How The Flames performers are staying creative and connected during self-isolation

Blog | April 23, 2020


Our Scottish and Japanese Flames are using technology in new ways as part of a digital collaboration. From this collaboration, a series of three short films will be produced.

The majority of us are finding ourselves using technology more than ever at the moment – and it is proving to be a vital resource. Video calling and messenger apps are helping us stay connected to the important people in our lives during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Following the cancellation of our performances, we decided that a digital collaborationwould allow us to keep our Scottish and Japanese Flames connected and we felt this would enable us to keep that momentum burning until our Flames are able to light up the stage again. Our digital collaboration uses the same processes that are followed in Flames Guerrilla sessions, with The Flames sharing their responses to tasks and questions set by the Tricky Hat core team. The only differences are that their responses are now shared digitally instead of in person, and a series of three short films are being produced instead of a live performance.

However, changing the landscape that you operate within can be quite the challenge! Last week we caught up with Director, Fiona Miller,to learn more about where the idea for the collaboration came from and to discover what her hopes for this project are. This week, we’ve had a chat with a few of our Flames – Anne, Betty and Kate – to find out how they’re feeling about collaborating in this way, what their thoughts are on using technology like this, and how this has affected their typical daily routine. We hope their ‘can do’ attitude and creativity will inspire you as much as it has inspired us!


My initial thoughts about this collaboration were that it sounded like an exciting, innovative idea! Plus, it seemed like a good opportunity to force me to learn how to use some of the interesting technology that’s available.

On the whole, I think this collaboration is great: it’s very interesting and, at times, thought-provoking. Through this collaboration, I’ve learned how to use new technology to connect with the other Flames. With Ondine’s help and advice, I’ve managed to join the Facebook group set up for us Flames.  I’ve also learned how to download and use Zoom and Cisco Webex, which allows me to do online yoga and Pilates classes and to take part in a Wednesday night choir rehearsal. Using technology like this is exciting, because I am now in touch with so many people and have access to a range of different images!

Trying out new technology has been challenging at points. I’ve had some issues with setting up Facebook on my phone and uploading images. I used to use my laptop just for emails and my phone just for texts and calls, so I’m trying to build up my technical knowledge.

My usual daily routine now involves an online exercise class – either yoga or Pilates in the morning. Then, I usually go out for a walk and food shopping in the afternoon.  In the evening, I’m on WhatsApp or Zoom to catch up with people virtually. My typical lockdown outfit is usually trousers and a top – it’s good to get dressed and out of your PJs and dressing gown!


When I first heard that this collaboration was taking place, I thought that it would be a challenge to film myself. I struggle with taking selfies and I find it hard to know where to look. I was also concerned that I would have no ideas or that the ideas I came up with wouldn’t be what Fiona and the team wanted.

There have been loads of physical, mental and emotional challenges since the collaboration has begun, but that is probably to with personal circumstances and the present situation with Covid-19. Through this collaboration, I’ve found that The Flames are incredibly supportive of each other, on the group chat and privately, and I have learned that we’re all struggling in some way. It has also shown me that I can use my time well or not, but that it doesn’t actually matter.

Now that we’ve gotten into the swing of things, I’m enjoying using the Facebook group. It’s great seeing what other folk are thinking, being able to try out ideas and having a laugh! I’ve also discovered some of the extras in Google Photos. Sending my ideas to the Tricky Hat team has been interesting. I’ve been coming up with different ways of conveying my ideas and taking new approaches when using my imagination and capturing my thoughts. What excites me about this collaboration is the same thing that excites me about our performances with The Flames: being able to throw ideas up into the air for Fiona to catch and make sense of them! 

To keep a routine, I always take the time to make and eat breakfast at the table and I go to bed at roughly the same time every night. Everything else is free flow – much the same as usual! And my standard lockdown outfit has been a big sloppy comfy cardigan over whatever I am wearing.


When the lockdown happened and our rehearsals came to an abrupt halt, it all felt a bit sad and unfinished, so I was delighted when Tricky Hat found a way of keeping us all engaged and connected. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but I had faith that the team would pull it all together in the way that they always have done. Now that we’ve gotten stuck into the digital collaboration, I’m amazed at all the creativity within the group. I love how varied and interesting the responses are, and how all the different personalities shine through!

Apart from the anxiety of having no ideas, the main tests have been technical, but I think I’m starting to overcome those. I am naturally quite an introvert, so some might say I have been training for this all my life! That said, it’s not been without its challenges.

I live with my husband and my son in a two-bed flat in Glasgow. My son has cystic fibrosis, so he falls into the extremely vulnerable category. As a result, we have had to shield completely as a family. We can’t risk bringing anything into the house which might infect him. This has additional challenges, as my son also has Down’s Syndrome and so lacks some of the resources which can make isolation a bit more bearable. We’ve tried to make things easier for him by creating a bit of structure in the day, with a combination of exercise, baking, board games and film nights. We also tried to link him up to friends and colleagues through Zoom and WhatsApp.

To keep myself sane, I’ve been trying to improve my Spanish, practice mindfulness and follow some dancing and yoga videos on YouTube. I keep connected with friends and family through WhatsApp, Zoom, email and Facebook. Thank goodness for modern technology – the introvert’s friend!

I’ve also learned more about technology as a result of this collaboration. I’ve learned how to post a link to a video, which – for a woman of limited technical capability – is a minor achievement! I have also learned how to use Facebook and have joined The Flames’ group, which has been a great source of inspiration, support and laughter. And I have learned that, for all the anxieties mentioned, I really enjoy being set a weekly challenge. It helps me focus, stimulates my imagination and gives a structure to my week.

What I love about this collaboration is that, although we are all isolated within our own homes, we can still come together to create something. It will be fascinating to see what comes out of it, and how the Tricky Hat team will manage to sew it all together into something new and greater than the sum of its parts. I feel that sometimes the greatest creativity comes out of adversity, so I think it’s going to be brilliant.

When it comes to my usual lockdown outfit, anything goes and that’s quite liberating! Spotty top and tartan trousers? Why not! And if something good comes of all this, it might just be the death of ironing as a national sport.  All hail the drip-dry fabric!

Although the present circumstances can be testing, our Flames are doing a brilliant job of adapting to the change and being there for one another. Their enthusiasm towards getting stuck into this collaboration with us and their limitless creativity is what keeps us all going. A massive thank you to Anne, Betty and Kate for sharing with us their initial reactions to the digital collaboration and for giving us an insight into their daily lives at the minute. Feel free to follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagramto get to know more about our fantastic Flames and to keep up to date with what they’re all getting up to!

Our first short film, HOME, is also now live on Vimeo!In this video, The Flames in Scotland and Japan will invite you in their home: taking you on a journey and showing you the poetry of their daily lives. It will only be available until Friday 24 April, so make sure to check it out before you miss out!

  1. Caught up with Director, Fiona Miller
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Instagram
  5. Vimeo