Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dear Anger and the Three Furies

In March, of this year I faced a challenged I never expected. My own anger. I was asked to describe it, to critique it, to make a creative pieces of spoken word theatre about it in collaboration with Dutch female MC Clara Opoku and South African Poet Mbali Vilakazi

The Three Furies project is, partnership by, UK Arts International and MC Theatre, Netherlands.
We used the Greek mythological epic of the Three Furies as inspiration for our writing but the dialogue that arose between us, and also with the audiences we shared our work with, brought to light that women’s anger is almost a taboo subject – words like hysterical, time-of-the-month and b*tch come to mind as starters. 

How do women process their anger when its not considered  “nice” or “lady-like” to let rip? Where does it go? What do we do with the ensuing frustration if we do not channel it healthily?

Sharon Jane D is a dutch visual artist who took a poem from each of us after our initial stages of our exploration and interpreted them into film. Her warehouse studio space was enormous and full of nooks crannies and open spaces ripe for filming moody pieces.

Go to The Three Furies blog and see Clara and Mbali's film also.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dartington Residency - Day Two

Up until this point I had not really explored other mediums to tell the other stories for my Mum; not just for the Mother that she never knew, but also the fact that she was a brown skinned woman growing up in the 1960's UK, that her father had come here as an immigrant, a professional milliner, and was part of the Windrush era of migrant settlers 'belonging' to the  British colonies. This story is  all to often overlooked as the Black presence in the UK is so taken for granted by younger generations. The truth is the presence of our grandparents and great-grandparents and the  contribution they make to British history and culture is woven into the fabric of post world war Britain, just so we - the present and future generations -  can be quite so flippant. 
However, when the Summer riots of 2011 kicked off around the country, the news abroad distorted the facts, blaring it was the 'young blacks' who were 'running' the riot. In the settling ash of this insurrection, I was commissioned  by Film Africa Festival to write a piece on John Akomphra's film Handsworth Songs in reflection of the  the 80's Birmingham's riots. As the film unfurled, suddenly, my Grandpa's and my Mother's settler experience gained sharper focus. I was numbed by the harsh reality of what their lives/existence must have been like in cold and not so welcoming England. 

So, in my quest to find other mediums to tell their story I looked to iconic musicians in Caribbean history to tell the story better for me.
Lord Kitchener is one of the most famous Calypsonians in Caribbean history. His songs documented social issues with complex parody of political and social events that is steeped in the tradition of West African satirical storytelling. I use two of his songs in Travelling Light, to highlight the struggles of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents  generations, those who came to the UK seeking their fortune as professionals in their fields, only to be relegated to menial employment in construction, social and health care-taking, and in the cleaning and transport services. Some had stories to tell about the atrocious housing conditions in Notting Hill, for example, cornered and harassed into paying extortionate of rates  rent and the racism they faced on a daily basis. The phrase "No Blacks. No Irish. No dogs" was not unusual signage put up in windows of accommodation

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dartington Residency - Day One

I spent some of this day licking wounds. It had been a tough week of brain-work planning the next stages of the Travelling Light project. Travelling Light has no producer support at present  and as a solo artist representing myself, I was having to wear about five different hats, juggling rapid-like to accomplish what should have have space to be done in 4 weeks in about 2. By the time, I got to Dartington I was looking forward to getting the script done and dusted. It wasn't to be the case.

The creative in me had other plans. They were movement plans, photography, sketches - an installation of some sort began to take shape right before my eyes and it grew through my need to map the show in my head some how.
 During a course at the London International School of Performance Arts, I had taken a module called The Dramatic Space. Students were asked to explore the energies in the stage space and how, with full body extension and contraction in movement, eyeline and wordless sound and intuitive characterisation, the size and energy of a space can be changed by the illusion of the action  on stage. For a performance poet whose sole tool of trade is the voice with a little help from our friend, the mic, THIS was going to be a fantastic challenge.

But one of the most confusing classes was working with charcoal sketches and three