Photo: Rey Trombetta

Hannah Conway: Thoughts and musings from my first two months

 

Hannah Conway, Artistic Director of Streetwise Opera, writes about her experience at the company:

My second month for the company and I feel like I have been in post for over a year!

The past two months have been totally non-stop; meeting partners, regional producers, performers and getting to know the wonderful team in the office. Alongside all this, attempting to master a temperamental windows desktop computer! I have been asking many questions to inform my belief that Streetwise Opera is a company that places our performers at the heart of everything we do. A company that produces cutting edge new opera; a company that challenges our audiences to examine what opera can and should mean in society today, how it can communicate all the essences of what it means to be human. A company that works with the best in the business and has sky-high ambition.

I will be interested to gather our performers’ perspectives and hear our leaders talk about what they feel works (or not) and their aspirations for the future. Streetwise Opera works tirelessly to ensure that those who are or have been homeless have a voice within cultural society in the UK. But – what does this voice look or sound like? How best to represent it? We are all in agreement that they have rich contributions to make, artistically. Look at the incredible catalogue of work and past productions. Recently, at one of our London workshops at The Connection at St Martin's, I witnessed the joy and flair from two guys hanging through a window, joining our workshop with sheer exuberance from the street though not yet confident to be persuaded and gently encouraged by our leaders to come through the door. I hope they will make a return visit, but witnessing their excitement, even panache in their short contact with the company, was inspiring and memorable.

I have been impressed and amazed by the diversity of projects our performers continually experience. I hope to draw together our regional groups to empower them to form a cohesive company with a holistic artistic vision that enables our performers to be ‘makers’ with curious artistic minds, inviting fluid dialogue between our performance groups nationally and enabling them to collaborate with international partners to make new work. As a composer, I am interested in work that has collective ownership which is meaningful, across different cultural divides and geography, that resonates with our performers and audiences alike. I will strive to give our performers access to world class theatre, opera and music. I am eternally conscious of our place within the wider arts and homelessness movement and the value that opera, music-making and ensemble performance can contribute to a person’s life journey and change of self. I am enjoying every moment of this job so far and feel very lucky to have the privilege of being part of such a fantastic company.