A lot has happened to The Secret Life of You and Me in the last few months. I have nipped and tucked it. And now, months and performances later, I have cut off all the threads. It makes sense to me. I like it.

Secret Life 178

It has been in rehearsal in Manchester, premièred in Ovalhouse, London, before flitting to The HUB, Leeds, UCLAN, Preston, Oldham Library and Old Cinema Launderette, Durham. Each place has changed it. Now, it is neatly folded ready to travel, waiting for an airing, like Shirley Valentine.

Things that I have thought about during this time:

Who I am making art for.

In the nervy time of unveiling a show (a solo show) (a studio show) (a show I have asked you to see) (in London) (I am not from London) I thought: I want the reviewers in, I want the producers in; you know, the ones everyone knows, the ones that feel like gatekeepers of: THE ARTWORLD. They didn’t come, it was not an overnight hit, I was not War Horse. It seems crazy now that this should have disappointed me, that I should get sidetracked like this. It’s not fair that I should be cross about the people that didn’t come.

I started to think about the people that did come, that hugged me afterwards, that stuck around to tell me something, that just walked away. The three women from a nursing home on the front row with their carer, the pack of school girls, the locals that gave me a shot. So from now on, I am going to put all my energies into making art (which is what I do)  for people that want to come and see it (which they do).

When I was out in Brazil I made a show and it was mainly political activists and groups of feminists that came- the post show discussion was the best I’ve been in, a reminder of how art can help us to see life in new ways, different ways…mean something, matter. They invited us to perform in the forest for the MST (Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement). It was a definite exchange. Something happened. It was enough. It was undocumented.

It is such a relief to figure this out.

It is enough.

Touring is tough.

How to persuade people that have never heard of you, never mind your little show, to give it go, if you’re from out of town. To come out in the rain. I think you need to be just as creative on the strategy as on the art you want to peddle. I think we can invent it, and it is not heavy on print or press releases. Things that I think have helped and might help: ‘Pay What You Decide’ policy like at The HUB, it might make people to take a chance more, it is less risky if you are skint; inventive add-on activities like at Ovalhouse we had a Valentine’s workshop, a roving tea trolley, themed drinks in the bar; actually, to get out of the theatre in general- it was refreshing to see people come along that would go to a library or a gig, but not a theatre, it was nice to hear people talking back to me during the show when it happened in a launderette. It was there I remembered,  in between the artwork and the audience, the art is happening. It is a once in a lifetime encounter. Local papers and local radio and word of mouth are still more effective than Facebook and Twitter. There is nothing like getting out there into the real world, where people are under no obligation to come or click ‘like’.

Get over yourself. And forgive yourself.

I am not sure I have the exact formula for this. Don’t mind what the other artists are doing, trust your way. Remember what sort of art that makes your heart go boom. For me that is evidence of hard work, vulnerability, daring, thought, trust. The art does not need to be liked, it is not seeking approval. It exists anyway. Then there is space to see it, and maybe for it to be liked or disliked. I am getting more comfortable with performing, by remembering it’s really like having a party and checking your guests are alright.

Punk art love forever.

Grow from the ground up, rather than the ceiling down. Invent the way to make a show, to tour a show. It is hard and empowering. It will shape the way for others. Be inspired, not intimidated! Think sideways! DIY or DIE!

photo 3 (6)

Read Helmut Lemke’s BAA Manifesto it is reaffirming.