Here are some photos (by David Monteith-Hodge) from my Unlimited and Ovalhouse supported writing R&D of Augmented. At the end of the month I shared the script with some invited guests at Poplar Union, to get their feedback.
Thank you to everyone who came to give feedback on the work at this early stage and to palantypist Norma MacHaye for the sharing captions and Martin Fox-Roberts for Q&A interpretation. And thank you all the artists who came to play with me over the last two months, Lucia Tong, Adrienne Quartly, Lee Affen and Martyn Garside and to producer Kendall Masson, dramaturge Sarah Dickenson, director Rachel Bagshaw. I feel very fortunate to be working with such skilled, talented, lovely people. It was great to finally leave my house and work in actual venues – a month at Ovalhouse with extra time and space at Poplar Union, Sheffield Crucible and New Wolesy Theatre.
If you would like to come and give feedback on the next R&D (where I work on performance ideas) you can book to see the public scratch performances for a fiver in advance at Ovalhouse 12-14 July. Every date has live palantype captions. (When the show goes into full production in 2019, the subtitles will be designed as part of the show.) On 13 July there will be an after show discussion which is palantyped and BSL interpreted by Jacqui Beckford.
I performed a 20 minite scratch of my one person show, Augmented, at Pulse Festival and won a grand and a loan of an old suitcase!
“The Suitcase Prize challenges theatre makers to think in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. The 10 participants compete to win £1,000 by presenting a 20 minute scratch which can be transported on public transport! Yes, literally in a suitcase!”
Thank you to everyone who has attended our sharings and contributed feedback. Thank you to Unlimited for funding the writing R&D and to Ovalhouse and Poplar Union. The script will go through several more drafts.
The full length scratch performances are on 12-14 July at Ovalhouse. Tickets are a fiver in advance and eight quid on the door. The performances are palantype captioned and in the downstairs accessible theatre. Your feedback at these performances will help me create the full production in 2019.
I’m massively chuffed to be a recipient of this year’s Unlimited R&D award. The award funds my Augmented R&D, in partnership with Ovalhouse Theatre, with additional support from Poplar Union. Follow my Augmented blog for updates on my process and scratch performance dates.
I learned loads whilst working with Told by an Idiot’s Paul Hunter and Stephen Harper. And from the other eleven actors in the ensemble too. There were extra sessions with Lisa Hammond, Wardrobe Ensemble, Little Soldier and Rachel Bagshaw. I discovered I like playing with half masks. A lot.
We did three improvised Let Me Play the Lion Too performances at The Barbican, along with a panel discussion, due to be broadcast by Sky Arts next March, in a short film presented by Sally Philips.
Every day was fun, exciting, risky and inspiring.
More photos and information about the project here.
Let Me Play the Lion Too sees Told by an Idiot use our trademark working practices to tackle the lack of diversity on stage as part of the Sky Arts Art 50 initiative.
In an intensive two week residency in The Pit, a group of 12 performers, six of whom have a disability, work with us to devise new improvised evenings of anarchic spontaneity. The process enables artists to develop their theatre making skills, and to push their imaginations and creativity in new ways, whilst looking to affect change in the wider arts infrastructure.
Let Me Play The Lion Too is part of Sky Arts Art 50, a landmark project to commission 50 artworks that will explore what it means to be British in a post-Brexit Britain.
Art 50 is a partnership between Sky Arts, the Barbican, Sage Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Storyvault Films.
‘In a new partnership with the Barbican we announce our unique project entitled ‘Let Me Play The Lion Too’. This will bring together twelve performers of exceptional promise, with an equal mix of those with a disability and those without. An intensive two week period of improvisation will empower them to take responsibility for their own creativity, and will culminate in evenings of anarchic spontaneity.’ Paul Hunter, Artistic Director of Told by an Idiot
Public performance at the Pit, Barbican Centre on 3rd March 2018. Booking details released soon.”
I recently put this banner on my balcony in London E14. Liz, a campaigner from the Burnhill House campaign helped make it. This blog explains how it came about.
Earlier this month, I went to visit the artist and writer, Stewart Home, on Golden Lane in London, to see the protest banners hanging from the balconies on his block.
He is protesting against plans to build a luxury apartment complex which will overshadow existing houses and a school. The banners are an exhibition, as well as protest.
I wanted to make my own banner, inspired by the global anti-harassment movement and asked for advice on how to make one.
Stewart said his banners were printed. He took me to see the original local protest banner exhibition, which is sited at Burnhill House round the corner, in St Luke’s EC1. These were made from sheets and shower curtains. The Burnhill House campaigners are also campaigning against a luxury block of flats.
As we stood looking up, one of the residents, Liz, waved from her balcony and said she was on her way out, so she spoke with us. I told her about my idea and she generously offered to help make my banner.
Liz advised me to pick a short sentence or even better, one word, something that would be easy to read from a distance. I decided FEMINISM was the best word. People would be able to read it as they passed my balcony on the DLR train. I hoped it would give people a boost.
I used a black shower curtain and mocked up my word using cut up paper. Then I outlined the letters in chalk. Liz put white gaffer tape on the letters, but the polyester material didn’t like the tape, so Liz said she would paint it. I left the curtain with her and she painted it with spray paint. She did a fantastic job.
I put the banner up that night. It felt good. It felt brilliant, in fact. The next morning I went and photographed it and then posted it online, and the response surprised me – comments like ‘I LOVE YOU!’.
Friends who live in different places told me they want a banner too. People can use a sheet, shower curtain, tape, paint, pen, anything! The more the merrier. Use cable ties to make sure the banner does’t lift up in the wind.
Another woman saw my banner and decided make her own, although she worried that people would throw eggs or tomatoes at it. It’s funny, I had that fear too, as I sketched out the letters. I decided that this self-editing fear, was all the more reason to go ahead.
I’m using my balcony to shout out to the neighbourhood and beyond, to see where that leads…
So far it has inspired someone else to make a banner, with a different slogan, and it has connected me to other comrades. Let me know if you make one too!
You can also show your solidarity with the anti overdevelopment campaigns here:
I recently won the silver award for my short story, Angel Underground, at the Creative Future Literary Awards. The story is published in the anthology, Important Nothings.
I’m developing a new one-person show (the title keeps changing, but at the moment it is AUGMENTED). Here I am performing at Battersea Arts Centre’s scratch night (thanks to DH Ensemble for programming me at this showcase).
I’m doing another scratch at ARC’s ARCADE this week.