East Meets West - Workshop Festival 2019


As part of East Meets West, Little Earthquake has commissioned a number of Midlands-based artists to create a series of skills and training workshops aimed at fellow theatre-makers. The subjects of the workshops are based around the commissioned artists’ individual interests and specialisms, and we have supported them to produce a broad offer of new training resources for the region’s independent theatre community.

We will be debuting these workshops across two days in November at an East and a West Midlands venue near you. With a wide range of sessions on offer at each venue, you can pick ‘n’ mix individual workshops which tickle your fancy — or you can stay for the entire day (or two whole days!)

Whether you want to investigate new elements of artistic practice, stretch some stiff creative muscles or explore different approaches to supporting your audiences and collaborators, we’re sure there’ll be something here for you!


Workshop places are priced at an affordable rate of £5 to ensure they are accessible to artists attending and so that the artists delivering the sessions are properly paid for their work.


We will endeavour to make the workshops as accessible as possible for all participants. We will consider providing additional access based on specific requests from those attending.

If you would like to have a chat about your requirements before booking workshop places, please email: epicentre [at] little-earthquake.com.


Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH

Wednesday 27th November 2019

Are you seeking new audiences for your work and want to minimise barriers between arts and the community? This workshop will cover how to get the public to actively engage with the arts; help you identify which community groups may benefit from the work you deliver; offer information about funding for community-based arts projects; and examine how you facilitate barrier-free arts whilst effectively evaluating your creative practice.

This workshop is ideally suited to artists and producers considering applying for Arts Council England project grants which include community-based arts activity for the first time, or those considering making a change in their creative practice to include a focus on the community.

Sabrina Mei-Li Smith is a writer based in Leicester. She has worked with many regional partner organisations including Leicester City Council, Arts Council England, DeMontfort University, Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Theatre, Bass Breweries, The National Forest, Mantel Arts and Writing East Midlands.

She has worked with many diverse groups of the community including dementia patients in care home settings, ex-sex offenders and the traveller community as a writer of poetry. Her first play “The Holy Bible” received Arts Council funding in 2019 and will be part of Amplify 2020 in February. She is a lecturer of creative writing, specialising in ‘Writing Identity’ and ‘Writing Places’ and has over ten years of teaching experience in community and university settings.

Getting feedback on your work can be incredibly rewarding – but also incredibly daunting. For writers, learning when and how to listen to feedback, and then how to incorporate it into a rewrite, is an essential skill.

This workshop is primarily for drama writers of all levels of experience. It will also benefit producers and directors who are keen to get a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the feedback process. We’ll discuss how to analyse and interpret ‘notes’, and how best to use that feedback to drive your script forward into a new, much-improved draft.

Liz John is a writer and dramatist who creates drama for stage, screen and audio, including The Archers (BBC Radio 4) and Doctors (BBC1). Liz is particularly active on behalf of the Midlands. She co-founded the Screenwriters’ Forum, chaired the Midlands TV Strategy Group, is a member of Big Script Writers and a regional committee member of the Writers Guild of GB.

She founded BOLDtext Playwrights – a collective of eight Midlands-based playwrights – and has award-winning and award-nominated short films to her name. Her stageplays range from WW1 tragedy to mad-cap interactive comedies. For more information, visit lizjohn.wordpress.com

Through lively debate and creative thinking, participants will be invited to consider how best to approach wellbeing within the arts industry. Together, you will consider our individual and shared responsibilities on how to bring wellbeing into the centre of our planning, facilitation and performance whilst maintaining and elevating powerful and risk-taking art.

Lou will share techniques, methods, models, policies and approaches that she has developed over seven years of working with artists. You will look at the various stages of creating art from R&D/devising through to touring. Lou will also guide participants in investigating their own strategies of self/other-care in a hope that new ideas will emerge as a result of both likeminded and diverse practitioners coming together.

This workshop is for performers, producers, company members, writers, directors, venue managers – whether “established” or “emerging”.

Participants should leave the workshop with a new skill, new ideas, and new questions to consider when thinking about wellbeing within the industry. You should leave feeling empowered and ready to engage proactively.

Lou Platt is a UK pioneer of Artist Wellbeing. Lou has personally developed the role of an Artist Wellbeing Practitioner and has worked with numerous artists across various industries since 2012 – including Caroline Horton, Ursula Martinez, Rachel Bagshaw, Demi Nandhra, Johnny Autin, China Plate and the BBC/HBO. Artist Wellbeing is a synthesis of her 16 years as a dramatherapist, 4 years as a clinical supervisor and her 19 years as a theatre maker & performer.

Lou works with individual artists, creative teams and companies to develop safer, ethical and responsible ways of working that in turn often make the associated art more risk-taking, powerful and engaging for audiences. For more information, visit www.artistwellbeing.com

This workshop will give an insight and starting point into devising sited work. The workshop will take place at the historic Steelhouse Lane Lock-up in central Birmingham and will use the site as an inspiration to explore how to make work in non-theatre spaces and to investigate the creative and logistical considerations involved. The workshop will touch upon the theoretical context of sited work but will mainly be focused on practical approaches.

Jo Gleave is a director and facilitator based in Birmingham. She works as Lead Artist Practitioner for Women & Theatre as well as freelancing for a number of other West Midlands-based companies. She co-runs PILOT Nights, a work in progress platform for theatre-makers. She has a strong interest and specialism in creating work outside of theatre buildings. This has included making work in a disused Coffin fittings factory, in pubs, shopping centres, swimming pools and the city streets.

PLEASE NOTE: This workshop will take place at Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, B4 6NW. Please meet Jo at Steelhouse Lane for the workshop. If you are attending Lou Platt’s Wellbeing workshop at MAC (which ends at 5:30pm) but would also like to attend this workshop at 6:30pm, we will provide a taxi to get you from MAC to Steelhouse Lane so that you can attend both!

Steelhouse Lane is one of the oldest lock-ups in the country with a Grade 2 listed status. The foreboding interior retains its original Victorian features throughout the levels, landings and cells. Participants should wear comfortable clothes that they can easily move around in. Due to the architecture of the building, we recommend no skirts.


Nonsuch Studios, 92 Lower Parliament Street, Nottingham, NG1 1EH

Thursday 28th November 2019

This is a workshop for practicing theatre-makers that tangles with the beast of structuring devised performance. Many makers are brimming with ideas and are great at creating evocative and exciting theatrical material, but struggle later on in the process when it comes to arranging these fragments in a meaningful way.

Over the course of two hours, Ollie will pass on strategies for mapping out your ideas and drawing out the logic of a piece, as well as offering suggestions to aid you in coming up with a stellar ending – so you can bust structure and take the ‘craft’ element of your work to the next level.

Bring pens, your favourite notebook and plenty of coffee – and be ready to talk things from beginning to middle to end.

Ollie Smith is a theatre-maker, dramaturg and performer with a background that lies on the live art and experimental performance end of the theatre spectrum. His practice puts liveness at its centre, and plays mercilessly with both form and audience. He enjoys the space for imagination that a lo-fi aesthetic affords.

Ollie is co-director of LaPelle’s Factory (CLOUDCUCKOOLANDERS, Desperado, The Black Cat) and is a regular collaborator with other artists. He is an associate lecturer in theatre and performance at the University of Lincoln and De Montfort University (Leicester). He trained at Bretton Hall, and has toured nationally and internationally.

Need to pitch your work to a programmer you’ve bumped into at an event? Need to describe your company succinctly within a 500 word funding application? Need to pull in new audiences for a production with only 50 words of copy in a brochure to do it?

Being able to confidently and succinctly communicate with people about the work that you make or produce is a key skill which artists often struggle with. Whether you’re talking to industry, funders, audiences or your peers, it’s essential to make sure that your ‘elevator pitch’ is as hard-working as you are.

This workshop will look at the different ways we talk about ourselves and our work – our language, our confidence, our assumptions – and help you find a new kind of pitch which traverses the tricky line between sounding like everyone else, and sounding like a big pile of absolute nonsense.

Zoë Roberts is a creative producer and theatre-maker who has worked with a variety of independent theatre companies over the past eight years. With her companies Kill the Beast and SpitLip, she has produced and toured several award-winning shows, and has experience pitching work to venues, securing funding and developing audiences.

She has also worked on artist development projects for The Lowry and Manchester International Festival, regularly delivering training sessions for early career artists and producers.

In this workshop, Spiltmilk will offer fun, fresh ways to combine text and movement; help you find playful ways to create movement to fit any theme; discuss where to find inspiration for movement content; demystify the process of making and structuring movement sequences; and make it clear how you might add more physicality to your work

We will NOT teach you a dance, make you do a solo, have a dance-off or make you do the splits – we promise!

Spiltmilk Dance have been sticking a big fat ray of sunshine into the world of contemporary performance since 2006. The company tours nationally to community venues with their signature blend of dance, theatre and sketch comedy, and also delivers a wide range of projects in the heart of communities across the country. Their work is driven by pop culture: the things that unite people regardless of age, or social, cultural or economical background.

With the support of some Arts Council England’s funding, Paul has set out to make the full 2019 tour of his show “We’ve Got Each Other” D/deaf and B/blind accessible. He wants to share a bit of this journey’s learning with you in order to make ‘access’ feel even just a little bit more ‘accessible’ to touring independent artists.

This is a beginner’s workshop, using captioning and audio description as creative (and fun) tools, whilst bursting open the practicalities of touring with access in mind (budgets and all). It is for artists who have the deep burning passion to make their work ‘accessible’ but don’t know how or fear getting it wrong. Join Paul to ‘get it wrong’ some more and to learn from those mistakes – and hopefully you can all work it out together.

Participants should bring a couple of pages of their script along to work with during the session.

Paul O’Donnell is a solo theatre-maker who aims to expose the ordinary in a spectacular fashion. He is an Associate Artist at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Theatre Absolute and tours both nationally and internationally. In 2018 he won the Audience Prize at BE Festival and at FITT Festival in Tarragona, Spain, as well as FITT Festival’s Best Performer Award for his hit show We’ve Got Each Other, the almost entirely imagined Bon Jovi musical.