Over the last couple of weeks Dave Young has been in residence in Lighthouse, researching and developing his new piece of theatre, Grow Up and Just Love Chocolate. Here's a blog he put together to give us an insight into his experience...
Grow Up and Just Love Chocolate. By David Young. Aka The Shouting Mute.
A research and development project funded by Arts Council England and supported by Diverse City and Lighthouse Poole. The object of this period of exploration is to see how my poetry can be performed in other ways rather than just through my eye gaze computer, which I use to communicate with. I wanted to be able to bring my words to life using theatre, music, puppets and film.
And so, the journey began…
Audition day 30 - September 2017
I ran a workshop style audition with 7 artists. I was really nervous but excited. I asked them to read a couple of my poems individually and then as a group. It was great to hear other people bringing my poetry to life. We moved onto interpreting the words with movement and the room was buzzing. I was particularly looking for artists who were happy devising new work and that was already happening. It was so exciting. The performance level was so high. It was quite emotional seeing my ideas becoming reality in the room. We had a great day and I was able to select 4 artists to join me on the project.
The first day, November 2017
This morning I felt quite relaxed and ready to go. The warm up session was a perfect balance of myself and my creative lead, directing the process. I use a creative enabler to help me when I am directing or running workshops. We have to do a lot of pre-planning and programming of my computer, as writing with an eye-gaze controlled communication device is much slower than usual dialogue. We played a lot of games and ate too much chocolate. By the end of the day we were beginning to get a real sense of the characters and talents in the room and how we were going to work together. It was all so much better than I had dreamed possible and I could really feel the excitement and creative ideas evolving.
This morning was fantastic. We explored my ‘The gig’ poem. It was amazing. We created a really good movement piece with my walker going up in the air and everything. The poem is set in the mosh pit at a gig so we tried to create a mosh pit with people jumping on me. I was crowd surfing in my walker and just generally being a rock star. Devising physical theatre is exhilarating and great fun. In the afternoon I completely let go of the creative process with a poem about motor racing. It is very difficult to watch and be not involved but it was excellent to do that and let go of your work into other very capable and trust worthy hands. They created a wacky stop-go animation with racing cars, made out of chocolate bars and chocolate teddy bear marshals. Puppetry and film came to life in an extraordinary afternoon.
The morning was spent exploring a poem about running. Not physically running a race but how we run away from things in our lives or situations and difficult decisions. It was great. I think we have something there and we just need to put it in order and clean it up a bit.Then we looked at all the equipment that I use to support my life. I have written poems about some of them and we looked at devising a representation of the equipment and the relationships I have with them. They are all vital to my ability to live and work. We had the most hilarious afternoon enacting the life of a commode, my walking frame and wheelchair and my eye gaze computer. Another great day of research and development.
Day 4 - filming day.
Filming out and about around Poole and Bournemouth trying to capture stages of relationships all in one day. Luckily it started damp and overcast and emerged into winter sunshine, always helpful to have the weather on your side. It was great for my research and development and I think we have a lot of ideas. I love some of the shots we captured and can really see them working as I envisaged. Film making is hard but fun.
Monday was completely awesome. Daryl Beaten, my creative adviser arrived and we ran through all of our creations from week 1 and made a lot of cuts, getting ready for the sharing in two days time, don’t panic it’s ok we have it covered. Putting me into ‘Running’ was a good idea. We explored Chocolate some more and made an amazing mess. We let ourselves go exploring our relationship with Chocolate. It was a playful day.
We were joined by performance Poet, film maker, dance and movement specialist and musician, Johnny Fluffypunk. It was great to have everybody in the space. We ran the performance through, chopping and changing bits around. A real journey is emerging. A high energy day and a great sense of achievement. Bring on tomorrow, our sharing day.
A rather frantic and nervous day. Starting with an eye gaze meltdown, trapping all my work within a non-responsive programme. Thank goodness for the technical support guru at Smartbox, who soon had me up and running again. Imagine getting laryngitis on opening night, well that was me, except I was cured by technical wizardry in a few hours. A quick run through and a few final tweaks and we were just about ready as our invited guests arrived for a critical sharing. I was completely amazed and delighted at the journey we had created. The audience seemed to understand and like the concept. They laughed, they nearly cried, felt happy and were helpful in their feedback. What more could I ask for? The process to never end, my artists not to leave and this experience never to end. It has been wonderful. Thank you unreservedly to Arts Council England, Diverse City and Lighthouse Poole without whom my dreams would not have become a reality. We got through it with chocolate. Chocolate going everywhere, quite literally. This is the end of the beginning of Grow Up and Just Love Chocolate.
With thanks also to:
Eilis Davis. Creative Assistant.
Johnny Leitch - Music composition.
Keziah Benbow - Movement.
Johnny Fluffypunk - Poet.
Daryl Beeton - Creative Advisor.
Chris Mawson - performer.
Laura Doble - performer.
Adam Jessop - performer.
Zoe Greenfield - performer.