Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

London Threeway For New Work (@uglysisterprod & #SP4TT2012) November 1, 2012


I’ve got a short piece on as part of Ugly Sister‘s The Story Project 4 which means I’ll have my work performed as part of their curated line-up at three different venues on three different nights. It’s my first time working with this theatre company and they seem like Lovely lassies which is always a bonus.

Dates and places are as follows:
Sunday 18th November – The Arcola 

Monday 19th November – Theatre503 

Sunday 25th November – Southwark Playhouse

I’m extremely thrilled that I’m going to have some work performed at the Southwark Playhouse because out of the three, I’ve yet to be performed there. The brief was nice and open taking the title, ‘Tears, Terror and TwentyTwelve’ and a ten minute mark with basic props/set. As I’ve mentioned before I like having restrictions and this was a great task.
I’m chuffed with how my idea, ‘Lifetime Subscription‘ came together. I’ve written for two female voices which, for me, is a rarity but is fast becoming a good habit. The conceit is bold and quite expressive of how I feel as a person reacting to our current climate regarding tragic events reported in the media and the collective response. I’d like to think it holds a mirror up to a lot of folks and makes them think about their human response and the emotive responsibility we have to each other. It’s dark. And I enjoyed writing it. I don’t want to give too much away because it hinges on you being there in the moment. As far as I’m aware it’s the last thing I’ll have on this year that’s been asked of me so do come along to support all us writers and the company and if you want to buy me a gin you’re more than welcome. But do come up and say hallo because it’s nice when humans do that to each other. 


The Whisper Tree… We Found It! July 25, 2012


It’s been a week or so since I’ve been back from Wales where ‘The Whisper Tree’ was premiered. It was a great project and one that is hopefully (fingers crossed) not finished for good just yet. The week was such a brilliant experience from not only seeing some of my own work be put on in front of an eager audience, but a lot of behind the scenes. The idea of a handful of creative folks living in each other’s pockets in the middle of nowhere could have been nightmarish. But it was such a pleasure and I learned a lot from the actors and director about elements of their craft that I’d never been able to ask anyone before and the same in return. If felt nothing like work and that was a real treat. I think we can safely say that it felt like a holiday.

The interesting thing for me was having a different audience. I’ve written children’s theatre before but it’s been on a small scale and adaptations. This was my first foray into a pure (full length) piece of children’s theatre and I was anxious about how the children were going to react to it. For the first performance I hung back and set up the drawing activities. But there’s a section at the beginning of the play before they’ve even set off into the wood which relies on the children responding. As soon as they all chimed in with their responses I was happy that something was working and it was working right. When they all returned having found ‘The Whisper Tree’ they were keen to draw what they had seen and what they would tell it. Success!

When I finally went on the journey with the children it was such a joy to see them all enraptured by Rory and Tilly and even better to see them ask questions. What struck me was that they felt comfortable being able to talk to the characters, they were never disruptive, they were inquisitive. The adults that came along were also listening intently and I suppose it’s hard to fully let your imagination run wild as a parent when you’re busy juggling the real life alongside a child. One parent said that he was going to have to come back with his son because he really identified with our main character. This really touched me because that’s what we set out to do. Our aim was to make people stop and look and listen to an area where they may not visit that often or at all and to see a lot of the children’s drawing saying they wanted to come back was the best feedback.

To be near a child who is fully accepting everything around them no matter how fantastical or bizarre was, for want of a better word, magical. It wasn’t about worrying what people would say about your work, how many stars people would apply to your work, what fragment of a review you could select, what your peers would go home thinking about… I completely handed over everything to the kids and it was brilliant. The actors were superb and the children became their allies and that’s all I hoped for and it’s definitely what I got. It’s hard to describe but it’s almost as if ‘The Whisper Tree’ wasn’t really written by me, it was the audience that really made it and I happened to be parry to their journeys and enjoyed it as much as them.

I’ve updated my website recently which has photographs from ‘The Whisper Tree’ on there so do feel free to have a look at what I’ve tried to pin to the page here. I think you’ll agree that the production was an all round success and that was down to everyone involved and especially the audience.


Collaboration March 19, 2012

I’ve been asked a lot over the last few months about how I can be so busy with different projects. My response is that I actively seek collaborative partners so I keep creatively stimulated. The other major influence for me wanting to delve into the collaborative process with projects like Ship Notes, Simone, Nascent Collage .etc. is because it makes me do work. By including other people you’re actively spurring them on to do work and therefore creating an environment where you too have to respond. In essence you’re not wanting to let anyone down. So you do the work. If only for that reason alone, it makes me work hard. Some people may not like that approach, but it works for me. It keeps it simple transaction.

“If you don’t do the work you will let someone down. So do the work.”

And voila! I do the work. It actively engages your brain with the notion that if I do A then B happens. It’s something we already know but it’s putting it in a different context. I apply it to all areas of my work. In my own theatre work I’ve gone out of my way to avoid doing what I need to do, we all do it. For me a lot of my work is off my own back which means there are no enforced deadlines or definite productions so I meander through the weeks and come up with excuses. But because I’m juggling different projects it makes me focus in on what I need to do. It crafts its own work schedule.

Binshit is not a word. But it’s part of the creative process of elimination…

“I’ve got to respond to so-and-so’s part of the project and then I want to do some brainstorming on my play, oh and by that time the other so-and-so might have got back to me with their next chunk of the project so I’ll look at that…”

Overall it makes me aware I’m generating work for myself. And that’s how it should be. It makes me feel like I’m doing something and keeps me busy. And when I say busy I don’t mean it just in the literal sense, but I mean creatively busy. I’ve been lucky in that so far two collaborative projects have worked so well that the end fruition will be displayed to the public. But that should never be the end goal essentially – if you embark on something only because of the end result you’ve got your perspective all wrong. Fair enough you may have a project you want to release into the world, but the thought has to be put into it otherwise it’s a hollow shell of what it could be. And that ‘thought’ translates as work. It should be an area of your life devoted to keeping yourself creatively fresh and bouncing off ideas with people, helping someone else out of a creative funk and being a support but through your work. The idea should always be, “let’s create an environment where we can fail and it doesn’t matter”. Nothing should be sacred, nothing should be too polished otherwise you’re not really listening to each other. It should be one big experiment, nothing is concrete. Not only will it allow you to explore areas that you might not have pondered on before, but it will also heighten your awareness of working with other people either in the same medium or a different one.

I’m not saying that everyone reading this should instantly fire off an email to a whole bunch of people demanding they work on a collaborative project. But I do suggest mulling over if there’s someone you know in a different creative field who might be open to the suggestion of ping-ponging some ideas. You never know where it will lead, but I bet you anything you’ll learn something from it. Whether it’s never to do it again or not is another thing. The absolute worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work for you. It’s just an idea. 


Simone Workshop January 19, 2012

Natalia and I will be presenting a creative writing workshop in tandem with the Simone exhibition that’s at Oxford House. Do feel free to come along as,

a) it’s free

b) it would be nice to see you


c) we’re wanting to get people collaborating, like we have, in different mediums.


So if you’re a shy writer who doesn’t feel like they have what it takes to write a full length story… Come and see if there’s a photographer who could help you collate one. Or if you’re a painter who has dabbled but only does it behind closed doors… Maybe see if there’s a fellow painter who wants a stimulus from month to month. The main objective of the workshop is to discuss and experiment with responses to different mediums and how to generate ideas. Not only is it free, but it’s in a nice place and you’ll get to see the exhibition too as it will take place in the cafe. Give us a shout if you’re coming along and if you can’t make it, feel free to pass it on the someone who can. Here’s the blurb:


Creative Writing Workshop

by Katie McCullough & Natka Studio

Café Gallery, Oxford House

Wednesday 25th January 2012

7.30 – 8.45pm

All Welcome!

Katie McCullough and Natka Studio collaborated in a creative version of

‘Consequences’ to create their project, ‘Simone’, which is currently displaying

in the cafe at Oxford House.

Merging the written word and illustration they have forged a unique

collaboration. Using simple exercises and exploring their approach to the

project they will be discussing how you too can forge creative relationships.

Materials will be provided and the workshop will be free of charge.

Exhibition takes place till the 31.01.2012, in the Oxford House cafe.

Katie Mccullough – Writer


Natka Studio – Illustrator