Written by Emily Carewe, Founder of MishMash Festival

MishMash | Creating a festival programme

01 April 2022

The joy of programming something like LAMDA MishMash Festival is that the scope and breadth of applications means you can’t even begin to predict what the shape of the festival will be.

Going into applications opening, I had memories of the 2020 LAMDA MishMash programme, which unfortunately never came to be.

The format of the festival had changed this time around. This time we had paid work-in-progress commissions ranging from £250 for a 10-minute piece, to £1000 for 40-minutes – this means we were asking for applications to be a seed of an idea, rather than already written scripts.

Working alongside Helen (LAMDA’s Producer), Leanne & Selina (MishMash Assistant Producers), we spent the early weeks of January reading the 80+ applications received, and each making our own notes based on the applicant’s answers to three questions: Who are you, and what is your relationship to LAMDA? What is the seed of your idea? Why is LAMDA MishMash the right place for you to develop this?

We purposefully put word limits of 150-200 words (or 2-minutes if a filmed application) for each question. This is partly to ensure people don’t spend hours working on the application unpaid, and also to make sure that all applications have the same limitations within which to get their ideas across.

The range of applications was amazing, as was the application style! Spotify playlists, video and voice recordings, PowerPoint presentations, word docs – we were so excited by the ways people chose to express their ideas, and it really helped to bring concepts to life.

One of the things I find most challenging and exciting about programming any form of commission scheme I’ve worked on, is that you can only every compare the selection of applications to each other. In every scheme or festival I’ve been a part of, the parameters of assessment have always shifted based on the ideas we receive. So often however, the thing that really hooked us in though was the core of the narrative and character – how were we, the audience, going to be affected? Who was the story going to be about? How should we expect to feel?

Of course, with any seed commission, a lot of these answers are likely to shift in the process of development – but there is nothing more exciting than reading an initial pitch and feeling as though you can visualise, or feel, the impact the potential future piece might have.

'Ultimately, we were so blown away by the commissions, we opted to offer 27 commissions rather than the originally planned 21!'

They range across immersive adaptations of Greek mythology, a choreographed piece exploring the Desi Queer scene, a piece using spoken word exploring rave culture, through to a staged reading of a TV sitcom pilot! For many of the participants, this is their first paid opportunity to write or develop a piece of work. All pieces will be shared in a work-in-progress from between 29th April and 1st May at LAMDA

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