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  • Writer's pictureGabriella Songui

My Story

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly my career began. Perhaps at seven years old with my first vocal work job, or at thirteen when I wrote my first full length play. Maybe my first job at sixteen working with an incredible young man with down syndrome, or my journey to Brazil at eighteen to teach musical theatre. I don’t necessarily believe there’s a right answer. My work has been shaped by each of my experiences, as is the way with freelancing in the arts. You are your brand, so all your inspirations and core memories are incredibly important to your career. I was so incredibly fortunate to have continuous support from my parents, and a real wealth of opportunities. I’ve had so many friends and family who have graciously been a part of my childhood shows, read my unedited work and applauded my accomplishments.

I grew up in Greater London (by Sutton high street for whoever knows the area) and lived in a terraced house with my brother and parents. My mother is a strong, loud Brazilian woman who raised me a network of Brazilian families (of which there is an abundance in Sutton) and gave me a real sense of my culture and heritage. My father, born in Trinidad but raised predominantly in England, shared his love of films and literature and read me science textbooks to sleep when I was too lazy to study. My parents, like many others, wanted me to have every opportunity they had never had. They wanted me to be able to do what I loved without restriction, and I lived an incredibly privileged childhood because of it. When I sang and danced to the neighbours at five-years-old they put me in stage school. When I proved I was committed they took me to auditions, got me scholarships, showed me opportunities. I did, and do, believe that I can achieve all my goals with hard work and self belief. That is because of my parents.

At thirteen, I wrote my first play (about 3 hours long) and realised how much I loved storytelling. My favourite part was coming up with wild storylines and reading through raw scripts with my friends in the playground. I continued writing, creating an obscene amount of plays and sharing them with whoever would listen. At sixteen I began my own theatre club at school, managing up to thirty 11-18 year olds at a time, and realised the power of community. That combination of my writing, but also workshop facilitation, was the foundation of what my career is now. I thrive off being busy and accumulating skills, sharing them with others and creating passionate communities.

At eighteen I set off to University to study English Literature and Creative Writing, and finished those three years with a first class degree (much to my surprise). I kept phenomenally busy, writing plays, running societies, performing in shows, participating in sports… In my final year I began a community interest company called Windswept Workshops with my writing partner, Erin Gilbey, and was joined soon after by our wonderful administrator Charlotte Hooper. We celebrated 3 wonderful years in December 2022! I learnt how to apply for funding, run social media, plan events, evaluate projects, hire and manage freelancers… Our company took off in the pandemic, with all its many restrictions, so we were incredibly lucky in its success.

As well as running Windswept, I have a busy and exciting freelance career. I have worked with incredible organisations such as Derby Theatre, Multistory, The PlayHouse, LouDeemy, Gazebo, Severn Arts, Birmingham Museums Trust, Beatfreeks… It’s been an exciting time with many rejections and frustrations, but also a lot of success and pride. Freelancing is a wild ride. I’m my own accountant and administrator, as well as an artist and a producer. It’s a lot of work to constantly apply for jobs, managing your money, handling communication, organising your schedule and delivering projects. On top of this you must always work on your craft and continue your own self-improvement so you can deliver what you love. This is why freelancers need to charge more money… But that’s definitely a topic for another day.

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