Introduction TOOLKIT SERIES 3- By Dramaturg Suzanne Bell
”Theatre is like a gym for empathy. It’s where we can go to build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening and understanding and…
A selection of guides and recipes to give time for creative thought, re-inspire you and tie you to your desk by writer Tabby Lamb.
I was once given an instruction manual on how to ‘quickly unfuck your room’ by a lover who knew I had a problem with messiness. They created a simple step by step guide for battling
through the worst days of the floordrobe. I include this as the first recipe as it’s always easier to get started in a tidy room.
How to unfuck your floordrobe
1. Remove rubbish and recycling, empty bins, place all rubbish elsewhere. Who cares where, it just can’t be in your space.
2. Return foreign objects to their homes, eg plates, cups, bowls to the kitchen etc. Leave them there. Do not wash them up.
3. Pick up laundry and drop in a pile.
4. Pick up anything else on the floor. If you know where they go, return them – if you don’t know, place them on the bed.
5. Hoover sweep & mop
6. Change bedding if needed
7. Put laundry in the machine
8. Hang out laundry
If you only have 15 minutes just do sections 2-4, if you have 30 minutes do sections 1 – 4 and if you have longer, do all 8 steps.
If you feel like getting a gold star, you can add in section 7.5 where you START FUCKING WRITING while the laundry is on.
Finishing Line Flapjacks
I love to bake. I’m not great at it, but I love it. The specificities of ingredients, the allotted times and temperatures. Knowing you can eat it at the end – it all brings me joy. As a procrastinator I
often decide to bake when I have something else to do. Maybe it’s a project I’ve been putting off starting or a deadline I need to meet.
These are my famous Finishing Line Flapjacks. When the end is in sight and my brain needs stimulation, I leave my workspace and head to the kitchen. The reason I make flapjacks so often is because they’re so simple. I have everything they need in my flat at all times so I rarely need to go shopping to get ingredients… also they’re delicious and easy and i’m lazy AF.
1 Laptop (or notebook if you’re oldschool)
125g butter, plus extra for the tin (or vegan spread of any kind)
125g Light Brown Sugar (or whatever sugar you have to hand)
4 tablespoons of Golden Syrup (irreplaceable, and usually tripled)
250g Oats (I’m gluten intolerant but usually use regular oats with no problem)
When you notice the finish line is in sight and you need to refuel before you finish that final draft or get to the end of this chapter – pick your laptop up and walk to the kitchen. Ensure your laptop stays open, but far enough away from the baking activity to keep it safe.
Preheat your oven to around 200 degrees, and grease a baking tray.
Add your dry oats to a pan on low heat.
In a separate pan, melt your butter and slowly add your sugar until caramelised.
Add your golden syrup, whilst keeping an eye on your oats so they don’t burn.
Add your now toasted oats to the mixture and combine.
Add to your baking tray and bake for 20 minutes
Return to your laptop and write for 20 minutes, do not take your fingers off that keyboard.
Remove your flapjacks from the oven and continue writing until they are cool.
Only when you have finished writing, you may reward yourself with your first slice of flapjack.
A potion for comfort
We all know that writing is never as easy as it seems, whether it’s killing your darlings that’s causing issues or whether you’re trying to keep yourself safe whilst you write about traumatic
things – have I got the recipe for you.
This is the most simple thing in the world, and is naturally vegan, gluten and nut free!
1 Large bar of Dark Chocolate
1 Mug of Oat Milk
Optional extras include cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice etc.
Break up your chocolate in a saucepan and melt over a low heat
Slowly introduce your Oat Milk whilst stirring the melted chocolate. Now is the time to add any personalisation’s too.
Pour into your favourite mug
Continue to write with a mug of mulled magic beside you.
Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is write. Sometimes for the integrity of the play I am working on it is important that I step away from the laptop and have some down time. This is for
times like those.
1 Ready Meal
Close your laptop with a flourish. State ‘fuck this’ and walk to the kitchen.
Remove a ready meal from the freezer. When stabbing into the plastic, imagine instead stabbing any of the many horrific men in our industry.
Heat your meal for the appropriate time, whilst deciding what to watch on TV.
Tweet about something worthy to watch, whilst actually selecting yet another episode of Below Deck.
Watch Below Deck on the sofa with your microwave meal
Do not feel guilty. You are not a machine.
Finally, I want to leave you with my guide to running the perfect bath. No matter what time of day or what my problem is, I know an hour or 2 soaking away in a nice hot bath gives me the time to
think. Sometimes I think about writing, sometimes boys, sometimes chocolate cake but no second spent in a bath is wasted.
Fill your bath with hot water
Enjoy your bath
Sure we can add bubbles and oils and salts and bath bombs and whatever else we like, but there is no such thing as a bad bath. Unless your heating is broken in which case I can’t help.
Tabby Lamb is a non-binary writer and performer based in East London. She is equally inspired by Carly Rae Jepson and Tennessee Williams, and strives to tell stories that explore the intersections between popular culture and politics.
Their debut solo show SINCE U BEEN GONE, which Tabby wrote and performed, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019, after previewing at the Gate Theatre. The show was spectacularly received by audiences and garnered a glowing 4* write up from the Guardian who called the play “bold, honest and swollen with love”.
They were part of the Soho Theatre Writers Lab and the LGBTQ Arts Review #RaisingOurVoices scheme for queer and trans writers, Oxford Playhouse Playmakers scheme, and Oli Lansley’s Writing for Stage and TV course. She is also an associate artist for Middle Child and Theatre Royal Stratford East.
They are currently under commission at The Unicorn Theatre, The Place and Kilter, Pentabus and 45North. Alongside their passion for writing, Tabby is a facilitator and runs creative arts projects for people from the LGBTQ+ community. They also founded Theatre Queers & can often be seen advocating for Trans Rights across their social media platforms and beyond.