Monday, 22 December 2014

Round Up of 2014

One thing I haven't done well at this year is writing this blog. When I have put thumb to screen it's been to bash out thoughts over on my bashing out thoughts blog. Thoughts like these:


Bonfire Night 

Why I signed the petition against #SamaritansRadar 

Word Hack

This blog is for finished polished things and the problem has been I haven't had time to finish and polish extra things on top of all the others things I've been doing.  I hope to improve on that next year.

This is what my year has sounded like:

I began 2014 full of uncertainty. I knew I was going to lose the dayjob I loved at the end of March and my decision to "go freelance" felt a little bit like jumping out of a plane without checking if you have a parachute in your backpack or not. I spent the first few months of 2014 oscillating between anxiety and depression.

Despite all of that I released the Open EP which is a collection of my most personal songs produced by 5 different producers.

In March as my job came to an end I began documenting it on social media. That led to a blogpost about My Week of Goodbyes  which tries to demonstrate the value of my old job and public services in general through the gifts and wishes I was given by the children and parents I worked with. I also began my freelance career delivering a podcasting workshop with Pod Academy and the RSA with a group of people in recovery.

When my job finished my financial future and also at that moment my accommodation were in both in jeopardy so said fuck it and took my first actual holiday for a long time and went to Amsterdam with my partner Jen. Whilst we were away I released the Open Episodes on my Getting Better Acquainted podcasts:

Personally and publicly my 2014 has been about opening up and coming out about both my mental health issues and relationship choices. It has been nerve wracking but also filled with people giving me support, love and solidarity.

I began freelancing in earnest from mid April. I made myself a website for my freelance services, got a load of new business cards and began trying to explain to the people I gave them to what I actually mean when I call myself a Storyteller! One of the first things I did with my free lance was take one last tilt at the cuts and the loss of my job by pitching my story to Comment is Free. They asked me to rewrite my blog in their style and this was the result: If it was a 'tough choice' to cut my job, then come and tell the children why

Then I took on a podcast project with Living Streets producing 4 podcasts for them and training their staff to make podcasts. This work also resulted in myself and my comrade-in-audio-arms Jo Barratt doing some audio training with Mind. This was the first of two collaborations I have had with Mind this year.

I've done a lot of gigs this year, most of them put on by me, but my 2 favourites that were put on by other people are:

1. Geek Showoff which is an offshoot of Science Showoff:

I've done this night twice and it is brilliant to have finally found a stage where people will let me over-enthuse about The Moomins and confess my crush on the Goddess Athena.

2. Risk! Live in London

This was a collaboration between the US podcast Risk! and Spark London which happened at the Hackney Attic on the 4th of July. I told a longform true story. In many ways signing up to tell this story was what made this year a year about opening up. This story was the pebble that caused my honesty avalanche. It is also one of the things I've done on stage that I'm the most proud of. And thankfully it was recorded as a podcast.

From December 2013 to October 2014 Stand Up Tragedy put on monthly themed shows in London, alternating between the Dogstar in Brixton and the Hackney Attic. We covered so many kinds of tragedy and preserved it all in audio amber. Tragic Christmas (a fundraiser for Arts Emergency), Tragic Beginnings, Tragic Love, Tragic Heroes, Tragic Martyrs, Tragic History and Greek Tragedy takes us to June. In July and August we broke the pattern, first by doing Tragic Misadventures as a crossover night with Kit Lovelace's Romantic Misadventure at the Black Heart in July and then by doing an hour of tragedy a night at the Banshee Labyrinth as part of the PBH Free Fringe in August. Then we returned to London with two final triumphant shows, our  Tragic Friends Edinburgh reunion show in September and October's Tragic Horror. People who have performed on the SUT stage this year include Sara Pascoe, Rob Auton, Andy Zaltzman, Eddie Pepitone and an unexpected but very welcome  performance from Stewart Lee on the last day of our Edinburgh run.

Whilst up in Edinburgh I also recorded 5 live GBA episodes:

When I returned from Edinburgh I released another collection of songs onto the internet. 2014 has been very sparse for me in terms of actually playing music and writing songs but it has been a year when music projects begun some time ago have finally reached completion. And so The Reactionaries second album Bouncy, Poppy Songs About Death is now available at all good bandcamps:

We even did some publicity for it in this story behind the album episode of GBA.

You might think with all this going on I wasn't actually finding paid work but somehow I was. From editing podcasts for BAFTA, running workshops and hosting nights with Spark London to live tweeting and social media engagement as part of the glorious community theatre project Storylines which Ampersand Media are running monthly at the Deptford Lounge.

I also managed to find some time to go and support what the Focus E15 Mothers were doing in Stratford. I visited their occupation a few times, volunteered for a day at their social centre helping out in general and running a Toddler Rhyme Time. I also attended demos and matches in solidarity with them. When I was volunteering I also recorded a documentary for Getting Better Acquainted. Visiting the occupation also led to me meeting various heroes of mine and recording conversations with them:

Despite my fears at the start of the year I have managed to continue to put Getting Better Acquainted out weekly and there have been so many amazing conversations that it is really hard to select the highlights in terms of the "best" episodes. But in terms of people you might have heard of I recorded conversations with Musa Okwonga and Neil Denny.

I have been hosting the Hackney branch of Spark London for over 2 years now. In 2014 the audiences have grown and the atmosphere at the Hackney Attic on the 2nd Monday of the month has been consistently wonderful. There hasn't been a month where the stories haven't blown me away. As well as running this night and leading and supporting storytelling workshops I've also filled hosting duties at a couple of our Brixton open mics, one of our Spark Encore's and at a very special night that took place at the beginning of December where Spark teamed up with Mind Haringey for a night of stories about Mental Health.

In September I found out that my Arts Council funding bid had been successful and from October to last weekend I've been working with Enfield Council and a group of volunteers to devise, script, direct and produce Candlelit Tours set in Forty Hall in 1643. The project was challenging and very rewarding and I am very proud of the final piece.

It's funny looking back. 2014 has been a really hard year for me but it certainly isn't a year when I haven't done anything and so far my backpack has actually turned out to have a parachute in it. I have managed to make a living as a freelancer for 6 months. I have taken Stand Up Tragedy up to Edinburgh on the Free Fringe for a full run and managed to more or less break even. I have moved house (well Jen actually moved house as I was inconveniently in Edinburgh!) The first three months of the year may have been dark times but I managed to have some light times too.

Speaking of light times and dark times I have now basically gone through the year  up to the (Christmas) present. Stand Up Tragedy and Getting Better Acquainted both have Christmas specials that focus on the more complicated elements of the season. But they are made and given with love. Please share them around this Christmas:

Coming up in 2015:

I will be putting together a one man show currently titled What About the Men? Mansplaining Masculinity: a personal journey through gender and I'm intending to take it to Edinburgh in Aug 2015.

The #GBA200 season will celebrate 200 episode of Getting Better Acquainted in 10 weeks time with a full week of daily episodes where the script is switched and the people I know interview me.

I will be putting out my regular podcasts and running the monthly Hackney Spark London night on the 2nd Monday of the month. The next Hackney Attic Spark London open mic will actually be on the 5th Jan due to a one off change to the schedule. The theme of the night will be Heat.

A new addition to my regular gigs will be doing the social media and documentation of  Storylines. The next one is on the 9th of January.

Stand Up Tragedy will be doing 4 London shows: Tragic Winter (Feb 28th), Tragic Spring (April 25th), Tragic Summer and Tragic Autumn and I will be taking SUT back up to the Edinburgh festival for a full run,

I will be looking for freelance opportunities. If you have any drop me a line: goosefat101 [at] gmail [dotcom]

And I am always up for performing live so feel free to ask me to do that.