— All Play All

Solo 2

I’m developing a new solo theatre piece with the support of Theatre In The Mill in Bradford.

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I’d first presented material as a short piece in a cabaret curated by Kate Genevieve in Brighton on 21st December 2012, a night called The End Of The World for the Mayan prophecy. I called it The Ends Of The World then, so in Bradford in March 2013 it became After The Ends Of The World. I’m going back to Bradford for a week soon, and changing the title again so for now it’s Solo 2. I’ll be joined for a couple of days in Bradford by my brilliant buddy Dan Canham to help me work on it.

…a desire to continue playing in this vein, and a circling flock of fragments of ideas. I’m pretty sure it will be about interconnectedness with friends and strangers, the transient and seemingly inconsequential interactions that make up a life. I want to take the performance situation, the gathering of mostly strangers that is the audience in the room with me – a group that are together for this transient moment – as a model and see how it resonates. I’ve got… the story of Joybubbles (google him and the Radiolab episode by which I first heard his story); some social psychology including group theory and the Dunbar number; blasts and counterblasts around Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together; the moment at the end of a recent Godspeed! gig where the feedback from the instruments left on the empty stage seemed to open the roof; a feeling I had a few months ago sitting in a room with an Indonesian student in Launceston in Tasmania, telling him a story and marvelling at what had happened to bring us both together there; This Is Water by David Foster Wallace.

Tornadic. Like The Pale King. Not a linear narrative and not static but in motion, in fact I’m dancing.

Joybubbles is going and I think the protagonist now will be a female version of Holden Caulfield, far away from me. The real me still frames this.

I’d met the dancer and choreographer Flora Wellesley Wesley (thanks to her) recently at Devoted & Disgruntled, and asked her if we could spend a few hours in a studio exploring some ways for me to be in the space without me talking. We played carefully with gaze, proximity and orientation, and how those connected and might be read. This was vital to get me started. In exchange for this help, I gave her some time on something concerning her.

I asked a few people in the days just before I went for a provocation. I only asked people who’d already seen Jimmy Stewart…, and whom I was naturally coming into contact with. I explained I wanted this new piece to be same but different in its bundle of qualities from Jimmy, that if it was about any thing it was about ‘connection’, and that the real gathering of people in the room would be important.

For these provocations I received, I responded as follows.

Maddy Costa (thanks to her) said to find ways for the audience to remember each other as much as they remembered me. I asked the audience while still in the bar to find the most interesting thing in common that the most of them shared. One night had all nursed sick animals back to health, the other had all had woken from dreams while falling. I also asked them near the end of the show to discuss whether common interests or happening to be in the same time same place was more important for making friends, and left them alone for 5 minutes to discuss this.

Susanna Davies-Crook (thanks to her) said I should find an animal to be in the space, and be that animal for 5 minutes. I demonstrated the difference between cats and dogs in terms of their gaze and attention, and then when the audience were discussing the question of friends, I left them alone by being a cat.

Barney George (thanks to him) said I should make a mirror in the space to reflect the audience or myself, and that the mirror could be metaphorical. I reflected myself by distributing 25 names in the audience, names of people with whom I was once connected, and read out a short history of me with them when that name were shown to me. Those then reflected back to the audience.

Pete Cant (thanks to him) said I should kill a chicken during the week. I cheated this a bit. I ordered a lot of chicken dishes from Shilmas curry house.

Tom Frankland (thanks to him) asked me to consider social networks like Facebook and Twitter and the values we place on them, and if there were a way to make a lo-fi version of the network in the space. This became the Twitter shout-out.

I emailed Gemma Brockis (thanks to her) if she could recommend a tango track that was light on its feet. She said La Ultima Curda. I bought this and it ended up played through my phone as I tango’d (badly).

Fiona McHardy (thanks to her) had already given me the track Big Love by Matthew E White which stuck in my head as the soundtrack, and got played through my phone at points.

I rang Dan Canham (thanks to him) and asked if he could talk me through how he understood viewpoints and if he could help me devise a solo viewpoints methodology with which I could play by myself and with the audience. We talked for a while and it helped me move around the space.

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