So the daffodils are out and it feels like spring is (finally) in the air! It also feels like the Hothouse project is officially up and running. Hurrah! The brilliant Bernadette Russell told some time travelling sci-fi kids stories at a book swap event in mid-February, and friend and artist Tom Marshman hosted an LGBT tea party last week. The latter was a smallish gathering but two hours of chat, tea drinking and cake eating flew by. To be honest I was a little nervous of the fact that I am not a member of the LGBT community and therefore would not have anything to contribute. How wrong I was. I felt privileged to be part of a conversation that involved discussing what the future of gender may be, and imagined a world where we are no longer defined by our gender. We imagined a world where the LBGT community is a part of the mainstream and civil partnerships are a choice by heterosexual couples. We talked a lot about the need to be defined, and the words we use to do this. But we also discussed a possible future where we are not labelled as gay or lesbian or transgender or heterosexual, where the lines are more blurred and fluid.
Each event, or ‘catalyst’ as we are calling them, will be focused around the question ‘What is the future of Deptford?’ This is inspired from an Uninvited Guests show called ‘Give Me Back My Broken Night’, and will be performed this autumn in Deptford. I thought it would be useful to give you a bit more information about the ideas behind the show and why we want to make it with and for the people of Deptford.
The idea was conceived by myself and Paul Clarke (Uninvited Guests) and Duncan Speakman (Circumstance) in a café in south Bristol 5 years ago. We wanted to make a performance that was theatrical but would also effect meaningful change in real places. It became clear (after many more chats in various cafes) that the show should be a provocation to audiences to imagine the future of their city. So it made sense to make the work in areas that are under construction or redevelopment, where there is change already happening, and to give the audience an opportunity to re-imagine the future of where they live.
Uninvited Guests and Circumstance have to date performed the show in Soho, London; Guimaraes, Portugal; Bristol and Rotterdam. Each time we talked about how a longer term engagement with the people and place would be beneficial and hopefully have a longer lasting impact. So it makes complete sense to develop ‘Give Me Back My Broken Night’ as part of Hothouse in Deptford, which as an area is currently going through rapid change, and would allow the project and the technology used to become embedded in the local community.
For the show itself the audience are led by performers through vacant lots and buildings to share what is planned for the area, and what the utopian and dystopian alternatives might be. Before the audience’s eyes, a glowing vision of the future appears, the collective imaginings of those present. Site-specific fictions are created, using a combination of performance, location sensitive mobile devises, portable projectors and a cinematic soundtrack. With every step the audience walk further into the future, and alternative versions of the area reveal themselves; they become the urban planners, collaborating on their own designs and imagined architectures.
Think that’s all from me, until next month…
Jess (Uninvited Guests)