show Do Geese See God? Hopefully you’ll see more of that in 2018.

I’ve also been working away on some research and writing for my new solo show, I’m Building a Spaceship (working title) which combines my love of sci-fi and it’s ability to explore current global politics through a very, incredibly, almost transparent, thinly veiled metaphor. Not much of an update on that yet, but there will be later as well as (hopefully) some opportunities to influence it’s development by coming to scratch nights and telling me all of your thoughts.

BUT

Right now, the most exciting thing I need to tell you about regards my good friends in Powder Keg, because this week they are performing a fantastic new show that they’ve been working on for the last year. The show is called Bears and it is taking place at, and with support from The Royal Exchange, It’s exciting, its environmentally friendly and it’s gonna be amazing. So I just wanted to urge you, if you can, to come along and watch Bears. You won’t get many opportunities to see it and from what I’ve heard it is going to bloody fantastic. Go on, have a look.

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Ticket: https://bookings.royalexchange.co.uk/single/EventDetail.aspx?p=14704

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Lost in Space

It’s been a while, which is how many of these posts seem to start.

So I’ve been busy, in an understated sort of way. Lot’s of things have been going on but I thought I’d share some Jon news and some Paper People Theatre News. Then at the end there’s some new writing I’ve been doing for ‘I’m Building a Spaceship’ as a treat.

So Jon first;

I’m carrying on with writing my new show. I even got a fancy new pen and notebook for it. The pen’s made of wood, so… I’m fancy. It’s good fun. I’m hoping to use the show to explore a few different themes but also to play around with storytelling a lot more. It’s fun to write because I get to mess with Sci-fi, and I do love me some Sci-fi.

I’ve also taken a tentative first step into some freelance fundraising for a theatre company based in London. It seems like a pretty natural thing to do, I have helped a lot of friends with funding applications over the last few years and it is my day job as well. It’s something that I hope to start doing more in the future. If anyone who happens to read this fancies some help with a funding application just get in touch through the contact form on my homepage.

Finally I’m currently in talks for some performances later this year/start of next year. It feels like this is going to mostly be a development year and I’ll be doing more touring next year, but it’s all a lot of fun.

Paper People News;

Well, after our week of development on Do Geese See God? at Lancaster Arts and then a very fun performance of the show so far at the Nuffield Theatre we decided to have a bit of a break, not least because Jake and Mook are very busy with Powder Keg work, particularly on Bears, their project with The Royal Exchange.

Nonetheless, I have been busy whirring away quietly in the background. Very soon I’ll be getting in touch with venues here there and everywhere about touring the show next year. We hope towards the end of summer to get back into the rehearsal space properly for a bit more development so that by the end of the year we have a completed and very polished show about facts, our relationship with them and human significance.

I may post a little snippet of the film of Do Geese See God sometime in April.

Now a bit of writing from ‘I’m Building a Spaceship’

 

Well… here I am.

 

In space

In my spaceship

Adrift

Alone

No power

Running out of air

Getting colder

I’m more or less where I wanted to be. But not quite.

I’m not quite at the edge of the Universe. And that edge is getting further and further away.

So.

Here I am.

It’s not exactly what I expected, but that’s OK. Maybe where I wanted to be isn’t the same as where I needed to be.

Besides, where’s the fun in doing what you set out to achieve?

I realise it may not look like I’m in a spaceship drifting through space. That’s because on a journey like this, at the speeds I have been travelling, time and causality get flipped on their heads.

At the edge of the universe… near the edge of the universe, things don’t work the way you expect them to.

So.

Here

I

Am

And here you aren’t.

I’ll go back.

So I can bring you with me.

So we can share my adventure.

And

Maybe

This time things will go differently.

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A spaceship and some geese

I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks that I thought I’d tell you about.

On the 14th of February I was at Waterside Arts Centre taking part in Creative Industries Trafford‘s ‘To The Stage’ scratch night. I performed a brand new 15 minutes from a new show I have been working on called “I’m Building a Spaceship“. The show involves me building a spaceship onstage out of metal and wooden poles, bits of cardboard and gaffa tape. In the show I tell stories of how I figured out how to build y spaceship and the things I encountered along the way.

The performance went fairly well, about as well as a brand new show goes on its first outing. It was really fun to do something completely new and share it with an audience, especially an idea that I find really exciting and that has so much scope for exploring different ideas. I got some really useful feedback from ‘To The Stage’ and I’m taking it all in as I continue developing the show.

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The next day I got on a train to Lancaster where I spent 8 days working with Paper People Theatre on our new show ‘Do Geese See God?‘ at Lancaster Arts. The development period was part of ‘Foot in the Door’ a new artists development programme being run by Lancaster Arts and Making Room.The artists taking part were; Theatre 42, Tin Can People, James Monaghan and Ali Wilson. They were developing brand new work whilst taking part in workshops provided by some absolutely fantastic theatre professionals. Whilst they were doing that we spent the time cooped up together in a room developing the show. It was a lot of hard work but in the end we are very pleased with the work in progress performance that took place on the 22nd, expertly teched by David McBride (again, very sorry about making a mess of your stage)

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It was a great week, we’re very grateful to everyone at Lancaster Arts and everyone that took part in Foot in the Door for providing us with rehearsal space, support and for being so welcoming. We’re looking forward to continuing to develop the show, there’s still plenty of work to do. We hope that it’ll be finished by the end of the year ready for some touring in 2017/18. We are running a crowdfunding campaign for Do Geese See God? to support it’s continued development. I’d very much appreciate if you could have a look, maybe chuck us £5 and share it with your friends and family. Ta.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/do-geese-see-god-1 

So that’s what I’ve been up to recently, thanks for having a look.

 

What’s Going On?

Hey folks, how’s your first month of living in the twilight zone been? Having fun?

Just thought I’d catch you all up on my business. So at the end of last year I finished touring How to be a Man, the last three shows at Alphabetti Theatre where brilliant. So since then I have been working on a couple of things. First off there is a new solo show that I’m developing called…

I’m Building a Spaceship

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I’m building a spaceship using materials that don’t exist and technology that doesn’t exist, based on science that probably isn’t real. I’m building this spaceship to get away from the mess we’ve made, I’m building it to explore. I’m building this spaceship because I’ve always wanted to.
I’m going to use my spaceship to race the universe to the end of itself, to see what’s there, and I want to take you with me.
I’ll be performing a scratch of the beginnings of the show at CIT’s ‘To The Stage’ scratch night on Tuesday 14th February at Waterside Arts Centre. If you can make it along it would be great to see you and hear what you think of the show.
Then I’m also working on…

Do Geese See God?

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Do geese see god? What are planets? How many red balloons are there really?
Facts. Facts allow us to understand the universe and our place within it. But what is a fact? How do we know when a fact is true, out of date, misunderstood or just a lie? That’s what were here to find out.
In amongst the facts, all quite interesting, is one story of a young fact, personified, and her flight through life as she struggles to remain true. So sit down, listen close and we’ll tell you the story of fact. You might even learn something. But probably not.

We are performing a work in progress of Do Geese See God? at Lancaster Arts on the 22nd of February, after a week of development that is being supported by Lancaster Arts.

We are also running a crowdfunding campaign for the show to help us raise some funds so that we can continue developing the show to a touring standard. It’d be brilliant if you could have a look at our crowdfunding page, support us if you can by either pledging or by sharing it with your friends, family and networks. You could do both if you’re feeling super generous. We’d really appreciate it.

Thanks for reading this far. You’re the best.

From the Past to the Future

Happy New Year and all that.

I thought I’d begin the New Year with a brand new blog post about how fun last year was and how even funner (it’s a real word, no squiggly lines or anything when I typed it) next year will be (despite the oncoming darkness that the worlds politics have caused)

So I toured How to be a Man, that was my main highlight. I went to Plymouth, Blackburn, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. I was honoured to have over 250 people come and see me perform. I was also surprised and slightly terrified to be invited to give a talk about the crisis of masculinity to lots of students at a High School in Manchester as part of their International Men’s Day event. You can read what I said here. I was supported by lots of lovely creative people including ; Paper People Theatre and Josh Coates (That’s not a real word, first squiggly lines of the post), who jointly directed the show. Also Natasha Farnworth (Also not a real word) who was my fantastic stage manager for most of the tour, and Tom Kirk who stage managed the last three dates. There were also Contact Theatre and Z-Arts who gave me rehearsal space and all of the great venues who let me walk on their stages in my underwear. Of course I have to give a shout out here to Rex, the dog that lives at Alphabetti (Not a real word) Theatre. He’s Great. Here are some pictures from the tour, that I’m sure you’re all very excited to see.

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Onwards… (apparently not a real word – I’m sure it is)

There are some potential new dates for How to be a Man coming up, I won’t give any details here because things still need to be confirmed, but they should be pretty exciting.

Also I have some plans, many plans, for new shows, that I will be sorting through in my head and then letting you know when that all starts to become something physical.

Finally, I’m working with Paper People Theatre on our brand new show – ‘Do Geese See God?‘ which is being developed and we are really looking forward to a development week at Lancaster Arts in February, followed by a work in progress showing on the 22nd Feb. We’re all particularly excited as Lancaster Arts is based on Lancaster Uni campus, which is where we all went to Uni and where we saw a lot of amazing work, and some of us (not me) even worked in the theatre bar (actually some of us – again not me – even managed it)

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So that’s about it. I’d ask how you’re doing, but you probably won’t reply. Feel free to let me know anyway. Have a good year, fight the darkness that looms with fun and ridiculousness.

Avoid using real words.

 

What is the Crisis of Masculinity?

Tomorrow is International Men’s Day and so this morning I had the pleasure of going to a secondary school in Didsbury to talk to a group of year 8’s and year 9’s about the Crisis of Masculinity. It went really well, they all listened brilliantly, they enjoyed the bit of the show that I performed for them, ‘How to Hug’ and at the end they asked a lot of really interesting and insightful questions.

I thought I might share the transcript of what I said to them. It is a simple explanation of what I mean when I talk about masculinity, what the crisis of masculinity is, how it affects people and finally some thoughts on what we can do about it. If you’re ever in a situation and you need to explain, in fairly simple terms, what the crisis of masculinity is then maybe this will help.

My name is Jon, I am a theatre maker and performer. For the last two years I have been making and touring a solo performance called “How to be a Man”, which is a response to the crisis of masculinity. Tomorrow is International Men’s Day and so I was asked to come in and talk to you about what the crisis of masculinity is, what caused it, how it affects you and what we can do about it.

So first off I’m going to explain what I mean by masculinity, because it doesn’t mean being a man, it has nothing to do with your sex or your sexuality. Essentially it’s the unwritten rules of how men should behave, what jobs they can have, how they should dress and who they can be in a relationship. It’s what says that men can’t talk about their feelings. Masculinity is one half of what is called a ‘binary gender system’ – which is the idea that there are men and women and they are completely different and that difference is a natural. Actually that isn’t true, the differences have been entirely made, for example, we all know that the colour for boys is blue and the colour for girls is pink. Well in Victorian times pink was the colour for boys, because red was the colour for men and pink was a lighter version of red. But when I talk about the crisis of masculinity, what I mean by masculinity is the rules about how you are supposed to be a man.

The crisis of masculinity is a realisation that the idea of masculinity is out of date, old fashioned. It doesn’t apply any more. The idea that you all have to dress in a certain way to be a man, the idea that there is a certain way that you are allowed to hug your friends, that you have to have a certain type of job, these things don’t fit with the way the world actually works. The reason for that is that masculinity was created hundreds of years ago, and it meant that certain people could have more power and privilege than others. As society has developed we realised that it wasn’t fair that women couldn’t work, or vote, or own property or make their own choices. And it wasn’t just woman that were disadvantaged by masculinity, there are so many groups, people who are gay, bisexual or transgender and people of different races have suffered because of it, so we began to change things. But we didn’t change masculinity. There is a big section of society that is trying to insist that masculinity does still apply because it gives them power and privilege. So the crisis of masculinity is pretty much a contest between the old fashioned idea of masculinity and reality.

That’s just an abstract concept though, so how does it affect you? Well for men between the ages of 14 and 49, the most common cause of death is suicide. Just think about that for a minute. That means that it is more likely that a man within that age group is more likely to die by killing themselves than by being hit by a car or getting cancer. Men between those same ages are also more likely than women of the same age to commit a violent crime. The link between that and masculinity is that men, according to masculinity, aren’t allowed to talk about their feelings, if you can’t tak about your feelings then you bottle them up, they eat away at you and eventually they will find a way out, that tends to result in either depression or anger. There are other ways it affects men. So my day job, outside of my theatre work, is working for a homeless charity. We are currently working with over 100 people who are homeless, unemployed, have mental illnesses or are recovering from addiction. More than half of the people that come to us are men. They have been left behind because they were forced to try and conform to the idea of masculinity, to be someone they aren’t.

So what do we do about it?

That’s a hard question to answer, because no one really knows for certain. One thing we can’t do is send society backwards. We need to keep progressing, we need to keep pushing for more and more equality. That means everyone, men and woman, people who are transgender, people of sexualities, religions and skin colour need to. To gain equality it means that men need to make sacrifices, we are incredibly privileged, and we need to let go of that. We need to see other people as the same as us, because they are. They all have things that they’re worried about, things that scare them, things that they love. We need to remember that everyone we see is the same as us. Trying to loosen the grip of masculinity doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to completely reject it, you don’t all have to start wearing dresses, but the point is you should be able to if you want to. If you want to wear a dress, do it. If you see some other guy wearing a dress, let him. Be yourself, and let other people be themselves. It doesn’t matter how weird you think it is, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt you.

By moving towards complete equality, we can move through the crisis of masculinity and hopefully come out on the other side with everyone in a much better place.”

So yeah, that’s that. I hope you enjoy it.

Next up I’m heading over to Newcastle for the last three performances of How to be a Man in 2016 at Alphabetti Theatre. If you’re able to join me, it’d be great.

The Darkest Timeline

Hi All,

How are you doing? It’s been a dark week hasn’t it? Screw that, it’s been a dark year. The UK suggested to the Government that some of the population wanted us to leave the EU, the government decided that this meant we absolutely had to. Theresa May is now Prime Minister and from what I can tell she is nastier and cleverer that Cameron. Trump is now president elect of the US. Hate crimes across the world seem to be multiplying exponentially and due to some bizarre belief in Nationality as if it means more than compassion for fellow people, any dissent against hate crime is met with more hate.

That said, there is hope. A lot of people are rallying together to look after those suffering and to fight against the march to oblivion we seem to have started.

In the wake of all that’s happened I’ve realised that ‘How to be a Man’ has a slightly different meaning. It’s still about the crisis of masculinity, but that very same crisis is the cause for most of what is happening, after all patriarchy is one of the root causes of division, mistrust and prejudice because by making an ‘Other’ it’s possible to establish and maintain control. So the end of How to be a Man, that message of hope, of unity and equality is more important than ever. It’s a show that asks us to dream of and work towards a better future.

So yes, it’s been a dark year, but whilst there are people that recognise that and want to bring a bit of light back into the world, then there is a bit of hope.

Let’s hug, but remember to do it right. (This is a old version of How to Hug, but the message is the same)

As a shameless plug, the next performances of How to be a Man are at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on the 1st, 2nd & 3rd December. It’s pay what you feel. Please come along, have a drink with me and let’s plan a better world.

 

On the road again

Hi All,

It’s been a while. How are you? How’s your face doing?

So I’ve been a tad busy lately. Mostly working on another project, ‘Do Geese See God?’ with Paper People Theatre. We performed it at Emergency on Saturday and are all really pleased with how it went. We also got to see a lot of beautiful and challenging pieces of work throughout the day. As soon as I can I will be posting up some images and video of the performance, we’ll also be hoping to perform it again with some tweaks and changes later on in the year.

Now on to more pressing news, How to be a Man is back! First off I’ll be performing it at Stage@Leeds on Thursday 13th October. I’ve got to say, I’m really looking forward to it. For a start I love Leeds. Also this is the first time I will be performing it at a theatre on a University campus, and one of the hopes I had when I made this show was that I could perform it at a University because I’m fairly certain it contains some really useful things for theatre students and gender studies students.It’s also a bigger theatre than most I have performed it in, which means bigger, better lighting and more impressive sound. It’s very exciting.

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Then, later in December I will be heading off to the marvellous and brilliant venue, Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle, which is another show I’m really looking forward to. Everyone I know that has taken work to Alphabetti has had nothing but fantastic things to say about the space and the people. You can find any upcoming performance dates by looking (fairly obviously) at my dates page.

(Even my cat is excited… her name is Olive)

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“It captivated the audience from the get-go… His advocation for feminist and queer theory showed research, and he managed to cover the tricky terrain in a tongue-in-cheek manner… a delight to see someone so passionate about such a serious topic.”

Rae Coppola – Quays News

 

And We’re Off

Morning All,

It’s been a while, how are you? (Replies in the comments please)

I’ve been a tad busy of late and I thought I’d share with you what I have been up to. The last time I posted anything on here was ages ago, I’d just finished performing How to be a Man at The Bureau Arts Centre, Blackburn.

Shortly after that I was marketing and getting ready for my performances in Manchester, which included an interview on TV, several radio interviews and lots of emails sent all over the place. Then I actually did the show, for two nights. The first night was pretty good, it was nice to be in a venue with a full rig so I could play about with the lights. I had a couple of reviewers who came in and wrote some pretty nice words about me and my show. The next night was amazing. The show more than sold out, we had to go and get more chairs. The audience were amazing, there was lots of laughs, lots of contemplative silence and a few stifled giggles. I’m also particularly proud because the CEO of the charity I work for (Mustard Tree, look them up) came along and I have successfully changed the way he look at shortbread forever. Manfred, the mannequin, has taken a bit of a beating over the last year, so he’s getting regular TLC and no more nails, to keep him in one piece. I’m trying not to replace him because I’ve had him since I started making the show and as much as I have developed a strong dislike for him (As you would if you had to carry him across the country, he has legs he just won’t use them) I can’t imagine getting a different mannequin in to replace him.

Then I went on holiday, it was great.

I’ve since spent the last couple of months working hard on How to be a Man, repairing Manfred and also working on a new show, ‘Do Geese See God’, with my company Paper People Theatre. And I’ve started work, collaborating with some lovely folk in Manchester, on making a new show, a socially motivated, power to the people sort of thing.

This brings me to the news section of today’s post.

Do Geese See God at Emergency 16

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This Saturday (1st October) I will be performing a 20 minute extract of ‘Do Geese See God‘ with Paper People, alongside a whole host of exceptional artists at the smorgasbord of art and creativity that is Emergency, at Z-Arts. So if you’re free this Saturday I recommend you come along. The day starts at 12 and runs all the way to 11pm. It’s completely free and full of all sorts of fun stuff!

How to be a Man at Stage@Leeds
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Following that, I’m off to Leeds to perform How to be a Man at Stage@Leeds on the 13th of October. If you can make it to that it’d be lovely to see you.

Later in the year, December to be exact, I’ll be at the Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle.

That’s all for now. Stay safe out there.