Author Archives: Selina Thompson

Finished

Standard

Hiya Babs

So it’s the end of Edinburgh
The show had a sold out run
Which means around 2000 people saw it
It’s won 3 awards
So many people have written interesting, compelling reviews
Some of my absolute heroes have seen it and said extraordinary things
And there is a moment each day, when I am bathed in gold, and I feel like I get to spend just a breath, just a moment more of time with my Nan. True Communion.
It’s all been a bit much

I just want to make sure I have properly, properly thanked all the people that helped make the work happen publicly

So I want to thank

First and Foremost before anybody else, Emma Beverley, my producer, and partner in crime. Because I came to her with this idea and she said yes. And has carried the stress of it and the heart of it with as much love, integrity, dedication and care as me, maybe more. So first set of thanks to the first person I even tentatively suggest this to, who comes round and cooks macaroni cheese from scratch when it all gets too much, who has essentially taught herself how to work sustainably and lovingly with someone who can be very, very fragile. I see you, and appreciate everything that you do.

I want to thank Ria Hartley, Msri Day, Jo Bannon and Hannah Silva for that first week in Falmouth, and Lubaina Himid for the time I spent at the Making Histories Visible Archive

I’d like to thank the 200 people that supported our kickstarter, the core of the project – and I want to thank the countless people that shared it and forwarded it, and kept it in people’s line of sight.

I would like to give an extra special thank you to Erica Packington who has been the project’s patron throughout, and without whom, we might not have been able to do Edinburgh this year. I hope that every time that the show has done something good, you have felt like it belonged to you, as one of the team.

Shouts to the Arts Council, obvs!!!!

I would like to thank Mayfest for their stunning care and support of the project – for taking on a ridiculous idea when there was no plan, for giving me as an artist space to get on with it – for flowers and days at the Lido, and for being everything I could have wanted for a partner on this project.

I would like to thank Hayley Reid, for being an Art Warrior with me for the first, ridiculously hard month of that voyage, and for all her support after that also.

I would like to thank Charlotte Cooper for her support throughout the voyage itself – I can’t imagine how we would have coped without her.

I’d like to thank all the people – too many to name – that we connected with in Jamaica and Ghana, who supported the journey and a v. inexperienced traveller in situ.

I’d like to thank Xana, Minette and Nyima, for their patience, for their sound, music, artistry and voices when the project was at it’s very beginnings.

I’d like to thank Matt who did the massages in Bristol, and (the angel) Gabe who did the massages in Edinburgh.

I’d like to thank Clare Duffy and Nadia Fall.

I’d like to thank everybody involved in Yorkshire Festival, and especially thank the class of 8 year olds that came and reviewed that version of the show.

I’d like to thank the National Theatre Studio for six weeks to write and think.

I’d like to thank Maddy and Season for questions and redrafts and books to read and ideas and explaining big words and showing me what dramaturgy is, and in many many ways, helping me to see what my writing could be. For untangling and unlocking my brain.

I’d like to thank Bryony Kimmings and Marcia X for their last read throughs

And my board – Scottee, Martin, Rebecca, Akwugo for holding and guiding us through a project fraught with challenges, seeing the work, bigging it up.

I’d like to thank Hannah Pool and everybody at Africa Utopia and the Southbank Centre.

I’d like to thank The Attenborough Centre, especially Laura Mc Dermott, walking across a field with two bottles of prosecco v late at night.

I’d like to thank the team at Northern Stage for taking a chance on us again – with a special shout out to the volunteers who helped with handing out salt, were out on the streets flyering for the show, and were always joy. Special props to Connor, Hannah and Rob, who bought the show together everyday.

I’d like to thank Sharon and her killer PR team, because I am grumpy and I hate PR, but they are fucking lovely and shit hot. Also big thanks to Deb and Jen ❤

Thank you to everyone involved with the Edinburgh Award and everybody at The Stage
Than you to the Total Theatre Awards
Thank you to everyone involved with the Filipa Braganca Award and everybody at The Scotsman
And thank you to everyone involved with the Amnesty International presence at the festival.
I am so, so humbled and overwhelmed.

Shout out to Mel Purdie, standing in for EmBev at the point in the festival that was hardest.

I’d like to thank Sarah Manning, my v v patient and brilliant literary agent, and Claire Clarke, our General Manager, for whom this year seems to be an ongoing baptism of fire, I hope it will ease up a bit soon…

I’d like to thank Kat Radreva, my designer, for being a magician, for being patient, and clever and kind. For creating three continents on one stage. For A Daughters of the Dust Dress

I’d like to thank Cassie Mitchell for painting colour and tone onto the design, for knowing the chaos it can be to work with me and never missing a beat.

I’d like to thank Tim and Tanuja for creating a soundscape which meant that the words and me didn’t have to do it all, for finding a way to give voice to a feeling I could never have the language for, for creating a rope that I can hold onto and find my way through the show with.

I want to thank Dawn, for taking the work to the next level. For making it so that I understand every single word that I am saying when I step on stage, and for building care into a show that could have broken me long before we got to the fringe. For being gentle and patient as I shambled my way to being a bit more organised, bit more theatre, bit more focused. For her tigger like energy. For a conversation across generations that enriches the work at every step.

I want to thank Louise, our production manager from the very beginning, who has shown us what production managing can be!!!! Who has held such a powder keg of a project together, who always goes above and beyond. Everything is better when she is there.

I want to thank the British Council and everybody that makes the showcase work.

I want to thank all the people with whom I had little, intimate conversations with at times when I was feeling truly broken – Chris Goode and Sue McClaine are the two that come to mind, but there will be more – who helped me think about how I might hold myself together and place care in the work.

I want to thank all the audiences in Edinburgh, giving their time to my show out of 4000 that were there, and to critics for finding a little brain space to reflect on it –

But I want to especially thank the POC audiences, specifically the black audiences

Who have sat in those rooms in the minority

And negotiated an audience that is often negotiating things that a lifetime of whiteness has told them that they don’t have to negotiate in that space-

And sometimes they decide that they would rather not.

So it means the space of coming to that show is often not a safer one for you. I see that, and I appreciate it, and I love you for it, fiercely.

I want to thank the Artists and Creatives of colour doing the damn work all year round, who’s support is constant, who’s hustle is second to none.

I want to thank especially Yolanda, Rachael, Paula, Mara, Annie, Adura, Apphia, Julene, Tessa, Krishna, Joyce.

I want to thank people that support with tweets and likes and faves and messages out of the blue, for friends and old acquaintances that came through to see the show. That affirmation is a powerful, bracing thing.

A big shout out to Bridget Minamore to passing the opportunity to write for Exeunt onto me, and Alice for publishing it – if I hadn’t done that bit of venting my head would have blown off.

And finally a big thank you to MY MUMMY AND DADDY AND SISTER

And to the people I text pretty much every day – Emily, Dorrit, Bryony, Scottee, Travers, Issy, Candice, Vic, Maddy, Toni, Demi and Wendy.

I am a lot to carry! And y’all do.

This is not just a big wankfest! I want to make visible the work and the time and the labour and all the people that bring together one person standing on stage talking, that’s all. There is no such thing as a solo show. And I don’t want to miss nobody out!!!!!

ok,goodbye, everyone except for like – the people in the last few bullet points, Dawn and Emma gotta leave me alone for a fortnight now, I want to forget that other humans exist.

Advertisements

salt. Reading List

Standard

BOOKS

Saidiyah Hartman – Lose Your Mother

Saidiyah Hartman – Scenes of Subjection

Kiese Laymon – Long Division

Frantz Fanon – Black Skin White Masks

Frantz Fanon – The Wretched of the Earth

Jennifer Terry – Shuttles in the Rocking Loom: Mapping the Black Diaspora in African American and Caribbean Fiction

Paul Gilroy – The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness’

Edouard Glissant – Caribbean Discourse

Hortense Spillers – Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book

Ayi Kwei Armah – Two Thousand Seasons

Maya Angelou – All God’s Children Need Walking Shoes

Ayi Kwei Armah – The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born’

Toni Morrison: Beloved

Fran Ross – Oreo

Toni Cade Bambara – The Salt Eaters

bell hooks – Sisters of the Yam

bell hooks –  All About Love

James Baldwin – If Beale Street Could Talk

Teju Cole –  Open City

Toni Morrison –  God Help The Child

This Bridge Called My Back

Pearl Cleage – Things I Should Have Told My Daughter, Lies, Lessons and Love Affairs

Kamala Kempadoo –  Sexing the Caribbean, Gender, Race and Sexual Labour

Ann Reed – Pilgrimage Tourism of Diaspora Africans to Ghana

Marlon James – A Brief History of Seven Killings

Marlon James – The Book of the Night Women

Marlon James – John Crow’s Devil

Amiri Baraka – The System of Dante’s Hell

Mixed Company, Three Early Jamaican Plays

Nalo Hopkinson – The Salt Roads

Octavia E.Butler – Bloodchild

Gladstone Taylor – KingSun, The Testaments of Sunlight and Water

Nayyirah waheed – Salt

Nayyirah Waheed – Nejma

Audre Lorde –  Sister Outsider

Alice Walker –  In Search of Our Mothers Gardens

Marcus Garvey – Ultimate Collection of Speeches and Poems

Dionne Brand – Thirsty

Dionne Brand – A Map To The Door Of No Return

Pat Parker – Movement in Black

Christina Sharpe – In The Wake, On Blackness and Being

Simone Brown – Dark Matters: On The Surveillance of Blackness

D.S. Marriott – Hoodoo Voodoo

Bernadine Evaristo – Blonde Roots

Grace Nichols – I is a Long Memoried Woman

Mary Prince – The History of Mary Prince a West Indian Slave

Nell Irvin Painter – The History of White People

 

FILM

Daughters of the Dust

Lemonade

Xala

Welcome to the Terrordome

Beloved

Marley

The Nine Muses

The Stuart Hall Project

 

MUSIC

Rihanna

Drake

Benjamin Clementine

Kelsey Lu

Cold Specks

ESKA

Laura Mvula

Solange

SZA

Valerie June

serpentwithfeet

Kate Bush

Mos Def

Kendrick Lamar

Kano

James Blake

King

Marcia Griffiths

Bob Marley

Fatoumata Diawara

Grace Jones

Fred Locks

Erykah Badu

Soul II Soul

Jimmy Cliff

Dennis Brown

Freddie Mc Gregor

Sizzla

Junglepussy

 

TWITTER

@nanpansky

@littleglissant

@blacklikewho

@lmartods

@alanalentin

@hystericalblkns ‏

@akwugoemejulu

@jacquelspringer

@againstgringpo

@nairyasmin

@keguro

@queercruising

@ruffneckrefugee

@ztsamudzi

@kojorte

@xaymacans

@rellativity

Some Affirmations My Therapist Asked Me To Write

Standard

Affirmation for when The Policeman in Your Head Tells You You Are Arrogant

No, I am not.

I work very hard.

(yes, I do! Even the very! I work, very  hard. And the fact that other people also work very hard in different ways, and with different results does not change this)

I deserve the successes that I have.

I am allowed to enjoy them, and be happy about them.

I am allowed to receive compliments with joy and happiness.

I am allowed to ask for what I want as well as what I need.

I am good at what I do.

What I do is important.

I am not too much.

 

Affirmation for a Bad Review

I made a show.

And I am very, very proud of it.

It is the best writing I have ever done

there is a small part of my soul in it

And I really fucking like it.

it is for my people

and when i do it the soul of my nan, and the spirit of my birth parents is with me

some people will not like it. Some people will be unbothered by it. But none of this needs to matter to me, because I like it. I like it a lot.

and when it is done, I can call my mum and dad,

and when the month is done

I can go to their home, and sit in their garden with my sister

And the four of us will feel joy in simply being together

success or no.

 

Affirmation for Giving Up Dairy

For fuck’s sake mate, it is making us really sick

Feel Good Facts and Home Truths for Derby Theatre

Standard

Hi, I’m Selina Thompson, I am a performance artist, I have been making work since I graduated in 2012, so 5 years, I’m a fat black woman that grew up in a working class home and I make work with and around my depression/anxiety/PTSD, leaning around it, stretching under it, grasping above it – anyway.

 

I started out doing shows in my university theatre company. After the first show, everyone would go out for a meal, there would be embarrassing speeches, and essentially I’d be eating and singing and drunk in a room full of some of my favourite people in the world at the time.

 

So we’re warming up for the first show

 

And M turns to me and says ‘I’m really looking forward to tonight!’

 

And I say ‘the show or the meal?’

 

And M says ‘the show obviously! It would be pretty sad if I was more excited about the meal than the show’

 

And I was devastated, because I was definitely more excited about the meal.

 

And I felt really ashamed of this for a really long time, because I remain, more excited about the meal. And I love my job, as Selina Thompson, a performance artist, as a show off for money. But I also love my life, as Selly, as Sel, as Selina-weeny-whiney (which my mum still calls me on the days when I’m struggling to get out of bed) cooking, and watering plants, and reading books, and sleeping, and generally being at peace.

 

So, I guess that is my first feel good fact which is also a home truth – that I love my job, but my life is better and worth more.

 

When I started out, for a long time all of me went into my job, it was the only thing that mattered. And it produced, for me, anyway – intense work with a short life span, and took already fragile mental health, and turned it into the most delicate spun sugar, being perpetually rained on. I feel very good about the fact that I have found a way of resisting something which is pervasive in our industry, and pushed onto ‘emerging artists’ especially – the do or die attitude, the all or nothing, that has people checking emails on holiday, texting about work at 10pm and not knowing what is for them, and what is for an audience, venue, programmer, critic. I am getting better at those boundaries. But as I get better at holding them, the more I notice our industry pushing at them.

 

This brings me onto my second feel good fact which is also a home truth – that I am in therapy now, that that therapy is paid for by the arts council as an access cost, and that it has probably been the single most life changing thing that has happened to me. I did a research trip last year and returned with damage to my back, my knees, my feet and my brain. It became very clear to myself and my company that without proper support, I wouldn’t be able to make work anymore. But this puts me in a very lucky place.

 

The last panel talk I did also had a speaker from Equity present – Emmanuel De Lange, who stated that the majority of their members had said they had ‘concerns’ about their mental health, with double the national average having gone to their GP for support I emailed him to get confirmation of the statisitics, but he is currently on annual leave, so forgive my not being able to be as quotable as I’d like. As the equity average earning is 5k from arts and art related activity, this does not surprise me. And this doesn’t take on board people for whom equity is not the right union, such as myself.

 

The precarious nature of working in the arts must have devastating long term effects on the mental health of those that are working within it. My home truth here is a question – if the majority of the money in the arts is held in venues, and in NPOs in particular, what are they doing about mental healthcare provision for those that work with them in the freelance sector as well as for them in house? If our industry is disproportionately affected, then where should we be situated in campaigns that seek to divert more funding to mental healthcare – it currently gets 5.5% of the government pot, despite GPs saying that 80% of their patients are seeking mental healthcare support. If 20% of those that experience major depressive disorder will go on to experience psychotic symptoms, what is the ongoing work of demystifying and engaging with broader mental health taboos – and how does this need to change not just who makes work, but how work is made? If people from historically marginalised communities are more likely to experience financial difficulty and need greater care to be paid to their health care needs, what are we doing alongside campaigning for greater diversity that also makes the presence of multiple communities and voices in our sector sustainable as well as accessible?

 

My third feel good fact which is also a home truth is that this year I will be earning £17k from my job after tax! In February I thought it might be a little more than this, but I have put more money into my company than expected.  There is a lot of debt that has to come off of this, about six grand (payday loans, catalogues, debts to friends, because the last 5 years has been hard, and I have made decisions that I now have to reckon with) but this is still good.

 

Before I subtract the debt, it puts me 5p above what the Living Wage Foundation describe as the Real Living Wage for outside of London – puts me on about £8.5 p/h, assuming I work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day.

 

After I subtract the debt, it puts me on quite a lot less. I talk about what I earn a lot, not enough people do, and it obscures all manner of bullshit.

 

I kind of feel good about it. My company is able to have a payroll now and pay me £1000 a month, consistently, it covers rent and utilities and the afore mentioned debt. But I’m aware that the other £9000, (the money I live on, that covers food, travel, clothes, toiletries, my attempts to have a social and love life) coming from various freelance gigs is still a nightmare to chase. Invoices get lost, are processed wrong, the request to pay within certain time scales is ignored. I draw attention to this, because for me, it reveals an implicit assumption held throughout the arts that everybody is middle class, and so can afford for there to be a six-week gap between asking for pay and receiving it, that there are parents or savings to fall back on. I have no savings, not a penny, live pay check to pay check.  I financially support my Mum and Dad, as they are both in their 60s and unemployed – and it is worth nothing that the aforementioned debt is directly related to the problems of cash flow in the past five years. This is a problem. Attention must be paid. And artists in the freelance sector need to come together and organise to change this, and venues should want to support them in that.

 

I’m going to finish here, with one last feel good fact/ home truth – a bonus one that I have learnt this year, especially, which is that if you write the provocation a week in advance, it is so much easier to enjoy events like this one. Thank you  for listening.

Blog for Total Theatre Magazine, April 2016

Standard

Hello Darling One,

My name is Selina Thompson, I’m 26, an artist based between Leeds and Birmingham. I make performance about –

I’m finding that sentence increasingly hard to finish.

And I think it is because I am changing quite a bit.

On February 12th, I got on a cargo ship, and sailed from Antwerp in Belgium, to Tema in Ghana. I left there, and flew to Kingston in Jamaica, before sailing back to Antwerp via North Carolina. I returned on April 12th, and my new show about the experience, Salt, will open on May 12th. While I was away, myself and my film maker had to split up, my grandmother died, my biological sister got in touch. While I was away, my hair was searched in customs, I tore the cartilage in my left knee, I listened to people stand outside my door and comment on the fact that I was ‘already as black as one of the niggers’. While I was away I showered outside while hummingbirds flew above my head, a French bulldog burst into my room and stole my luggage tags, and a load of flying fish jumped too high and landed on the ship I was sailing in.

I hang in a place of real ambivalence – constantly energised and primed, always exhausted. Full of anger and resentment that there is no time for me to recover from the journey before it is time to turn it into art, and delighted, absolutely delighted that this is my work. About to go on stage and reveal, reveal, reveal yet also fiercely protective and private about everything that happened, and about our process.

It’s a bit of a nightmare for Sharon, who is handling our PR with her customary brilliance and patience, and I love her for kindness and persistence.

But I am changing. I could not have experienced all of those things – and not be changed by them. I had never travelled before, never been bereaved of someone I really, truly, deeply loved before – had never skyped my parents before! It is a glorious place to make a show from, but perhaps a difficult one to market a show from. Marketing requires that you make things simple, and transparent – and for me at present, things could not be more opaque.

 

*****

 

In my head, we sit around a table – Producer Emma, Production Manager Louise, Director Dawn, Dramaturgs Season and Maddy, Film Maker Hayley, Voice Actress Nyima, Voice Actress Minette, Set Designer Kat, Assistant Set Designer Hannah, Costume Designer Hannah, Sound Designer Xa Na and Lighting Designer Cassie. And me.  We know there is a lot to do in a short space of time. We have three weeks.

So we say “We are not here to make THE SHOW because that could never be made in three weeks. We are here to make a show – to get from A to perhaps G on the A to Z of our journey. Perhaps when we’re in Leeds, we’ll get to J. But we are honest and open about the route we’re going down” We work gently. In the first week I tell the journey of the whole voyage twice and record it. We set ourselves deadlines – turn the journey into chunks, into… not even the skeleton of the story, more the bone marrow. But, we say – that is where the stem cells are.

 

We work with love.

Xana comes round to the flat on Sunday, and we try to work through the show. I am exhausted. We talk for an hour, and then she says to me – “would you like a nap?” So I sleep. I wake, we play with Minette and Nyima, get a sense of how our Elder and Child could sound – we finish, and I sleep again. We wake up, eat take away, and talk through sound palates – thunder drums, Lover’s Rock, the roar of the ocean, rain sticks. Overnight, we both watch Lemonade, and talk about it.

I sit opposite black women in cafes and we talk about secret things, dark things. We talk about our relationship with our mothers, we talk about trauma, we talk about anger and inherited agony and the real, real sting of racism. Not the negotiating of clichéd, racist old white men, but rather the internalisation of all of that, that crushes one from the inside, sees you turn on those most like you. “So if I was in the audience, I would be asking why,” Season asks “Why have you bought me here, to this place of trauma and haven’t I been through enough already?” and later, I answer Dawn “Because we are not crazy, I wanted to prove that and we need to keep telling each other that” There are tears. There are moments of silence where our eyes glaze over. But it is like that bit in Beloved when Amy Denver massages Sethe’s swollen feet back to feeling. Anything dead coming back alive hurts. The right amount of salt in a wound heals.

The rehearsal room begins to fill – Kat fills it – with blue velvet, with 25kg chunks of Himalayan Rock Salt, with Perspex boxes and salt bricks, with safety netting and false flowers, with safety boots and goggles and gloves with deconstructed Ghanaian flags and with cushions and plastic bottles. I walk down from getting my hair done – long, thick plaits, modelled off a still from Daughters of the Dust, then bus down the hill for the fitting of a heavy white pinafore. We fight with Homebase for the delivery of a much needed deck chair.

In the evenings, I tap tap tap and Louise solders, hunts down the rights to clips from Desmond’s, buys things, sorts our schedules and PRS and holds the whole project together in a way that me and Emma can’t quite believe. Emma sits on the sofa adjacent to mine. We hold hands sometimes, make difficult decisions. I tell her I need time off. She makes a round trip to Bristol every week, negotiates text messages full of panicked emojis every day.

There are pockets of tension around structure – journeys into the underworld, a resistance to linearity – too much language, not enough – trying to fit two months’ worth of experience into less than two hours of show. Balancing the politics and the personal, trying to figure out care for audience when telling a story that is so profoundly unsafe, and so full of pain. I cannot guarantee safe space here, I write. Perhaps you don’t have to, Maddy types back. Perhaps we all take responsibility for it.

 

*****

 

So how does all of this end in a rousing call to see my show?

(I’m having a little giggle, at the notion, I’m not going to lie)

Listen – everything about the show is up in that big bit of description up there. You pretty much know the storyline; the visual materials we’re building it out of – that it was made by a large group of women in a short space of time with a great deal of care. It’s about an epic adventure. You know there’s Desmond’s in it and a couple of the points of reference.

I hope you’ve figured out by now that it’s different to my other stuff – because I am different to who I was.

I still don’t know exactly what it will be like. And I definitely don’t know how you will experience it. I can’t promise that it will be always funny and warm and fun, all those words we use to trick people into seeing theatre. I can’t make those promises, and it scares me somewhat.  I cannot promise you that the show will be a safe space, because the things it looks at are not safe – grief, ancestry, colonialism, slavery, and how all of this is taken into the body – these are profoundly perilous and unsafe things.

But, I’m going to be brave.

And I’m going to say that I think it matters.

I think that what we are making together, my team and I, sat around that table eating Jacket Potatoes and Sandwiches from Café Amore, me pretending I’m enjoying the sludgy brown Nutribullet I made that morning, what we are making matters. That it is not, as Sylvia Wynters puts it ‘Some little piece of ethnic business for you to come and get your doctorate on!’ rather, that it is something that myself, and huge team of other people – including the 200 that donated to the Indiegogo in Feb and Jan are bound up in. That there could be a power and a resonance to it, that carries something of the change that making the work has sparked in my life.

And that that is why you should come to it.

Also, I’m not doing it again in 2016, cus I’m taking a six-month sabbatical in July, so stop asking me to bring it to London and come through, fam. Come through.

 

Lots of Love to you, love of mine,

 

S xxx

 

 

Blog for Sharon (our PR lady)

Standard

I’m sat on a train.

The train is taking me from my Mum and Dad’s house, to a flat in Bristol – and that flat is going to be my home for the next few months. And while I’m there, I’m going to make the first iteration of Salt; my new theatre show.

It is a show about journeys. Seemingly endless journeys.

It’s about me getting in my dad’s car to the train station at Gravelly Hill, getting a train to Birmingham New Street then the train to Euston then the tube to St Pancras then the Eurostar to Brussels then the train to Antwerp then a taxi to a ship then a ship to Abidjan to Cotonou to Lagos to Tema then a taxi to Accra then a coach to Elmina then a taxi back to Accra to get on a flight to Dubai then a flight to New York then a flight to Kingston then zipping all over the Island in taxis on the Knutsford express and then a flight to Atlanta and then a flight to Wilmington and then a taxi to Wilmington Port and then a ship to Antwerp and then a taxi to Antwerp Station and then a Train to Brussels and then the Eurostar to St Pancras and then the tube to Euston and then the train to Birmingham New Street and then an Uber to my Mum and Dad’s house.

It’s about the sister I barely know travelling from London to Jamaica to understand our relation to the biological parents we may never know.

It’s about those biological parents leaving Jamaica.

It’s about my Grandparents leaving Montserrat and Jamaica, andthen coming to the UK, for better or worse.

It’s about my Dad never quite making his journey to Ghana (so I went for him, and his words, that’s enough).

It is of course, about millions of enslaved people making and not making journeys across the Middle Passage.

It is about what is important and powerful and beautiful and what is flawed and ultimately doomed to fail in journeys of pilgrimage in the diaspora.

It is not a journey that began in my dad’s car that frosty morning in February.

For me it is perhaps a journey that began when I read the first few tweets coming out of Ferguson and realised something wordless; full of fear and dread and agony about the world that I lived in.

It is not a journey that will end on the 12th May when the first audience take their seats in Bristol and become a part of that journey with me.

Salt is about how all of these journeys intersect – how one does not make sense without the other, how history lives in our bodies.

Sometimes Salt feels incredibly difficult to explain and to make clear. Taking this huge journey – and struggling to articulate why, other than that I needed to travel, for a long, long time – to pay my respects to something, or to someone. That I needed to be far away from where I started, so that I could look back at it, and see it differently.

But at other times, it is simple – as simple as simple can be. I needed to look back, to be able to see what was around me properly, and hopefully, to be able to change what I will see as I go forward. So I took to the sea – and I am making this show, so that I can take you with me. And we can stand, and look, and think together, change together.

See you there.

Indiegogo Five, Remember me as a Happy Fatty

Standard

THIS SHIP IS DOING CRAZY THINGS

Nah, it’s not, it’s just sailing, innit? But the next time that I am beating myself up about my lack of dedication to my work (which is a common occurrence to be honest) I will think back to myself in this moment, listening to my cosmetics being smashed apart inside various cupboards, sitting between two beds, clinging to my laptop for dear life as the ship I was on sailed through ‘the remnants of a hurricane’ – the captain’s words, not mine – and I will give myself a break.

I’m back at sea, as you have probably guessed!

This is what I expected from the Atlantic, I have to be honest – the Ocean is wild, unpredictable, and if it’s not locked away in a cupboard, it’s going to smash. The water looks freezing cold, everything is breath taking, in the most literal way – breath snatched from your throat as you step outside, when you look out the window, as you hurriedly pick tea, kindle and sugar bowl off the table, as you watch every chair in the room slide towards you.

I realised – about three hours ago – the absolute depth of my overwhelm at the minute, and the colossal size of the task ahead of me – that the past two months need to be distilled in a show that is two hours long or less. I’ve been trying so hard since Friday – it’s Sunday now – to just work, just please, please do something – there is so much to draw from – and I’ve been trying to do this morning pages thing that Maddy set for me –  but it’s just too much, it’s just too much. I don’t know where to start.

Where I was that led to this project – ship one – Ghana – the flight – Jamaica – travel to North Carolina, and North Carolina itself – and now this

OH MY GOD WHAT WAS THAT I SWEAR TO GOD SOMETHING CRACKED

When I was flying to Atlanta from Kingston, I was sat beside a 72-year-old lady who had never left Jamaica before (‘why would I?’) and as such had never flown before. We had a little turbulence during the flight, so the captain asked us to put our seatbelts on, and Mrs Miller said ‘I don’t know why he’s asking us to put our seatbelts on, when it’s very obvious we’re all going to die’ – she was absolutely certain that this was the end, but so very calm about it. I couldn’t stop laughing for a while, and she told me that was ‘a good response to death’. But we didn’t die – and she clapped the loudest when we landed. I think that’s a Jamaican thing, clapping when the plane lands, it happened when I arrived in Kingston too.

So yeh, all that to say that every now and again, I’ll shout to no one in particular

‘OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO DIE’

And then continue to get on with what I’m doing.

Where was I… oh yeah

FORGET THAT I JUST LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW OH MY GOD THIS IS THE END DIVIDE MY BOOK COLLECTION BETWEEN JAMAL AND TONI MY SISTER GETS EVERYTHING ELSE AND TELL MY MUM AND DAD THAT I LOVE THEM SO VERY MUCH AND THAT IF I HAVE TO DIE AT 26 I’M GLAD I GOT TO SEE THEM ON SKYPE BEFORE I GO WHAT WAS THAT BANG

I’m listening to Satisfy My Soul by Bob Marley as I type this – and it’s one of the many songs that my Dad used to sing to me when I was very small, so I just assumed he had written it, and was so surprised when I heard it at the Bob Marley museum, akin to when I was six and realised that Sam Cooke was not in fact Delroy Thompson, he was a totally different man.

I was panicking about turning all of this into a show wasn’t I? I mean to be fair to myself, whilst there is a lot to come to terms with in the past couple of months, it’s not like I am in the middle of a peaceful space of contemplation, this stormy water makes me a bit giddy (haaaah, can you tell?) and it also means that as you do one task, you are also doing other ones – balancing, holding your laptop in place, going to tape or strap things down, trying to get a shit dryer to work, mopping up the tea that spilt earlier when my flask hurtled across the room – the steam was rising from the carpet, and I really, really had a huge exhale of gratefulness that it was the carpet it was raising from, not my calves.

I’m recording the view from my window for an hour every morning and every evening – iphones are a marvellous thing – there’s another artist on this ship, which is lovely too – he has a bit of a Libertines haircut, but I’m not gonna hold that against him.

The question with the show, I think – is what do you keep in, and what do you cut out? What is the narrative I want to shape? How personal do I want it to be? If the death of my nan has permeated every step I’ve taken since I got on the train at Gravelly Hill (there was frost on the ground) and is still causing me to collapse into tears every time three little birds comes on (like this morning) at what point is that grief overshare in the work, and at what point does omitting it leave a void within it?

But all of this might be beside the point, because AT THIS RATE I’M JUST NOT GONNA MAKE IT HOME

Emma, delete my browsing history and you can have all the booze in my bedroom, and the £2.47 that I have in savings (which I think is pretty impressive for an artist),

Adieu, Adieu, my favourite thing about being alive was eating, skin care, reading, spending time with animals and plants, speaking to people I love and having hugs,

 

xxxx