I finished writing the play. It’s the strangest writing I’ve ever done, and that’s saying something. For the past two years I have been methodically recording my dreams. When I wake from a dream I reach for my phone and make a voice memo of everything I can remember. Then when I have a collection of about ten recordings, I transcribe the dreams pretty much word for word into a notebook. During the recordings I’m often thinking ‘This makes no sense at all’, but I’ve often been surprised at how coherent I am, and the images, symbols and people that recur. Once I got into a habit of this ritual my dreams came thick and fast; my subconscious knew I was listening.
During some covid induced self-isolation time, I sifted through my dream diaries, made separate notes, then constructed these into short scenes, pieces of dialogue and poetic passages. I became fascinated by these liminal spaces that dreams describe so well, and I thought about how so many important moments in life are about crossing thresholds, and about how uncomfortable and confronting uncertainty is. I took the song titles of Taylor Swift’s album ‘Red’ and named each scene with a song, then I cut up all the scenes and arranged them into an order. I called the play ‘Grey Area.’
The feedback I’ve received so far has included words such as ‘vivid’, ‘wild’, ‘scary’, ‘beautiful.’ It is the stuff of nightmares, and I really had to dig deep to find it. Staring at a blank page for several months was a bit of a worry, but it needn’t have been because I did most of the work while I was asleep! It reminds me of a story that was read aloud to us at LISPA. I can’t remember it fully, but it was about two animals on a boat, and one tells the other to go to sleep while they create. Then they wake up the other animal who tells them what they see. It’s something to do with taking the rational mind away so that creation can happen – I wish I could find that story again now.
At the start of April I hosted a local talent night at the Winchester Theatre Royal, which is something I’d never done before in that capacity, and I could’ve so easily have turned down the offer and suggested several other people who I knew would do a better job. But I did do it, I did it pretty well, and I enjoyed it too. I performed the extract of ‘Frontal Lobotomy’ that I’ve done so many times, but has not been in front of a live audience since 2019. I think being ‘warm’ from the hosting helped me out, and it was the best performance of that material I’ve ever done. I needed that. Apart from a few open mics, I’ve not done much performing for the past six months, the focus has been on teaching and writing. And I was fine with that.
‘Testy Manifesto’ is coming out of the suitcase this summer. I’m performing as part of Camden Fringe in August, and there are a few other dates still to be confirmed. I haven’t begun rehearsing yet, but I’m preparing, getting fit and healthy, clearing the decks. I’m looking forward to going back to the text, seeing what has changed in me since I last performed it in September. I don’t think I will make many drastic changes, but I know there is more to find. That show is a slow burner, it took so long to write, longer to stage, and I was paralysed with fear right up until it got birthed at Guildford Fringe last July. I think I can hold it with a looser grip now.
I received some news this week that took my breath away, and not in the good sense. I have been trying to process it, and dashing off a few written lines when I feel too sad to dance and sing is the only way I can. Here is a poem for C.
Have you seen the email they asked
I read it, I dreaded it
Scrolling down the thread
I didn’t want to cry
You’d lost your left eye
Air rifle bullet lodged in your brain
Stopped in my tracks
Why does art imitate life
The synchronicity almost mocks
And the shock was enough
To blow my mind
Bad choice of words
But what can you say
Other than that I’m glad you failed
Your teacher is glad you failed
Give everyone you love an extra-long cuddle today.