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Arts Foundation Children's Theatre Fellow Greg Sinclair

Sonata for a Man and a Boy. Photo: Alan McCredie,

Greg Sinclair is a musician and live artist who recently won the Arts Foundation Children’s Theatre Fellowship 2016. We caught up with him to find out more about winning the award, and to hear about the Time to Shine Digital Project Greg is Lead Artist for, ‘Livescore’ from Imaginate.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up working with children and young people?

I studied music at university and after I graduated started working as a composer in children’s theatre, which led to me wanting to explore making my own work as well. Although not all of my work I’ve made is for children and young people, it really has been the main bulk and more and more it’s what I’m drawn to doing.

So it’s really just stemmed from my background in music and an interest in theatre and performance, and over the years trying to combine these together. I think also being involved in lots of education projects in schools helped me realise I was really inspired by the children themselves and how, generally, they are a lot more creative and imaginative than a lot of adults can be.

I Do, Do I (2013) credit Hazel Darwin-Edwards

What do you enjoy about working with children and young people?

Well as I mentioned, I find them to be very inspiring and I think that’s something most people who work in children’s theatre would say. But beyond that, one of the best things is that they are a very honest audience. I was actually thinking about this the other evening when I was at a performance for adults and we were all just very polite. And I’m sure if it was the same performance and there were a lot of kids in the audience they would have just been airing a lot more opinions, in a much more open and free way.

I find it so interesting to be making work for an audience that will let you know if they’re a bit restless, an audience who if they find something funny will just laugh out loud and just share how they’re feeling. I had experience with one of my own pieces where there was a child in the audience standing up and shouting at the performers on the stage, and to me that kind of thing is just really exciting and really epitomises what’s so great about young audiences.

I Do, Do I - Brighton Festival promo from Greg sinclair on Vimeo.

Congratulations on your Arts Foundation award, how have things been since you found out you’d won?

Initially it’s a little bit overwhelming, and I’ve had lots of really positive well wishes that are just really heartening. But I guess it feels like recognition at a very crucial time. I’ve had quite a bit of success with work, but there have equally been a lot of obstacles in my path. Although I have received funding through Creative Scotland and other sources, there have been points where it’s been a lot of self-funding.  Which has meant sometimes it’s been difficult to get my work out, so that’s where I’m hoping the impact of winning will be.

And the other exciting thing is that the award comes with a financial prize, which is fantastic and my own plans for that are quite wide. It feels like an opportunity for me to be able to do some things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise and that’s a real luxury.

Tell us a bit about Livescore, the Imaginate TTS Digital Project you're working on?

The great thing about it being a digital project is that it enables us to work with children and young people in lots of different locations through our partner organisations. Two of our partners for this are TTS hubs, Argyll Youth Arts Hub and #artcore. We’ll also be working with Lyceum Youth Theatre, After the News and Kopergietery in Ghent, Belgium.

Essentially the content of the project has three main strands to it. Firstly we’re building a website which is going to be an interactive tool for the young people to use. Secondly, we’ll be delivering workshops with young people in all of these different locations to engage them with the project. And the third part is that I’ll be creating a new piece of performance called As The Crow Flies that eventually I’ll perform alongside all the young people through livestreaming.

The scores I’m going to create will be free for the young people to interpret, and these could be a piece of music, or graphic scores featuring drawings and images, or instruction scores written in text. And what’s exciting is that all of the different demographics of young people we’re working with will be able to interpret these in their own way, so potentially, for example, we’re going to see how an eight year old from the Island of Coll and a 25 year old from Edinburgh City Centre interpret an identical score. And there’s no doubt that’s going to result in lots of incredible and creative pieces.

It’s quite a wide project but we’ve got a big team working on it all bringing their own skills including two key trainee roles filled by young people, a Trainee Artist in Residence who'll be working directly with me and a Digital Trainee who will be working with After the News. Currently we're just in the stages of setting up the groups, and those interested in our progress should keep an eye on livescoreproject.com for all our updates!

production shot from Ditto. Photo: Neil Thomas Douglas

Sounds like a busy time, have you got any other plans in the pipeline?

Livescore will definitely be taking up a big bulk of my time, but there’s a project I’m keen to develop through the Arts Foundation Award which will be a piece of children’s theatre looking at sadness. I think it’s a challenging area to approach in this field, but I also think it’s a very interesting and important thing to explore as it’s something children go through and can relate to.  So I’m hoping to be able to embark on some research with children towards helping develop this at some point in the near future.

Image credits: Neil Thomas Douglas, Alan McCredie and Hazel Darwin-Edwards

TTS.Digital is a funding programme designed to inspire digital creativity in young people.

This article was published on 17 Feb 2016