Based on the theme of Surveillance with inspiration from George Orwell's 1984, "Somebody's Watching Me" is the project name for the newly-commissioned Research and Development project awarded to Billy by ArtsAdmin and Shape Arts' UNLIMITED fund.
The application process opened at the end of 2016, and with the support of Deaf Explorer's Rachael Veazey and Alan McLean - my producers on the project - I submitted my application for a collaborative dance project that focuses on the themes of surveillance and oppression of Deaf people.
On March 28th 2017, it was announced that I had been awarded the R&D International Collaboration category of the UNLIMITED grant. This fantastic news came as a shock to me, I really could not believe it. Of all the applications from across the country, I was one of the six winners in the International category. The grant itself although an R&D (Research and Development) grant, is an impressively high sum, but then the project does involve a foreign artist working with me. To date, of the four successful grants I've been awarded in the last five years, this is the largest grant I have ever won.
THE SOMEBODY'S WATCHING ME TEAM
DEAF EXPLORER: PRODUCERS
The success of winning UNLIMITED would not have been possible without the incredible support of Deaf Explorer - the company that manages and produces on Billy's new commission. Deaf Explorer are Rachael Veazey and Alan McLean, their support ranging from writing applications to interpreting BSL on my behalf, as well as making calls, setting up meetings, negotiating with artists/directors/companies, managing budgets, accounting, setting schedules, and so on.
CLAIRE MARSHALL: PRODUCER
We are incredibly grateful to have the support of Claire Marshall - producer at mac. During the application process we met Claire and she offered us some of the most important support that we would need - which includes the mac itself - with free access to its many rehearsal and performance studios, as well as Claire's personal guidance and support throughout the process as producer. We cannot thank Claire enough for this fantastic offer.
BENJI REID: DRAMATURGIST
We are excited to announce that the highly-acclaimed artist Benji Reid will be taking the role of dramaturgist for Somebody's Watching Me.
I first met Benji a year ago when working on TCFT in Bournemouth. A multi award-winning artist, photographer, actor, and former popping world champion, Benji's vast expertise in theatre and dance made him the ideal person we wanted to guide the creative process on this project. So we are very excited to have Benji on board and deliver his unique style of dramaturge.
ADAM RUTHERFORD: ASSISTANT CHOREOGRAPHER
Adam is a highly-skilled creative practicioner, dancer and choreographer, who runs Rutherford Dance Company and RDC Youth. We are pleased that Adam has accepted the role of Assistant Choreographer on the project - this role will involve guiding and polishing the choreographic process of the dance that myself and Ariel will create.
TINA BARNES: STORY WRITER
Of the six professional writers we interviewed, we really liked what Midlands-based creative writer Tina Barnes has to offer, and we felt that her background as a street dancer will be useful for this project. So we are delighted that Tina has agreed to take up the role of Story Writer on the project.
Since meeting Tina in May, she has already begun writing a script to create which we hope will be the main story structure, for the show Somebody's Watching Me.
AMANDA WRIGHT: DANCE ASSISTANT
Amanda Wright is a London-based theatre actress and dancer. We are pleased to announce that Amanda will be present at all the studio sessions to write notes, record video and take photos documenting all the important information throughout the day. This is an important role that will allow us to look back on everything we discussed and created in the studio, this is especially important in between sessions, so that nothing is forgotten or left behind.
CHRIS BARTHOLOMEW & NAO MASUDA: SOUND ARTISTS
Chris Bartholomew is a highly creative sound technician and DJ who will be present from the second Block onward, working in the studio and creating the music and sound effects for the show. I met Chris at the Battersea Arts Centre in London, where he was working on the theatre show LIGHT, which features the fantastic Deaf actor Matt Gurney. We are delighted that Chris has agreed to be our sound designer on this project.
Nao Masuda is a Japanese Musician and Composer whom I first met last year when she performed with me in Like Mirabai - my previous Arts Council commissioned project.
Nao is a musical genius, a master of percussion and brass and a fantastic performer who captivates audiences with her Taiko Drums and Tibetan Temple Bells.
I am pleased that she is returning to create and perform the music and sound effects for Somebody's Watching Me.
This R&D Project will be taking place at the mac in Birmingham over the summer and there will be a sharing of work presented to an invited audience at the start of September this year.