Control 25 - Liverpool's First one on one Festival

It was recently brought to my attention that the wonderful Control 25 Festival features in a chapter within this brilliant book; ‘Experiencing Liveness in Contemporary Performance: Interdisciplinary Perspectives’ published by Rutledge.
Control 25 was Liverpool’s first one on one Festival and posed the question; who’s in charge - spectator, artist or artform within one on one performance?
In 2014, Curators of Control 25, Sarah Hogarth and Emma Bramley of All things considered Theatre Company worked with EAP students at Hope Street Liverpool to create 25 individual one on one pieces of work for the Festival. These works would examine the nature of authorial control within the artform.
They also brought in experienced Artists (Seth Honnor, Ant Hampton and myself) in this form to design and deliver workshops in our practices for the students to inspire and help kick off the creation of their one on one works. Control 25 was a very special thing to be a part of and culminated in an exciting panel discussion that we were all involved in too.

If you are interested in the research and study of one on one, micro and intimate performance, the Control 25 Festival Chapter will be of particular interest.

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Quarter-century

Surreal to be writing this, but today marks 25 years since I suddenly lost my Mother. We talk about my Mum all the time but today is completely for her. I feel a need to register today that endlessly long passage of time without her and to remember all those things we miss about her.

I have been exploring making a piece of work about my Mum for a long time and I am currently investigating growing 'i worried my heart wasn't big enough' a piece of work I created for Forest Fringe in 2015.

The making of 'I worried my heart wasn't big enough' comes from a larger idea for a piece of work about losing my Mother that I unforunately failed in 2014/15 to secure development money for. So with the support and trust of Andy Field and Forest Fringe, I made a site responsive one on one experience for them, as part of their Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015 programme. It went really well. 

I have a wee bit of private funding to keep moving the development of the bigger project along at a snail's pace and I am working with my own beautiful daughter just now investigating the motherhood layer in the work. We are exploring the word 'balance' together.

It felt positive and right to share this today as we mark 25 years without Mum.

Who gives you your balance in life?

My Mother gave me mine and since I lost her, my balance has never quite been the same.

Having spent a long time researching and investigating making work about the very personal loss of my mother and work for one audience member at a time. I am now interested in slowly widening my focal range with this work to make a larger work for a larger audience with one of my narrative layers now exploring loss universally rather than personally.

I have hours of gorgeous musical script that we recorded from a development afternoon in 2017 (with Cellist Robin Mason and Saxophonist Steve Kettley) that I need to find the time to listen to and begin editing and I am also exploring the physical | visual language of the work just now.

My choreographer | dancer friend and colleague Abby Chan (who I met last year as part of a 3 year Inernational Colab Residency) is gently provoking but greatly inspiring me with this from afar.

For my two Jay Birds X

 Mother and Daughter Image by  Ben Scappaticcio

Mother and Daughter Image by Ben Scappaticcio

 Abby Chan Choreographer | Dancer - Ellen Melville Centre - Auckland

Abby Chan Choreographer | Dancer - Ellen Melville Centre - Auckland

the boss

Come late October we are two years home from our year out travelling as a family. We are managing in the main as we promised we would do to not let those unimportant things creep in and dominate our lives or drain our positive vibes. 

Lots of positive changes and new plans were made during our year out, and I am sure it is the same for everyone but It does often feel like a constant battle for balance with my switch always in the ON position. I never seem to download, only receive!

Being a freelancer doesn’t help. I have been super busy since we got back which of course everyone says is good and it is but when you are a mother, (and you home school) a wife and an Artist; priorities change, they have to but which one gets how much attention and when? 

I have come to realise I am pretty skilled at splitting my brain into many compartments and that I work a lot out inside my own head - creatively and personally. I also spend a lot of time fantasising about how it would be to be able to just focus on one thing at any one time. Oh the luxury!

A recent post show discussion at the Traverse in Edinburgh geared towards parents working in the Arts with caring responsibilities was super interesting. It felt very valuable to hook up and talk with other parents with young families in similar situations who know and understand how you feel.
Orla O’loughlan who is the current Artistic Director at the Traverse imparted some interesting and telling wisdom  - for her to be able to be a mother, run a home and do the job she does at the Traverse (amongst other things) - she knew she had to get herself to being the boss.

Twenty years in, predominantly as a freelancer within the Arts - I am exhausted by the perpetual juggling, spinning of plates and running about daft like a bam.

I want to go slower.

Easy.

I now declare myself the boss!

Watch this space : )

Headshots - Photography by Pip

2009 was the last time i had some professional headshots done, very uncool of me but it hasn't felt all that important. 

Working with people you know and who know you well and how you like to work has it’s benefits and provides a shorthand that makes things faster and easier for sure but it has it’s downside too. 

I wanted to work with someone completely unknown to me for my new headshots so after a good bit of research and some recommendations i decided to pick Photography by Pip

Pip is a self-taught London based photographer and director from Northern England specialising in portraiture, travel and advertising. Given my mad love for music I love that he photographs a lot for record labels and musicians and that he isn't really an Actor headshot photographer. His personal, commercial and film work is really lovely too.

Pip prefers to shoot in natural light and often site specific. Perfect. We spent a few hours early one morning outside in London recently and I’m really happy with the shots. I laughed such a lot on the day and the light was epic.

That Birthday...

Last month was a big one for me. It was my Birthday and I spent the week mostly in tears. I turned the age my Mum was when she died. I’ve always dreaded this birthday and I’ve always known that she was tragically young when she died but turning her age was tough and now I really feel just how truly young she was. It's grim.

Losing a parent when they and you are too young messes, compresses and distorts your perception of time and balance and you always feel in a dreadful hurry incase you might not make it to old age.

Through some research and development work i was involved with earlier this year for a potential new piece of work and where every artist in the room had lost a parent tragically soon did it come to light that we all felt this way. It was a revelation and a relief to realise i am not alone in my mindset.

So the grieving process marches forwards...

Right now I have a 6 year old and I’ve never felt younger or more alive!

 Life is a River - Archie Whitewater. Home - Dundee. The mighty River Tay from Broughty Ferry. 

Life is a River - Archie Whitewater. Home - Dundee. The mighty River Tay from Broughty Ferry. 

New York City | back on the bounce in 2017

 Brooklyn | Joan Lily

Brooklyn | Joan Lily

We ended our year long trip in 2016 with a week in NYC. It was a bit of a dream to end up there and something we'd always talked about doing should we manage to make it around the world.
The last time we were in New York was a really special visit in 2011 when i was 6 months pregnant. New York was a place i had always wanted to visit and that visit was also to be our last big break as a couple before we were to become parents. 
Of course we loved that trip and we desperately wanted to take our daughter back with us again as she had seen so many pictures of herself there as our bump and had heard us banging on about how cool a City New York is all her life. 
One of her favourite movies is Elf so she really wanted "to go up Buddy’s Dad’s work": The Empire State Building. Needless to say, she too fell in love with New York.

I started researching where to stay in New York when we were in Mexico and the prices i was finding for Hotels were extortionate. We were struggling to pull the trigger on paying so much when i stumbled upon a Hotel called the Carlton Arms, also known as the Artbreak Hotel. Not only was it so much cheaper it was in the ace location of the FlatIron District | Gramercy Park and just sounded like the coolest Hotel i’d ever heard of. I emailed thinking i was probably too late but received an email back sharpish with the offer of a room. Bingo! We were booked and for a fraction of the price of other Hotels.

After all the Countries we had travelled through last year when we arrived at the Hotel, i felt like i had walked into site specific heaven: like a film set. I immediately fell in love with the Building and this whole other secret creative world opened their (Carlton) Arms to us. Not only was the Hotel a really cool place, the people working and staying there were too and i found myself being invited out to watch theatre and to hang out. It was dead easy and it somehow felt familiar; a bit like I was home.
A week in NYC is never enough and having a 5 year old with us; the time just seemed to vanish so much faster than we were expecting. We had made lovely unexpected connections that week though and started daring to dream that maybe just maybe we could make it back to New York sooner than last time and potentially to work. Bonkers!
Long story short we’ve secured a residency as a family to create a room at the Hotel as part of their Artist Residency Programme inspired by our year long travel trip. Talk about really great things happening to you when you least expect them and when you’re not even trying. They’re the right things. My industry is not easy to survive in but I believe sometimes it should be that easy.

Never did we expect when we set off from Scotland on our travels at the end of 2015 that we would make it back to one of our favourite Cities; the epically cool NYC, never mind secure an opportunity to be creative there. Some things are just meant to be and i’m especially excited about this venture as it is something different from what i do as an artist. I feel like I am crossing into territory that is a little unfamiliar to me and it feels great. It's only going to inform my practice in positive ways. Theatre is so temporary that i’m really delighted to be creating something more permanent, something that we get to leave behind in New York and i know for sure New York with come home with us again when it is time for us to leave. 5 weeks in New York City working together as a 3 probably still wont be enough tme though.

Check out this article on the Hotel

 

 

 

Punchdrunk | Sleep No More | NYC

Punchdrunk are UK based pioneers in immersive, promenade, site specific performance. Given my passion for this kind of work they have always been a company that i have admired from afar but for whatever reason not managed to catch their work (until very recently).

I caught sleep no more whilst in NYC earlier this year but i am still trying to work out how i felt about my experience and the ticket price of $150 yup that's around £121 incase anyone is unsure...

More to follow on sleep no more in New York once i've worked it out!

Circumnavigating the Globe (with our 5 year old)(1)

So after the trip to end all trips we are trying to settle into a ‘normal’ life back in Scotland...
We set off to Delhi in November 2015 with only a back pack each, a 5 month return ticket and a desperation to inspire and open our minds further.. 
As we were travelling with our then four year old daughter and unsure how it would all be for her we thought the security of a return ticket was a good compromise but the promise to keep going should we all wish to, was also on the table. 
After three months travelling throughout India we had a family chat and all agreed that we weren't ready for our adventure to end. We were just finding our travel flow.
We cancelled our return ticket out of India home and once we did that the road ahead truly was open.
India doesn’t make it easy for you and there is a certain amount of surrender required to get the most out of the experience but of all the places we’ve been in the world we think it really gives you something very special back if you let it. It breaks you down for you to build yourself back up better.
We never ventured north of Delhi whilst travelling in India but we travelled both coasts and down to the most southern tip to Trivandrum. We had intended to fly on to Sri Lanka from Trivandrum but in the end and at the very last moment we decided to visit the Andaman Islands instead. We heard so many great things about them whilst in India that we were so intrigued and worried we might never go if we didn’t go in that moment.
Andaman is not the easiest to get to, you can only enter from the East Coast of India; Kolkata and Chennai.
We flew from Chennai to Port Blair and spent one month Island hopping. You can’t visit all of the islands, only some are open to tourists, we visited Havelock, Neil and the eerily abandoned Ross Island.
Andaman was probably our most favourite of spots for pure idyllic beauty and bliss with no-one there. 
Everyone should visit Andaman at least once in the lives…it's disappearing!

 Andaman

Andaman

There was a definite shift in our thinking on Andaman and after our month there our minds were so clear. Now we knew we weren't going home the freedom to choose which Country we would like to visit next was both terrifying and exhilarating.
We had travelled a lot before as a couple and even with our daughter but this time felt different, it felt much bigger. This time we were in charge of our child and we had no real plan! We were out of our comfort zone for sure...