What’s On Your Mind? – Full Artist Line Up Announced

Text reading 'What's On Your Mind?' in three different coloured speech bubbles

We wanted to know what’s on the mind of our local communities – so we thought we’d take some time to ask.

For What’s On Your Mind? we met with lots of different people in the community and groups who call ARC their home to find out more about the hopes and concerns of local people throughout the Borough of Stockton on Tees.

We took these themes and everything else we learned through our conversations with you to commission 14 artists to respond with new pieces of work that will engage with the ideas at the forefront of Stockton’s collective consciousness.

The selected artists are creating exciting work to be shared in a range of digital formats, and we are showcasing that work twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1pm (both online via our website and on the first floor in our building).

What’s On Your Mind? launched with a piece by Henry Raby on Tuesday 19 October, and was followed by work from Dermot Daly on Friday 22 October, and Khaled Aljawad on Tuesday 26 October:

Henry Raby (Tue 19 Oct)

Henry Raby is a punk poet based in York. His work has been described as playful, highly-charged, passionate and anarchic! He’s performed at festivals and in front rooms, equally at ease in the back rooms of pubs to large scale events. He writes about friendship and community, hope and anger all mixed together with an unruly approach to form and style. His debut collection, Nerd Punk, was published by Burning Eye Books in 2018.

Henry co-founded the poetry/spoken word organisation Say Owt. He is part of Vandal Factory theatre company who have toured shows across the UK to all manner of unique and underground spaces. He has worked with youth theatres to create urgent and exciting theatre, and is currently the Broadcasting Worker at Chapel FM Arts Centre. Here, Henry supports people getting into community radio and finding their voice.

Listen to Henry’s audio piece We Don’t Know How To Talk To Each Other here.

Dermot Daly (Fri 22 Oct)

Dermot Daly, amongst other things, is a filmmaker, photographer, and sound artist. His artistic work also incorporates theatre and radio.

Watch Dermot’s piece The Good Old Days here.

Khaled Aljawad (Tue 26 Oct)

Khaled is a photographer and budding filmmaker from Syria. He is a Creative Associate of Stand & Be Counted; the UK’s first Theatre Company of Sanctuary. Khaled joined SBC’s International Ensemble with his brother Mohammad – they love gaming so Khaled pitched an idea to them during lockdown about a computer game of their lives and together they made Have Your Passport Ready. This was Khaled and Mohammad’s first professional writing and performing job and they were excited to see the impact it has had on people and for it to be named Game of the Week by The Observer. Before moving to Sheffield Khaled was a Photographer for Inclusive Theatre in Za’atari Refugee Camp Jordan, supporting children to get involved with theatre and photography. He was a member of the Youth Committee in IMC where he helped to create theatre and plan and deliver creative activities for children and the community. Khaled is a proud volunteer for the Refugee Council.

Watch Khaled’s short film Welcome to My World here.

And we’re delighted to be able to share details of the full line up of artists who are creating work for us across the rest of the project, to be shared between this Friday 29 October, and Friday 3 December. We’re looking forward to pieces from:

Leo Skilbeck (Fri 29 Oct)

Leo Skilbeck is a writer/director for stage and screen and the artistic director of queer performance company Milk Presents. Leo’s work spans a decade and centres trans and queer narratives and bodies. Their work has many forms including film, theatre, photography and cabaret, and has been commissioned by venues including the Young Vic, Derby Theatre and Northern Stage. Leo is the host of the Perverts Podcast, and is currently writing a short film with BFI Film Hub North. You can find Leo @leojskilbeck and @milkpresents. www.milkpresents.com

Ross Millard (Tue 2 Nov)

Ross Millard is a musician, songwriter and composer who, with his Sunderland-based band The Futureheads, has recorded 6 studio albums (including one BPI-certified Gold album) and toured around the world to commercial and critical acclaim.

Ross has worked as a sound artist on various projects ranging from the BBC’s ‘Great North Passion’, to working with theatre companies such as Wildworks and Unfolding Theatre. Since 2013, he has also worked as guitarist and songwriter with Sunderland band Frankie & The Heartstrings.

He is currently in the process of developing a new musical with the National Theatre.

Audrey Cook (Fri 5 Nov)

Audrey Cook is a live performance practitioner, based in Teesside. They perform, direct, and develop performance art for stage, exhibitions, and most recently, digital, online spaces. Their passion involves creating work that empowers the side of our identity that we’re so commonly shamed for. Being ugly, being angry, being dirty, poor, or imperfect, and often likes to work within their own identity of being working class, queer, and neurodivergent. This often involves whimsical, provocative, or absurdist visuals, exaggerated personas, composed using interdisciplinary art forms in an entertaining and empowering way. Audrey has worked a lot with ARC as an independent artist this past year, and has developed work for Lizzie Lovejoy, Middlesbrough Mela, Pilot Theatre, and the Bordello Collective. Their submission for What’s On Your Mind? will involve direction and performance by Audrey, as well as including collaborations with sound artist Joseph Browning, and visual artist Gwendolyn Woods.

Barra Collins (Tue 9 Nov)

Barra is theatre maker from the Republic of Ireland. His practice centres around participatory performance, working alongside communities to playfully develop a vocabulary to ignite and stimulate important conversations. He leads organisations including family arts producer LAStheatre, sci-arts company The Enlightenment Café and the digital development outfit Neverthere.

Recent writing credits include: THE CURIOUS CASE OF ABERLLIW (Taking Flight & LAStheatre); THE RASCALLY DINER (Without Walls & LAStheatre); an adaptation of THE LION INSIDE by Rachel Bright and Jim Field (LAStheatre); ZOI (The Enlightenment Café); and an adaption of THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Bath Spa Productions & the egg, Theatre Royal Bath).

This winter, Barra will be directing a production of Beasts and Beauties, eight European folk tales retold by Carol Anne Duffy and adapted for stage by Melly Still and Tim Supple, at The Mission Theatre in Bath. www.barracollins.com

Tommy (Fri 12 Nov)

Tommy/The Queer Historian is a multi award winning, queer, working class and disabled artist from Brighton. His work starts with a story from his past and works with community voices whose voices are often ignored in traditional spaces such as a theatre. The work he creates sits somewhere between theatre, live art and cabaret and often pushes audiences to have conversations that are pushed aside.

Saya Rose Naruse (Tue 16 Nov)

Saya is a photographer, filmmaker and puppet-maker with a background in theatre. She is based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne but travels all across the UK for her work. Saya is passionate about sustainability and creating art that is meaningful and thought-provoking, and she seeks to centre her work around creativity, human experience and environmentalism.

Saya trained as an actor at East 15 Acting school and specialises in working as a photographer/ filmmaker for theatre companies, dancers and creatives. She also works as a maker and workshop facilitator to help nurture a playful and creative environment for all.

Paula Varjack (Fri 19 Nov)

Paula Varjack is an artist working in video, performance & participation. Show Me The Money stimulated dialogue and debate about money in the arts, while galvanising and giving confidence to artists to speak up about issues around artists’ pay. The Cult of K*NZO created over sprawling layers of performance, video, sound design, social media and puppetry, shared stories of luxury brands, both those who create and worship them.  Paula has created a number of collaborative art projects where she has invited other artists to participate with her, including: In The Time Before Everything reflecting on the period before the UK. first went into lockdown. She is one half of Varjack-Lowry with filmmaker Chuck Blue Lowry, their recent iMelania explored their dual heritage while using Melania Trump an avatar of an acceptably foreign woman. Born in Washington D.C. to a Ghanaian mother and a British father, Paula considers East London to be “home”.

Leo Mercer (Tue 23 Nov)

Leo is a Mancunian writer and creative producer. With his company leo&hyde, his musicals use new tech and current sounds to explore life after the internet.

His Gogglebox-inspired adaptation of The Marriage of Figaro, The Marriage of Kim K (The Lowry, The Arcola), unpacked a couple’s arguments about what to watch on TV. It received multiple four and five star reviews, and was nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award.

His gay love story, GUY, captures online dating in the world of the 2010s. It premiered at Hope Mill Theatre and The Bunker in 2018, and has since been performed at over 20 venues nationwide, including 6 venues in the North East as part of ARC Stockton’s REACH North programme.

Ben Freeth (Fri 26 Nov)

Ben Freeth is a non-binary digital artist whose arts practice uses sound and data to make sculptural installations that give audiences immersive uncanny experiences of the inaccessible.

With an MRes. Digital Media from Newcastle University their work has been showcased internationally. Examples include:

1) Wreck One – Listening To The Inaccessible”. A series of multichannel audio installations.

2) “Hybrid Cultures/Borderless Practice” – Exploring the Silk Industry in South Korea through sound recording. This led to collaborations with Korean Artists and a networked sound art project.

4) “Clusters of Differentiation” – a large scale LED sculpture sonifying and lumifying scientific data.

5) “Our Lives” with GVOC and six community groups in Gateshead presented community issues to local government by inputting into decision making processes and giving community groups the power to influence these processes through technology. Outcomes were exhibited at Baltic, Gateshead a first for communities to access this gallery.

Ben is committed to digital inclusivity and enabling people to explore creative expression through digital technologies.

Lisette Auton (Tue 30 Nov)

Lisette Auton is a disabled writer, activist, poet, novelist, spoken-word artist, actor, film and theatre-maker, and creative practitioner. She’s an award-winning poet who has performed at Northern Stage, ARC, The Southbank Centre and the Sage, in pubs, in a crypt, at festivals, indoors, outdoors, on a bridge and in a launderette. She was the 2019 Early Careers Fellow for Literature at Cove Park and is on the TSS Publishing list of Best British & Irish Flash Fiction. Her work has been commissioned by many organisations including the Courtauld Institute of Art and MIMA. Lisette works with many creative collaborators to create unique and innovative cross artform works. She is the Winner of ‘Performance of the Year’ at the Journal Culture Awards 2021 for Writing the Missing; A River Cycle a film commission for Durham Book Festival. The Secret of Haven Pointher debut novel, is forthcoming from Puffin in February 2022. www.lisetteauton.co.uk

Sarah Watson (Fri 3 Dec)

Sarah is an artist with a vision to change the world one story at a time. Her raw authentic voice is something she prides herself on, as a woman who has been through the wringer. She stands tall, strong, with a fist ready to kidney blow the system. She’s a geek with a love for sci fi, thrillers and horror, which is often reflected in her story telling. Her work is centred around bringing about change. She wants to open your eyes to what the media neglects to mention.

Sarah has previously worked with New Writing North, is the playwright of Zones, which was showcased as a Rehearsed Reading at Durham Book Festival 2019, and works regularly with Curious Monkey Theatre Company’s Troupe, working with young people with experience of the care system and has written for their 360 films.