In 2010 I found the courage with the support of my Director Nullo Facchini of Danish Company Cantabile 2 to begin to investigate making autobiographical work about the loss of my mother. My Mum died very suddenly 26 years ago aged 45.
Nervous about sharing such a personal story, ‘Balance’ with an audience, I really wasn’t sure, but in the end I did it. The incredible response and the way it has opened up a conversation over the years with myself and my audience around these themes, was all I needed to continue to keep exploring making work about grief and the trauma attached to sudden loss.
Sharing my personal story and experience of loss with one audience member at a time, is intense and the most uniquely beautiful thing I have ever encountered in my work. It has helped me to understand human beings better and to process my own very personal loss. It also in turn helps my audiences with their losses - because believe me when I say - there are too many of us lifelong grievers with no-one to talk to about it. Grief can be such a very isolating and lonely journey.
In 2014 armed with years of practical research I applied for funding to Creative Scotland to try to secure some development money to make a larger work exploring these themes. At that time I had secured collaborators in Amit Lahav, Artistic Director of Gecko Theatre and Robert Softly Gale, independent Artist and co Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise Theatre to investigate a physical | visual language together for the work. I did not secure the monies on two separate occasions so the development work never happened.
Meanwhile, I was also making other work and in 2015 I secured a space with Forest Fringe at the Drill Hall in Leith as part of their curated programme for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Andy Field of Forest Fringe kindly trusted me to make whatever work I wanted for my space with them, so now a mother, I decided to try and move my work about loss and motherhood forwards.
Devastatingly at that same time, I lost my Father and was unsure if I could continue making the work, but somehow again you find the courage and I made and produced a new intimate work ‘i worried my heart wasn’t big enough’.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is broken and that really worries me because it has been my gage and my monitor to check where the global bar in my industry is for so long. Such a rich source of local and international inspiration and education forever, I have rinsed it over the years.
Unusually, I wasn’t there this year but everyone has said this year was a very odd one…
Thankfully in 2015, at a time during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where there are over 3000 shows happening in Edinburgh, my wee piece for one human at a time made it on and those who experienced it seemed to get it. That felt like a wee successful rebellion. Minute activism and we didn’t charge the audience to experience it, it was free.
The beautiful Lyn Gardner, who came (then Arts Critic for the Guardian and now Associate Editor at the Stage) shone a wee light on it on her personal blog.
Fast forward to 2017, the beautiful people at forest Fringe invited me to be part of a 3 year international collaborative residency between the UK, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Feels nice to be invited, that’s important - not having to fight tooth and nail for every penny and opportunity when you are working hard in the industry and have been for a very long time! We are what we’re invested in. For you and your work to feel valued, well, there’s too many positives about that to go into here. That’s a different blog! :)
Back to the work - ‘Glitch’ - I have just completed that 3 year international collaborative residency in Hong Kong at the recently opened Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon and again I have managed to move my work and research into the themes of grief and balance along even further.
I have been working with some beautifully open, honest and skilled international and local collaborators over the last number of years, learning so much from them. Many of us have lost loved ones so it feels safe and hopeful to experiment and share with one-another taking that as our starting point. Feeling the work change and come out from under the microscpoe on my personal loss to everyones, feels oddly uplifting - our wee community from all over the world make that voice stronger.
The work is not just about loss, it explores much more. And i particularly love the way things move around us all depending on what we all offer to the work. It is about everyone now and full of all our rhythms and music. Excited to see where we can take it to next…
Eternal thanks to Forest Fringe, West Kowloon Cultural District, Basement Theatre, New Zealand, Creative Scotland, Creative New Zealand, British Arts Council, all the humans along the way :)