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Podcast transcript - Writer, director Billy Barrett, Breach Theatre

How have smaller theatre companies adapted to keep their work alive and maintain a conversation with theur audiences during the pandemic? We talk to director and writer Billy Barrett of Breach Theatre about the filming of their production 'It's True. It's True. It's True: Artemisia On Trial' and how they created a 'buzz' around the work online.

A young white male with short brown hair wears sunglasses, Billy Barrett, Breach TheatreBilly Barrett, Breach Theatre

Below follows a transcript of the conversation.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  00:01

When the curtains on stage remain closed, what can a theatre company do to keep their work alive? They could turn their shows into a short film like Breach Theatre did with their work 'It's true. It's true. It's true'. But where do you start with adapting from stage to TV?

And how on earth do you build partnerships so that people will actually watch it. That's something today's guest - writer Billy Barrett - can shed some light on. And hopefully by listening, you might feel inspired to share your idea and reach out to our agency for support. After all, our doors and curtains are always open.

Welcome to The Space arts podcast. Hello, I'm Claire Freeman. I'm a freelance associate an audio mentor with The Space. And we're an agency that supports artists making great digital work, have a look at our funding opportunities. By the way, it's on our website,

Today, we look into how the world of theatre has had to adapt during rather testing times. For many performance based organisations, phrases like social media and digital aren't necessarily new. But when there's only a few of you running the show, excuse the pun, it can seem cumbersome to even know where to start in transforming existing work or a new idea into a digital offering. And that was the quandary that Breach Theatre found themselves in last year. With a staff of four not even full time, they applied to The Space asking for help in adapting their established stage show into a film. They were successful in their application. But it wasn't just money that The Space offered. It was also support from digital mentors, experts in their field to help guide Breech throughout the filming and after its release. And crucially, it was a relationship that enabled the team to have their work aired on BBC Four, just before lockdown hit, something which turned out to be pretty vital for their survival.

As the tour at the Barbican Theatre in March was cancelled, they were still able to put out their work, albeit in a digital format. So this is an episode which looks much deeper into how to form successful partnerships and distribution. So grab that cup of tea that you've been meaning to drink for a while now sit back, listen to this conversation myself and Chief Executive Fiona Morris captured with Billy at the end of 2020. Fiona kicks off by explaining how Breach Theatre first came to connect with The Space. But before that, here's a taster of what 'It's True. It's True. It's True' is about from the three leading ladies of the show.

Member of Breach Theatre 03:09

The show 'It's True, it's True. It's True' focuses around the rape trial of an artist Artemisia Gentileschi, we didn't set out to make it a MeToo to show which is an important story to tell. And thankfully, people have connected to it. But unfortunately, some of the darker themes are particularly relevant today. When we first started making the show and thinking about how to play Artemesia I thought it might be quite difficult to get a sense of who she was. But actually, she's bold, she's brave, it didn't feel okay. It was it felt very, very current tone of the show shifts, like being on a roller coaster, it should feel really exciting. And like you don't really know what's gonna happen next. Each time we rehearse the show, we find something new, we're experiencing. So it's constantly being fed. It's constantly being nurtured, and it's just growing bigger and bigger into a beautiful garden.

Fiona Morris, Creative Director of The Space  03:59

We were delighted to be able to work with with Breach Theatre with Billy and the and the rest of the creative team there but it and it came up really as part of our commissioning relationship with the BBC. And it was pre-pandemic. And so I remember we met I think in Somerset House, gosh, what is it like two years ago, maybe now Billy I guess? Those very first meetings? And that was really a conversation to say, you know, what was the nature of the piece that they wanted to transfer to television? It wasn't a show that was going to be on as a live performance on a stage. We were looking at making a recording of it for television, so the opportunity was there to actually restage it for filming, and Billy will no doubt talk about that, because that was a really interesting journey to go on with the piece.

But we were delighted to start that conversation with the team. And you know, I think it's really important to make sure that when The Space is supporting arts, artists and  arts organizations around the UK that, you know, we want to be able to give opportunities to younger emerging talents that are coming through so that we're not seeing on our screens, just one kind of tier of arts and cultural output. It's really important, particularly in these times where there are issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and hashtag MeToo to let younger artists - who I feel for - feel very strongly about these subjects and want to make some really compelling points through the work they're staging....

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  05:29

Billy, welcome to the podcast, I guess the first question I've got to ask is, why did you want to adapt the show to work for a TV or film audience?

Billy Barrett  05:41

Thank you very much. And yeah, I mean, I guess first of all, who would turn down that opportunity, and, and everyone wants their work to reach a wider audience. And for context, this show is a small scale show - as Fiona said, we're sort of younger, more emerging company. And the sorts of venues that it had been performed in were around 80 seats to 100. Normally the studio space within a larger organisation. So even through touring quite extensively, as the show had done, we were never going to reach the numbers, which we could reach, through our broadcasts and through a digital version of the show, which I know now has exceeded over 100,000 people who have seen it.

And so there's something so exciting to us about bringing a story that I think is now getting more attention, particularly as there's an exhibition about Artemisia Gentileschi, currently at the National Gallery, and various kind of other things that are coming out, but historically has been overlooked. And I think that story really waited for its moment to be told which which certainly happened around 2018, as you've said, with the MeToo movement. And so it felt like a story that had the potential to speak to not only people around the country, but people around the world as these kinds of scandals and dynamics were being exposed and fought within all sorts of different industries.

So definitely audiences was a big pull. I think for us as a company, we've always engaged with film in a way where sort of a multimedia Theatre Company, really, and this is our first show that didn't have a filmed element. And so we've always been excited by more kind of visual and digital storytelling with our live work. And we're just yeah, really, really excited to be presented with the opportunity to, to translate this to screen and see what that could be.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  07:38

So what did you know about how to get your show on, say, BBC Four, which is where it aired earlier on this year before the pandemic, which was great. But what did you know about what you needed to do to make that happen?

Billy Barrett  07:55

I guess I wasn't too aware of the actual....I didn't know about how The Space's commissioning worked. I'd seen some of these live captures. And then in terms of the practical steps to actually translating that to screen. Yeah, it was it was all a bit of a mystery to me. Thankfully, The Space were really supportive in what in what they sort of call the 'amber lit' phase where you sort of begin conversations around how something might develop, but it's not 'greenlit' yet. And during that time, they assigned us different freelancers who've worked for them, to help develop the pitch of what it might look like. So those more practical things like running time, music rights, whether it's going to be shot multi-camera live, or whether you're going to shoot it single camera, like a drama. And those questions were put to us, rather than us have to think of what those questions were. And it was through those conversations and collaborations during that 'amberlit' phase that we really developed, what it might look like on a screen, as a screen project.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  09:00

I mean, how many how are you in your company, just give us a sense of size of staff.

Billy Barrett  09:07

So we're a core company for we're three creatives myself, Ellice Stevens, who co-wrote the piece with me and plays Artemesia, and Dorothy Allen-Picard who was the dramaturg on this piece, but is principally a filmmaker. And then we have a brilliant producer Ellie Claughton, who worked with a producer on this film Anne Beresford to produce the piece, and has taken a lead really on the kind of distribution side of things. But yeah, we're a very small core team, who collaborate with different actors and creatives on a project-by-project basis. So there are actors and designers and other creatives who we work with again and again, because we've developed relationships over the five years of being a company. But we're kind of light on our feet in the sense of having a small team and no overheads really, which actually during this pandemic, is a bit of a bit of a luxury because we don't have big costs, like staff or buildings to have to cover.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  10:06

Wow. I mean, I don't know about you Fiona, but we work with so many theatre companies who are just starting out and they have quite a skeleton staff. Often people are in multi-jobs, they've got part time hours, then they've maybe got childcare, and then they're writing, they're directing that, they're marketing, do social media, do a bit of everything. So I think it's amazing to know how many people you've got in your team, Billy, and how when you watch 'It's True, It's true. It's true', it feels like a big scale production.

Fiona, you could probably share some of the secrets of how The Space held Billy and his team's hands, because this is something that you do regularly, right? The link between, 'Hey, this is great idea, that would be great to work with these partners over here, with BBC Four, or people like that', How do you spot that Fiona? In knowing a good jewel and how to make it shine?  I'm moving my hands, like I'm waving or polishing or something. But you know what I mean, right?

Fiona Morris, Creative Director of The Space  11:14

I do. I do, I think....The big thing is, this is this is Breach's show, this is not our show, to suddenly come in and kind of take over. So I think what's important, from The Space's point of view, is to put support around it really. These kind of really painful issues that come up around music rights - you know, a piece of commercial music you might have used in a live show - the minute you publish that on any other platform, it becomes a very, very different thing. So that's the kind of stuff where, (there isn't enough time in any creative days to really need to get into the nitty gritty of that) we can try and help and support things around that.

But when it comes to what goes on screen, at the end of this, it's more about enabling the team to have a supportive conversation around what the essence of the work is, and what you therefore want to translate to screen. And I know very early on, in conversations around, 'It's True, It's True', you know, the idea of for those of you who will have seen any (or visited) a courtroom based drama, - that already is a spectator arena - and that, therefore, we shouldn't mess with that too much. That actually the idea that the TV audience become another one of those gallery spectators watching into this proscenium, it would be completely wrong to break that energy apart.

So the filming of it was was kept within that contained, front facing proscenium setting, but with a lot more intensity of where the cameras could be, and  enabling that conversation to happen, not I think, 'Oh, it's got to be this' in order for it to be broadcast. But, but then there's all this stuff that sits there on the side, you know, Billy on the side in terms of credits....who can credit, how you can credit..... honestly, more days are spent over broadcast programmes talking about that, and things like that. It's doing a bit of hand holding around that. And also those kinds of compliance issues, you know, what you can do when you're in a theatre where people have chosen to come there and pay money to sit in front of you, is very different from what you can do and what you can say in terms of language, the opinions you express, if they're going out on a broadcast channel. So there's all of that. We're there to try and take people forward through that side of things. So they don't trip up over those things, but hopefully - at the core of it - let them get on and do what they do brilliantly, which is to make a really compelling piece of drama, transit from a live presentation to a broadcast one.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  13:53

A key subject that we keep coming back to here Billy. is a key focal point for me..... reaching a new audience, an accessible audience. I guess I'm intrigued to know, as a writer, a director, when you have a piece of work and you know it's going to be toured, people buy tickets in advance, you're aware that people are gonna turn up and watch your show. When you make something digital, does it feel quite vulnerable in a different way? That you're putting something out there and you don't know a) whether people are gonna watch it and b) whether people are going to engage in it or like it? What was that experience like for you?

Billy Barrett 14:39

I think it definitely felt vulnerable. Yeah, cuz the show had had quite a long touring life before we we made this live capture. So I was confident in it as a live work and, I was very confident in the team that had been assembled for bringing it onto screen. But really, it's a whole new thing. And I was conscious - as I was watching it when it went out live on BBC Four - of the difference between sitting in a theatre on an opening night, where you can feel the buzz of expectation from the audience, as the lights go down, you can hear laughs and you definitely know at the end, whether it's polite clapping, or whether people have enjoyed it.

The difference between that and sitting alone in my room on my laptop. The awareness that this is going out on the BBC, and just thinking, 'What are people thinking? How are people responding to this?' And I think, as Fiona said, we kept the show pretty intact. We didn't sort of break it open and, and re-explore how to present it. But there's some quite key differences, I think, to the show, particularly when it comes to music, because we use a lot of commercial music. And also just whether we had successfully managed to do that thing? Of making the audience feel as if they were a theatre audience and be some sort of jury or spectators within a courtroom? Whether that intensity would translate? And so it did feel nervous.  Would it would reach people in the same way? And it's been so brilliant to see responses from people as it went out on social media, partly during the broadcast, but I think definitely we've been oddly helped by this lockdown situation in terms of having a much longer digital life. I've just seeing those responses rolling and feeling like, yes, we've managed to capture that thing that made it so memorable for people.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  16:36

See, I didn't see the live version, I have only seen your digital offering. And, I mean, holding people's attention in a digital world. Quite often, people watch the first 10-20 seconds of a video, and then they'll just play next, or skip onto something. And it's interesting that you say that because there were times when you watch your show that it feels quite uncomfortable.  I felt myself wanting to pause and step away, which when you're in a theatre, you can't do, so it's interesting how people interact with your work in a different way. Do you think that in future, when you look at writing for your next work or future works, might you think about the way that you write or direct things differently? To factor in specifically and create content for that audience? Not for a live audience first and foremost?

Billy Barrett 17:38

I think definitely. I mean, something that I felt, watching the show, as I said, live, as it was going out, is that we do something - particularly in this show - the first 10 minutes or so is  pretty heavily verbatim. We open quite cold in this courtroom. And you're introduced to a series of characters who just kind of give testimony. And in a theatre, the audience can't leave. So they they're intrigue kind of builds as they think, 'okay, where is this going?' And then we kind of break that at about 10 minutes in with something quite visual, which is the Susanna and the elders painting moment. And so I was slightly conscious that on TV, to be introduced to a series of essentially talking heads for about 10 minutes, giving a lot of Italian names, talking about relationships between people, it might be a bit of an ask, and I'm grateful that people seem to have stuck with it, and watched the whole show. But I think yeah, with a TV, or film, I think that might generally have been a bit of a stretch. So I think structurally, things might have been slightly different had it been made for TV in the first place.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  18:47

Fiona, I'm going to share a link in this description for this episode, you wrote a brilliant article in The Space resouce section, which is called 'Creating Global Audiences'. And it talks about the difference, the impact that digital technologies are having on the arts. Do you see something like, Billy and Breach's work, that, you know, it's quite, heavy manpower to be able to kind of take a tour on the road, get all the shows and get the audiences in. So this kind of opportunity, I suppose that Breach's show can now reach a global audience is actually possible. It's helping them get their work out there. Like this is obviously a  thing that's rolling, but the arts world and growing and growing, but can also feel quite daunting for people who were like, 'I love that, but I'm not quite sure how to get there'.

Fiona Morris, Creative Director of The Space  19:40

I think well, as we've said, you just began as a project that was part of our BBC commissioning strand, but even early doors, we were talking to the company because part of what we're very concerned to do with any artist or arts organisation is to say, if you've got to broadcast window that's amazing. But it's quite hard to be identified in that broadcast window. Because at the end of the day, the television audience is coming to a channel, whether it's Netflix or Amazon or BBC or ITV as that publisher. So they don't necessarily take away messaging.

So for example, I often quote the example of, people the day after they've seen a Royal Opera House broadcast. They might say, 'Oh, I saw the Royal Opera House's Traviata last night'. But if they saw Garsington Opera's Traviata, the following morning, they're probably going to say, 'Did you see the BBC Traviata last night?'  Take The Cherry Orchard - they might say 'National Theatre's Cherry Orchard last night', but if it's Newcastle Playhouse, they're probably going to say 'did you see the BBCs Cherry Orchard last night?'. So the recognition of who you are as an arts organization - and we keep going on about this in this podcast series - which is you cannot be bound up in one piece of digital content defining you. It's got to be a conversation that you're starting to have online with audiences.

For Breach, it's the nature of the work that Breach makes, a collaborative creative team, responding to contemporary issues with historical examples with more recent testimony pieces, it's about, it's about that engagement so that you build an audience who wants to hear from you about other things. And so even with this project, we talked with the team about where and how it would be distributed after its broadcast window had taken place.

Then, of course, you know, our friend, the pandemic kind of lurks into view, and suddenly all of Breach's plans - and everybody else's plans - about touring and opportunities to present live performance went out the window for, you know, an unknown unspecified period of time. So what was amazing was the team immediately swung in to talk to their partner venues about using their leverage with their audiences to put live streams online. That's good. And that's really targeting particular audiences, actually, your existing audiences. But then also thinking about where the opportunity might come, once you've published this work very visibly as Breach, to look for other audiences online, so they become aware of you and get in contact with you.

And that isn't just about, you know, what you might term 'the end user audience member', that's also about the creative sector as a whole, you know, we've now had the best part of 18 months really, when this all plays out, if not two years, where young, emerging talent and artists, writers, actors, directors have not been seen by their peers in the sector, you know, other artistic directors, or the casting directors have not had an opportunity. This is a two year blank gap, where young people with really, really important creative, wonderful pieces have been silenced. And at least digitally there's an opportunity to put that put those voices back, but it but it's an interesting period of time, and it will be interesting to see what stays going forward from all of this.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  23:09

Billy, one of the things that you did was partner with the Barbican Theatre, who you were due to run a load of performances with in March, April time last year, and also the National Gallery. I suppose there will be theatre companies listening to this thinking, 'we'd love to do that and we really want to get into partnerships and distribution'. There can also sometimes be a bit of a fear, I suppose over rights - what am I signing away? Rights wise, IP wise, editorial wise, how much control do I have over ownership of them?  Do I get sign off, don't I? But it almost seems like it's inevitable that you need to embrace partnerships and ask these people - just even picking up the phone and asking them, because you can't necessarily get this kind of reach with only four or five staff members plus a handful of freelancers. What was that process like going in, calling or making these connections with Barbican or National Gallery?

Billy Barrett  24:20

And yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, I think it's important to say it was our producer who was leading on these conversations early. And that's one of the main things she's been doing during this lockdown, particularly the beginning of lockdown, was really working on reaching out to our existing network of theatres, and also reaching out to other institutions, particularly for this project that were related to art and art history, and who might want to partner with us. And, and I think the way in which she did that was to make sure she was working quite closely with their comms people and their social media people to ensure that copy was signed off by us, and that the messaging around it was consistent across all those platforms.

And I think what worked quite well was that this particular show had the potential to reach an arts audience rather than specifically a theatre audience. Because it's about an artist and because there was this quite high profile exhibition around and with the National Gallery in particular, we've been working sort of on and off with them over the last two years since we began this project. But there's an awareness that we have an audience they [National Gallery] don't and they have an audience that we don't. And so it's that kind of reciprocal thing of 'how can we draw on each other's different audience bases' to see this thing that's combining both their interests. I think drawing on your existing networks is a really useful way to go about it.

And as you said, we partnered with Barbican, we also worked with New Diorama, who we're associates within London who sent out to their enormous email list, but also regional venues like The Pound, which is a small Art Center in Corsham with a capacity of about 50 people, but who we've talked to before. Yeah, it's about reaching people who aren't necessarily plugged into social media even but who might be really loyal audiences to  a reginal venue and who keep up with that email list. But yeah, I think Ellie, working with Anne who was the film producer just did such a brilliant job in terms of keeping momentum up and realizing also that people's appetite for streaming theatre might not last the duration of that first lockdown. So actually moving quite fast to say, 'right, we got in the nick of time to film this, let's make sure people are going to see it' really within the next few weeks

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  26:45

Maximize your opportunity. Yeah, so one of the things that you did do, which is a bit of a buzz term, I suppose, throughout 2020 is the idea of a watch party. And I attended some of these, you know, with other projects that we did with The Space, even as audio series.

Actually, one of the projects that I mentioned was 'Isolation in Your Words', which came out on the 31st of October, which was the night that Boris announced the second national English lockdown, and at 9pm or 9:30pm. The program,me which is a collection of music, and spoken word about what isolation meant to people was aired that night. And we all were on zoom with our videos on but our you know, audio muted, listening in the background to the program at the same time, and it was amazing to watch as the music kind of kicked into German bass. Everybody was slightly delayed in different ways to dance at the same time.

But I suppose with digital content, it's something that we can experience on our own, in our own time, whenever we wish. But there's also something that we as performers, we like to create these events, these appointments to listen. So the watch parties, I think are a really interesting way to see how do we make a burst of noise about this - a launch? You know, part of our marketing plan - come on, guys, let's get together and watch this, collectively. What was your watch party like? And what kind of feedback did you get? Was it worth it?

Billy Barrett  28:28

I think it was absolutely worth it. Yeah, I think the things that make live theatre so exciting is that sense of co-presence and sort of simultaneity with other people. It's about the shared sense of watching something and experiencing something. You know, even though the film was actually just available anytime for people to watch, creating that sense of isolated, but somehow together feeling of all watching it, really actually brought a lot more people in, to make up for the fact that you're not kind of together in person. I think you always need to build other things around it. So we did some live tweeting during the live watch party. We then combined that with an Instagram Live interview after, but I think having something that is available, but you can say 'right, we're all gonna watch it together and, and tweet along' really worked for us.

Fiona Morris, Creative Director of The Space  29:17

It's thinking about audiences again, you know, which we, bang on about a lot, I know.  But it is thinking about that issue. We did some early talking to the sector in the first two months of lockdown, and now we've sort of updated that. And, I would say, there's two kinds of headlines around it really. One is personalization - seeing audiences as individuals. You invite them into this opportunity, to this moment or event that you make, try to ensure that it's been personalized, that you've seen them, even acknowledge that they have been denied coming to see you live - so there is a degree of personalization to the offer.

And then what's the atmosphere that you can build around the event? Watch parties are a great way of, of making an individual audience member realize that they are exactly as Billy says, part of a group of people sharing it. Because that shared experience is the thing that we all love to go and see theatre, watch dance, listen to music, you know, is because of a shared experience that's going on. To hear other people laugh, to hear other people gasp, you know, it's really, really part of the human experience. And so we've got to think about that online.

But equally, at the same time, because of having these agile digital assets, we can also respond to issues around accessibility for people. How many times have people found themselves in a rush to get to a theater show starting at 7:30? And trying to get something to eat beforehand? Online you don't have to do it, people can choose when they want to view it. So I think there are opportunities, but it's really thinking about the moment - what you're trying to make for an audience, who are they and what suits them and serves them best?

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  31:11

Yeah, lots of burst of activity, I also find is a way to kind of beat the algorithms that we all face on social media. Now you can just drop, like a tweet and hope that it goes somewhere, and it kind of just disappears into this huge sea. So when do you create bursts of activity? As someone who makes podcasts for a living, I'm all about bursts of activities rather than big drops now and again. And that's a way that - actually the biggest way - we can all spread our work creatively, and possibly, if you're creative, it's  really the thing that matters, is what people think and whether people will tell a friend or share with someone. I've really loved that piece of work. Have you seen this? Have you heard this? And that actually doesn't cost anything, but has the biggest impact, I suppose in the ripple effect that we kind of hear. See, marketing is an interesting one. Quite often, as someone who's been a part of the process in getting things 'greenlit' for some of the commissioning rounds, often people don't factor in as much money or as much time for the marketing. Can you just give us an idea of how much time you think you spent dealing with the marketing, the partnerships, the distribution, ratrher than the actual making of it?

Billy Barrett  32:35

And I think we've been very lucky in that we have a company producer, as well as the film's producer, who was able to take that on. I think what it meant is that we were both busy at different times. So in the run-up, I was working very closely with Rodri Hugh, who was the film director on this, and Ellie was working with Anne Beresford who was the film producer. But once the film was out there, Ellie suddenly became very busy, and my job was done. Had we not had a full time producer, then one of us would have been very busy for a very long time. As you've said, the marketing was a huge part of it in that, you know, the broadcast is brilliant. But really, what's going to have a lasting life is the film online and across these various different platforms. And yeah, trying to reach people with it.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  33:20

I mean, it's really interesting, there seems to be a theme that I think we're gonna hear across this series about factoring in that time, and also factoring in that from the beginning, as well having those conversations. So the fact that I guess, Ellie and Anne knew what was coming and what their role would be later on, rather than making the work and almost being surprised, like, 'oh, now we've got to do this.' And and as you say,  factoring that time in, but creating the right kind of team and delegating. The planning of it just sounds like it's a big part of it, I suppose, rather than let's make something lovely that people could watch and say, wasn't that wonderful? Fiona, what kind of advice do you have for theater directors, writers, that are in Billy shoes as of two, three years ago, that really want to jump into this world, but feel a little bit overwhelmed, and they're not really quite sure where to start?

Fiona Morris, Creative Director of The Space  34:27

I think I think it's about being realistic, you know, as Billy said. The minute you start engaging with the idea of a full length digital project you are now looking at the same amount of time and resource probably being devoted to it, as you put into creating the original work, so I think understanding that it's going to suck up a lot of time, a lot of energy. And so being really clear and that's part of our 'amberlight' process - to ask 'is this what you, as an organisation and a group of creative artists, should be spending your time on right now?' Think about when that right moment is.

With 'It's true, It's true. It's true' it's slightly strange because obviously, it was the right moment in terms of profile, of gaining a broadcast platform. It then became even more appropriate because of the pandemic, which we couldn't have anticipated at the outset. But it is about understanding that it's going to divert your attention away from other work that you might be trying to make. So I think knowing that it is the right moment, and knowing that you have got the resource to devote towards it. And understanding that's going to be long, long term, you know. If this is going to be useful to you as an artist, or is it as a team of artists or an organisation, you're going to have to maintain this conversation.

If you've done that thing of jumping up and down outside everyone's online window to get them to pay attention to you and watch this one thing, then the reason for doing that is because you want to take them forward to the next piece. So you're going to have to be considering sustainability. Can you afford to continue to be having that dialogue, refreshing assets, or blogs or stuff? So that that audience having now latched on to you and become aware of the work, have a sense of you moving forward. Because actually, worse than not bothering to draw their attention in the first place, is drawing their attention and then the minute they look at you, you turning your shoulder and going 'sorry, off doing another piece of work now we're not going to continue' and then if your social channels look out of date, your YouTube channel looks out of date, that is actually that's the worst.

So I would say for anyone starting out in this, really think about whether this is the right moment? Whether this is the right project? And then obviously, it's a question of thinking about how you want to adapt it. And obviously, end of the day, it's funding, it's about considering where you might be able to form partnerships, make funding applications, and look for opportunities to bring in-kind support from other organisations, and their funding strands like The Space's, Low-Cost Commissioning strand. And there are other opportunities with New Creatives for young individual artists, which is an Arts Council BBC funded program, and Random Acts on Channel Four, you know, there are other other places and obviously Project Grants from Arts Council England. Project Grants do now encompass digital projects. But you know, even that bit, Billy will know this, even that bit of writing those applications it's a big time commitment. So make sure this is the time to do it. And this is the project to do it with.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  37:39

Billy, are you able to tell us what you're doing next? What now?

Billy Barrett  37:44

We are actually working on a couple of digital projects at the moment. So we've been running weekly theatre workshops with a youth group in Cambridge connected to Cambridge Junction, this term and next term, so we'll be making what was going to be a live show with them, and will now probably be a film. And so we're yet to work out what that will be. But it will combine probably some zoom remote film stuff with us, hopefully meeting up with them as well. So we're excited about that. And the other thing we're working on is a scripted podcast. We've never made an audio drama before. But we're currently structuring and writing the pilot for what will be a verbatim drama based around the undercover policing inquiry, which has just begun in the UK, around undercover cops who infiltrated activist groups, some of whom then had relationships and children with those activists. And so we're getting in there early, before anyone else decides to make a verbatim project around that. And yeah, hoping that we can get that onto a platform somewhere.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  38:52

Wow. I'm excited that I also hear the word podcast, which I'm like, go podcast, go podcast. But Wow. So it sounds like you are definitely gonna continue to embrace this crazy digital world that you have now fallen headfirst into?

Billy Barrett  39:09

I think so yeah, I think whatever happens with this lockdown or pandemic, things are going to be moving into a more digital space. And something that's quite exciting about having made this film is that it's something we can physically tour when the time comes as well as virtually tour through just hosting it. And we had planned before the lockdown to take the film to Egypt and combine that with a workshop and a panel. We're kind of hoping that that lighter version of touring where you don't have to re contract the whole team and transport a set abroad can continue as things start to re-open. And that we can use the film as something to bring into physical spaces as well as virtual.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  39:50

I mean, it's amazing to hear positive stories because there have been a lot of people either in the arts world or I suppose in life that I've found 2020 unbelievably difficult. But it's great to hear that people like you are embracing this kind of technology. And being really bold, really ambitious, I find it really inspiring. And I'm sure that you will have made listeners either in the arts world or generically really inspired. Thanks for your time, Billy.

Billy Barrett  40:22

Thanks very much.  Brilliant to speak to you both.

Clare Freeman, podcast producer  40:26

And if you have enjoyed listening to this podcast, we've got some more episodes, where we are talking to a bunch of cool people, art curators, artistic directors, disability arts consultants, reaching accessible audiences, musicians, some incredibly inspiring stories. So do make sure that you subscribe, or you follow so that you get access to all of those. And of course, some of the things that we've talked about here, links to watch any of the trailers or other work that Billy's doing. Also, these skills and these toolkits that we talked about on The Space, you can visit the website, In the meantime, keep dreaming, keep believing and keep sowing the seeds of the tiny ideas that one day we may see on the screen near you.