In March 2016 I performed a snippet of my new project, 'Nebula' at camden People's theatre, as part of their Starting Blocks Programme. It was wonderful and interesting, but it was incredibly difficult, so I think its best to show you a bit of the tough side of my process. I realised through doing this that being happy and doing what you love doesn't mean that you're happy all the time...
My piece is scaring me…. I care about it, but I am constantly intimidated by it. The basis for my performance experiment is space exploration and the search for worlds beyond our reach. The inspiration for my project comes from my personal experiences as a person of mixed race heritage, where there is always a subtle feeling of ‘otherness’. That said, My piece is only partly biographical. It is an abstraction of the original themes with the intention of discovering a new way to talk about a subject that I find hard to grapple with. My ventures into the unknown so far have been incredibly difficult to navigate. My practice seems to continually involve personal challenges that I wade through to create art and the difficulty in that is that it is a painful journey, where it is easy to become distracted from the endgame or to feel like buckling under the weight of the subject. As a performer in this venture, I feel like a cosmonaut in a rudimentary, little tin vessel spiralling off course! I spend a lot of personal time and energy attempting to re-plot my course and get back on track.
This is a solo mission. In the loneliest most painful moments, I realise that I have only myself to speak to, who fully understands. I take a tape recorder into the studio and I listen to my voice communicating as if to find more of myself and in that perhaps more that grounds me. More that places me somewhere. This element of communication will most likely be a strong feature of the show.
I have been attempting to write a script and at the same time figure out ways to effectively show my ideas through scenographic and physical performance and at times I feel really over ambitious about it all. I've been thinking about how to show the solitary life of this astronaut, how to depict stars and how to keep it all simple and relatable, but still meaningful.
I’ve been spending a lot of time alone in the rehearsal room, looking at the things that excited me about the idea to begin with. The amazing unknowable quality of outer-space. My own feelings towards sci-fi and space exploration and finally the opportunity to face my own ‘alien-ness’ through performance and to somehow make this concept more tangible for myself and for my audience. I’ve come into this experience with expectations of how it would work and for the most part I’ve been wrong. The piece has morphed into something I no longer recognise, but I suppose that is the reason this program exists. So that you have a safe place to encounter your performance practice with stark honesty.
I get very muddled up as I work. I’m used to having a voice in the space other than my own. I’m also used to building a critical environment as I go along, which leads to thoroughly interrogated investigations. This time My process is reflecting my concerns. Is it too touchy feely? Is it not clear where the origins of the ideas are? Can I successfully create a performance out of abstract ideas about space and race? How can you unpack big, multilayered ideas on your own with nobody to talk to or to bring you back into focus? In a collaborative environment I am usually that person, but theres only one of me and I’m already busy getting lost in my ideas!
The next phase of my process is most likely to get people in to see the work. Hopefully this will help me gain a better understanding of how the work feels for an audience. At the moment, I feel as if I will probably end up showing a series ofsmaller moments that hopefully when put together have a coherent line running through them, linking them. But we’ll see!