Being based at Dundee Rep for the Cameron Mackintosh Residency has been a truly inspiring experience. Whilst balancing the residency with both performing and other theatre work, I have thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in both the city and the creative shadowing opportunities that Dundee Rep has offered me.
In particular, shadowing the formidable musical theatre company Noisemaker during their time with Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut, USA gave me an insight into the development processes of new musical theatre work from rehearsal room to stage. Observing composer Claire Mackenzie and writer Scott Gilmour bring their show Hi, My Name is Ben to life has encouraged and inspired me in relation to the development of my own musical as well as apply what I have learned to creative processes in other areas of my career. It was wonderful to be able to attend the first performance at the Terris Theatre having been in the room during the initial development stages.
I also very much enjoyed attending a rehearsal and first workshop of the Scottish Dance Theatre’s performance piece LOOPING: Scotland Overdub which I then saw performed at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. Discussing the innovative presentation and soundworld of the soundtrack with composer Torben Lars Sylvest and the aspects of improvisation in relation to the dancers was fantastic. Being able to experience the work in two very different spaces (the Dundee Rep rehearsal room and ZOO Playground in Edinburgh) was an intriguing moment which allowed me to be directly involved in the development of the piece.
One of the key highlights about the residency being based in Scotland, has been being introduced to the Scottish creative scene and delving into the incredible music, theatre and musical theatre that exists in many of the cities. I am delighted that being a part of this residency has given me the opportunity to immerse myself in such a supportive and open-minded creative environment full of artists willing to share their own experiences in the industry and offer advice. Being based in Dundee, I have learnt a lot about the city’s history and its direct influence on inspiring artists of both the past and present. Being able to sit-in rehearsals for the play Tay Bridge was very poignant and it was a privilege to be able to observe the creation of such a touching piece of work and discuss the creation of the sound and music with composer Michael John McCarthy.
Overall, I am very grateful to Andrew Panton and the staff, ensemble and creative team at Dundee Rep for warmly welcoming me into their theatre and doing all they can to ensure that it has been an educational and eye-opening few months. I am very much looking forward to creating work with artists based in Scotland and have plans to develop and workshop early versions of my musical in Dundee.