In praise of WhatsApp
This week I have mostly focused on ‘AGATA,’ a play set within the British-Polish community in 2005. I’m further along with this piece insofar that I’m in the thick of the first draft.
I often find that I have to work on multiple projects seemingly ‘at once’ for reasons practical, financial and artistical. It’s not as confusing as it sounds to jump from swimming to Poland to…whatever. In fact, I often find that it’s helpful for me to put a project to one side and take a short break from it.
This is particularly true when taking on complex topics that require a great deal of research – like, well, all of my current workload (see CURRENTLY). I’m naturally geeky and thus partial to the heady thrills of a comprehensive reading list. However, more than this, I like to speak to people. After all, that’s what stories are about and for whom they are told. I therefore actively recruit ‘expert advisors’ very early on in the development process.
Half the time my contributors are ‘experts’ in the traditional sense. This Friday, for instance, I am meeting Professor Greg Whyte OBE. A pre-eminent sports scientist and the specialist trainer behind the more extreme Sports Relief challenges, Professor Whyte has just published a book - not his first either - called ‘Achieve The Impossible.’ Clearly, he’s going to know a thing or two.
Often, however, my contributors tend to be ‘regular’ people. That is to say, people who are surprised, or even laugh, when I approach them to be advisors on a theatre project because they’re not professors (or ‘even’ theatre goers). However, I value these encounters and relationships just as much.
In particular Joanna Kopiec, who moved to the Midlands in 2005 from Gilwice in Poland, has been a wonderful support. She has been faithfully emailing, texting and WhatsApping answers to all my questions no matter how big, small or random. The ‘lost in translation’ factor, for instance, has a significant role within this play as characters jump between Polish and English. Recently my thread with Joanna has been short recordings of words and phrases in Polish. Sometimes, as the picture above would suggest, there is surprisingly little room for confusion!
Yesterday I visited Stockport for a special lunch of pierogi with Danuta Burgess, who spent her early childhood in a Polish resettlement camp in Doddington near Crewe. I have also previously had the privilege of meeting her mother Krystyna, who was captured by the Russians as a small child during the Second World War before coming to Britain (via Africa, astoundingly!). This was the second time I have visited them and I imagine I will do again - if only for the excellent food and conversation.
It’s great having people to bounce off and even simply correspond with. And when you’ve had your head stuck in a book or a difficult scene, a couple of Polish flag emojis are as cheering as a cat meme.
I am still looking to connect with individuals of Polish extraction for this project – I can be contacted here with expressions of interest. Thank you also to other contributors to this project who include Radek Weichert, Daria Matuszewska, Klaudia Pawlik, Piotr Majewski, Ewa Majewski and Jakub Kurzynski.