Monday, May 2, 2011
Lovely piece by Lyn Gardner about the things left behind as reminders of a performance (she mentions Neverhome, where I gave each audience member a thimble as they left): http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2011/may/02/theatre-shows-that-haunt-us
I love to give people things, gentle echoes of ephemeral moments. Maybe when they touch their gift, they’ll recall something they felt or thought because of a piece of work. I like to think this extends the experience for as long as they keep the object. A particularly pertinent object can change the tone of a piece of work once you have stepped out the door, can be a bitter-sweet epilogue or a whispered question of oneself. Unfortunately, as with the thimbles in Neverhome, cost sometimes gets in the way of giving something to everyone. I put some of my own money into buying 250 thimbles for the One-on-One fest as I felt it was important. Multiply the cost of any small object by 250 and it suddenly becomes a costly element of a production. But for the joy and surprise tiny, tangible pieces of a fleeting moment can bring when bestowed, it is worth the expense. It may only be a thimble but it is also a lot more.
We are creating a new piece for Cambridge Folk Festival. I am the lead creator and Allegra is producing it. It is called The Home Frequency. Sort of an amalgamation of my ponderings about home over the past few months as well as some new bits in a new travelling/instillation format. Helen Preddy, who came with us to Secret Garden Party last year, is coming and someone new -we don’t know who that will be yet but we do know they are lovely and have a vehicle. On the topic of this mysterious new person… is it you?
We need a new member of the Ignore the Forecast’s extended family to be part of the Home Frequency project. You need to be free between Wednesday 27th July and Monday 1st August, you need to have a vehicle (preferably a large car or van) and you need to be wonderful. Does this sound like you??? There is a small fee to cover expenses and of course a ticket to the festival. The Piece itself will involve talking to festival goers about home, so you should like people. And you should like getting stuck in, maybe getting wet and muddy, camping, making do and mending and, er, folk music. If this sounds like you (why haven’t we met already???) then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The theme of home in my work is hard to disguise and at times it did feel all too relevant that I had 218 intimate encounters with strangers (most of the time), making a temporary home with each of them whilst still being homeless myself. But now I have found somewhere to live and over a year of nomadism is coming to an end. I think the hardest thing about the last year has been not having a base in which to work from, nowhere to spread out sketches, make things and stay up late researching and reading. Nowhere to nest in. I am a nester. There have been brilliant parts; Old Chapel Farm, late nights talking to friends before sleeping on their sofas or in their beds. New places, new parts of London, living by the river, Christmas in Cornwall and learning to play spoons (which has since become more popular than I could have ever anticipated), freedom, falling asleep in parks (during the day – even though I have been technically homeless I am lucky that I have always had a roof over my head at night thanks to supportive and tolerant friends and family) and a summer of back-to-back festivals. But now I realise I can have all these adventures but with a home to come back to, and maybe that fact in itself will lead me to being even more adventurous. It reminds me of the verse we wrote on the hillside on the farm a year ago… “How happy are the birds, they come and go as they please; to the mountains, to the seas and home again with out rebuke.” Here’s to that.
Well, there has been a lot between last time and this time. Here are the headlines…
Allegra opened here first season at the Parabola Arts Centre. It’s a brilliant season of exciting work including the sob-inducing Love Letters Straight From Your Heart by Uninvited Guests, Debbie Pearson’s Like You Were Before, Crocosmia by Little Bulb and a small something called The Tree of Lost Things – see outstanding programming! More info and tickets here: http://www.parabolaartscentre.co.uk
I became Head of Detail at BAC which involves looking at all the small things in the building – corners, skirting boards, dusts, tassels – and some of the big things too – walls, furniture, lampposts – and thinking up ways t o make everything look like it belongs in one loved and cared for place. A bit like an in-house interior/exterior designer only a lot more interesting and a lot more complicated.
I also created an instillation to celebrate BAC’s 30th Birthday The commission was off the back of The Tree of Lost Things. I invited audience, alumni, staff, patrons and everyone in between to write postcards home to me at BAC to create a growing instillation of memories and journeys from the last 30 (or more) years. It has been lovely to read so many memories – some of which span 100 years of the building’s history. It will be up for a little while yet in BAC’s foyer so pop along and write me a postcard if you wish to be part of this incredible document. Pictures coming soon.
Final headline for now: I won a commission to create a bedroom and a piece of one-on-one theatre for BAC’s One on One Festival last month (if you’re getting the impression that I haven’t left the building in the past few months, then you’re right). It had to be based on a bedroom scene from literature. I created a room based on the Lost Boys den in Neverland, but they all decided to grow up and I was left behind. 218 one-on-one performances in 2 weeks. It was a marathon, but an amazing experience. The piece was about true homes and I invited the audience to recall theirs and to be part of my family. I now have an album of family members, their memories, and their preferences of imaginary tea (my personal favorite was rosehip and chamomile with water from Niagara Falls (thanks brother Neil). It ended up getting quite a lot of press: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/arts/article-23934844-your-place-or-mine.do and an interview on BBC London which was a bit surreal. Lyn Gardner seemed to like it as well: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/apr/01/one-on-one-festival-review Hurrah. The room will remain pretty much as I designed it, along with 5 others by David Rosenberg, Melanie Wilson, Ray Lee, Kazuko Hoki and The Campinglis Bell-Halls. Artists will be able to stay in residence at BAC and be inspired by bedrooms created for them by other artists. It’s an honor to be part of this legacy for the building. Pictures on their way.