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.
I’m performing a monologue this Monday 19 June, at the Poplar Union.
Scratch, Crackle & POP! showcases the work of writers, performers and poets in the early stages of development, giving audiences a taste of upcoming and developing shows.
7pm- 10pm Ticket are FREE, just turn up.
Address: 2 Cotall St, Poplar, London, E14 6TL
Luke Hull: Circa ’94
Lust for love, lust for live, judge or be judged. As my tumultuous past slowly unravels before you, just think to yourself what are you hiding in plain sight? Lust for love, lust for live, judge or be judged.
Dale Pearson: Title TBC
An exploration of how the dry, barren California desert can embody abstract human emotions. This piece was developed during Poplar Union’s ‘Peeling Back Places’ writing workshop lead by Dale Pearson.
Annie Rockson: Say Our Names
This poetic conversation focuses on the importance of rehumanising people through their stories. It declares everyone’s right to be recognised and shows empowerment through self actualisation. Follow poets on a personal and powerful journey as they explore what really is in a name…?
Sangeeta Pillai Lander: Soul Sutras
A reading of the first chapter of Sangeeta’s debut novel ‘Soul Sutras’- a tantalising tale that will leave you wanting more…
Sophie Woolley: Clear
A monologue about the emotional duality of becoming a cyborg, based on Woolley’s personal experience of hearing and deafness.
Cameron Cook: It All
CameronCook performs an eclectic, high-energy, low-budget one-man performance, spawned out of uncertainty, anxiety, and residual optimism about it all.
Tim McNiven & Sam Rix: Miserable Les
A first taste of the hilariously tragic and tragically hilarious brand new musical- Miserable Les.
I recently wrote, produced and performed in a new piece of theatre, directed by the multi-talented, Gemma Fairlie. The new piece starred the wonderful, much in demand Andile Vellem and Marsanne Neethling as onstage, integrated SASL Interpreter.
As a British Council Connect ZA piece, the performance at Artscape in Cape Town, South Africa caused a stir. I had a phone interview with a radio station in Johannesburg, which you can listen to below.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
This quote is at the top of every page of the blog that Sophie set up to document the process they are undertaking to put the production together. This quote ties together perfectly the core motivators behind their collaborative show. The first being the fake interpreter that was used at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. The second being the necessity for a serious public conversation about the need for good, qualified interpreters. The third being a conversation around who controls language. And lastly, thinking about deaf power, deaf pain and deaf people being able to have these kinds of conversations on their own terms.”
The Times, 21 April 2017 (republished online in Sunday Times)
”I’m interested in integrating sign language artistically. We’re trying to create a cross artform piece that has dance, signing, video editing and storytelling intertwined. It’s a new genre,” she said. ”Hopefully it will help people see this invisible world.”