Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 4 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the fourth blog post by Barbadian actor & director Levi King, the current participant in the Emerging Director Residency Programme held in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). Levi’s fourth week was all about facing challenges, and learning to adapt in order to overcome these. It was also a reminder that, in any project or production, clearing these hurdles is a group effort, and it is important to have a support network (both personal & professional) to call on and collaborate with to reach your goals. Read more below:

Weaknesses, Challenges & Adaptability

“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin

I had plans. Like, nuff nuff plans (nuff means a lot, to whomever may be reading this blog but is unaware of the particulars of Bajan syntax). I had plans for how I was going to approach this residency. I had plans for how I was going to arrange the time, and even gave some thought to how I was going to handle any contingencies… I was still not fully prepared. One thing that makes a difference in any situation, is one’s ability to adapt to challenges.

In light of the plans I had for myself and this residency, circumstances had different plans for me. As is usual with anything requiring more than one person, where one or more of the people already have daily commitments, scheduling was hard. Admittedly, this is one weakness I have; I can organise my own time, but not other people’s. Still, I had to make it work. I had to recast an actor two weeks before we were supposed to show. Another had a situation with work that made their participation seem unlikely at the time if I wasn’t able to work out a different date. At the time that occurred, I was already too close to the date to recast as the character played by this actor is central. I had just one rehearsal, and halfway through my mentor arrived and gave me copious amounts of notes and things to think about and change. Needless to say, anxiety grabbed me from behind and put me in a full nelson hold *arms flail helplessly*. There were other challenges as well, but we don’t have enough time this episode to cover them all.

“In the face of challenges, you are met first by your weaknesses.”- Levi King

So I saw just my weaknesses, focusing on planning in the wrong areas, needing a different approach to my rehearsal process ( I was doing what I knew instead of challenging myself to really experiment because I was afraid of not having enough time). I froze for a bit when the challenges with time and recasting came. I actually thought for a minute that I may have had to cancel the showing because it would not have been ready. I had, for a few days, a crippling fear of failing. I felt overwhelmed a bit by the challenges, but challenges come with every endeavour in life (life, we gotta talk bout this, can it not be easy sometimes? Everything does gotta find a point to stress ya out at?). Many of my concerns were handled after meeting with Katherine Kennedy (Fresh Milk) and Janelle Mitchell (NCF) and discussing the challenges that I had. We came to arrangements.



Most crises averted, I still have work to do though.

“In the face of challenges, you are next met by opportunity.”- Levi King

Fortunately for me, I was able to call on people I know to assist (that’s all I did for the whole process lol). With the actor that had to leave the project, I was able to call on another actor I know to come fill in the position. My mentor Sonia has this way of working, where she makes you confront yourself and overcome the issue facing you in an encouraging atmosphere. This was instrumental, since all she had to do was mention what she was concerned about, for me to look at it differently. My S/O, Luci, also a professional theatre practitioner, was able to offer invaluable observations when she was at the first rehearsal.

I had to look at each challenge as an opportunity. The recasting, an opportunity for new collaboration. The rescheduling of performance, an opportunity to explore handling challenges with corporate bodies. The scheduling issues with actors, an opportunity to collaborate with the cast in solving the problems we were facing together, instead of dealing with it alone. Lil depression, an opportunity to instill some of the discipline required to succeed in life.

With each opportunity, you strengthen your adaptability. In theatre, as much as the responsibility for how the show works is on the director, it is still a team effort. As much as the director has to adapt, so do cast and crew (and they really did cause my next rehearsal was hype). The NCF and Fresh Milk adapted to the challenges and worked with the team to make everything easier. It feels like the team and I may yet make it through. So I look to the next week, which is my last in the residency, with determination. I have shaken off most of the feeling of being overwhelmed, but I am still keeping some because you know what people say about growth happening when you’re uncomfortable. I remain grateful for the challenges, because they make me stronger. In a world of corn flakes, I am still learning to be porridge when I feel like warmed over tap water.

“Mi will move mountains with less than faith
Mi nuh frighten fi food, make the restaurant wait
Porridge badder than cornflakes…”- Hold It, Vybz Kartel


ncf mark rgb2This project is a collaborative initiative, funded by the NCF Barbados

Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 3 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the third blog post by Barbadian actor & director Levi King, the current participant in the Emerging Director Residency Programme held in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). The third week came with its own set of obstacles to overcome, in terms of casting choices, remaining on schedule and evaluating strengths and weaknesses; but Levi has risen to the challenge, keeping in mind that a residency is best experienced as a space for growth and problem solving rather than a point of pressure. Read more below:

Third week curses

So, I heard one time that productions are sometimes plagued in the third week (that is, productions with a four week rehearsal time). This means that in the third week it looks like things are about to fall apart, much like the mid-point of a screenplay.

Will they be able to do it? Can they overcome the obstacle?

Well this third week was challenging. On good advice from my mentor, I had to recast a part in the production. Finding someone was a challenge, but I finally was able to get someone to agree to be part of the production, which comes with its own challenges. How will I fit all these schedules into a workable rehearsal schedule. I have no idea. Then I start to worry about whether I’ll be able to get the actors to work well together, will I be able to get them to the places the material will take them to and bring them back? Questions, questions, questions, problems, problems, problems.


I hadn’t spent much time at Fresh Milk due to other challenges, but also because I only have so many hours and can’t spend all of them just reading.

So I have my actors, I am confident in their abilities, I am hopeful about mine, I still have challenges with scheduling (to be honest this is one of my weaker points that I need to work on, I am good at organising myself and my vision, but need help with production management and stage management).

Will he be able to rise to the challenge?

Challenge… accepted? If there is one thing this residency has made me confront, it is some of my weaknesses, and I know one residency isn’t what I need to fix every issue I have as an aspiring director. It also has made me realise two important things, this third week slump:

  1. I began to focus on all the problems I was having and went from a state of merely whelmed, to slightly overwhelmed.
  2. I forgot one of the most basic pieces of advice I give to everyone else in my life. Focus more on solutions (not politically affiliated), especially in the middle of the problems.

I had to remember to be solution minded. Couldn’t get the situation to go mostly how I wanted it, so why not just roll with the tides and be glad for the fact that there is momentum until I can figure out how to make that momentum faster (Shout out to Luci for working through a slight issue I had today, shout out to Rosette on that convo this morning for giving me that strong reminder).

So I’m still in the process of figuring it out, granted this is what it’s all about. It’s taking it to questions, questions, questions, solutions, solutions, solutions.

Still anxiety though.

Till next time folks.

Tune in next week for…

Big man, who is you and why you all up in my blog?!

(runs away)

Third week blessings.


ncf mark rgb2This project is a collaborative initiative, funded by the NCF Barbados

Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 2 Blog Post

Fresh Milk shares the second blog post by Barbadian actor & director Levi King, the current participant in the Emerging Director Residency Programme held in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). This week, Levi reflects on his first session with his mentor for the residency, Barbadian performance artist, theatre director, writer and educator in theatre arts Sonia Williams. Their discussion reminded him that as important as it is to be detail oriented, it is equally critical to focus on the fundamentals of a project, ensuring there is a solid foundation to build upon. Read more below:


So when taking on something as important to your development as a first residency, it is easy to overlook some things. Having spent some hours this week speaking to my mentor Sonia Williams, I came to a conclusion. I was so focused on details, that I was not giving the right focus to the whole project. In the conversation, my mind started to go where it usually does; following the trail the words are creating til it comes across something seemingly unrelated, but which pieced together well in my head. It went a little like this:

Mentor: *asks a basic question expecting a simple answer*
Me, an intellectual: *responds with long winded thing that is barely part of the answer*
Mentor: *asks same question again*
Me, clearly not intellectual enough: *dials it back and sees the actual question being asked, tries to answer that*

Then we move on.

This process basically took my ears and wrung them, dug into the file-o-fax in my brain and produced a saying I saw or heard somewhere a time ago: K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Stupid. I was missing the forest for trying to look at each tree, I was missing the whole painting for looking at each brush stroke. I wasn’t on the wrong path entirely, but I was making it harder for myself than I needed to, because I wasn’t asking myself the basic questions I should have been.

I wasn’t keeping it simple. By keeping it simple I don’t mean abandoning any intricate details of what I envisioned. I simply mean that I was leaving out some fundamental basic things that would strengthen the work I was doing. I had to revise my approach to these fundamental aspects of how I was working and keep it simple. In this case, keeping it simple meant, for me, not to overlook the fundamentals.

My lesson this week was about these fundamentals, even though the conversation was about Grotowski, Brecht, Boal, Stanislavski, working with actors, and going through the script. Damon Wayans said in a performance (and I’m paraphrasing from the show My Wife and Kids), “Don’t forget the fun-da-mentals, because that’s what makes da mentals fun.” So lemme go forward and do de rest uh dis werk. Til next time ppls.


ncf mark rgb2This project is a collaborative initiative, funded by the NCF Barbados

Levi King’s Emerging Director Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

Fresh Milk is excited to have Bajan actor & director Levi King in residence with us, as we get our collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to host the second edition of the Emerging Director Residency Programme underway!

This project is funded by the NCF, and allows a local emerging director the chance to research, experiment, work with actors and connect with a theatre arts mentor during the course of the residency. Levi will be mentored by Barbadian performance artist, theatre director, writer and educator in theatre arts Sonia Williams. See more from Levi below about his first week in residence, and stay tuned for more updates on the programme!

The importance of open-mindedness in the process of directing

So, I began this residency last week, and to be honest I was anxious, never mind the constantly cool exterior. I know what piece I want to explore, I know the areas I wanted to improve (or thought I did), I knew to some extent the approach I wanted to take. I knew all this, but I still felt woefully unprepared, and it scared me. Then in my research process (reading some of the many books at Fresh Milk), I came across a statement in the book Scriptwork: A director’s approach to new play development about open-mindedness. In that moment one thing became clear. I was, up to that point, not being as open-minded as I needed to be. It made me immediately relax.

I know that a director has to have a solid plan, and know every detail of the work they are about to do. I completely overlooked the part of the work that also requires a director to be open-minded. Open-minded to the possibilities that the work can open up to you. Open-minded to ideas different than yours on a project that may actually work better than your own (but not so open-minded that other people end up directing your work lol). Open-minded to the process and all the dimensions and directions it can open up. The stage is a blank canvas, the script is the paint, the set, the technical, and performers are the brushes. Together, they can form a masterpiece.

In my realisation that I needed to be more open-minded, I abandoned the fear of my own failure for lack of being adequately prepared. I abandoned my fear of not being good enough to produce something of quality. I abandoned my feeling of needing to have every single aspect of this residency under complete control and began to refocus. I am now more open to the process that is learning through mentorship, when I didn’t realise I was closed off before. Though I still have much to learn, now I am more prepared to be open to learn it effectively. I look forward to the mentorship with Sonia Williams.

Here’s to week one, where by confining myself to a desk in a room, restricting my actions to reading for research purposes, I was reminded to be more open in my approach to the residency and to directing as a process. On to week two.


ncf mark rgb2This project is a collaborative initiative, funded by the NCF Barbados

Deadline extended: The NCF and Fresh Milk Emerging Directors Residency 2017

The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and the Fresh Milk Art Platform are pleased to share an open call for the Emerging Directors Residency 2017. Launched for the first time last year, this exciting programme is a paid artist residency for early career theatre directors, which will provide them with an opportunity to conduct much needed research into Caribbean theatre heritage and to explore and create through theatre form and style.

The deadline for applications has been extended until October 18th, and the residency will take place between November 6th – December 8th. Read more below:

One residency will be offered for one emerging Barbadian director, who will receive a stipend of $1,000.00 BBD. The residency will be based at the Fresh Milk studio in Walkers, St. George, and will run for a 50 hour period which the resident must complete over five weeks, between November 6th – December 8th, 2017. The deadline for applications is October 18th, 2017.

The selected resident will be mentored over the course of the programme by a noted Caribbean Director and, at the close of the period, will present by way of an intimate, private showcase with their actors and specially invited theatre professionals, aspects of the work they have been exploring.


Residency programmes afford professionals time and space away from the demands of daily work life to carry out much needed professional development, with the emphasis on process rather than necessarily having the pressure of producing a finished body of work. Outside of traditional longer term training, a paid residency allows artists time for contemplative study and exploration. In the Barbadian context, there is much focus on the training of performers, however there are considerably fewer opportunities for those theatre artists with a special interest in directing to hone and develop their skills. Highly skilled, culturally aware and visionary directors are needed, as we move nationally to advance our cultural industries sector, and to enrich the quality of small and large scale staged events, whether drama, music, dance, or indeed multimedia events.

Greater awareness of Barbadian/Caribbean theatre form and style will serve to enhance the ideological and interpretive output of those up and coming directors on the local theatre scene, and equip them to create work that consciously and profoundly engages with Barbadian tradition. ‘Emerging Directors Residency’ offers an opportunity to design and apply staging concepts for ‘alternative spaces’, i.e. the “site-specific”, and otherwise environmental concept. It offers mentorship, access to archival material, and affords time for creativity.


The ideal candidate should be a trained Barbadian theatre artist, who has directed between 1 and 4 plays.

Duration of Programme:

50 hours to be undertaken between November 6th – December 8th, 2017.

*Please note that your application must include a timeline mapping out your use of the set 50 hour period. While access to the Fresh Milk studio may be granted in addition to this timetable which may inform the work, it would be considered as work done outside of the parameters of the residency

Application process:

Prospective candidates can apply with the completed application form (which includes a bio/artist statement, project proposal and detailed timetable outlining the 50-hours of the residency, and can be downloaded here), full CV and portfolio, writing samples from your director’s notebook and 2-3 critical (newspaper, peer or academic) reviews of recent work to the National Cultural Foundation, Theatre Arts Office at the email address lisa-cumberbatch@ncf.bb before midnight on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017. They will be interviewed by a panel comprising NCF and Fresh Milk officials.

The successful candidate for the residency will be offered a stipend of $1,000.00 BBD. The mentor will spend 10 hours in total with the resident over each 50 hour residency. The resident will have access to two actors for 15 hours to experiment and/or create work. At the end of the residency period, there will be a short, private showcase where the resident can share aspects of the work they have been contemplating with a small audience of invited theatre professionals.


In addition to the 50 hours spent at Fresh Milk, each resident will be required to keep a weekly blog of text and images documenting their thoughts and processes which will be shared on the Fresh Milk website. At the close of the residency, each resident will also be required to submit a report according to Fresh Milk and the NCF’s guidelines.