A catch-up with The Flames now settled into the quarantine

Blog | May 12, 2020

Our Scottish and Japanese Flames have been getting creative for a digital collaboration. From this collaboration, a series of three short films have been produced.

We’re going into our seventh week of lockdown here in the UK, meaning the digital collaboration taking place between our Scottish and Japanese Flames launched seven weeks ago. At the moment, things can still feel a bit scary, especially when we think too heavily about what the future holds. But, even in difficult times, our Flames have continued to burn brightly and have managed to share some light in this unknown, dark place.

Some of our Flames are missing the usual hustle and bustle of a pre-Covid weekday; some of them are enjoying a new, quieter routine; and, for some, their typical daily routine has barely changed. Some of our Flames have had to use technology in new ways, and all of our Flames have had to think outside the box! And, as a result of our Flames’ enthusiasm, creativity and dedication, we have been able to create three short films over this short space of time.

We previously caught up with Anne, Betty and Kate,who shared their initial thoughts about the digital collaboration and gave us an insight into what life is like for them at the moment.  This week, we caught up with Tom, John and Annette to chat about their experiences with the digital collaboration, how lockdown has affected their typical routine, and discuss the joy (and challenges) of the creative process.


When I first heard that we were going to be using technology in this way, I was quite at ease with the prospect. This is partly because I have been using computers for many years and partly because there was a sharp move towards keeping in touch electronically by quite a few of the groups I’m associated with. By the time Tricky Hat got in touch, I was an experienced Zoomer!

I like how the digital collaboration has given me a chance to be creative in the most mundane of circumstances – my own home. Plus, it’s great to be in (virtual) touch with fellow Flames. For me, this collaboration has been consistent with the usual creative process. There is a sense of both excitement and nervousness whenever the tasks are published. Then, there is a period of frantic brainstorming (with but one brain!) before the potential pitfalls of how to present the strange ideas you have come up with. Plus, there’s the technical and practical challenges, a certain amount of disappointment that things don’t work out, and elation for those that did. A challenge for me has been operating a camera solo when you’re the subject in shot – it can involve some whacky, Heath-Robinsonish paraphernalia. I’ve also learned that my capacity for self-delusion is quite high. Seeing how you appear to others on screen can be deflating.

A normal day for me at the moment involves a very leisurely morning followed by some music, writing, housework, walking, cooking, eating, watching TV, and skyping with a dear friend before bed. I’ve been enjoying watching National Theatre past productions. “One Man, Two Guv’ners” (fun), “Jane Eyre”, “Treasure Island” (superb), and, most recently, “Twelfth Night” (a jolly romp). I’m most looking forward to watching “Frankenstein” with Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch when it comes out later this week.

When I first watched HOME,I thought it was thought-provoking, slightly disjointed and passionate. It’s a typical Flames production only on screen instead of on stage.


When I first heard that this digital collaboration was taking place, I was quite excited by it. I was fairly familiar with some of the things, such as using Zoom and filming on my iPad. I quite like using technology and have no fears about it, so I immediately thought it was a good idea.

I like having a Facebook page where The Flames can share fun things as well as ideas. This was supposed to be my second Flames performance, having done one previously, so it’s good to get to know the other Flames a bit better. It’s also good seeing what other people come up with because you can get a bit set in your ways if you’re used to working in this way and getting inspiration from others can give you a fresh approach. Plus, the tasks get by the Tricky Hat team have been really fun, I loved the task where we all had to dress up. Through doing this, I’ve learned that The Flames have a fantastic sense of humour. We’ve got Bernard the Imaginary Horse, and everyone’s posting stories to do with him! I’ve also thought a lot about how technology can be used in theatre. This situation has opened up a lot of things and really made me think outside the box – it makes you improvise and think more about how you can use the tools you have at your disposal.

I always find working with other people and creating something an exciting process. I’m always up for a new project and love the initial excitement, brainstorming and working that comes with it. My biggest lesson at art school was to always put yourself creatively at risk, as that’s often when you’ll do your best work. This has helped me to maintain that excitement for new projects. But, the main challenges for me are trying to be less self-judgemental and trying to think outside the box more. I’ve done stuff and thought “that’s rubbish – I can do better than that so why am I not doing better than that?” I’m a trained visual artist and I’m trained in performing, too, so I think this is the kind of stuff I should be doing better in. But, it has helped being able to see other Flames’ ideas. Also, when isolation began, there was a big flurry of creative things to do online. I didn’t jump headfirst into everything that interested me, I only got involved in some select things, but I did feel a bit overloaded and normally I’m a bit more organised with such things. I’m also the main carer for my daughter and I tutor students as well. It’s definitely been challenging juggling these things.

My typical routine involves getting up early (I’m a morning person), listening to the radio, then cleaning door handles and other things because I have staff coming in the house for my daughter. Then, I’ll grab something to eat, plan my day and work until around midday on the computer. After I’ve stopped for lunch, I might have a nap, do some reading and then I’ll have dinner with my daughter and just relax for the evening. During lockdown I’ve loved listening to music. I usually stick on classical music, but this morning I listened to “Beach Boys – Pet Sounds.” I’ve also been listening to the radio. I quite like the crime series ones, like Paul Temple and Agatha Christie. They last a week and they’re quite fun. I’ve also been watching Better Call Saul on Netflix and I recently watched all of Sex Education, I thought that was brilliant and beautifully handled.

I’m almost quite enjoying lockdown and don’t find myself missing much. I’m finding it a useful way of working and haven’t felt a great loss. I do miss popping out to the shops for a wee break – shopping is not an enjoyable experience now. I also miss going for walks by the sea and going for an overnight stay at different places in Scotland (I’m a member of the Scottish Youth Hostel). I also miss good seafood restaurants and Chinese restaurants because I could never cook those things at home as well as they do!

I thought HOME was really good! I thought that the way it was put together was really witty and clever, and really enjoyable to watch. I had previously made a short film of me in the garden, which I submitted for HOME. Most of the time, you put stuff in and a lot of it doesn’t get selected, but I’m used to getting stuff edited so it doesn’t bother me. But, when I watched HOME and I saw the film that I submitted was in it, I thought: “They’ve put in too much of this!”


What I love about the digital collaboration is the exact same as what I love about all Flames things: how Fiona and the team put it all together. I must admit I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I tend to put things off and wait until the final day or night before the deadline, dreading the thought of doing the tasks for whatever reason. Then, when I start working on the tasks, I love it. I’m really enjoying seeing everyone’s input. I also enjoy the Zoom sessions – as much as I dread it, I also thoroughly enjoy it. Since this collaboration has started, I’ve gotten to grips with Zoom and I’m a Zoom master now. That’s my superpower!

My typical routine at the minute starts with getting up and putting on the outfit that I’ve been alternating between every two days. There’s six and a half (my daughter has a baby on the way) quarantining here. So, I usually do a bit of housework, play with my grandson, eat breakfast, do some yoga, get out on my bike, do some gardening… Then, I’ll stick on the TV and watch some Covid news. After, we’ll have a bit more play, head to the garden, tidy up, eat, stick on a box set and chill. During this time, I’ve been enjoying watching Code 404 and listening to David Bowie music, and (not enjoying) reading Covid news.

I don’t really know what I’ll do as soon as lockdown is over. I’ll maybe go back on my medication. I came off my sertraline for my OCD a week into lockdown and have been totally fine. In all honesty, I’m a bit concerned about the getting back to ‘normal’ with regards to work, expectations, and attempting to stretch myself in a hundred different directions. I think I’ll just go to see my wee auntie Anna who’s been isolating alone and give her a hug – she’s 84 and my late mum’s identical twin sister. Also, I think I’ll just go to Pret for a coffee and baguette with my daughters, it’s the simple pleasures that matter!

I loved watching HOME, I thought it was beautifully edited and it was lovely to see all the fellow Flames glowing!

It just goes to show you that not even a pandemic can stop our Flames! It’s wonderful to see how all of them have teamed up and gotten creative, even in these circumstances. A humungous thank you to Tom, John and Annette for having a chat with us and sharing exactly what life has been life for them these past seven weeks. Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with what our Flames have been getting up to!

Our second short film, STAYING IN, is now available to watch on Vimeo. This short film explores the ways in which our Flames connect with others whilst staying in the house and reflects upon the limbo they have found themselves in.