Bonnie Mitchell (Totnes) is Co-Director/Producer of The Wrong Crowd and Producer of The Paper Birds. Find out what Bonnie is hoping to gain from Producer Farm, a week-long residency (26-30 June) for performing arts producers to get together, get informed and get away.
Why did you apply for Producer Farm?
I applied for Producer Farm because I was wrestling with some pretty fundamental questions about how to keep going, how to keep motivated, whether I was any good at what I do, what the point of making theatre is anyway. And I was feeling especially lonely in my work, and unsure how I would ever be able to do my job well when I (hopefully) become a mum. I had just finished writing applications for both my companies to join the Arts Council’s National Portfolio. Which honestly nearly broke me. To keep myself going I did two things. Booked myself a holiday to Sri Lanka, and applied to join Producer Farm. Amazingly both the holiday and Producer Farm came off. Waiting to hear about the Arts Council!
What are you hoping to get out of it?
Perspective. Both distance from what I do to see a bit more clearly, and a look at things from angles I don’t normally permit myself to explore due to lack of time and energy and perhaps imagination.
Advice. New buddies to call on and who can call on me.
A renewed sense of purpose, drive.
Clarity about what to hold on to in my practice and what to let go of without guilt.
What do you think is important about the producing you do?
The artists and the audiences and the stories that connect them are what is important. My two companies approach this in very different ways.
At The Wrong Crowd we create opportunities for people to connect to their humanity and to each other, taking them on epic emotional rollercoasters. It is important to enable people to laugh and cry and want to use their imaginations. That is what we are known for. We are also known for making theatre that does not dumb down difficult subjects for young audiences. Our recent show KITE told of a young girl whose mother had just died, and how she and her grandma came to terms with their grief. In Plymouth we had a grandma bring her two granddaughters to see KITE. It was a year to the day their mother, her daughter had died, and the eldest girl had never cried. KITE enabled this young girl to cry, enabled this family to have the first of many painful conversations as they go through a new stage of grieving together. This family, our cast and puppets spent time together after the show, talking, playing, crying. That moment for me was reason enough to have made the show.
At The Paper Birds we collect verbatim material to shape powerful unheard stories into arresting political physical theatre. We shed a light on those living alongside us hidden in plain sight, the furthest from power. We are also known for inspiring a generation of young people, artists and teachers to make and seek out political theatre. Currently we are touring a show called MOBILE all over the UK, a site specific show in a caravan for audience of 8 people at a time. I am proud that the show we have made, based on interviews conducted across the UK, never fails to elicit a response of “this is me, my story” whether we are playing in a pub car park in Ramsbottom, at Salisbury International Arts Festival or on Canterbury High Street.
Bonnie is Co-Director/Producer of The Wrong Crowd, making visually-inventive, emotionally articulate theatre for audiences of all ages, established as Theatre Royal Plymouth’s first Resident Company. Bonnie is also Producer of The Paper Birds, award-winning theatre makers with a political agenda, leaders in the fields of verbatim and devised theatre.
Up To Nature, Nic Green, Jump © Oliver Rudkin