18.3.21

A letter from Justin....


This is to announce that I am stepping away from my role as Co-Director of Tin Shed Theatre Co. for the foreseeable future.


The past 10 years has been one hell of a ride. From our early days of making work with no budgets in abandoned buildings, to co-creating huge collaborative shows that pushed the boundaries of what we thought possible. All we ever wanted to do was make stuff happen and reach as many people as we could whilst seeking to bring communities, artists and audiences together.


In the earliest parts of Tin Shed none of us had a f**king clue what we were doing. As three recent graduates from perhaps the strangest Performing Arts Degree in Wales our philosophy was created on the fringes of what ever you’d consider ‘mainstream’. The company found its power by ignoring expectation and instead just focused on seeking out physical and literal ways to make work and connect with people. In those early years it was raw, beautifully chaotic, haphazardous and ritualistic. At times it was also painful, extremely stressful and occasionally dangerous, but looking back I can honestly say it is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done with my life.


By sticking to our scruples and making the work we wanted to make in the way we wanted to make it, right here in Newport, the company gained momentum and grew into what it is today. Now Tin Shed Theatre Co. stands tall almost shoulder to shoulder (whilst never really caring where it’s shoulders are at) with other much bigger more buffed and professional looking companies, still managing to be beautiful, raw and meaningful, still filled to the brim with with heart, shining a light on brilliant atypical creatives/talent, making wonderful things happen in unusual ways and connecting with audiences who wouldn’t typically visit the theatre.


I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve created and of the company we’ve formed. I am especially proud of the courage and determination of my long term creative partner George, who is choosing to carry the company forwards into its next awesome iteration. I can’t wait to see what she does and how the company flourishes in the next couple of years.


Way back when Antonio left he still remained part of the DNA of the company, and so I might say I’m leaving but obviously still remain intrinsically attached. I am also planning to continue running and developing parts of Tin Shed’s youth theatre work with HATCH, and will be involved in the next large scale outdoor creative project Rocket Launch Blaenavon.


In taking this opportunity to announce my departure from Tin Shed I want to be totally clear about a few things; my decision to leave was made during the tail end of 2019 and since then George and I have been working together to continue the companies success and see that I leave in honest and healthy way. It’s really got nothing to do with the pandemic or anything else. However, it feels like no coincidence that my exit should happen during such a tumultuous, awkward and uncertain time. In a year where very little has made sense I step away from Tin Shed Theatre Co. into a world I’m struggling to understand and with an uneasy lack of confidence in the industry I’ve spent over half my life invested in. And so through this complex swirl of global moments and personal challenges I find myself simultaneously afraid of everything and nothing at all, and that is actually extremely liberating.


My reasons for leaving aren’t complicated, change is inevitable and we all need to follow our gut and do what we need to do. I feel like right now I need time to focus on the art I want to make. Looking forwards; I’m interested in working hard to become better connected to the world around me whilst attempting to find solutions to complex problems through creating and enabling other people to access, share and create the work they want to create.

Note: I'm adding this section in a day after originally posting because it's weighing heavy on my mind. This move is also about me preserving my mental health. Although running Tin Shed was an incredible gift, it also came with a huge physical and emotional toll. During the past ten years I've experienced some of my worst crisis and most damaging episodes due to the sheer amount of work and my inability to balance it with life and self care. I had to add this in. Not only because I didn't want to do a disservice to myself, but because I'm starting to realise how important it is to talk about our mental health, and maybe specifically in the context of this industry.

I want to say the HUGEST thank you to anyone who supported anything we did at any time! It’s hard to explain just how much it means. I also want to say thank you to all the people I met and worked with and fell for and spent time with. I'm still here and still intent on keeping it all up, so don't feel like you can't reach out or get in touch.


Lastly, I’m excited to see what Tin Shed becomes. George has an abundance of creativity, determination and pure ballsyness that is going to be something to stand back and admire and/or get involved and invested in. I’m also excited about the space I’m making for new collaborations and creative adventures.

Mucho,
Justin


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