Shannon Patterson: Creative Sparks, Creative Friendships

Doug GoldringCommunity, Production, Training

Walking the dog with my husband, Mike, this past July, I suddenly noticed him kinda smiling to himself (Mike, not the dog.) We had just been talking about the amazing group of students we’d recently finished working with in the 1-Year Intermediate Program at The Barrow Group. “Whatcha smilin’ about?” I ask him, and he tells me it’s a surprise. Now I’m curious. I ask 100 questions. He caves. “I’m not supposed to tell you, but some of the students from the 1-Year Program are coming to Edinburgh to see the show.”

The show he’s referring to is a revival, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, of the 2020 Barrow Group production of 17 Minutes by Scott Organ. We would spend a month in this enchanted Scottish city with thousands of other artists who were bringing their shows to share with vast international audiences in the hopes of gaining 5-star reviews and interest in future productions of their shows elsewhere.

The fact that students from the 1-Year Program were traveling all the way across the pond to see and support their instructors, leaders, and fellow TBG community members moved me to tears. It reminded me of the importance of Barrow Group students seeing shows produced by The Barrow Group. A chance to see how all the adjustments and tools that they are playing with in class can translate to a fully-mounted production. I was so pumped to get the chance to share the show with them! Especially this particular show because the original creative team and actors involved in this show, all long-time Barrow Group students and instructors, have had the privilege of developing this show from the very first reading.

Having the students there was like having a little slice of home walk on stage with me that day. There was a bit of ease in me. A bit of, “I hope that I make them proud” playing in my brain. Definitely an extra bit of excitement! In chatting with the group afterwards, Mike and I soaked up their experience. It’s always fascinating to hear individual takeaways articulated so thoughtfully and to entertain questions about the story or the process of this production. To see the faces of the people who are moved beyond words who you can tell were right there with us while we were playing through the story. In fact, one student said something to the effect of, “I went in thinking I’m going to figure out what tools they’re all using and then quickly forgot because I was so immersed in the story”.

The 1-Year Programs at The Barrow Group offer such a unique opportunity to artists. Not only do the students grow together while learning a specific approach to storytelling, but inevitably they start their own community within the larger community. Much like the cast of 17 Minutes, (or any show where folks spend a lot of time together,) the students are with each other so regularly for that year that lifelong friendships blossom. Creative partnerships form from like-minded interests, and the sparks of future projects are born. It is my wish for this group of artists that they continue to nurture these creative sparks and friendships; it is from such sparks that projects like 17 Minutes, and presenting the show at the Fringe, are forged.

My sincerest gratitude to the ’22-’23 1-Year Intermediate Program! Keep in touch, and know that you are forever a special part of The Barrow Group community!

– Shannon Patterson
IG: @shanpatterson

Interested in taking the program Shannon’s referring to in this post? Applications are currently open for 1-Year Intermediate Programs with a January start.

Shannon Patterson is not only a TBG teaching artist, but also an accomplished actor and director. She was recently the acting coach on the set of Pretty Little Liars: Summer School. Additional upcoming classes with Shannon include Online Directing Workshop I beginning October 3, and Directing Workshop I beginning October 19.

See TBG’s full schedule of classes here.