Hope and Despair flowed this week, and we have reminders of other global game-changers with the anniversary of Kristallnacht (despair), the Fall of the Berlin Wall (hope), Armistice Day (hope after despair), and even a reflection on our trans-atlantic differences with a new president appointed on 9/11. My reaction to all this is to realise how small I am, but how I can help. I can shout a bit, show my activism for what I believe in – the need for love and common humanity. But most importantly I can act to help, support, and cherish individuals to be the best that they can be as they grow up, develop, and nurture their lives. I hope my tiny ripples of hope, joined with other ripples, will make a tide of change within a lifetime. I have to hope.
In finding an image for today, I just googled Hope and Despair 600×400 (size) and this came first – prescient.
So this week I buzzed around working in Wood Green with our MA Creative Producers, spending time with them at the World Travel Market exploring cultural tourism, seeing the first performance of The Naked Cleaner at the wonderfully welcoming Bargehouse in Haggerston, going to do come group coaching with the LGBT young people’s group in Leicester, seeing the opening of Motherhood, talking producing with the Durham University drama society, supporting the monthly gathering of Authentic Artists in their sharing asylum, and offering a range of CGO Surgeries and coaching sessions.
There is a common theme to all this work at the moment, along with offering hope/support, it is the shared importance of speaking out, releasing emotions and fears, and having a buddy or confident or place where you can speak out.
My coaching work allows an individual to speak in total confidence about their path, and to be asked questions to help them raise a mirror to the problem or challenge, and look at it from unexpected angles until they see a way forward. When you take a moment to wonder what advice your 9yr old self might give you, or how you would tackle a problem if you knew you could not fail, you think of new ideas and eventually come up with some achievable actions. It is a pleasure to give this offer to young people and hear their surprise at being listened to – and I don’t mean listened to by parents, or peers, I mean listened to by themselves. They hear their own inner voices going from “I can’t” or “I musn’t” to “maybe I can”, and “I will”.
Ethan Mechare’s wonderful one man show The Naked Cleaner gives us a very different permission. This is permission to witness someone’s masterful storytelling of their life and some of their work. Plus an invitation to share some of our silently held fantasies and experiences. The show is cathartic, moving, heartfelt, phenomenally funny, and filthy before a quick spot clean. But don’t sit next to your dad – its one of those shows where they may reveal a few things about their life which reminds you that they are also human. Many congratulations to Ethan and director Jill Patterson on creating this wonderful, necessary, safe environment for us to show our emotions. We all loved it.
Joanna Rosenfeld’s Motherhood previewed in Brighton and London this week co-devised and directed by Kath Burlinson, designed by Ellan Parry with music by Sioned Jones. The show is accompanied by a range of work with women of many ages across communities and I was honoured to be part of the experience in the Kentish Town Community Centre on Friday. Joanna . I can’t say better than sharing a few comments at the after show discussion “This kind of work is really necessary…so visceral…so beautiful…your presence so honest and accessible…its part of your testimony, so close to us it makes it so accessible to us.” “I cried all the way through…you brought all of motherhood into the room.” Just like Ethan’s invitation to share and witness real stories of sex and life, here Joanna was inviting us to share and witness real stories of birth and life, loss and love, pain and joy.
No reading a book, watching a documentary, commenting on facebook or shouting at the radio can connect us as a community together in the same way as live theatre. We need to share our stories, we must try not to bottle up our emotions, and theatre can help in such an amazing way.
Both works, and almost all of my surgeries and workshops this week were about letting the light in – and I’ve just read a stanza from a tribute to Mr Leonard Cohen which says it all “Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” (Anthem 1992)