Today sees the wonderful Becci Sharrock reviewing her 2015. Becci is a writer, blogger and creative producer, she currently produces for Precious Cargo and Leo Burtin. Becci blogs mainly about food but with the odd political rant.
Thanks to Becci for taking part in the 2015 reviews.
Favourite memory professionally:
It has been a massive year professionally. On 6th January 2015 I handed in my notice to become a freelance producer. It seemed like a very scary decision when I started thinking about it in December of the previous year but actually, once I made my mind up, it was like a huge relief and I haven’t looked back. So it’s hard to pick a favourite memory as everything has felt really exciting and new but I’d say it would be very difficult to top having a rehearsed reading of my debut play Yes Chef! at ARC, Stockton. I was really lucky to have an exceptional cast and director (Cast; Chris Foley, Shane Headlam, Lauren Pattison and Phil Corbitt, Director; Ali Pritchard) and I was really pleased with the result. It surpassed all of my expectations. That’s not to say the writing was perfect by any stretch of the imagination but there is nothing that compares to having the words you’ve written, worried about and rewritten, finally read aloud in front of an audience of people you love and to have them laugh or cry or just get caught up in the action, caring about the characters you’ve created. I’m not sure I would ever have got the play written if it wasn’t for my brilliant mentor Ali Taylor (Fault Lines, Cotton Wool, Overspill) and the wonderful warm fuzzy support and encouragement of the other members of Writers ARCADE. There was something very special about eight playwrights all going through this process together, learning and making mistakes along the way that I’ll never forget. It’s also given me the confidence to realise that writing is not just something I enjoy but something I’m good at. Again, that’s not to say it’s not going to take a lot of development and hard work but I’m now ending the year having made the decision to cut down on my producing to allow time for me to focus on writing and my own creative projects.
Favourite moment from 2015 generally?
I’m not sure I could pick a favourite moment from the year but I’ve definitely been working hard to get a better work life balance, a perk of having control of your own workload and not commuting every day. So it’s been a year of seeing old friends, making new friends, spending more time with my family and in particular my beautiful cheeky nephew and weekends away in the Lake District. I’m very lucky to have a partner who supports the slightly chaotic lifestyle that comes with being freelance and working in the arts and it’s been brilliant to be able to spend more time with him this year. Something else I’ve done more of this year is to have more dinner parties. Food is a big love of mine and there is something so heart-warming about bringing some of your favourite people together and sharing nice food and conversation around the table. I’m constantly surprised that people might not all know each other when they arrive but leave feeling like they’re old friends having had lots of laughter along the way.
Favourite book in 2015?
As part of my research for Yes Chef! I read lots of books about life in the kitchen. The best one was Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It was a really gritty, no-holds barred telling of a chef’s life and so vividly described all the kitchens he worked in and the characters he met along the way. It gave me lots of really useful terminology and helped me think about the setting for the play and what my central character might have to deal with.
In terms of fiction I’ve discovered a couple of chick-lit authors who I now always look out for in my local charity shops; Jenny Colgan and Jane Fallon. I love Jenny Colgan as there’s more often than not a strong food element in her books (sweet shops, cafes and chocolate shops) and Jane Fallon because though still chick-lit, the stories are less predictable and the characters more ‘real life’. These are complicated love stories simultaneously exploring complex family relationships, modern moral dilemmas or hidden secrets.
Top song of 2015?
Whenever I’m working from home I always listen to 1xtra, not least because I’m in love with Trevor Nelson. One of my favourite songs of the year has to be Lady Leshurr’s Queen’s Speech 4. The song includes the lyrics, ‘I can’t believe it, I can’t believe the cheek, some girls wake up and don’t even brush their teeth. That’s a dead ting, that’s a bad breath ting’. It’s a song that always makes me smile and I’d recommend a listen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyodeHtVvkA). I heard a great interview with Lady Leshurr where she said she was trying to bring back the fun into hip hop. She referenced Missy Elliott who I’m a big fan of and it made me think of the likes of Ludacris and the Beastie Boys, who I used to love growing up. I remember watching the music videos on MTV and these guys always made them a piece of entertainment in their own right. And of course, when you’re working from home and barely remember to get dressed it’s always good to be reminded of the importance of dental hygiene…
The biggest downside of the year for me was seeing a Tory government re-elected in May. I won’t get too political (if you want the full rant I wrote an immediate response blog on the morning of the results here) but it really felt like I was witnessing something important, and not necessarily positive, take place. Nothing since the election has changed my mind that this is not a good thing for our country. The plus side of it is that it has made me much more politically aware. I’m more sure than ever that the arts and theatre in particular has a role to play in encouraging political debate and providing a voice for people from different backgrounds and communities.
Resolutions for 2016?
My main resolution for 2016 is to find more time to write. As a creative producer, I find it immensely satisfying to play a role in helping artists to get their projects of the ground, particularly working with new and emerging artists. I don’t think that will ever change and next year I’ll be mentoring recent graduates as part of Northern Stage’s NORTH scheme. However, I think I also owe it to myself to give some of that same time and energy to my own practice and finding out what kind of writer I could be if I put my mind to it.
What are you hoping for in 2016?
I’ll be kicking 2016 off by embarking on a new participatory arts project called Letters to Myself and an exciting new project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. For Letters to Myself, I’m thrilled to have been awarded seed funding from Cultural Spring which will allow us to spend time in communities in South Shields and Sunderland working on the project. The main focus of the first 6 months will be asking people to consider writing a letter to their past, present or future selves. I’m really interested in what we would say to ourselves when given the time and space to reflect and within this looking at shared knowledge and experience and how we become better at being our own best friend. Later in the year, I’ll be creating a new theatre piece, using some of the text from some of the letters (where permission has been granted). In a world where tragedy and war is common and the news a sometimes constant stream of horror, I hope this piece will be a gentle revolution helping us to take a step back, reflect and learn to love ourselves and those around us.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and wishing you many brilliant things for 2016.
For anyone interested in taking part in Letters to Myself, please email Becci at firstname.lastname@example.org