The Squint Associates and Online Workshop Facilitators chatted to us about the company’s latest series of writing and devising online workshops.
Hi, could you tell me a bit more about the online workshops that Squint has set up?
Andrew Whyment: Our online workshops are all about empowering participants with writing and devising tools that can be applied to their own projects.
Lee Anderson: Each workshop focuses on a different aspect of playwriting or devising; you can book for one-off sessions or for a series.
Sid Sagar: The sessions are geared towards giving people of any age and experience the space to find new ideas, nurture current ones and continue to thrive.
Andrew Whyment: We’re big believers in learning through doing so our two-hour sessions are super practical; they’re like creative workouts. We normally begin with funk music playing and end with participants having bagged loads of new games and exercises from the Squint toolbox.
How did the idea for the workshops come about?
Lee Anderson: They were born of necessity. When the first lockdown took effect, we had to adapt the education strand of our work to an online environment. We didn’t know if it would pan out but we found there was a real appetite out there for connection and creativity. Although it seems counterintuitive, the limitations have allowed us to connect and share
our practice with more people than ever before.
What types of workshops this time around can people take part in?
Lee Anderson: We have three types of workshop: Get Writing, Keep Writing and Get Devising.
Andrew Whyment: Our Get Writing and Get Devising workshops are for anyone whilst our Keep Writing workshops are for people who are already rolling with a playwriting project.
Lee Anderson: We kick off in February with Get Writing: Action which is all about using character intentions as a starting point and making scenes active. Coming up we have sessions on areas including subtext, collaboration, dialogue and writing beyond your experience.
Sid Sagar: So no matter what stage you’re at in your playwriting or theatre making journey, we want you to get involved.
What do you hope that these workshops will do for people?
Sid Sagar: Safe, supportive and creative spaces – particularly in these challenging times – are vital. We don’t expect a massive commitment; each workshop is two hours and scheduled for the early evening, so people (in the UK) can join us after a busy day of work and/or care. We want these playful workshops to help people from any background to build on their existing work and to offer them new ideas to take away and explore.
Andrew Whyment: We’re particularly interested in empowering those who don’t think writing and devising is for them or those who usually can’t afford to attend workshops like this. Our bursary programme for participants from low-income backgrounds goes some way to ensuring that we reach more than just those who can afford £10 a session. If the cost of our workshops is a barrier for you, drop us an email at email@example.com.
Given a lot of learning has moved online, do you think it gives more opportunities for people to come out of their comfort zone and try something new?
Sid Sagar: Absolutely. I’ve been in a range of workshops online as both participant and facilitator and each one seems to offer up innovative ways of working and collaborating. We know that meeting new people and sharing our work can be intimidating, but the ability to engage with smaller groups in breakout rooms or simply turn off our cameras, has made online workshops strangely inclusive.
Andrew Whyment: What better setting is there for a writing class than the desk you’re writing your play at?
Lee Anderson: Going online has also given us international reach. We’ve had participants from the likes of Oslo, San Francisco, Barcelona and Rio learning and growing together.
Sid Sagar: It’s also nice to make a cup of tea in a workshop break without worrying about whether the rehearsal room mugs are clean.
What future plans have you got in mind for potentially other workshops or for the company as a whole?
Lee Anderson: We’ll continue to offer workshops in an online setting.
Andrew Whyment: As a company, we’re always discussing ideas for new themes and topics, and we like responding to input from our participants so tell us what you want.
Lee Anderson: Besides the workshops, we’re currently working on a new play; a transatlantic project called The Incredible True Story of the Johnstown Flood. It’s about how the act of storytelling can sometimes hurt the very people it’s meant to serve. It has been a long time in the making and – fingers crossed – we’ll be on a stage performing it soon…
Andrew Whyment: We love having new people along to give a session a go; so why not book now at squinttheatre.com/book.
By Emma Clarendon
For more information visit: https://www.squinttheatre.com/