Hack Circus












May 2019
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What is creativity? How does it relate to things like problem-solving, risk-taking, impulsiveness and excitement?

I talk to some highly creative individuals in this special episode, part of a series of three 'Mastering' documentaries.

This little documentary, part of the Mastering Creativity strand of the HC Masterclass series (hcmasterclass.com), introduces three successful, creative individuals taking very different paths in life, and tackles these questions – and more.

Direct download: masteringcreativity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16am EDT

Is empathy important in business? Is it possible to have too much empathy to be successful? What's the connection between empathy and power? 

This little documentary, part of the Mastering Empathy strand of the HC Masterclass series, introduces three successful, creative individuals taking very different paths in life, and tackles these questions – and more.

Direct download: hcmasterclassempathy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Alex McLean is a well-known artist, musician, researcher, and coder based in Sheffield. He is the creator of Tidal Cycles, free software for writing music, and is one of founders of live coding and the algorave phenomenon.

Alex actively builds communities in the areas that interest him, and in this episode we talk about some of the events, festivals and groups he's been instrumental in developing, including Algomech and Dorkbot London.

He's also an academic researcher on the Penelope Project, and we discuss his particular interest in the seldom-acknowledged connection between weaving and modern technology. Alex explains the loom punch cards aren't the interesting bit – it's the interference patterns we should be focussing on.

This episode includes a live-coding demo. If you want to download TidalCycles and try it yourself, the code Alex was working with is: d1 $ jux rev $ chunk 4 (hurry 2) $ n "0 .. 7" # sound "cpu1" d2 $ jux rev $ off 0.25 (|+ n 12) $ n (off 0.125 (+ 7) $ "<c7(3,8) e7*2 [f8(3,8) g8*2] e8*2>") # sound "rash"


Alex's website


The Penelope Project

iTunes link

HC on Spotify

HC on PlayerFM

Direct download: alexmclean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

The world has changed since I last talked about motivation. More than ever, we're addicted to devices, addicted to YouTube, addicted to interrupting and derailing our thoughts – addicted scuppering our plans in favour of a quick hit!

For those in a motivational rut, here I lay out four simple ways to get you back on track.

1) Pretend you've got a boss

2) Childlike rewards, tiny changes

3) Set the scene for the activity

4) Focus on the now, not the future


Direct download: CreativityClinicMotivation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36am EDT

I used to think that branding was about coming up with the story we'd like to tell, but now I think it's more about uncovering the story that's already there. In this special extra-long Creativity Clinic, I talk about a practical technique that has helped me to work on the Hack Circus podcast brand in the run-up to the next series of this show, and give some hints of what's in store. 

Direct download: CreativityClinicBranding.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Nathan Geering is a dancer, teacher and innovator known for his work with visually impaired people. He has created dance that's accessible for visually impaired people to both watch and participate in, and has begun to develop a beatbox shorthand system as an alternative form of audio description for movement. Nathan was the Artistic Director for the Special Olympics in 2017, and has a great TEDx talk online which I recommend watching as a follow-up to this podcast.

In this chat, we discuss how Nathan's kung-fu background helped him get up to speed when he started out dancing for the first time in his twenties. We also talk about his projects and achievements, the importance of presentness, how to create your own success, how technology contributes to depression and anxiety, and how an awareness of the body has helped him to overcome fears through developing a physical curiosity about them.

Nathan's website

Nathan's TEDx talk

iTunes link

HC on Spotify

HC on PlayerFM

Direct download: nathangeering.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

The world is a rough place at the moment. One easy way we can improve it for ourselves and those around us is by upping the quality of our interactions with people. If we really listen, if we really read emails, if we really look for the meaning in the messages we receive from the people who communicate with us, we will set ourselves apart from most others. The trend is towards not reading long messages, not clicking links, missing details, not bothering to reply, and imagining we'll just fill in the blanks later if we need to. It creates a global paucity of interactions, with everyone imagining they've got the measure of the next person, and don't need to bother listening anymore. Give quality time and you'll get quality time back.

Direct download: CreativityClinicPayAttention.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

It's the summer... no one's replying to email, everyone's busier – or more on-holiday – than I am. In this episode, I talk about my current situation, which right now is all about waiting. 

If you've had some success in the past, it's not because you kept gambling on high stakes gigs, it's because you kept producing quality stuff. If you find yourself waiting back on a load of promises, I recommend putting the things you can't work on yet out of your mind, and using the time to develop yourself positively. It's the tiny changes you make to yourself and your life that will have huge effects down the line.

Direct download: CreativityClinicGamblingYourLife.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36pm EDT

Maggie Nolan is a consultant and trainer, bringing techniques from improvisation practice into businesses. She launched her agency Start With A Yes over a year ago, combining years of experience of teaching and performing and applying them in a fresh context – to business.

In this chat we discuss the improv scene in the UK, how long-form improv works, and the range of reactions to 'applied improv' – particularly when it turns up unexpectedly in your office.

We also chat about the differences between teaching children and adults to "yes, and", some of the many problems improv can solve in corporate workspaces, the triumphs and struggles of women in the comedy world, and more. 

Start With A Yes (Facebook)

Start With A Yes (Instagram)

Applied Improvisation (Wikipedia)

iTunes link

HC on Spotify

HC on PlayerFM

Direct download: maggienolan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

This week I take on a listener's question about prioritising ideas: how do we decide what's most important? Is it better to do dig into one big thing or skim lots of little ones? In this short episode, I suggest it might be all about values, explain why I'm not really an artist, and consider how long-term working can be complimented by 'slight' ephemeral work. I also draw on the wisdom of previous HC podcast guest, Nadia Kamil.

Get in touch if you have any questions around creativity, process, inspiration etc, and I'll give them a go in these weekly monologues.


Direct download: CreativityClinicPrioritisingIdeas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Sara Green is a dancer, choreographer, movement director and film-maker. She's collaborated with artists and other performers across theatre, film, fashion and dance. Her recent work includes Richard Ayoade’s vignette for Radiohead, short film The Entertainer starring Toby Jones, and Anita & Me, a world premiere for the Birmingham Rep.

In this chat, Sara talks about the differences between working with dancers and non-dancers, and explains how she communicates movement to actors who don't have a dance background. We also ponder ways of embodying science through movement, discuss Sara's history and unique physicality, and talk in particular about the Manchester International Festival commission she's created, Superposition.

This is a bit of a Manchester International Festival special. Sara's commission is a response to an MiF installation by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Atmospheric Memory.


Sara's website

Superposition video

Libsyn link

iTunes link

HC on Spotify

HC on PlayerFM

Direct download: SaraGreen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

This week's question was about how artists deal with time: do we let the available time decide how 'big' a project is; is that a valid constraint? How do we understand the value we place on time, outside of the monetary value our society attaches to it? And what about our lifespan, health-span and energy-span? How do these incredibly persuasive influences affect things?

I have a go at tackling some of these issues in this short episode. Look out for the interview episode as usual on Thursday, and do send in any questions or ideas for Creativity Clinic episodes: editor@hackcircus.com



Direct download: CreativityClinicArtandTime.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Ben Moor is a seasoned and innovative storyteller with multiple Edinburgh shows under his belt – mostly one-man shows. Ben's work is sensitive and often surreal, as he challenges the audience to follow him on journeys through worlds peppered with delightful ideas.

We chat about Ben's shows, the benefits of doing Edinburgh runs, how the Fringe has changed between generations, where ideas really come from, how to learn lines, and more. We also leaf through his enormous file of ideas.

Ben's website

Ben's showreel

Libsyn link

iTunes link


Direct download: BenMoor.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Making and wellbeing are linked. While it's known that making things improves your mood, I argue here (entirely unscientifically) that you can't make yourself make stuff until you feel like you have some energy to spend. So: getting creative can improve an already OK mood, but it's hard to get off that first block, especially if you've been battling mental or emotional problems that drain all your energy and make any kind of extra activity seem absolutely out of the question. The good news is that, I think, creativity expresses itself in everything we do. If we can make the decision to get up, to talk to someone, even just to push ourselves to think slightly differently, we're building new pathways in our brain and exercising the possibility of hope.

Direct download: Creativity_Clinic_15_Wellbeing_and_Making.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Sophie Rochester is a creative entrepreneur of significant standing, appearing on numerous lists of top business people in her industry. She is known for always being one step ahead of industry trends, and taking her ideas in bold and ambitious directions. 

Sophie has a background in publishing, and founded The Literary Platform: a consultancy and online magazine that bridged digital and storytelling, and investigated the lessons of this union.

An advocate of both making and learning, Sophie's latest venture is Yodomo.co, a start-up committed to delivering the joy of making through online video.



Sophie's LinkedIn

The Literary Platform

Direct download: SophieRochester.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Katie Day is the Director of Birmingham-based theatre company, The Other Way Works. She creates exciting and innovative experiences for small, highly-engaged audiences, and often deploys technology in interesting ways. Her work often uses the real world as the set, with productions set in hotel rooms, car parks and even the audience member's home. Katie's latest production, A Moment of Madness, will be showing at Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) from the 2-4 August.

Amongst other things, we discuss her lifelong love of making experiences for others, the role of imagination, the therapeutic effects of theatre, how games fit in, and why it makes sense to overlap performance with reality.

Direct download: KatieDay.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58pm EDT

What kinds of books give us ideas? Do we even get much emotional inspiration from books at all?

This first Creativity Clinic of the new series is a personal reflection on some of the things I've read that I've have influenced my work, and which, sometimes many years after reading, I still draw strength and inspiration from today.

Please send in your questions or ideas for Creativity Clinics to @hackcircus on social media or editor@hackcircus.com – remember they don't need to be direct questions about my own habits (though those are welcome); I'll happily look into any area you're interested in hearing about.

Interview episode coming as usual this Thursday. 


Direct download: CreativityClinicBooksandInfluences.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

Adam Tandy is a TV producer, director, writer and much more, working on some of the best shows and with some of the top stars of our era. We discuss some of the joys and challenges of making the hugely successful Reece Sheersmith/Steve Pemberton series Inside Number 9, as well as The Detectorists and the League of Gentlemen anniversary episodes. We also ponder what the tone of comedy is, in the late 2000s, and the impact of social media on storytelling.

Libsyn feed (browser)

iTunes link


Spotify coming soon!

Direct download: AdamTandy.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Luke Jennings is the creator of the hit TV series Killing Eve, about the mutual obsession between an MI6 agent and a female assassin. He was also, until recently, the dance critic for The Observer newspaper, and worked as a professional dancer in his youth. 

We discuss the process of writing Killing Eve, sexism and bias in the dance world, and how seeing women empowered through dance has inspired his writing.

Luke on Twitter

Luke's Wikipedia page

Watch Killing Eve on iPlayer

Libsyn feed (browser)

iTunes link


Spotify coming soon!

Direct download: LukeJennings.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Hazel Findlay is a top professional climber, constantly touring the world in search of new adventures and breaking records. In recent years she has been working as a coach, helping climbers of all abilities to overcome their fears and progress to the next level. 

Some of the subjects covered in this chat include idea of mastery (as opposed to competitiveness), the mental health benefits of climbing, coaching as a kind of giving back, how climbing is similar to public speaking, and how training an awareness of the body helps to increases one's awareness in general. 

This episode was recorded at an arts organisation called Access Space in Sheffield. Access Space supports those developing skills and interests in creative technology and is well worth checking out.

Hazel's blog

Hazel's Wikipedia page

Watch her climb


Libsyn feed (browser)

iTunes link


Spotify coming soon!


Direct download: HazelFindlay.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

The Hack Circus podcast is back with a bang after an enormous break of two years!

The star guest this episode is Tom Tobia – a creative entrepreneur based in Sheffield. We cover the origins of an organisation he helped to found, Makerversity, his principled drive, and the way he approaches consulting with the range of businesses he works with. We also exchange some thoughts about creativity – how it arises from constraints, its relationship to failure, and why people should embrace a more open-ended approach to planning.

Tom's website: http://www.tomtobia.com

Tom's new project: https://www.anewfield.org/

Direct download: TomTobia.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 12:28pm EDT