Over the last couple of months I’ve been working with Helen Seymour on her solo show ‘To Helen Back‘. I love working with her because she’s so damn good. Blurbs for shows tend to describe them as funny and moving and making you laugh and cry (other than Schlock!, which will just make you cry and perhaps shiver). But that actually truly does apply to Helen’s piece. She’s bloody brilliant. Come and see her at the Rosemary Branch, we’re doing a double bill 15th-17th November. She’s on after me, and will help you recover from Schlock….and life in general.
DUCK MY LIFE
[A Short Play by Helen Seymour]:
TEACHER ONE: “UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN, UP, DOW…
Oh, Helen. You’re just not….I was wondering, would you like to sit on a chair, in the middle of the line, and maybe do some hand movements?”
TEACHER TWO: “Oh what a good idea!”
TEACHER ONE: “You could do some lovely hand movements from the chair”
TEACHER TWO: “Really, really, lovely ones”
TEACHER ONE and TEACHER TWO: “From the chair”
I was standing on stage with the rest of my class, rehearsing the dance section of our school play. All us six year olds had to stand in a line, hold hands and duck and come up in time to the music. It was pretty damn fun and I thought I was doing pretty damn good ducking. But then came the chair idea…AKA: Your body doesn’t duck like the rest of them, so we’re stopping you from ducking altogether. Duck my life indeed.
I didn’t tell you that so that you could feel sorry for me (after all, the next year I was The Witch with the Wobbly Wand) but as a good example of why any kind of choreography has often made me feel like a worm in a cardigan. Not designed for that shit.
Then (18 years later) I started work on my spoken word show “To Helen Back”, and worked on putting some physicality into my performance. Getting up from the floor was the main one. It was fun to relish the length of time it took.
Over the last few months, I’ve been working with Hannah Silva on the show, knocking it into shape after performing a rough work-in-progress version. Pretty early on, she said “Okay then, show me your dance moves”.
The cashmere worm was back. But I just let it wiggle. The more I realised that Hannah wanted to see how I moved, without judgement, the more I danced the way I dance. Sans music, may I add.
And so, some of these moves have ended up in the show, a chance for my body to show what it can do in all its cool fun snazzy weirdness.
This has really helped me to explore how movement can add to the performance and has pushed me to new areas of physicality on stage, which has been an unbelievably refreshing and rewarding experience. Turns out it’s no bad thing if you can’t duck like the rest of them.
Want to see what I’m talking about? I’m supporting Hannah Silva’s “Schlock!” at the Rosemary Branch Theatre on November 15th, 16th & 17th.