I wanted to start documenting some more of my experiences and expiditions. I write fairly constantly, scribbling poems into journals, devices (if I have to...) and now I'm exploring tattooing even writing on myself. I feel that with the rise of new media, what is doesn't allow us is to feel we have some-how carved space, or used time, in a way that is meaningful and essential. What this does is blur our experience. Merging the daily real moments of our everyday lives, into a vast database, that really is ineffective. If you think of great libraries, galleries or museums, what would they be if all that existed were archives. Somewhere along, we have to create. Fully. We are not all librarians, archving our experiences for future reflections. And the irony being, the more we archive, the less we truly experience.
This has led me into reflecting on how I curate my online experience in a way that is meaningful and useful, but in itself is of service to my lived breathing body, not replacing it. I have felt also certain platforms will not allow me to speak freely. This being a vital part of my work also, I have decided to integrate further, and use my own platform, with the other elements being of service to it. This is where I will share the majority of information, for those that wish to see it.
This year has seen the rise of DROUGHT. And it has been an incredible journey, filled with big moments and huge lessons. I saved for two years to be able to make this show mobile, after seeking national funding repeatedly, and being rejected repeatedly it became apparent that either I give up some autonomy over my work, or I explore other ways to share it. It started at Square Chapel in 2018, and now in July 2019, it has been to Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Paris, London, Bradley, and Los Angeles. From each of these places I have learnt valuable lessons. Some of which I would like to reflect on and share with you now.
"halifax, HEBDEN BRIDGE, PARIS, LONDON, BRADLEY AND LA."
In Halifax I learnt that you really need honest creative people to tell you when something doesn't work. The first scratch performance of Drought was confusing, too complicated, and I'd hidden myself in academic references and feminist prose. It was a mirage, a sharing of ideals, but in itself did not exist. I am grateful for the workspace I was given to develop this, the feedback I received, which subsiquently shaped Drought into the piece it is now. I came out of hiding. And have not gone back since. In April 2018 Drought in its form was shown at the Copper Auditorium, and it has continued to prosper since.
In May 2018 I took Drought to Lightning in a Bottle Festival in Bradley California by invitation of a friend and artist who was running an art space/coffee shop as part of the festival. I was able to work, and share the show. It got an incredble response from audiences there. I was nervous it would not translate. I was delighted to be proved wrong. In one of the performances my loop pedal stopped working. I was devastated. I felt isolated and although I was around people I thought loved me, they could not relate to the profound sadness I felt that it wasn't communicated fully. This helped me evaluate the people I thought loved me, and helped me understand how meaningful my work is to me, and perhaps some of the people closest to me, have mis-understood me... for how long, who knows....
In June 2018, I performed it at GIRLCOTT an event I produced to platform other female artists as part of Hebden Bridge Arts Festival in June. I was happy to create an event, but took on too much work by myself. I performed Drought at the point of exhaustion. An audience member left because it had not been communicated clearly enough the challenging content. I re-evaluated the tempo, and integrated warnings into the introduction. This was vital. It made me think about time, and how I actually had not granted enough to myself.
In July, I was re-united with my beloved bones, as DROUGHT went to Paris for 'Dreams Before Dawn Festival'. Being around collaborators of who I have trained with, directors of whom I hold the highest esteem, and this first time I'd shared my independent work with a company I hold dear, I was nervous for an entirely different reason. Of course they understood, of course they heard me, of course they felt me within this work, but also the training we have all had. This was a lesson to never doubt collaborators. There is a love that exists within sharing work that is like mytosis. We are an organism built from the same cells. Do not fear the bones you are made of.
"There is a love that exists within sharing work that is like mytosis. We are an organism built from the same cells. Do not fear the bones you are made of."
Then Drought was programmed as part of Vault Festival, London. In my mind it made logical sense that now the work was formed it would be developed, begin to tour, and theatre spaces were the place to do it. Vault Festival proved me wrong. I did not enjoy sharing my work there. It was a commercial platform, and as a solo-performer from outside of London I felt lost in the desert myself. Those that saw the work, were touched, moved and responsive. I received a donation from a friend of mine that allowed me to let the work travel and touch more people. This showed me that help comes from all kinds of places, and sometimes there are wolves in sheeps clothing, even in the arts industry.
In June, the most recent encounter, Drought has been at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles, California, and perhaps has been one of the greatest lessons of all. Growing up in Yorkshire, the sights of Hollywood were a far and distant dream. It was almost a mirage, an ideal. That going to the epicentre of popular culture, is where you will reach the most people.
It made me evaluate people.
It made me evaluate culture.
"I am lucky to have had an incredible stage manager whom it was a joy to connect with. Who, through tears, told me what it meant to her..."
What does that mean. Before I left I did fundraising performance in Hebden Bridge to real people. Women and Men, Family and Friends, Tourists and Loved Ones. I did this performance supporting a charity I admire (WomenCentre) in a town that raised me, and with people who look you in the eyes, hug you and aren't afraid to love. I have felt the show shapeshift and affect people in positive ways. In the way it has supported Women, and in Hollywood, the audiences I was encouraged to get was other theatre audiences, with seemingly no direct links to public, charities, or whom the work might support. There were no links to those with lower incomes that should be encouraged to engage with art. It was big parties, awards being given also based on the commercial viablity of the 'product'. I am lucky to have had an incredible stage manager whom it was a joy to connect with. Who, through tears, told me what it meant to her. To connect with more male audiences. One through more tears, told me of how he thought of his wife and daughter and thanked me for my work. The words and incredible praise of other professionals in the industry, so supportive, so kind. And yet, I still felt somehow it didn't quite reach....it didn't quite break through.
Los Angeles taught me that just because you are in culture doesn't mean it's right. That there is more to Art that purchase, and that none of it means anything if you're killing the ground that you walk on. The litter, the traffic, the density of the city. Trendy vegan restaurants in a city that treats its humans like animals. The intense pre-occupation with social media, the unkindness, the brutal way an industry that people crave, is murdering its community. It led me to reflect on how I engage with the same materials. I learnt that if your work isn't bringing people together, somehow. If it isn't helping. Somehow, then this is not my work. It also taught me how magic can happen in an instant, and that entire cities can be built on dreams. Lets hope we all keep dreaming.
"It has taught me about space, mentally and physically, integrity, and most of all, Love."
It has been a year of vast learning. Turning 30. Transformation. Fellowships, travel, heartbreak, and bursting at the seams of who I am. But through this whole experience I have tried to keep as much integrity as possible. To comfort myself through some of the lonliest but some of the most incredible moments of my life to date. Telling the truth, even when it hurts. Outgrowing myself. It has taught me about space, mentally and physically, integrity, and most of all, Love. True Love. Love that can come from the eyes of strangers. Love that you can give, and love that can't be taken. Love for a world and an idea that exists beyond the confines of your imagination. Love that gives you purpose, reason. That cannot be bought, commodified, or falsified. Only felt, Only shared.
So now the only question lies in how do we share it? I do not want to engage in love-less spaces any more. Our focus can shift to our enjoyment and engagement, and the online world is not void of that. I want to somehow still touch, and be touched by what I see on a screen. I have seen how lawlessness online is impacting people in real life. It has shaped what is becoming an 'un-natural disaster' - how the realms of the un-real are now affecting the real.How the pollution of the mind is directly in correlation with the pollution of the planet. So now, we must build gardens for the brain. So now we must integrate. We must engage with value. We must look away if its hurting us.
I want to find a way to keep sharing.
And I want it to be beautiful.
In the story of Narcissius,.. he drowned. Now we have to decide where we shall swim to. Create our own islands in a sea we can breathe in.