The planning

The planning

Messages between Darren (the Director) and Cheryl : Hi Darren, If it helps, what it feels like when the breakdowns start, is that it’s as if I’m as frozen emotionally as the watcher in the snow in THE SNOW MAN or Caroline in CAROLINE SAYS II, then suddenly all these totally out of control emotions break through. Impulse control disappears, and I fall in love with someone totally bad for me and to me. And when I come out of it again, it’s impossible to believe it ever happened. And I am pretty much frozen emotionally again — sometimes more, sometimes less, but not at all capable of those wild swings in mood anymore [mood swings around as if I were a child — crying one minute and fine the next – like thunderstorms in a tropical zone]. That’s what I want to illustrate or recreate in the piece. Does that make sense? x cheryl ___________________________________________ Hi This is very clear!!!!! I can so relate!!! so beautifully put as well I had an initial crazy idea of setting it around a fridge/freezer as can use as a projection screen and also take stuff out of also food as a afrodisiac and position allot like love Use of fridge magnets also stuff being frozen Darren...
When I’m happy, Matisse

When I’m happy, Matisse

A lot of what’s in Alaska is from when I was very much depressed, but in the stage version we’ll get to a more joyous phase, and these Matisse cut-outs make me feel joyous: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/apr/14/henri-matisse-the-cut-outs-tate-modern-in-pictures Turns out he started them after being so ill he almost died.  You can tell from looking at them there’s a pure joy at still being alive.  Glorious stuff. How these pictures look — that’s how I feel when I’m singing, when I’m trance-dancing, when I hit the spot writing.   Cheryl...
About Alaska

About Alaska

How would you describe yourself and what you do? Surprisingly hard question. I’m a freelance artist, which has always meant working across multiple disciplines. I started as a poet when I was only nine; moved into performance poetry when I moved to Manchester; from there to playwrighting, and from playwrighting to directing. And I always sang.   Tell us a bit about the work you’ll be performing at STUN. Alaska is a mix of all the things I do. I’ll be launching the print and ebook versions of my first solo poetry collection, published by Crocus Books/Commonword. It was in the Commonword group Identity that I first began performing, and back in the day I was chair of Commonword for a few years. Alaska the book includes illustrations by emerging black artist Bethany Hermitt, from Young Identity and Inna Voice. Her illustrations are the starting point for animations by Tommy Ollerenshaw, and Maria Gabriella Ruban from Filmonik is creating films, all of which will be on DVDs with the printed book. Young Enigma artist Afshan Lodhi will be creating an interactive ebook which will have embedded links to everything. And the poems are inspiration for a one-woman stage show, directed by Darren Pritchard from Company Fierce, working with Digital Artist Andrew Crofts and vocal coach Yvonne Shelton. So there will be vocals and movement and beautiful images and experimental video. It’ll be totally different from the printed version – as Darren says, “the show is the poem that’s not in the book.” It’s a microcosm of the way I work: collaboration, working with new and exciting folks, giving people...
Louis CK on Sadness

Louis CK on Sadness

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/apr/04/louis-ck-existential-dread-mobile-phones-brian-logan-open-mic Hi Darren, I really like the Louis CK bit that’s in this article, because of the attitude he has to sadness.  Like the article says, it’s really matter-of-fact and not self-absorbed or self-pitying.  It’s just that life is sad sometimes, and everybody gets a slice of that. I think this is clip is really funny, and it’s because he doesn’t whine about it, he sees what’s funny about pulling over because you can’t drive because listening to a song has made you so sad. That’s what it’s like for me — the depression is dreadful, but it makes me do such funny things.  Really absurd, really out there, but funny.  Writing 20 first pages and going back to the very first one is so ridiculous — that’s what will save the show from being whiny.  I have a true dread of whiny. I know you know this, but I wanted to share this bit.  Really nails it. x...
World Through Alien’s Eyes

World Through Alien’s Eyes

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/mar/06/under-the-skin-director-jonathan-glazer-scarlett-johansson I haven’t seen this movie, UNDER THE SKIN, yet, but I’m going to buy it next week when it’s released on video. Most teenagers feel a bit alienated — but the idea in here that the whole world is viewed from an alien’s eyes might be a way of thinking about what it means to have a personality disorder. I think I told you I was diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder.  I went to the National Institute of Mental Health’s hospital for diagnosis when I was 27, and this description from their website — http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml — especially that list of symptoms — is exactly what I was like all during my twenties till they gave me  chemical cosh meds. When I went off my meds 2006/7, all those symptoms, one by one, came back to bite me in the ass. Being like that, and pretending you’re not like that, definitely makes you feel alien.  I still see the world as if through a glass, and still pretend I don’t think the way I do. Might help with thinking about the...
The Background

The Background

Hi Folks,   http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/17/help-alcoholic-loved-ones-john-gurdon Darren and I are doing two days work this week to start to figure out how to transform ALASKA the poetry into ALASKA the show. We had a great day on Thursday. We put the poems into a chronological order, and I told Darren the backstory for each one. He then began to connect them. We’re not going to treat the poems as sacred texts — the stage show has to work on stage, and the poems are a starting point and fodder. The emotional throughline that started to emerge on Thursday is more about how the struggle with my illness interacts with questions of sexuality and relationships. No matter what sex or colour the people I’ve been most in love with, they have been drunks, drug abusers or both, and largely emotionally unavailable. The link at the top is to a story in the Guardian from a former partner of an alcoholic, and gives a hint of what it’s like to live with one. Despite how all that sounds, there’s a lot that’s funny in the history of constantly picking a version of the same wrong person. Especially when I was young, and in denial or wilfully ignoring obvious clues that the relationship was not quite right. Even in a messed-up relationship, it takes two to tango. Have to ask why where you there, dancing as hard as you could? For me, important that the show is not about whining, or sentimental, or what Darren calls emotional porn. Anyway, that was day one. More to come… x...
Ultimate Immersive: Audience as Protagonist

Ultimate Immersive: Audience as Protagonist

When I was explaining to my trainee crew how the last play I directed should work, I compared it to putting together a film.  The play, Heart’s Core, was made with refugee women, put together from their stories, folk tales, and dreams. What I said: It will work like a film montage:  juxtaposition creates the narrative.  It will loosely tell a story, after fitting together all the women’s stories.  Group bits as if they were scenes in one story, through montage. Purpose – to create a live performance experience more intense than a film. Because most films are more intensely felt by the audience than plays.  It’s the immersive qualities of film:  surround sound in Dolby digital.  Faces larger than life, so that the brain is fooled into thinking this face must be physically close to you, to loom so large. Theatre is physically close to the audience, especially studio shows.  Immersive theatre is closest of all.  The actors are right next to the audience, standing closely enough to touch.  The action might be flowing all around them, it can touch them, overwhelm them physically, take control, blindfold them, lead them sightless into the night.  Rather than merely sympathise with a character, the audience could become the character, collectively.  The audience must answer the call to adventure, take the challenge, make the choices, live the consequences.  They have to feel at risk.  The ultimate thrill-ride:  a rollercoaster for the soul. Do it right, do it well, and they’ll remember forever. N.B.:  Comments temporarily closed, due to Japanese spamming. For...