Sarah Bentley's Blog: Fork / Ship

We’re currently working with a BBC Performing Arts Fund fellow, Sarah Bentley, on Mayfest’s Participation Programme.

Sarah will be blogging regularly about her time with us – here is the first of her missives:

Fork: Ship.

Today is Sunday 8 February 2015. Monday – tomorrow – I will get up, woken by small child wriggling and watching Sarah and Duck at full volume, declare the day is light (the outside hue bearly a warm dark), make porridge, rush about, dress small child, cycle to nursery, drop off said small child, swim, see life coach, start work.

I have a list of things I will complete. I will decide on the themes of Mayfest’s Artists Breakfasts; doodling some sort of thematic ideas before pressing send on the emails.

“hello (name), we are doing a discussion on (insert topic). Would you be able to attend to discuss…?

 I will definitely format the email better tomorrow.

January was great.  Running bang into the role was great.  There is thirty something other of us on the BBC Performing Arts Fellowship. They have pictures better than mine. I know Evie, she is great; she makes theatre in the way that I understand, weaving stories and experiences from the reality of life. It’s like that film I saw as a kid, when S4C had Channel 4 on late at night, Tina Goes Shopping, the one that started this obsession with things that involve people – life.

But, back to me. I start. And the realisation hits. Two things have happened: 1) I got a job in a festival that I really, really admire, and 2) Miriam O’Keefe (from BBC Performing Arts Fund) and the Kate and Matthew met, looked at me, listened to me, and thought, jolly good, she is pretty brilliant.

What is participation?  Shouldn’t you be intrinsically doing it by the very nature of theatre being for an audience? This is a recent discussion I had. ‘Culturally deprived’ was another term I came across.  Theatre being a ‘club’ was another.

Participation (in this context) is the act of engaging: it runs throughout the cultural sector: museums, through education (check this out if you want to see more), community arts, like Bristol’s Trinity Community Arts (an organisation whom I have been very proud to work with over the years).

Art as participation (public art like the amazing Situations, or Miranda July, whom I also kind of love). Participation can also be the act of communication, through well-considered marketing or understanding the best place to buy xanax online and how to work with different communities, working out where is the best place and how to offer culture.

The last offer I give is the audience as participant - there are some awesome artists, makers and producers I have worked with that are great at this sort of thing – Splash and Ripple;  Play Nicely StudioMercurial Wrestler,  Sling Shot (behind 2.8 Hours Later) and of course Mayfest (and MAYK, who programme and produce awesome and playful work, of which was pretty much my first experience of theatre, when I was 25).

I will, by the end of this Fellowship, have programed a participatory element to Mayfest (you should come) and a ‘legacy’ project of my own (as Miriam put it); I currently call it the page of my sketch book that is just doodles.

It is now Monday. I am sending this over to Matthew then I am going to start arranging our BSL performances.