The other night I shared a new half hour version of ‘Testy Manifesto’ for Moving Voices on zoom. I’ve performed versions of that show three times, but those were to live audiences, this was the first time I’ve done a TM online performance. Lots to work on, lots to consider, what an honour that was. Afterwards a lady in the audience asked to meet properly my puppet Wanda the Wandering Womb. I was very proud to show Wanda’s little tiara, her big eyelashes. The lady said; “That’s what I imagine my womb to look like.”
In February I did two live streamed performances of ‘Frontal Lobotomy.’ I had forgotten what adrenaline felt like. It was so weird to perform that show in my living room, knowing that people were there but I couldn’t see them. And somehow even more pertinent; because we were all in the middle of covid-winter lockdown, so isolated, swimming in the mess of our own thoughts, wondering if we would ever see light again. I know it brought comfort to a few people, and that was a beautiful thing. I had a A BALL, I made A MESS, and every second was GORGEOUSNESS.
And, guess what...I’m going to make a proper film of the show with the help of my my friend Dan, and a bit of Arts Council cash. I’m taking Bobby Cool and The Band up to Leeds at the end of April to dick around in front of a camera for a few days. I’m so excited to see what is possible for this strange little show, and quite nervous that it will be forever fixed.
Many artists produce an actual finished product, but my ‘product’ constantly shifts, as I AM the product. To fix something seems to go against what I stand for. The immediacy with an audience, the freedom to change something in the moment...that disappears when you publish a book or make a film. I have been forced to learn new ways both of making art and merely existing over the past year. The Winter was hard, that would normally be the time when I book to see lots of theatre shows. The shows I had tickets for got postponed, but anticipation is exquisite.
I’ve had a joyous time developing and running online puppetry workshops for people with learning and physical disabilities, and the company I’m working for upgraded my computer. No more making do with a seven year old iPad. I’m pretty chuffed about that, I’m not used to having nice new toys.
Another tremendous thing that happened this month took the form of a two weekend retreat for Winchester based writers. There were ten of us, I was very grateful to be part of it. And off the back of that I got offered a commission to write a play for the the youth theatre. I’ve never been hired as a writer before - a director, yes - but A WRITER...I guess they must’ve liked my silly limericks...
And I wrote and delivered two funerals this month. It is the strangest thing to ‘perform’ something you have written, to an ‘audience’ who are all wearing masks, who are utterly heartbroken, who don’t want to be there at all...to have them shake my hand, to ask for the transcript, to write me emails of thanks afterwards. Humbling and wonderful. I know I have found my true vocation in celebrating life.
Here are the RIDICULOUS limericks I wrote for the Writer’s Retreat. We were asked to give ‘found’ words and phrases from Winchester, and then given 40 minutes to write something using the words the group had provided, and imagine a place and a character speaking them. I imagined a homeless woman outside the toilets by the cathedral speaking these words, not caring who is listening, and having a lovely time....
There once was a badger named Brian
Who walked around sobbing and crying
He stopped at the clump
A bunny said ‘Jump’
And now his new hobby is flying
There once was a young man called Albert
Who owned three thousand tight t-shirts
But numbers don’t count
When cyclists dismount
And you think ‘well one more can’t hurt’
There once was a woman named Clare
Who thought that her name was most rare
To Piecamba she went
All her money got spent
And now she’s obese, which is fair
There once was a young boy named Matt
Who got followed one day by a black rat
He got rather cross
Thought ‘I’ll show him who’s boss’
And gave him polite notice to splat.
Love and primroses,
PS: If you are reading this on Patreon then THANK YOU! Stick around, lots more video content to be uploaded, that I won’t be sharing anywhere else.