I’ve had a great week with Gecko! I have been based in the office with Gecko’s lovely team – Belinda, Pippa and Thomas – who have been very welcoming and generous with their time.
My week has involved some administrative jobs, as well as the creation of Gecko’s quarterly E-newsletter. Belinda kindly devoted some time to talking me through Gecko’s business plan and funding application to the Arts Council. This gave me a really comprehensive summary of everything that Gecko does. It was an important reminder that community-engaged theatre companies like Gecko don’t just create sensitive and challenging performances, but also operate from day to day by responding sensitively to their working environments, taking care with safeguarding, equal opportunities, environmental impact, etc.
I think my favourite experiences of the week were sitting in on team meetings. It was a great opportunity to hear about Gecko’s current projects and future plans, and really lovely to pick up on the care and protection Gecko extends to its freelance performers. These were discussions with a conscience, interested in the artistic development, confidence, energy levels and workload of Gecko’s performers. From the edges, the theatre industry can often feel intimidating and cut-throat, so it was heartening to see a successful company so invested in protecting and mentoring developing artists.
At the mid-week team meeting, I also had the privilege of hearing Artistic Director, Amit, reflect on Institute’s time at HOME in Manchester, and the success of the workshop he had devised and delivered in collaboration with Mind. It was lovely to witness the generosity and humility of Amit’s approach to the offerings of others, and his joy in the face of other people’s emotional and artistic break-throughs. I will go forward with the absolute certainty of Gecko’s heart for others. The most important lesson of this week, for me, has been that great theatre is not about pushing towards some objective, aesthetic standard of art, but making sure that art is invested in community and human experience, and evolves through interaction and truth-telling.
I have had a wonderful week with Gecko and feel certain that there are wonderful things to come from this company that we all love so much!
This placement has come at an ‘in-between’ time for me. I have just finished an MA at KCL and am now looking forward to spending the festive season on tour as an intern actor with a Birmingham-based theatre company. I am also working on my application to study physical theatre at École de Jacques Lecoq in Paris next autumn. I’m extremely grateful for Gecko’s time, energy, hospitality and welcome. The result is that people like me can keep learning and creating and feel like we have a place and a hope in this wonderful, daunting industry!