Author Archive

evergreen-reach-copyLast leaf hangs on.  Reaching across to evergreen arms across a clear blue sky.


Different life cycles.


All leaves will fall.  Just a question of when.

Naked theatre

What a great evening.  Dog Kennel Hill Project at  MAO. I remember noticing publicity for ‘Choreography of An Argument round a table’ last  year and thought it looked interesting.  Having missed the opportunity to see it at Warwick I was pleased to get a chance to catch it in Oxford.

I expected shouting and lots of gesticulating, climbing and jumping around and probably emotion.  I knew there would be nudity as there was a warning.  I expected that to be brief and occur somewhere in the middle.

I did not expect nakedness, human ness, the direct explanation of the structure and the suggestions on how to deal with the intentional ’empty’ sections between stanzas (try repeating a simple phrase to yourself).  I did not expect so many words or languages or the sound of a piano.

I was delighted to be confronted, brought alive by the questions, by the sheer cleverness of the editing, construction, performance and absurdity.  By the intimacy and way the audience was included /acknowledged.  Fragments of arguments, discussions repeated, replaced, enacted, broken down, discarded.  Changing of positions and roles and genders.  No one fixed but the fixity of lines of argument of behaviours of postures and beliefs. Exposed.

Plenty of space for the suggestions of topics to chime with ones own preoccupations about the world, about self, about society. Space also for just being.  Intensities of energy at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum made near neighbours, passing from one to the other and back in a disconcerting visceral vibration.  Recognition of words, sounds, movements, undermined by repetition or absurd accompaniment.  Recognition.

Trying to describe what I saw or experienced to myself on the way home I kept not finding the right words, every sentence trying to pin it one way or another changed its mind half way through to say almost its opposite.  Super stylised but strongly natural, lots going on but plenty of space, funny and absurd but serious and real.  Challenging but no, not challenging in a confrontational way to the audience.  Energetic but also very calm.  Mundane and sophisticated. Dense but spacious.

This is theatre this is theatre this is theatre I repeated to myself excitedly ( following the advice ) But no, this is real, this is real , this is real.  This is what makes me feel alive.

Thank you Dog Kennel Hill Project and MAO


Finding Butoh at MAO

Yesterday (actually that was Feb13) I arranged to meet a new acquaintance at MAO.  While waiting for our meeting I visited the exhibition ‘Kaleidescope’.  Wow.  I climbed the stairs to the upper gallery and felt an excitement induced by the enveloping sound and the darkness.  This already felt different.  The floor was black and sound absorbant, the walls were punctuated by black canvas.  4 benches were arranged parallel to the big screen.  What was I seeing?  Was it under water? in a cupboard?  Was that gold, was that a bubble ? a dew drop? What is this?  Things slid in and out of focus , suddenly shot past, scuttled or dived in to detail.  Suspended moments.  Something unnerving and visceral. A horror movie?  An insect,  a mysterious world.  Something vast, something tiny. What was the scale?  There was something timeless and particular about it.  It was what for me much of what Butoh is about: mystery, images, hints of the universe in a water droplet, shape shifting, uncertainty, detail, beauty, the grotesque, timelessness in the precision of the moment.

Afterwards I read that the film captured a moment in time, the act of 2 insects caught and preserved in amber over 30 million years old!

What a fantastic piece of work. (‘De-Extinction’ Pierre Huyghe)

I enjoyed the transformation of the space, I enjoyed being offered the opportunity to enter a different world.  I experienced a rush of inspiration for new dance works.  What a treat.

I still need to see the rest of the exhibition!

Doll’s House rehearsal

Full day of rehearsal today for Cafe Reason’s Doll’s House.  We are so lucky to be working with such great musicians – Bruno Guastalla, Pete McPhail and Malcolm Atkins.  Show next week!

We were kindly joined by three outside eyes – pupeteer Stephen Mottram, dance movement specialist Miranda Tuffnell and Corporeal mime artist Georgie Steele.  What a privilege to have such informed and attentive eyes.  Some really useful feedback and some very encouraging responses.

Also great to have technical help from Dominic Hargreaves and a production manager Joanna Matthews keeping things calm and organised.

Looking forward to the final refining.

Two sides

monsterangel (copy)Been working on two duets.  Both seem to have been connected to the idea of opposites.  The clash of different ways of seeing and experiencing the world.  The at times irreconcilable antagonism in the face of difference. The confusing and sometimes painful awareness that within that difference there is a seed of connection. The attempt to embody those opposites.

This image spoke to me.  The openness and softness of the white contrasting the closed hard dark. (Close up it looks like a monster.)  The embodiment of two opposing approaches/attitudes.  A web of fine connections linking them and there quite plainly the evidence that these two creatures share the same root.  One is, has or will become the other.

Edinburgh !

Wow.  What an amazing place Edinburgh with its festival is.  My first visit ever and I loved it.  An impressive and magnificent city, and such a rich, exciting, varied  range of high quality performances and events on offer.  Too too much to do and see but the taste was so delicious!

My highlights were finally seeing Liz Aggiss (The English Channel) and Wendy Houston (Pact with Pointlessness) in action.  Both unique, both inspiring, both moving and despite a touch of punk each with completely different styles and presences each which made me laugh and cry.  Impermanence Theatre‘s ‘Da da Darling‘  a whirlwind of inspired choreography,  and danced Ernst imagery which left me exhilirated and unable to sleep.  I also loved Reckless Sleepers ‘A String Section’ with their elegant and knowing destruction of chairs the image of which keeps bringing a delighted smile to my face and the very accomplished, stark and surprising  ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ by American duo The Ricochet Project.   The beautiful and fully inhabited dancing and exquisitely sung/played live music in Sweet shop Revolution‘s ‘I loved you and I loved you’ succeeded in overcoming the barrier imposed on the audience of the dreadful railing in the venue.  Challenging, thought provoking and beautifully controlled, ‘Can I start  Again Please’ by Sue MacLaine Company brought humour to lighten the load and left me moved and impressed.  Slightly more upbeat but still on the theme of translation and working through devastating experiences ‘Near Gone’ by  Two Destination Language showered the stage and finally the audience with flowers in bursts of impassioned abandon which punctuated the calm, understated presenting, telling, repeating and humour through translating of a story of near loss.  Finally Billy Cowie‘s two pieces in  ‘Under Flat Sky’ were beautiful meditations of exquisite clarity and precision with in the third piece ‘Edge of Nowhere’ a delightful and perceptive humour of outlook expressed by dancer Rajyashree Ramurthi .  Clod Ensemble‘s The Red Chair a sheer onslaught of words fantastically crafted and presented by Sarah Cameron.

I could have seen more and more and  I wanted to stay and stay.  Besides the actual shows I loved the whole atmosphere and vibrancy of a city alive thronging with hopefuls and (and some jadeds) among the impressive stature of the buildings.  Easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incredible talent. The scale and breadth is quite breathtaking.  The performances I saw and the ones I only read the flyers or reviews of reminded me how great art is and how valuable it is in asking questions (the right questions – as one of the artists said), highlighting crucial issues that need to be addressed in our society and in the world – a barometer of our times- and also for demonstrating the fantastic creativity, the incredible variety, skill, talent, accomplishments, spirit, capacity for love and ability to connect human to human that artists bring.

ps.  Hope to write in more detail about some of these pieces in Oxford Dance Writers soon.


Another time

This evening a beautiful light.  I saw a hill with a lonely tree.  Wheat growing beyond the long grass.  Above, a blue sky with a scattered string of cloud.  I walked and stood.  The singing of the birds were joined by ringing of church bells and in the distance the call of lambs. It was as though I were in another time…


until the roar of cars intruded on my daydream.hill pale (copy)

Image and Imagination

A few months ago I was asked to write a 100 word ‘postcard’ on image and imagination in relation to performance training (Thanks Thomas).  The result is published in Taylor and Francis ‘Theatre and Performance Training’ volume 6.  Great to see the other contributors’ words.  Do have a look  here .

I really enjoyed considering the role of image and imagination in training and found that there was quite a lot to say on the subject – even in 100 word bursts!  Besides the use of images to generate particular qualities and dynamics of movement and to encourage the body to experience itself differently there are the images which rise from the movement and the placement of the body in space.  Learning to recognise when pause in motion will create an image which resonates and has meaning..  Then there are the images which the audience receives, triggering their own imaginative journeys.

However, at the time I was particularly frustrated with the need to find images in order to market work.  So one of my extra sets of 100 words was a little moan about that.

‘It’s all about image. Presenting. Resenting the need to have to show with an image the content, the identity, the meaning of all that we do – in a class, in a workshop in a show.

An image to set the imagination rolling. Or does it? When it is a description, name call, banner to advertise. A definition, a stamp.

The intrusion of image making (taking photographs) in to what should be the safe space of exploration and creation in order to entice others, display, evidence and prove worth.

In offering training words are not enough (lack of imagination). You have to provide an image.’


Lying down. Some thoughts.

When do we lie down?  How do we feel when we lie down? What kind of spaces do we like to lie down in?  What kind of surfaces do we like to lie on?

How do we feel when we see other people lying down in public spaces?  Is this culturally specific?

Are there resting positions other than lying down?  Is ‘reclining’ more socially acceptable than lying down?

What difference does clothing/appearance make to our reading of someone lying down?

What difference does the relative cleanliness/orderliness/height off the ground make to our perception of the reclining figure?

What is lying down like from the outside? – as the viewer.

What is lying down like from the inside? – as the experiencer

What difference in experience and perception if lying down with eyes open or eyes closed ?

What difference between public and private spaces when lying down/resting?

What structures, designs, spaces or circumstances would facilitate lying down for rest or pleasure?

‘resting places’ project

Learning to pitch

On Thursday I will be pitching for the first time at ‘Create’.  The thought is frankly terrifying.  I am not used to speaking about what I want to do in public, I have no idea how to use power point and my idea is still so big and multi dimensional that it is going to be difficult to construct a clear simple ‘sell’.

However it is a good challenge to be engaged in.  I just wish I had not had such a busy week already scheduled between applying/being selected and the pitching date!  I have already had some tips on trying to limit the sprawl of the idea and may get some more help on the eve from fellow collaborators – which is lovely support.

Here is the 50 word summary submitted for the programme:

Resting Places.  Where can we rest in the city centre? The creation of a series of surreal and thought provoking images and street performance interventions to explore our attitudes to and opportunities for resting or lying down in public. How might we more creatively and inclusively shape our shared public spaces?

There are so many interesting and exciting possibilities for the later stages of the project but first the initial clearly defined step has to be taken…