After two years of reading guidance documents, talking to friends and colleagues and meetings and many, many hours of drafting and re-drafting we have finally been successful in our bid for Arts Council support of the ADA project research and development phase.
Many thanks to the many people who have listened to me talk at length about Ada Lovelace and what I want to explore with a project about her life and legacy. In particular big hi-fives go to Giles Croft at Nottingham Playhouse, Esther Richardson of Pilot Theatre, Kate Chapman of Leicester DeMontfort University and Rebecca Little from Little Pixie Productions for their patient listening and excellent advice as well as Laura White at the Arts Council.
The original idea for a show about Ada Lovelace came about after I had been getting somewhat frustrated about the relative lack of theatre productions exploring themes around science, technology and history narratives. There are plenty of plays around that explore human desires, loves, hates, jealousies, disappointments, deceits, heroics, greed, ambition, hopes and fears and all manner of other aspects of what it is to be human but not all that many about ideas and imagination which, now I type it, seems very strange. It seemed to me that one of the defining characteristics of humanity, and one that should be especially celebrated, our technological inventiveness, was one of the least celebrated in our performed literary culture.
There are probably many reasons for this and the one that most people immediately trot out is that artists aren’t interested in technology because that is a geek area. There persists an idea that the realm of artistic creativity and expression is mutually exclusive to the world of science, math, technology (and don’t get me started on where sport fits in all that). It creates the image of a triangular room with the cool kids in one corner though why the artistic ones are considered the cool ones is a debate for another time, the geeks and nerds in another and the, to use an American term, the jocks in another with NO-ONE moving from their corner. This is plainly nonsense but gets reinforced from all sorts of angles almost constantly.
I’m a geek and happy to be one. I am fascinated by the stories behind scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs and the amazing abstract mathematical reasoning behind our explanations for the nature of reality and while I can’t claim to understand much more than a small percentage of the science behind these ideas and can say with 100% certainty that they all came about through feats of astounding human creative thought.
That is why I started Poetical Machines. In essence I wanted to create the type of work that I not only wanted to work on, but also to experience as someone who loves live performance, visual art and music, especially the music part.
ADA is the first project where I am producing the work. This is not only very exciting indeed but also a little daunting, and hard work.
The following blogs will form a journal of sorts I suppose, part news updates, part appeals for funding/help (and grateful acknowledgements), part celebration of the amazing talents of the artists collaborating on the project and part diary of a newbie producer. Hopefully I won’t be reading it in a couple of years time and cringing (I will) and hopefully it won’t contain too many instances of optimism over experience (it will). Lastly I hope people read it and find Ada and her legacy as fascinating and weirdly overlooked as I do and come back to read more or support the project with something close to the enthusiasm I have for it.
That’s it for now, off to start making spreadsheets (code for learning to make spreadsheets).
Thanks for reading, hope you come back soon.
PS. Feel free to get in touch via the contact form on the Poetical Machines website.