ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

Be Kind, Please Rewind

It’s bump in week! That means late nights, pizza, a million tech runs, theatre design, pizza and pulling the show together (with pizza). It’s beyond crunch time, it’s now panic stations time. And I am. Panicking.

Last week I started working with phenomenal actor/writer/director Sam Duncan, who has been involved in our workshops with the brilliant theatre artist, Alexandra Harrison. We threw in a solid bunch of hours and devised what is basically half the show. Working with another artist made me realise how tough it can be to stay ‘creative’ on your own, when all you have is the idea in your head and not much clue as to how it might feel to another living being. Sam and I threw ideas around and really fleshed out some of the concepts I’d already explored, so that now it seems comparatively stronger.

Working with Sam, and explaining to him what the work is about, made me realise that to get my message across I need to be really clear with what it is I want out of this showing and out of the work in general. So for that, I ask you to please be kind, rewind. To the start of this journey. I’m going to set out, as clearly as possible, what my work is about. As a note, we did this as an exercise in the first couple of weeks: the elevator pitch. How do I explain the work in the 10 seconds before the elevator door closes? Here is my first written attempt:

Inspired by the love story between my Irish grandparents, Ten Irish Love Songs explores the concept of love in its many forms. It follows the tale of two lovers separated by distance, whose story represents ‘now.’ It simultaneously throws up the question of love’s place in the past or ‘then,’ represented by love letters and Irish love songs that defined my grandparents’ courtship during World War II. The work is therefore about time and distance as much as it is about love. It speaks to the old and the new, the then and now, and ultimately aims to ask the question that has obsessed many throughout history: what is love?

Baby don’t hurt me. Ok, clearly that’s a bit longer than 10 seconds, but you get the idea. The point for me is less about whether this is a great elevator speech but about the fact that my piece is slowly, slowly uncurling (rather than being in the inaccessible woolly abstract) into a story. A real, live story about Ten Irish Love Songs.

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