Igniting Creativity and Re-awakening Passion in the UK

Huge excitement about launching into a whole year of my What About You? weekend workshops. Such an inspiring bunch of creatives and outlaws showing up to explode creativity, ignite our playful genius and transform shadows into rocket-fuel – or ‘demons into employees’ as one collaborator commented recently. The sessions began as an extension of the talks and Q&A evenings I was doing after ‘What About Me?’ screenings…


…where the group conversations were becoming increasingly edgy and inspiring. Soon we were getting into what really makes us create, where the juice comes from and especially how to access it without waiting around forlornly for some abstract ‘muse’ to whisper from the walls.

Once we started meeting up in groups of 40 or 50 in various locations around the globe it became clear that our creativity had a lot to do with playing with our shadows and thereby harvesting the energy we’d wasted by hiding them and ‘dragging them around in a sack behind us’ as Joseph Campbell said (or maybe it was Jung, I can’t remember).

Soon we were project building from a whole rejuvenated and powered-up place and ideas and plans were soaring – and they still are by all accounts.

these are the dates for the next workshops:

7th-8th July, Lewes, E.Sussex, UK

14th-15th July, London, UK

8th-9th September, Devon, UK

Please have a look at the new website:


…and turn right for the workshops.

Or if you’d like to reserve a place right now, click here:


They are all for DONATIONS ONLY – partly because I’m much more interested in everyone coming and not excluding those who can’t afford my A-list celebrity rates, but secretly also because I’m scared that if I put a real price tag on it maybe no one will show up…………….shhhhhhhhhhhhhh



God's Deaf Waiters

All around you, standing to attention, looking sharp in their tailored suits stand God's Deaf Waiters. They are primed and excited to bring you all manner of amazing delights, conjure support you never dreamed of, whisper to you great ideas and triumphantly manifest unexpected good fortunes and synchronicities to further you on your Mission. The only thing is, they're deaf. So they can't take your orders or understand your desires from what you say you want. No, they can only surmise their orders and your wishes from your Actions.

When we take actions according to our passions they see us getting busy and productive and they get interested, they conclude….oh Jamie's doing that, he'll need one of these…. and they styishly come up with timely gifts that we'd never have imagined were just what we needed, yet summoned by our intent, fuelled by our productivity and commitment, God's Deaf Waiters are all around us, waiting to serve our highest excitements.

Tip big.

All Creativity Workshops at www.jamiecatto.com


Transforming Demons Into Employees in 2012

Huge excitement about launching into a whole tour of my What About You? weekend workshops this year. Such an inspiring bunch of creatives and outlaws showing up to explode creativity, ignite our playful genius and transform shadows into rocket-fuel - or 'demons into employees' as one collaborator commented recently. The sessions began as an extension of the talks and Q&A evenings I was doing after 'What About Me?' screenings...


...where the group conversations were becoming increasingly edgy and inspiring. Soon we were getting into what really makes us create, where the juice comes from and especially how to access it without waiting around forlornly for some abstract 'muse' to whisper from the walls. Once we started meeting up in groups of 40 or 50 in various locations around the globe it became clear that our creativity had a lot to do with playing with our shadows and thereby harvesting the energy we'd wasted by hiding them and 'dragging them around in a sack behind us' as Joseph Campbell said (or maybe it was Jung, I can't remember).

Soon we were project building from a whole rejuvenated and powered-up place and ideas and plans were soaring - and they still are by all accounts.

It was an exciting prospect to mail out the new workshop dates to the 20,000 folks on my mailing lists from my music and films. But what I hadn't banked on, or remembered, were the people I had alienated in the last 10 years by being a total self-involved dick-head! Yes, it was great to receive hundreds of loving and supportive emails from fans and friends and excited creatives and outlaws all signing up on the first day - but the replies which stick in my memory are the two or three (or was it four) letters I got back from still-frothing and vitriolic people who I had offended, hurt, dumped-on, arrogantly dismissed or, in the case of one, trashed their house (apparently). I felt like a drug addict in rehab on one of the Twelve Steps where you make amends or acknowledge all the people you've done wrong to.

It made me reflect on how unpleasant I had been at times in the past, mainly to cover up my insecurity at feeling so out of my depth in those situations. I cringe when I think of myself swanning about with my big 1 Giant Leap boots on thinking I had all the answers. Thank God I had such a genius team working with me or What About Me? would have never seen the light of day.

Thankfully now I really DO have all the answers, so be assured, if you come and create and connect and laugh and shadow-dance with us you'll be in safe, all-knowing and benevolently humble hands.

these are the dates so far:

28/29 January Frome, Somerset, UK

4/5 February Amsterdam, Holland

11/12 February London, UK

18/25 February Koh Phang Gang, Thailand

17/18 March Deia, Mallorca

24/25 March Bristol, UK

14/15 April London, UK

21/22 April South Africa (tbc)

5/6 May Gibraltar

Please have a look at the new website:


...and turn right for the workshops.

Or if you'd like to reserve a place right now, click here:


They are all for DONATIONS ONLY - partly because I'm much more interested in everyone coming and not excluding those who can't afford my A-list celebrity rates, but secretly also because I'm scared that if I put a real price tag on it maybe no one will show up................shhhhhhhhhhhhhh

[youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=oWzTWEPU5wU&feature=youtu.be]


Jamie channelling Raisa about The Breslava Collective

J: I've collaborated with people who are very talented technically and enthusiastic but the missing link is that if I'm not meeting people on a deep personal level, if they're not sharing their whole selves with me, if I'm not feeling their vulnerability, their humanity, their uniqueness then there's a huge void because that's really at the core of what Art means to me - connecting deeply with people even in the sticky, vulnerable, uncomfortable places - sometimes especially those. So I wanted to put together a group of people who were prepared to dare to do that and make art that arose from that, the courage of that and the juicy excitement of being in that kind of a raw space with people. So I went about trying to create a group of people that were artists but were also willing to meet me at that place, so that we could get together in groups and as we were working on our Art or sharing with each other - Art would arise from our deep vulnerability that I was missing in other collaborations.

R: What were you planning to do with these people? Just to get together? Was is kind of like a hanging out meet-up group?

J: I felt vulnerable because I didn't actually have what we were going to do when we got together planned, so that was a big risk, even though I knew what I wanted in the sense that I knew I wanted to be in a group creating Art and sharing deeply with ourselves, I didn't actually know, Day 1: what we would do, would we all stand in a circle and play a game? So that was a very big learning curve and a very intense vulnerability - terror and excitement all at once too.

The way I work is spontaneous, is to follow the most exciting, the most potential-filled elements that I'm presented with in the moment. So it's like working with a piece of clay, and as the piece of clay is randomly becoming different shapes, when it presents itself as something like a horse, and I think suddenly oh I'd love to make that into a horse, then that's what it starts becoming.

I feel that everybody in the Collective, even though I have the last word, it's collaborative not democratic, but I feel that everybody there has a source of genius to be tapped, everyone has creativity, imagination and skill that I want brought to the table.

R: Sounds like you have different artistic disciplines within this collective, how did you decide to do that and what was your reason?

J: For me, I wanted to create a pool of the things that inspire me most. I'm not only inspired by acting, I'm inspired by great writing, I'm inspired by great physical theatre, I'm inspired by the visual arts, and it goes beyond even the arts, I'm inspired by scientists, I'm inspired by how the Universe works, biology, healing, meditation, spiritual things. I have a hope that when we're further along we will one week bring in a meditation teacher or a body worker and he'll take the group through some experiences and exercises which aren't directly artistic but will feed into our Art - or bring in a scientist that'll tell us certain ways that planets move or certain things about molecules that'll inform us, anything that's really inspiring and juicy and exciting about how the World works, I want to bring it in. I want a broad spread of different personalities, different practices, different inspirations to go into the collaborative pot.

What's really juicy is to see people who aren't used to this rawness and vulnerability how they respond, because just on the first session when I requested that each member bring in a list of 'I wants' - even being asked to write a list about 'what do i want', one of the members refused to write the list and I chose to be quite firm with him and said "if you don't even want to do the first thing I've asked for the group then don't bother coming" and it ended up with a phone-call where he realised that his resistance to writing the list went much much deeper than the list and this collective, it went into who he was as an artist and who he was as a man and how he felt treated by the world and where he fitted in and it was a massive inroad into him that cracked him wide open and on the first long phone-call about this he ended up sobbing on the other end of the line and then showed up to the session with a very profound and deep list that he read out to the group. Another member didn't tell me that she didn't want to write a list but when she arrived she hadn't written one and gave the group a whole speech about why she was sick of lists and was actually quite angry about it and was challenged during the session and never showed up again. There was another member who asked whether we could delay one of the later sessions and she texted to say could we move the session later - I didn't feel to do that, I didn't want to move it around again and help her out. It triggered her into a massive sense of unwelcomeness and being rejected and not being valued or cared about and she found it very difficult to stand in the vulnerability within the group of saying how she felt. Instead, her version of what had happened was that it was a reflection on that 'we weren't really a collective'. She decided to blame the group and blame the way we were working for how she felt instead of stand vulnerably in really how she felt and dare to be seen by everybody as being scared to be rejected as she felt that made her too small - so she decided to leave the group rather than dare to stand in the vulnerability.

So it's been very powerful to see who has the kind of staying power to stand in the vulnerability I'm looking for and who has the courage to go deeper into the dark parts of the forest where the deep magic is - because in all our mythology, in all our fairytales, it's when the hero or heroine dares to go into the deep, dark part of the forest in the story that the magician or witch appears and gives them a magic sword or magic shield. It's when the hero decides to be courageous and go into that darker scarier place that all the magic of the Universe comes to their aid and wonderful Art gets made. I don't want to work with people that aren't prepared to go into that deep dark part of the forest - no great Art comes from finding the safe path through the forest. The artists I admire, the great Art that I have witnessed on the stage is the times when people have taken risks. The reason we all look up to them so much is that we aspire to be that brave and be that raw and vulnerable and those are the people that really turn me on. Those are the people I want to work with in my collective so when people can't take the heat of the kitchen I'm very happy for them to leave.

R: You make it as though everybody's discomfort is what you're looking for - how does that serve everybody else? What do we get from it?

J: I'm just not interested in the known. I'm interested in the unknown, in the original, in the surprising, the fascinating, and all those things happen in the unknown - and those are often uncomfortable places. The times we feel uncomfortable are the times when we don't want to go to the places that are unknown. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable as in cringy or embarrassing or painful, it's just unknown, it's uncharted territory and that's where we're going to find the most original and exciting stuff. I don't want actors that are particularly good at crying or particularly good at rage or particularly good at English Shakespearian acting just to give me the rote, give me the thing that they're good at, give me their best talent that they've done before that worked. That's not what I'm interested in. I'm interested in finding the magic that happens in the place where we jump off the edge into stuff we don't know if it's going to work - that's where the really original fascinating stuff that breaks the boundaries of what we're used to and amazes audiences is to be found - not in 'I'm just very good at this so I'm going to do it again'. It's the unknown that I'm looking for and that is often for a lot of people uncomfortable.


Follow Jamie Catto http://twitter.com/#!/JamieCatto

Gun-Runners or Peace-Keepers?

I'm about to start a campaign to challenge the people to demand a stop to UK and USA being the gun-runners of the World. I have been told that UK and USA account for over 65% of all the guns bombs and bullets and military hardware sold and distributed in the World. I want to get the actual % figure if possible.

We have a history of arming little countries, propping up savage Dictators and regimes when it suits our political/economic aims to do so, including Gaddafi who we armed, and then going in, guns blazing to depose them when they no longer serve us, and never admit it was us who put and kept them there in the first place! It's dark.

In the case of Sadam Hussein and many others, as he couldn't afford our arms, WE EVEN LENT HIM THE MONEY TO BUY THEM FROM US. And after he used the arms to abuse his own people we now, having killed him, have left the Iraqi people with the debts he racked up. Yes, we are expecting them to pay us back for the loans we gave out for his illegal arms we supplied. Beyond evil.

This is all being done in our name. Our governments work for us. We are the CEO, the Shareholders. They are our employees. We have forgotten this. They are accountable to us. This needs to be woken up to.

Libya is another great example.

My endgame is that

a) we stop arming the world

and until then

b) every gun, bullet, bomb and piece of military hardware UK and USA manufacture has to be tagged and tracked. We need to know where EVERYTHING we make goes, is sold, distributed.

It is INCREDIBLE that this has gone on so long.

I need contacts, information, research, input - folks who know their stuff about this please.



Follow Jamie Catto http://twitter.com/#!/JamieCatto

Poets, Orphans, and a possible cure for HIV

I first heard about this EMFS (electro magnetic field system) machine from my Mum who is passionate about all non-drug therapies. She told me it was a machine that sent out a non-invasive, harmless frequency that scientists had discovered disrupted the four major common proteins in the HIV virus and that this stopped the virus in its tracks and left it unable to replicate thereby releasing the infected person's body to heal itself properly again and protect itself with white blood cells. I was skeptical but the results they claimed were conclusive and the treatment had been accepted for Efficacy and Harmlessness by Denmark (the EU Standard) and South Africa respectively. Then, soon after, I was asked to just film some kids, mainly AIDS orphans in Durban, South Africa, getting this HIV treatment, and to document the results visually, not scientifically, just to show how transformative an effect this machine appeared to be having on infected people's lives. So I made a few calls to my filming contacts in South Africa and hooked up with a cool young Producer/Director there, Karen Logan from Amehlo Productions in Durban. When I was chatting to her about setting up this shoot for the treatment, she introduced me on Skype to her husband, a slam poet and Community inspirer called Ewok. I immediately loved both their energies and had the idea that Ewok (Iain Robinson) could be like a wandering minstrel in the film, hanging out with the kids, maybe being our guide and presenter. He loved the idea. And then a moment later I remembered that in that region they have a tradition in Zulu called Praise Poetry, where, when you retire, or your daughter gets married or at some big event in your life, someone is appointed to present a praise poem for you, both roasting you and celebrating you, a bit like what we have as a Best Man speech in our culture. I suddenly got really excited about the idea of writing premature praise poetry for these kids, these young heroes:

(fastforward - this is a bit of one of the poets performing his poem in the film)

"Praise these children of magic & meaning, these laughing children, illness-as-teacher children.

Praise these wise children, eyes-that-tell-the-history-of-the-world children.

Praise these children and mothers of South Africa, and all over the world. Take my spirit, my will, build me into the spine that allows each and every one of them to stand tall, to never falter or fall."

Rich Ferguson

...AND I thought, why limit this to just Ewok? There's got to be some local poets who would love to get stuck in, no? Wait a minute! Poets from all over the world would be blown away if they could come and be a part of this! Well, you can see where it ended up going - poets from America, Europe, other places in Africa came to praise the kids and see what was going on.

So that pretty much explains how the film happened - to tell you what happened could take a bit longer. It was a diversely profound experience for all concerned, poets, crew and kids. At first the poets were as suspicious as I was, and we were all clear to state our truth that we weren't there to make a promo film or to endorse this machine, just to engage with the kids. Yet as the days went by, most of the poets were visibly and vocally amazed to report how their new young friends were so energised and transformed compared to the first day of treatment when they'd met.

We hung out with the kids in this Theatre where the treatment was going on for two weeks. Basically the treatment entailed the children just staying in the room for a couple of hours a day in the presence of this machine, which looked like a few white perspex shoe boxes on a table, and the relationships grew and deepened as our merry band of minstrels played and wrote and clowned and connected with these innocent young heroes every day from 9am 'til lunchtime sandwiches.

The fortnight was also crowned by a wonderful finale. I had wanted to get the cast to sing a version of Labi Siffre's Apartheid anthem 'Something Inside So Strong' for the film. I have loved that song for years and even though the lyrics were written for the times of Apartheid, when you include the Human Rights violation of these 2.8 million beautiful kids, mainly orphans, finding themselves largely abandoned with HIV in squalor and poverty, it takes on a whole new and powerful message.

"the higher you build your barriers the taller I become the farther you take my rights away the faster i will run you can deny me you can decide to turn your face away no matter 'cos there's something inside so strong i know that i can make it though you're doing me wrong so wrong you thought that my pride was gone, oh no something inside so strong"

[youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=PcKoYGNj0BU]

I asked Karen in Durban if we could sing it with the kids if I brought my Music Producing partner Alex Forster out to South Africa to record it on our mobile studio, and she replied that amazingly, the Durban Gospel Choir had just recorded the same song there and that they were well up for joining in.

At the end of the fortnight of HIV treatment and writing and playing and visiting homes in villages far away, these emotionally stretched and drenched poets performed all their praise poems with passion and humility to the kids at The Stables Theatre, Durban, to a packed house, standing room only, and at the end, the majestic Durban Gospel Choir took to the stage and sang the triumphant 'Something Inside So Strong' song with the kids and Zolani Mahola, the lead singer from South Africa's biggest group, Freshly Ground. It was epic!

I was sobbing. I wasn't alone.

We're cutting and mixing for a bit now. Though we've Produced it so far for just travel and accommodation costs, I think now I'm going to go for a proper editing budget. It really turned into a stunning and important piece.

And I think I'm going to call the film 'UBUNTU CHILD' - the poets had such powerful experiences. I realised that when you are faced with this statistic of 2.8 million kids with HIV in South Africa there's just no way to digest that figure and what it really means, BUT when you connect deeply with just 1 KID, suddenly you connect to them all in some way and can partly take in the enormity of this Human Rights Violation for a moment. I noticed as we were shooting that an agenda arose for me - this: that the kids of that region are the World's children, the World's responsibility. They're not just South Africa's kids, and the local government couldn't begin to tackle a situation as huge as this, though they have to lead it. But it's a World issue, not something 'going on over there'. It's so deeply uncivilised, even backward, to view it any other way.

Just Don't Say 'Genocide'

A couple of weeks ago, I Directed a clip for the Sudan365 Peace campaign featuring drummers from Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Japan, Mexico, Brasil, Russia, Australia, Dubai, France, Spain, UK as well as the drummers from Radiohead, Elbow, Pink Floyd, The Police, Snow Patrol etc all keeping a beat which travels round the world for Peace in Sudan. Unbelievably it got over 100,000 watches on youtube in the first week: [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=NJMzB48r8rI]

The situation in Sudan is dire. Recently, the Civil War there claimed over 2 million lives and the major humanitarian agencies all now say that the violence which looks about to kick off there again will be worse than Darfur. It is vital to demand that the World Leaders (such that they are) action a Peace plan beginning right now.

Somehow, in the process of making this clip I was asked to be the spokesperson for Crisis Action and the Sudan 365 Campaign on the Radio and TV News. I was hesitant to agree and felt a bit funny as I am no expert on the complex issues there and had only come to this a few weeks earlier. Still, I rocked up at the demo outside 10 Downing St. and drummed away with all the drummers, and when they beckoned me over, did interviews with BBC, Reuters, and the other News agencies. The weird thing was that just before each interview, whoever was chaperoning me made sure to say to me: "Whatever you do, just don't say 'Genocide'." Almost with a conspiratorial wink. It really wrong- footed me and I ended up having heated discussions with them about why? I mean, surely if millions of people are being murdered by another group, whether is be a country's army or rebels, then it's Genocide isn't it?

Apparently not.

Genocide, they informed me, is only Genocide if the millions of people being murdered are being murdered with the express intention of wiping them out 'as a race'. But if millions of people are being murdered because they are in the middle of a Civil War or for any other reason, then it doesn't count as Genocide and you're not allowed to use that word.

The problem is that unless you use the 'G' word, it simply doesn't pack the same punch. It doesn't get across to whoever might be listening the scale of the mass murder. Surely communicating the full scale of the horror is more important that adhering to the grammatical nuances of Genocide definition?

'No', they said.

So folks, we need a new word. Something that communicates the immense horror of millions of innocent people being murdered but doesn't confuse the intention of the uber-mass-murderers with race-driven uber- mass-murderers. Otherwise I fear, we will be reduced to phrases like 'a return to the horrific violence' which, to me, tends to understate the magnitude of the Genocide-sized nightmare the Sudan are about to face.

Suggestions pleas to http://www.sudan365.org/

Shut Up and Listen

It's a can be a perilous misconception to suppose that when we create we are actually 'doing' something. When I'm about to write a song, or create in any way, I often get this immediate stab of defeatism and resistance because my mind thinks it can't do the job. The truth is that my mind is quite right! The 'mind' can't write a song or give the stage performance of a lifetime because it's a totally different part of our self that does those things. And I believe that 'creative' part of me is RECEPTIVE not ACTIVE. If the thinking mind had to play Hamlet, or write a ballad it would undoubtedly mess it up, yet when my thinking mind steps back for a moment and listens, surrenders, empties, lets the music or creativity 'do' me, then I'm in business.

When I write a song, I don't try and 'think it up' any more than one tries to 'think up' an idea. It just arrives mysteriously from the emptiness and I write it down. I might strum a guitar gently, listening listening, and then imagine I hear a melody. I unhurriedly try and hum it without losing it, also without pinning it down too fast. It's very hard, in my experience, to write something good on purpose. It's the same process with making a '1 Giant Leap' film. We can have all the great concepts we like, but it's not until our own minds are silent and we let the footage speak to us and tell us what it wants to say, that we have a great film. And then I get to thinking that life's like that too, isn't it? The times when I listen to the events that are unfolding around me and let them speak to me, without constantly imposing my desires or limited intentions upon them, usually it all turns out harmoniously. When I listen to others, really listen, I am able to communicate and COMMUNE without my unconscious nonsense interfering.

The mind thinks it can help with everything. It's like a over-keen, yapping, dog, full of good intentions, but also full of the misguided belief that it needs to control everything in order to succeed. In my experience, this goes for emotional as well as creative pursuits. We get heartbroken and our mind says 'don't worry! leave it to me! I'll sort it all out! I'll categorise how you're feeling and make the pain go away!" But none of that ever works because this is not the domain of the mind. For all its good intentions, it is more often a liability than a help, too fear-ridden to be of any use. Ram Dass once told me "Fear says 'I want to keep you safe', Love says 'you are safe'. So my conclusion is (subject to change) that I need to shut-up and listen in all areas. Let the song write itself. Let Hamlet play himself. I need to step back and let the great, invisible, creative spirit do all the work. All I have to do is take the money and the credit, of course!


'We want to put our own selves into the work. We want to create a movement of introspection and self inquiry where the viewer becomes the subject of the piece. It’s about you. If we dare to show ourselves in all our raw glory, really express what’s going on in the chaos and the shadows then we have a chance to connect to something real in our audience. Because when I talk about me, you’ll hear about you. We need to collectively admit that we’re not fine, we’re not confident and balanced and good. We turn up to work every day pretending we’re not neurotic and obsessed and insatiable and full of doubt, and we waste so much energy keeping up this mutual pretense for each other because we think if people saw the truth, if people really knew what was going on in our heads, all the crazy truth of our dark appetites and self loathing, then we’d get rejected. But in fact, the opposite is true. It’s when we dare to reveal the truth that we unwittingly give everyone else permission to do the same. To stop holding their breathe for a moment and actually come into the room. Be here, present, vulnerable and authentic.

We’re on a mission to make self-reflection hip for just a moment, just long enough to save us. If we can all collectively acknowledge our insanity, shrug and roll our eyes at each other at how nuts it is being a human, let alone having to pretend every day that we’re ‘normal’, the amount of energy we’ll inherit that has been wasted on the mask will be enough to creatively solve any global crisis.'