Last week I made my UK performance debut, which sounds slightly grand, but basically means I stood and chatted at people for ten minutes. I say performance debut – I’ve done acting before, when I was a nipper. (I can’t act.) But this is the first time I’ve tried a real, personal theatrical thing.
I was trying out the possible beginning of a new piece about drinking and not drinking and identity. It was completely terrifying and really fun. Here are the three questions I’m asking myself, as a result.
How do I describe what I want to do?
For theatre geeks, my (incredibly aspirational, I’m not in her league) reference point is the brilliant Bryony Kimmings. But otherwise, it’s trickier. It’s a kind of a…. personal storytelling theatrical conversation type thing. Which is a bit long for a flyer.
Does it matter that I don’t know what to call it? I mean, technically not. It’s 2016, we don’t have to pigeonhole everything we do. It might be helpful though. Not least so I could explain it to my mum, who’s currently telling everyone I’m a stand-up comedian. (I’m not.)
How much do I want it to be a conversation with the audience?
I was delighted that the audience responded to my questions/put their hands up when i asked them to. (I feared the tumbleweed of awkward silence.) It was really cheering to discover that audiences want to get involved. And yet… there was a tricky moment on one night when someone said something I couldn’t hear and a quarter of the audience laughed and I didn’t quite know how to respond. I felt weirdly vulnerable. I know, I know, there are logistical things I can do about that. But I’m going to have to be comfortable with vulnerability (and uncertainty) if I’m serious about having a conversation with an audience, rather than making a token effort to involve them. And I need to work out a way to involve people that still fits within a structure.
What do I do next?
I developed this first ten minutes out of a workshop with the lovely Lab Collective. And I wanted to dip my toe into the water, to see if it worked. Up to now, it’s mostly just been me and a series of coloured pens and some bullet points on a page. So what next? The obvious answer is to find a collaborator (or two). So we’ll see how that works out.
(Oh, and I know it’s early days, and it’s only 10 mins but there’s a few people I’d like to acknowedge. So, thanks to:
Dilek at Scratch at the Jack for programming me even though I didn’t have a script or even any way to clearly describe what I planned to do.
Michelle Madsen for putting me on the bill at The Seven-Minute Itch, her ace new scratch night.
Kate Webster, for letting me perform a rough version at her so I could check it wasn’t the worst thing ever, before an audience saw it.
Joe at the Lab Collective, for running the workshop that kicked it all off, and generally being not making me feel like a hopeless amateur when I was trying something I’d never done before.)