These Twelve Things Are True #3

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1. I have made mistakes and I’ll continue to make mistakes
2. Some accents or voices produce in me the desire to punch the speaker in the face.
3. When standing at the top of escalators, near train platform edges, or on sidewalks, death and injury seem curious in an objective sort of way.
4. When someone today said, “That’s pretty dark,” I cocked my head and thought, is it? Why? Surely it’s a straightforward way of dealing with wants and needs. Surely if both parties are empowered and have agency, this protects each person. Surely she was reacting to some pervasive gender bias that states that a woman is the loser in any sexual encounter with a man.
5. I have a strong desire to watch Magic Mike XXL
6. Too many shades of the wrong colour do not an outfit make
7. Always “in love” with the wrong person? You don’t need to tell me.
8. Always at the “wrong” parties? Perhaps, perhaps not.
9. Socks live a mysterious life of travel and intimacy.
10. “Interbreeding” is a word that makes me think of cattle.
11. Culturally specific smells carried on the body are interesting. Do we know about these maps?
12. When we look at each other in the way an animal looks at an unfamiliar other. What are you?

These Twelve Things Are True #2

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Inspired by and dedicated to Lucy Pawlak

1. Social media is blue
2. My lipstick* feels wrong.

*named Manhunt
3. A man sits. His t-shirt reads: Loyalty Above All Else Except Honour
4. If you turn up your jeans once, surely this invites trouble.
5. I wish I had a Game Boy. Then I’d figure out what one does.
6. It is possible to wear winter model Supergas outside of the said season.
7. The papercut on my right hand (middle finger) made contact last night with an unknown clear liquid which caused it to sting somewhat. With some immediate rinsing followed by a somewhat delayed application of a white medical product this morning, the injury seems to be manageable once more.
8. The woman who just left the tube carriage is someone I’ve seen on a tube ride before.
9. Who are these people? Who touches them?
10. Care. Care must be taken and given when speaking English to non-native speakers.
11. English is not the friendliest language but it is a language to make friends with.
12. I will have fewer keys on me by Monday

These Twelve Things Are True

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Inspired by, and dedicated to, Lucy Pawlak.

1. I know about CCTV cameras. I don’t know about hair replacement therapy.

2. Tonight, I met a person called Joy. What must that be like?

3. I get loud, swear, then run away when I’m scared. Bravado sucks ass badly.

4. Her new shoes look too new and are ugly.

5. I will never be able to be in Celebration, Florida again, unless he changes it drastically, and even then. But I will be able to watch it. This is some salve.

6. I will soon be swimming in the sea again.

7. When everyone leaves the carriage I feel worried that I should too, even though the lady in the speaker hasn’t intoned my station’s name.

8. I don’t know how old I’m meant to be.

9. I don’t know what you think of me

10. Someone this evening said something brilliant and I wrote it down.

11. Freedom to thieve helps.

12. This is some salve.

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After Gloria

Postcard Collage 2 
(a reversioning of Gloria Sanders’ Postcard Collage) 

Holding the babysack 

sad like potatoes

Past possessions drowned

Mothers stride on and we 

waste 

days on 

oranges

Whether the wide world likes it or not

these things could happen

Stories 

Close to flames

Blankets

Cold us crackling 

Logs for fire as weapon

A deep first

A forest burn

Things seemed to seemed to happen 

(All passing?)

Sometimes the world made smaller

Sometimes the world, wide, liked it

Measured out love could be

bead counting

string snapping

ice skidding stones tomed in 

flesh or

eyes or

air

Or

Please

More

a poured ocean

(c) Vera Chok 2015

Equal pay, opportunity & treatment in the workplace

I’m a person who used to live with her head in the sand with regards to issues like equal pay, sexism and racism, (casual, institutionalized, or outright and deliberate). I am making an effort to stop ignoring what’s going on every day, what’s being done TO me. I think it’d be super (and horrific) to find out more about what’s going on and I am going to the next Act for Change debate on diversity at the Olivier stage, National Theatre on June 2, 10am to see what people are saying now and to support the cause. I’ve gotten over the fact that I am not the most clued up, intelligent, articulate, political person. “Just” showing up is valuable and important.

I thought you might be interested. I went to the inaugural Act For Change debate at the Young Vic and it was interesting, depressing, inspiring, and PACKED OUT, by the way. So many people, from all sections of society, who had shown up to speak up about how they feel marginalised and treated differently on the basis of what they looked liked and what their life choices are.

Act for Change cover a wide area of looking at the lack of diversity in media (TV and screen) – gender, age, sexuality, race, disability, class etc. – but I think this time they are focussing on theatre. Following on from a really interesting meeting with the Equity group of National Theatre actors, one of the things we touched on was the sensitive subject of the probable inequality in pay structure*, and we’re guessing imbalances don’t stop there, not because of any deliberate malice obvs, but maybe a throwback to older systems that haven’t been considered in a while.

*We don’t know and we’re asking for transparency, so stay tuned.

Now, I don’t know if anything will come of this debate but I guess the good thing is that the Olivier stalls are already booked out, which already signals to folk making decisions that we do care about equality in the workplace. I know I am not the only one who is fed up of going to things and getting riled up and staying frustrated when things appear not to be changing, but I do believe in showing up, and that that makes a difference. I know from my own experience that it took a few years of gradually meeting more and more clued in and vocal people who are now friends, that helped open my eyes. I now feel that I have more agency and support, and I feel a part of something positive. I feel that I am not going mad when I often find myself in the position of feeling like I am being treated like someone who doesn’t belong and on that basis, someone who gets fewer rights, and who should not have a voice.

Come along. Spread the news. It’s free and you book here:
http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover/act-for-change

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Thanks to Kat Golding for standing up and sharing the quote above at the last Act for Change meeting.

Alien Sex Club update

John Walter, Computer-generated model of Alien Sex Club, 2015

2015 is the year of Alien Sex Club! Last year, I was invited to make a piece of work for ASC by the amazing artist

John_Walter_14John Walter. I will be collaborating with HIV consultant Mike Brady of THT in order to create an experience. Excited and honoured to be involved. Read about it below:

Alien Sex Club
An exhibition by John Walter

We are pleased to announce that in addition to the generous support of those who gave to our crowdfunding campaign Alien Sex Club is supported by a Small Arts Award from The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England Grants for the Arts. The exhibition will begin at Ambika P3 in July and travel to Homotopia Festival in Liverpool in October.

Alien Sex Club is a major multimedia project by British artist John Walter, which will explore the relationship between visual culture and HIV today. Alien Sex Club will use the spatial device of the cruise maze to bring together works that address the complex subject of contemporary sexual health. The exhibition will consist of a large-scale installation based on the shapes of cruise mazes, found in sex clubs and gay saunas. It will comprise sculpture, painting, video, performance and installation. Visitors will be immersed in a multisensory world in which they can watch videos and live performances, get lost in the maze and have food and drink in the performance bar. Walter’s research in epidemiology is grounded in a collaboration with Dr Alison Rodger, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases and HIV at University College London.

CURATED BY
Ellen Mara De Wachter

LONDON
24 July – 14 August 2015
Ambika P3
35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS
Open Wednesday – Friday 11-7pm
Saturday – Sunday 12-6pm

LIVERPOOL
30 October – 1 December 2015
Homotopia, venue to be announced
Open Thursday – Sunday 12-6pm

aliensexclub.com
aliensexclub@gmail.com

PARTNERS
The University of Westminster
Ambika P3
Homotopia
Terence Higgins Trust

FUNDING
Arts & Humanities Research Council
Arts Council England
Wellcome Trust
Alien Sex Club Supporters

Native Speaker Credibility

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Native speaker credibility refers to the level of competence a student of language aspires to achieve whereby their grasp of the new language is as good as that of a native speaker.

I struggle with the idea that I don’t belong anywhere. Despite English being my first language, I grew up in a foreign land. Being asked, over and over again, “Where are you from? I mean, originally?” leaves me with the idea that I am being identified and positioned as Other due to how I look and sound.

I look Chinese. East Asian, if you’d like to play it safe. I look female. I sound – I do not sound like the other East Asian people on this isle. I do not sound Chinese. I sound the way I do depending on who I am speaking to and what the situation is. I am an actor; a shape-changing, voice-morphing, alien attempting to move from moment to moment, trying to communicate with other beings without being shot out of the sky. What information can I present to you, faster than the speed of light, before you process and project your data onto me?

 

Image: Le Soleil de Paris 1977 – Chagall

Eel Day 2014

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Dedicated to Louise Stephens, who sees the many things clearly and beautifully.

Written on en route to Ealing Broadway:

Eel jaws, eel legs
Eel maw, eels shake
Don’t you wish to do the dance?
Garden eels all in a trance
Eels are good and eels are bad
Eels in the hood –
Don’t make the mad!
The eels in town and eels at sea
They raise a toast to you and me
A WhatsApp text to say Hello
and Eely good! from down below
Some eels sometimes
They seem quite quiet
But most eels quite adore a riot
But sounds don’t travel well in water
The eels their plans are always thwarte-
d.
Round and round the eels we go
And read their lips – they seem to say –
London ladies Chok and Stephens
Have a happy, tasty Eely Day!

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download

WordPress Folly #1

What follows is a series in segments from a draft of the piece I am currently writing. It is a poetic text where the text is a machine or a process. Perhaps you could say that it is in action.

With each post, I’ll mention and thanks the various people, pieces, ideas that have inspired the whole. This will not be definitive and many names will be mentioned repeatedly.

This week: Charles Adrian Gillott, Sophie Herxheimer, a couple of Tony Beaver paintings, Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk, FOF, Jeremy Tiang, Gary Merry, and Gloria Sanders.

WordPress folly 1

Cranach-Eden(366x538)

Ripped Jeans

You stretch me and I think
stitches
Knees open to the wind and
threadbare
A soft curling at the shoulders
A sweet spotlick
Gum’s for saliva
threadcount
sheets
Lay tracks
Mines
Train tunnel sex

(c) Vera Chok 2014

Harassment and freedom of speech

hollabackThis is my response to an article, “Uppity, White Liberal Upset About Being Catcalled By Minorities In NYC”  which begins:

“An organization called Hollaback, which is aimed at stopping street harassment, posted a video of a girl walking around the streets of NYC being “catcalled” by mostly minorities.

Men can be heard saying such terrible things such as “how are you this morning,” and “have a nice evening,” while the uppity, white liberal woman looks at them with hatred and disdain for even deigning to speak to her. After all, the men are clearly out of her social class, and she’s white, so the fact that these men even have the nerve to look at her should be considered harassment…. right?”

Read the article online here. Watch the video they condemn here:

My response, edited and adapted from a thread on Facebook:

Recently, I was complimented on the street in a nice way and I nearly fell over in shock. It was done respectfully, in a non-intrusive way and nothing was demanded of me and the person carried on with their day. This had never happened before and it hasn’t happened since.

Every other day, however, in an area I am now living in, someone says something to me, AT me, more like, that I would say is an aggressive assertion of power. It’s got very little to do with being nice or complimenting what I look like or how I am dressed, but more to do, I feel, with asserting their presence and/or disrupting the flow of things. In contrast with someone asserting their presence by, say, asking for spare change, this kind of attention seems to be based on gender and perceived power positioning of those involved. The callee/person being followed is pushed into the position of recipient and is “weaker”. It’s kinda scary that if you do respond, you’re often opening yourself up to more aggression, verbal or physical.

Interestingly, this is not behaviour I experience in other parts of London and I have lived in various parts, some richer, some very deprived, over the last  12 years. I am not calling for policing or legislation of this kind of behaviour but I do think it should not be encouraged or condoned. Catcalling and verbal harassment and being followed down the street grinds me down and causes me anxiety. Given what I know now, I would not choose to live in this area, nor have this level of anxiety on a daily basis but it is not going to be easy to uproot myself and move house again nor is that a solution to the bigger issue at hand. This kind of recurring encounter makes me fear for my safety at times, some of it is racist, and it’s never what I would regard as respectful or polite or complimentary. (Sure, what’s acceptable behaviour is culturally specific sometimes – I grew up in Malaysia and it’s, on the whole, a place where it’s normal to make eye contact and stare at people, for example.) Now, I don’t ignore the opinion of women who do enjoy public male attention as affirmation of their attractiveness but I do propose that we should consider the power dynamics that we seem party to.

It’s interesting to me, not being black or white, that I relate this aggressive behaviour to my new neighbourhood which is NOT more deprived than other places I have lived in, but one that feels (I know that this is subjective) like people have given up on themselves, their community, their surroundings. It’s feels like an area where where actions, anti-social or otherwise, are inconsequential. For me, this is a shame. What’s the solution? I don’t know. How do we ever bring about social change? For me, a direct way towards change is to acknowledge there is something going on here that we may not be 100% comfortable with. Having peer to peer conversations about whether or not this kind of behaviour is something we encourage or accept. This video and the point it’s drawing our attention to is not my idea of a liberal, racist, or neurotic video. It did cross my mind to say oh, perhaps she should have worn something baggier. But then, we’re in the terrible territory of saying that a woman has to take responsibility to avoid harassment. We could go through all the permutations – different age of the woman, heteronormative or not, different clothes, ethnicity etc. – but I’m interested in why it is that some people are driven to express their position by asserting themselves – often aggressively – into the space of strangers.

One such reaction and expression towards the woman in the video comes in the form of rape threats.

Dominance and power displays based on sexual intimidation and gender; it feels as if there’s a whole lot of frustration and disempowerment going on here for all involved.

PS – I am perfectly aware that not every woman experiences this, and not every woman who lives in my postcode either. Sometimes I wonder, is it me? Do I need to change my demeanour as I prepare to walk down the street, do I need to be more assertive, or more of a victim, to avoid comment? Do I need to look more cheerful, less open, walk faster or slower? Do I train myself to ignore the troubles I see around me? Isn’t it such a relief when I’m not in an area where this happens, where I’m JUST walking down the street.

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Opinion Piece, after NEXT FALL

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I used to be a Christian. A thing that stood out for me, having watched NEXT FALL last night is, apart from the rather beautiful performances from Nancy Crane, Mitchell Mullen and Ben Cura (it’s a pretty strong cast), what the Christian character Brandon says about why he stopped being friends with his gay, Christian friend, Luke who had earlier in the play placed the idea that yes, he believes that being gay is a sin*. (Through the play, his atheist boyfriend Adam cannot get his head round Christianity (and religion), Luke’s dedication to God, nor his desire to save the soul of his beloved.)

Adam meets up with Brandon to ask him advice on how to deal with Luke praying for forgiveness for having gay sex. It is Brandon’s response that is wriggling around in my head:

It is understandable to succumb to the sin of gay sex on occasion, but it is the active, knowing choice of Christian Luke to enter into a continued and/or loving gay relationship that Christian Brandon cannot accept.

Incidentally, the character Holly asks if she will go to hell for being a fag hag on the premise that she is “aiding and abetting” homosexuality.

In THE HARD PROBLEM***, opening late Jan at The National, a character who is a believer gives thanks and prays for miracles and forgiveness relating to her life choices.

I am interested in the questions around choice and culpability. With my history of having been a Christian** who genuinely believed that anyone who didn’t accept Jesus as their personal savior would go to hell, I spent some time being distressed, worrying about the souls of my loved ones. The church I went to as a young person made complete sense to me and still does, to be honest, if you’re thinking about things from within the belief system e.g. don’t marry a non-believer; create and maintain a supportive network of people of your culture and belief around you, who will sustain and nourish your faith. Do what you can to bring people to God but it will be difficult if you’re in a continued and/or loving relationship with a non-believer. How could it not be?

Discussing NEXT FALL with a friend, we talked about mere tolerance versus full acceptance. This is interesting. We can decide what we accept into our lives; we have the freedom to make space and absorb others depending on how much we decide to. How much of life do we allow into our lives? What is the cost to us? (BALLYTURK, a recent play I saw and adored asks this.) The character Brandon asks Adam to consider the cost Christian Luke has taken on in order to accept his boyfriend, non-believer, Adam into his life. In CLOSER, a character has scorn for people who hold their hands up and say, oh, I just fell in love. For her, there is no “just”, there is a choice. In THE FEVER, Shawn says he likes to listen to classical music and understands that his love for opera means that someone somewhere is being tortured or starving. He is aware of his choices.

Choices. Culpability. Life.

It’s not a bad thing to think about relationships in terms of cost, however unfashionable that might be.

Finally, I like this RCA talk by Brene Brown. Elsewhere in a TED talk, she talks more about vulnerability but here, it is the points during the Q&A at the end which are particularly striking and practical to me in terms of looking at choices and blame. For example, saying, “ I am a liar,” is worlds apart from saying, “I lied.” Locating the incident, one can do something with the consequences – apologise, make amends, move on. Labelling a person XYZ allows for the much easier route of denying culpability. We deny ourselves freedom.

*This is in the play and not my view.

**And of course there are many branches and groups within Christianity and ideas of God, heaven, hell, salvation, sin, etc. differ.

***I will be rehearsing this new play by Tom Stoppard from December.

PS – I am reading Rosemary Tonks at the moment, thanks to poet and artist Sophie Herxheimer. This just popped up and I’m not sure what I feel about it, but it’s interesting, nevertheless.

Rosemary Tonks in 1965

Rosemary Tonks in 1965. Photograph: Jane Bown for the Observer

No, this is not my life, thank God …
… worn out like this, and crippled by brain-fag;
Obsessed first by one person, and then
(Almost at once) most horribly besotted by another;
These Februaries, full of draughts and cracks,
They belong to the people in the streets, the others
Out there – haberdashers, writers of menus.

Salt breezes! Bolsters from Istanbul!
Barometers, full of contempt, controlling moody isobars.
Sumptuous tittle-tattle from a summer crowd
That’s fed on lemonades and matinées. And seas
That float themselves about from place to place, and then
Spend hours – just moving some clear sleets across glass stones.
Yalta: deck-chairs in Asia’s gold cake; thrones.

Meanwhile … I live on … powerful, disobedient,
Inside their draughty haberdasher’s climate,
With these people … who are going to obsess me,
Potatoes, dentists, people I hardly know, it’s unforgivable
For this is not my life
But theirs, that I am living.
And I wolf, bolt, gulp it down, day after day.

• From Iliad of Broken Sentences (The Bodley Head, 1967), copyright 2014 © Estate of Rosemary Tonks.

Underwater lift shaft

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Sitting at a sunny table outside my local pub, a pal from that time said to me, “You should expect this kind of thing to happen, working in this industry.”

I’d like to think that she meant to reassure me that something like this had happened to her too, that I wasn’t being judged for choosing to be an actress, that my friendliness and desire to make work with other people didn’t make me a naive fool, and that it wasn’t my fault that a man I trusted, a friend and a director I had been building projects with, had found me attractive enough to invite me to his flat and then had not make it easy for me to leave.

This was six years ago now. I’m thinking about it today as I walk down the street, on another sunny day, in a different part of town.

There is too much fear in my veins. The streets where I live IV-supply me, keep me topped up. What is the ground under my feet? Crunch of glass, cigarette butts, spittle. Young ones with no struggle stand on your feet to get to their craft beer. What is the weight above their heads, they can’t smile? Why are their eyes so small?

N.B. It is never ok to force yourself on a person.

Shenella

brooms

SONY DSC

She says

You’re drunk.

This is a thin line to skate

dressed in love

swimming in tender frills.

A whale of a lie swallows the question

possibility magicked away

Shenella burps him better.

Her wide foreign forehead refills

He’s an angel

He offers gum, keeps her hand in his

Discusses the domestic

Tantalises with dreams of tea in bed

in lieu of

He woos her

English charm

English hair

I imagine it frozen on some Nazi landscape

Heavy boots for kicking

Heavy coat for fashion

He blow dries his hair!

Self-damning sir.

Pickled in gratiation.

She’s his bit of rough, Shenella

His bit 

Scrunchied Shenella she

works and he doesn’t

know

how to live

Shenella

Your tongue’s too good for his

Lick a different stamp for postage

 

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The girl with the heart of glass

The girl with the heart of glass

She walked past the man from a land she could only guess at. What were its customs? What language did he grow up hearing? He sang La Bamba, on his bum, filling the station’s mouth with music. Perhaps no one listened.

The pack of teen boys last night, trailing with their alcohol, jokes in their hands and dicks. Tales of public pissing shared out loud as she walked by, as their pal pissed onto a building site.

The old man with no children to pass his life’s findings into. He’s one of the greats; he made it, lost it, made it again, and is now a thoughtful, generous man. Perhaps he always had been.

His wife didn’t understand store-bought frocks.

The pretty girls with holes in their hearts, or too-thick flaps of skin in their hearts, or too-weak ventricles.

The Oxford comma. It’s not funny.

The weakness of personality that allows strands of jealousy to the violence of smashing a stranger’s arm away resisting the viewpoint of a god-shining moviemaker (you) documenting your life
a string of spaghetti stuck on the counter dishwasher dancing overhead on rocks dashing home some brass-rubbed truths cold stars would blink down
the clink of ice temporary burn
The girl with a heart of glass
Glass powder underfoot
Smash-n-grabbings
Lone-night leavings
Self-inflict-openings
Poor
Reflective
Material

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Found

His care will last as long as milk in a too-cold fridge
The distance to feel spans
lakes
seas
The landscape of knees
of all of the people of all our worlds
Is too muchIMG_3150.JPG

Blog Hop

 

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Picture by artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer. Her work is beautiful, as is she.

I was nominated by the inspiring Pat Wheele of the blog, In My Wheele House. You should definitely have a look at it. It’s “A blog about the sometimes disastrous, sometimes fantastic, results of D.I.Y. furniture restoration, decorating, and interior design” but more than that, you get to experience Pat’s spirit and nosey around her wonderful world.

I met Pat many years ago when I was floating about, newish in London, and wondering what to do with myself. I’ve learned a lot through her and she was one of the first people I met who really pierced my consciousness and got me thinking about forging my own path through life. I hadn’t really been aware of the options before me before. I had always followed the crowd or rebelled against the norm, but in a flat either or way. Pat was part of the beginnings of my wider life and I am grateful to her forever for being someone I think of as being true to herself, upfront, and no-nonsense WITH a huge dollop of fun craziness thrown in! So much respect for Pat Wheele.

Anyway, to keep the blog hop going, I have to answer these questions:

What are you working on?

Here’s a list: I am working on the post-production of a recent outing of a work in progress showing of an opera I have been making with some excellent folk. This is what we performed at the lovely Tete A Tete opera festival and here are some festival photographs. I am looking to hire a professional producer to help make this show happen, following the success of the outing. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, I am making rewards for the amazing people who helped crowdfund the show, and recording a track of a song representative of our project so that I can show people what we sound like. This is happening soon on the 21st and has been very tough to organise simply because my team are so damn successful and always working here and abroad!

I am also curating a corporate event with a very uncorporate slant. The Multicultural Network for a legal firm are throwing their annual event and I have been so lucky to be invited to put it together, based on the events I have produced over the years. The line up, with a spoken word slant, includes Malika Booker, Deanna Rodger, Bengali fusion band Khiyo, and dance company Motion Dance Collective with Omari Carter, with MC Phil Whelans and featuring live drawings from the wonderful Sophie Herxheimer.

I start being represented by a new agent on Thursday and I am nervous about this move, but she seems very lovely and I hope that this will mean more projects that I can learn from.

My band Friends of Friends is playing very soon to raise money and awareness for the charity MIND. Made in Mind promises to be an interesting evening, hosted by the gorgeous Bernadette Russell. Details here.

AND I’m very excited to be working with filmmaker Christine Sherwood next weekend. Filming a short which has some gorgeous bits in and I get to be a part of movie-making magic again! Thanks to Kevin Shen for connecting us. I have since roped him into the film with me so we can play together. We never had a scene together during Chimerica so this should be fun.

In my personal life, I am doing a Big Tidy and throwing out everything I don’t need. A life purge. I intend to get back in shape, eat better, live better!

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Gosh. First I’d have to answer the question, what is my work? As an actor, I think my approach is a tiny bit broader than the traditionally trained actor. I am very influenced by European-trained folk who do more physical work and clowning. The attention to detail and body awareness really helps me in my approach to the most traditional of acting roles and absolutely expands my non-traditional performances. So I’d say, simplistically, I combine great attention to textual detail, to the point of looking at text from a literary way, with a physical awareness of what my body is doing in the performance space. I also think about space achitecturally and performance in terms of musical structure i.e. with an eye on phrasing, movements, 3D texture and layering, tension etc.

In writing or in making my own (solo or otherwise) work, I am always aware of the particular gifts the medium I am working in affords. I like drawing on the best bits and principles of one medium or field of study and trying it out in another to see if it enlarges the experience I am working on at that point.
It may be worth mentioning that the poetry I write usually aspires to be the kind that feels great when it’s read out loud by the reader. Some feedback has been that it looks tough on the page but when heard or read, it all makes sense!
I find that I usually struggle to describe what I’m doing in a succinct way, which probably indicates something about the nature of the cross-disciplinary approach I take. I am equally interested in process and the audience experience and look at big picture stuff as well as the detail of moment to moment so I am interested in the status quo surrounding how theatre is being made for example, and wish e had more buildings as arts hubs, as opposed to production- and season-led theatre houses which have very particular pressures to make, commission and show work.

Why do you create what you do?

“Make what you’d like to watch/read/experience” is something I heard once and it’s stuck with me.

In London, I started organising events because of Charles Adrian Gillott who I saw and loved on stage. I organised a workshop for him to lead because I wanted to learn from him and couldn’t do so without a reason or a group to learn with. I then produced events showcasing him as I wanted others to experience his beauty and skill and then had to add to the line-up so found myself platforming lots of other acts.

I create networks and groups that are supportive and happy, loose and free. I remember now that at uni I started an arts festival in my college so that the boundaries between graduates and undergrads, staff and the public, was broken down a bit, at least temporarily, through creative activities.

I make work for friends, current and future. It’s important for me to remind myself that, as much as I seek approval and love, I will never gain universal acceptance etc. So whose regard do I want? Friends. Isn’t that rather general? Not really, given that I am pretty damn careful about who I surround myself with and who I give time to. I am careful with how I use the word. I look forward to the people I may inspire, for whatever period of time, and even if I don’t have real contact, if my work reaches them in some real way, then they are a friend in some way.

How does your creative process work?

I have surprised myself in the last year or so, and learnt things about my process that I never knew.

I work well to deadlines and have a system which involves letting ideas percolate, then working a loose draft out based on starting somewhere, anywhere, then taking time off again before whacking it together.

I like cleaning, cooking and pop music to be part of my percolating process.

I make stuff associatively. So draw on things like a sponge – often my brain goes into hyperdrive mode – and I link many, many things together very quickly, skipping across mediums. Often I am slow to speak or respond in conversations or situations because my brain is going too fast and my mouth is too slow. Also, I don’t quite know how to express myself verbally and am often second-guessing myself due to a confidence thing. I am bad in groups and better one-on-one.

i think in sensory and visual terms. It was good to be reminded in my writing class to think about creating to appeal to the five senses, even in writing.

I don’t work as collaboratively as I thought I did. If I have a big idea, I like to lead it and have good people facilitate this. I draw inspiration from artist Lucy Pawlak who is a great visionary. Realising that this is not a failing is a step forward for me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t work well with people. Not at all. It means that if I work with a group, I work best if the individuals are strong and are able to make their ideas and plans known well. I love working with inspiring folk. Working with people depends on the terms at the outset, the expectation laid out, and the communication during. Oh, and of course I mean that a starting point for coming together to collaborate is mutual respect and interest in each other and each other’s work. It gets much harder if you’re thrown together and are expected to make something beautiful.

I enjoy listening to people tell me things. I like asking questions and linking ideas, pictures, smells, experiences. This probably happens unconsciously although I am forever hooking people up with other folk, not in a romantic way, but in a compulsive connect-y way. I figure, if good folk find each other, the world is a better place.

That’s it for now!

Oh, I forgot. I have to nominate two people to keep this going. I have got the wonderful Luci Willis. Read about her adventures HERE on her blog, Create Educate Deviate, and enjoy her considered writings about her travels and her life. Luci I met through my MA in writing and she’s been a light, a kind friendship across the miles (she is living in Japan at the moment) and a good, sensible shake when I’ve been feeling wobbly, sad and unconfident about being myself.

My second nominee is Michelle Neeling. Check out her blog here WA woman to world. I met and lived with Michelle when I was working in Ipswich many years ago, renting a room while I was performing there. It was a revelatory encounter. Never had I experienced such generosity, openness, insight, wisdom and acceptance from one person in such a short space of time. Michelle’s calm and grace really affected me and she has been another inspiring rock in the world, again despite the distance. (It’s amazing, isn’t it, how the internet keeps people connected in this way?) Michelle has been courageous and generous in sharing her world with us. I love hearing from her.

If you’re a blogger or social media user and wonder if people out there are listening, they are. Stay well, stay in your shoes, keep trucking.

 

meine Liebe, or, On the way we got a bit lost

carreau-1

(Draft 1)

On the way
we got a bit
lost
A slowed down tango of curves
A leg dipping in
space between yours
Hook crooked
Horizon-jumping smooth-stone-skipping
A taking offoff
Lie b
l ack of
h
M
there
Not one but
Two
Fingers
Corn kernels
– buttery –
one at a time on the tongue
yellow pleasure yolk
pierced peppermadness

We’ve danced past hello