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Freedom Hi2 R&D week blog by Kun

After an intense week of R&D for the new Freedom Hi2 project by Papergang Theatre, I am overwhelmed by a mixture of thoughts and emotions! I have joined the project as a new Assistant Producer and it is the first purely theatre project I have worked on in my career. It is also a project that I am keen to be part of – the content of which I feel is important to continue to explore.

Coming out of a year of strict of social distancing (for me at least), it was strange to be in an in-person workshop held within a four-walled room of twelve people being close to each other, despite us all us wearing our masks and keeping 2 meters apart. How do we ensure everyone is safe from possible transmission of Covid-19, and can a workshop be done with social distancing measures in place? If we do have to touch or share equipment, is everyone informed of their consent? How can we reduce our risk without impacting upon the content being explored during the workshop? Where can we eat and drink? How do we appropriately provide snacks for the team? Do we have enough hand sanitiser available? Are people washing their hands regularly? I guess I am starting on the right path and doing my best to think like an Assistant Producer should!

I found the experience of the first day in-person workshop extremely interesting and extremely fun, however after heading home and wanting to fall straight asleep, I realised I had struggled through the first day!

(i) A physical challenge – a year of physical limitations and idleness meant feeling extremely tired after the range of activities packed in during the first day. In addition, what should be a comfortable 7km cycle commute in and another 7km cycle commute back home, also made me realise how physically unfit I had become!

(ii) A creative challenge - due to my lack of creative ideas. Hence why my strengths lies in producing, and not as a performer. [Note Editor CW - respectfully disagree with the lack of creative ideas.]

(iii) A mental challenge – feeling extremely tired due to meeting new people and seeing new things and intaking fresh content. Afternoon naps are now out of the question during the duration of the workshop session.

(iv) A cognitive challenge - accepting that my voice is a valid voice by the members and not to be conscious due to the safe environment provided by the workshop.

(v) And getting used to all the members in-person, their different behaviours and interactions with everyone.

As the week progressed, I found that this week of in-person R&D workshop was extremely productive for the members, and with it, the less tired I became throughout the week. I realised that an intensive week of R&D has its benefits – we were all able to focus fully and not get distracted by other projects. In addition, it was really nice to meet everyone in person for the first time. It also made the R&D more immersive for everyone. For me, being new to R&D in theatre, I found that it was easier to see the project development process overall rather than having the groups meet offline in a separate space of the internet (reference to the two day online workshop in early Feb).

Mid-week into the workshop session, it was great to have the opportunity to spend time with some producing tasks and have the chance to ask questions. Reading through the grant application and evaluation from Freedom Hi previously has provided me with a better and more informed insight into the Freedom Hi 2 project. In addition to this, gaining an insight into what the team needed, such as snacks and stationery. As the workshop progressed throughout the week, it was the games that really stood out as an effective interlude to the intense sessions. Not only were they fun, but also an important team building exercise to create a safe environment for everyone and the project.

Overall, I am glad to have been included in the R&D session despite having moments when I felt I just wasn’t supposed to be there – sometimes I preferred an excel document to remembering famous songs for example. It also gave me the insight to how relevant everything was – for example prototypes for masks were made which was core to how to move the project forward without risking the identities of the performers due to the introduction of the Hong Kong’s new national security law.

After reviewing the whole week, I feel like there was a collective desire to have more R&D sessions to move the project onwards. It will be interesting on how to do this and ensure the R&D content is relevant for when the project becomes a full presentation. For me, I am also looking forward to continue my path of learning how to be an assistant producer for the project and how I can effectively support the project going forward.

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