Unpacking My Proposal

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It’s hard doing a blog that matters. I have a blog already, but it’s a tumblr, and very silly – so having a new one that’s actually about something, and in which I need to not sound like an idiot is daunting, to say the least.

I think the best place to start, would be to ‘unpack’ my proposal, to look at what I want to do, and why, and where I’ve gotten to with it so far, so that there’s a clear idea of where we’re starting from. And then I’ll do another post about a little adventure I went on yesterday, and then another post about the next thing I’d like to do. And then I’ll do some offline thinking, with spider diagrams and glitter.

So here’s my residency statement, which you can find on this here website: http://www.bankstreetarts.com

I’m looking at the idea of ‘Bedrooms’ for my residency, in particular the relationship that those experiencing depression and post natal depression have with their beds, and the way in which a space of rest and supposed recuperation can change over time – whether that’s a series of months, or even just the space of 24hours. As I create the work, which will culminate in a durational performance next year, I will be drawing from figures in literature, the BSA building itself, and experiences of my own bedrooms and the bedrooms of others. I am particularly interested in the ‘freeing’ of an audience, and one of the focuses of my residency will be exploring exactly what this means and how one goes about enabling it.

As a student beginning my practice, one of the most important aspects of my residency is learning what it is to be an artist in residence, what it is to be an artist of any kind. This is my first experience of this so it’s hugely exciting – and daunting! I am eager for feedback and thoughts at all times so I’ll be blogging the experience, and photographing every stage of the process.

In 2012, I hoping to begin curating an evening at Bank Street that brings Live Art and Performance from both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam, as well as local artists crashing together into something exciting, that enhances the avenues of communication between all three of these groups. Stay tuned for more information about this, and feel free to email me if you’d like to get involved or know anything else about my residency.

selina.natalie.thompson@gmail.com

Ok. So where has this all come from, and what does it actually mean?

1) Bedrooms and Depression

I suppose I’m a bit of a voyeur, really, and the relationship that people have with their bedrooms is something which really interests me, because before it’s a romantic space or a shared space, it’s a very personal, very isolated place, and very private.So bringing someone into that, genuinely – no quick tidy up before they come in, no putting on your bra, no peeking out from just behind the door – is a real privilege, I think. It can truly give someone a real sense of how someone else sees the world. And that’s something I find hugely exciting as a possibility, so that’s why I wanted to start here. Depression in particular resonates me, because when I myself was ill, I didn’t leave my rooms for weeks, and sometimes not the bed for days. And the room I lived in then was so so different to the room I now sleep and type and eat and live in. I’ve not really got the words to describe how I felt about that room, but it’s something I really want to unknot in my head and explore, and theatre is how I do that, and having read things which suggest that other people feel similar, makes me think there really is something there.

So I wanted to look at that, because it’s fascinating, and having read The Yellow Wallpaper and reacquainted myself with Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre over October, got certain things waking up in my head. Exciting. I also found this in a Book I’m reading for my dissertation:

“When he arrives at the voices of the women in the puerperal breakdown unit themselves, it is scarcely tolerable. This is suffering beyond metaphor:

She just screamed and screamed when I tried to feed her. I thought, it’s my own child, and she doesn’t wasnt me. In the end, I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I felt so guilty. I didn’t feel capable of looking after her. My neighbour fed her and I sat there and cried.

‘When I’m washing her clothes and squeezing them out, I think I’m wringing her neck’. A woman describes a recurring dream: I remember closing my eyes – and I could see a knife sticking into a baby. I could see someone swinging the baby in our hall at home, swinging the baby round and round in the hall’

Language crumbles under the weight of this pain. Mystification of this pain is a lie.”

It’s from a review of a book about Birth and Madness, and the review itself has been written by Angela Carter – and it’s stuck with me ever since, especially if you’re dreaming dreams that violent, then not wanting to get up in the morning. A part of you is locked there, I think, and I can’t stop thinking about it – so they are the other voices I want to try and bring in.

2) Audience and Duration

I *think* that Live Art and Performance Art are what I like. It’s so hard to pinpoint, because they’re labels that confuse me. The one thing I do know, is that different people want such different things from theatre, and I want to make work that allows for that, and that is very much made for people as individuals, keeps zooming in on the audience as distinct people. So I want to create a piece where maybe this audience member gets into bed with the performer – but maybe this other audience member just stood at the door, and was perfectly happy there. Maybe this audience member made something with the performer, but then again, maybe this audience member stood outside, and watched a piece through the window. I want to explore how you genuinely give your audience genuine invitations to explore a piece in their own way, without sort of losing them ,and them feeling like they’re floundering. Hmm. Needs more thought. That’s the beginnings anyway.

I also think it’s vital, that if I’m looking at depression, where one person can be in the same room for days, literally without leaving for weeks, that the piece runs for at least 24hours if not more, and that an audience can drop in and drop out and be able to compare and contrast the room, and the character(s?!) at different times in the day.Saying that, I still want there to be a strong performance element to the piece, and a sense of story. A room I really like is one of the galleries on the front of BSA. I’m worried it’s a little too small, but the floors and windows and fire place are beautiful, and it’s right on the street – you can look in whenever you want.

3) Curating an Evening

Hmmmmm! This is an exciting one, but a scary one! All I know, is that lots of theatre and performance students at my Uni don’t even realise BSA is there, or the exciting work that is being made there. I think strengthening that link is hugely important, and that strong links between local artists and students in general are so important – literally everybody wins! So I want to host an evening once a month, in which people can come and show their work, but most importantly talk to each other, and support each other, and publicise other work that they are doing and going to see. More on this later.

This was so long. If you got to the end, Thank you!

In One of the Galleries, doing a think.

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