Where I Am Now, by Ayla Huseyinoglu, June 2020

We have been catching up with some of the people we’ve worked with in the past, hope you enjoy this series as much as we’ve done creating it. 🙂

“I got involved with Luxi’s projects when I was 14, and met Caroline and various other wonderful people. I’d had an interest in theatre from a performance perspective but Jabberwocky Market made me realise how much was involved behind the scenes, and how interesting it can be to be involved in that side of things. Jabberwocky Markets were the first time that I dipped my toe in this behind the scenes work. I remember walking around Darlington town centre with another member of the team who was dressed in a tent, helping to paint the Jabbervan, chairing a panel discussion about theatre and going out and doing face-to-face marketing by chatting to people. When I went to university in Manchester in 2015, I loved looking through Jabberwocky’s social media pages and seeing how well the events were doing. It brought something really great to the arts world in the north east.” 

“In terms of where I am now, I’m at a crossroads. I graduated last year from the University of Manchester in Politics and History, and have been working as the Women’s Officer at the Students’ Union, after being elected to the post when I was in my final year. It’s been a crazy, wonderful five years in Manchester; I’ve really become the person I am today. However, I’m writing this from my home in County Durham. It was sad to leave Manchester under lockdown, without saying goodbye to the friends I’ve made and places I love. I’m looking forward to the next chapter though (hopefully a Master’s in Public Policy). 

I learned about feminism and its importance as a student, which is what inspired me to take the job as Women’s Officer. However it’s only in the past year, since I’ve been in post, that I have realised how important it is for feminism to be intersectional. This week, when I’m writing this, that means supporting Black Lives Matter. I couldn’t in good conscience write a blog post and not mention this. As a white person, I am not going to reiterate what black people have been saying for years but I am going to encourage readers to research, educate themselves and use their agency to take action to stand up to racism by writing to MPs, donating and calling out racism.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog, and for reading!”

For more about Ayla Huseyinoglu, check her LinkedIn 

A festival or not – the evolution of Jabberwocky Market Pop-Up Theatre Events, August 2019

When we first established Jabberwocky Markets, they were set up as festivals. We love festivals, they are events that include a load of brilliant things all happening in some way together, they bring artists and audiences together who might not normally mix, they offer opportunities for people who want to see a few things to do that all back to back in the same place, they can be exciting and create loads of unexpected opportunities and synergies and magic.

As well as that they require a lot of energy to run and mean that scarce resources (in this case generally people’s time) are spread really wide, and when audiences want to see loads of things but actually have lots of other commitments and obligations in their lives, they can be time-poor and only manage one event a week or month.

After we’d done 4 festivals of Jabberwocky Market events in the first two years, we realised through talking to our audiences, artists and venues, that our events in this place might actually work better if they were more widely spread, like a season of shows across a few months, so people could come along to more shows and events, and so our team had more time to concentrate on the planning, promotion, support and running of each separate event. In spring 2016 we changed the model from a 4 day festival of over 20 events, to a 3 month season, and it worked brilliantly. Each event happened around a headline show, maybe one we’d programmed in partnership with our national Collaborative Touring Network, or sometimes one that was homegrown or separately programmed, but however it was chosen, that headline show dictated the theme for a small amount of related events, designed to complement the event and provide activities that the main show’s audience would also enjoy, and generally there was a 2-3 week gap between events.

The new model meant that audiences could afford the time and money to see more shows that they wanted to attend and fit that into their busy lives, which meant more tickets were booked and shows had fuller audiences, which means the shows were better because performers and artists love having bigger audiences and everyone has a richer experience. The artists had a better time because our team had more time to welcome and support them when they’re in town, and we enjoyed it more because the little bit more time meant we could do a better job and making other people happy makes us happy.

For a long time though people still used the word festival and that was frustrating because we like to be really clear with visiting artists and audiences about what they can expect when they arrive – if you arrive expecting one thing and find another, whether you’re there to watch or perform, you might be disappointed – even if on reflection you recognise that you had a much more meaningful experience than you’d anticipated, it’s really important to us that we have great first impressions as well.

What we learned through this journey was that in this context we do a really brilliant pop-up theatre event – we can also do a really great festival and sometimes we bring together a series of events into a small space or time and make a festival of events, but whatever we do, we describe in the most appropriate way to ensure people have the best experience.

The next Jabberwocky Market Pop-Up Theatre Event is currently in the planning – it’ll be announced as soon as there’s anything we can share.