We chatted to Wayne Stephen Jackson about bringing his show From Me To Us to the Battersea Arts Centre, available to watch from 10-16 May.
Could you tell me a bit more about what From Me to Us is about?
From Me To Us is an autobiographical digital performance that documents a recent change in law (Section 54A of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act) that allows single people to apply for a parental order. It is about my own journey to become a father through surrogacy and draws upon my experiences of the process so far, by remembering the past and imagining what the future could be.
How did the idea for the show come about?
I started the process of single parent surrogacy in February 2019 and found out that the law had only changed the month before to allow for single people to have legal rights as parents. When I found that out, I was shocked that I didn’t know about any of it before (and that things could have been very different if I had made the decision earlier) and so I knew then that I had to make a show about it.
What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
Something unique to them, to find something about the piece that resonates with their own experiences. The show for me is not just about raising awareness of this subject matter (although that is an important element); it’s really about exploring the importance of family and what that means in 2021. It’s about hope, and the struggle to do something that most people enter into naturally, caring for another person. Hopefully, audiences will have an opportunity to reflect on their own relationships, plans, and dreams.
How does it feel to be bringing the show to the Battersea Arts Centre?
I am very excited. This is the first show that I have taken to BAC and it has always been a goal to get there, to find new audiences, and to be a part of the brilliant work that takes place there.
How have you found adjusting to the circumstances of the past year? Difficult! Going through surrogacy as a single man, when the processes were new for everyone involved, create a number of problems because there isn’t a lot of support for someone in my position and a lot of the discussions, terminology, forms, were for couples. So the past year has felt isolating, as I’m sure most people can relate to. Then, in addition, the show was originally for live theatre and due to premiere in June of 2020, and so I made the decision to transfer the piece to a video performance. It was important to me that the show was seen whilst I was going through the surrogacy process, whilst things were still happening, because if/when I am lucky enough to become a parent, the story will no longer be mine to tell.
Do you feel that your outlook on life has perhaps been changed? Definitely, I’m very aware that things have changed – I think everyone’s world has reduced and diluted and maybe that’s just about realising what is important.
How would you describe From Me to Us in three words? Poignant. Hopeful. Honest.
Why should people watch? It’s informative, and poetic, and it’s about something that has actually happened and is actually happening – and I think it will really resonate with a lot of people, whether you view it through the lens of either the parent or the child. Also, the videography (Studio 91 Media) is brilliant and the music (by BAFTA and Academy Award winner Chris Benstead) is stunning.
What is next in store for you? I am currently continuing the process of single parent surrogacy and so everything is up in the air at the minute, but I’m writing a lot and have just finished my first novel. The hope is, if everything goes to plan, that I won’t have time to make any new performance soon, and then, after a “break”, I’ll start planning the next big project for when I return.
By Emma Clarendon
From Me To Us is available to stream anytime from the 10th the 16th May.