This post is a bit late, sorry, as I have been really busy lately with “stuff”, so consequently, it is a few weeks overdue, but I got such a lot out of the experience, that I thought it was worth some time, to reflect and share with you, this awesome evening of exploration, sharing and feedback.
On a warm(ish) Tuesday on June 9th 2015 I attended the first Mac Scratch event – an opportunity for local artists to present brand new work in progress. Together a large crowd of spectators and artists gathered together under the a canopy of trees, seated next to a wooden stage of the pavilion woodland park in Machynlleth
As a spectator I was delighted and impressed by the range and originality and quality of the works presented. One of my favourite performances was by poet Bethany Rivers and her enchanting poems. I asked Bethany if she could tell me something about what inspired the poem “My Guest House.”
Bethany says “This was inspired by Rumi’s poem: The Guest House, which is about welcoming all your emotions, no matter what they, and treating each guest honourably, even, ‘The dark thought, the shame, the malice’ because they are ‘clearing you out /for some new delight’.
So I decided to play with this, exploring some emotions that are unwelcome or uncomfortable, as all emotions, according to Rumi’s poem are ‘sent / as a guide from beyond’, so even in our most uncomfortable emotions there is wisdom to be found. So in my poem, I’m tentatively welcoming these turbulent emotions and hoping for / asking for the wisdom they will bring.”
The piece I performed was called the “Milk Urn”. A brand new work in progress piece never before performed: part of the narrative of this performance is my research into the history of the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen railway line, during my research I discovered the station of Pont Llanio and the milk factory that was next to it. The milk urn I use in the performance is a symbolic object of nostalgia re-igniting dreams, of a return of what was once there, as well opening up, all sorts of other associations to do with milk and the industry. I will be researching more into this in the following weeks/months.
In this performance, my intention was to use an object to portray a sense of physical movement, political movement and linear movement. My performance began with me drinking from a vintage glass milk bottle full of milk.
While exploring the possibilities of the milk urn in my studio, I discovered that when I spoke or sang into it, it created a lovely reverberating sound. I decided to use this in the performance. I spoke into the urn, imitating a well known railway announcement, “Mind the gap,” creating a chuckle in the audience and an involuntary chuckle in myself. I continued the performance by spinning the urn and picking it up and placing it down forcefully on the ground so that I created a loud noise. I then sang into the urn a song, inspired by the campaign, to bring back the railway line and my own desire to be able to travel by rail to see my mother in South Wales and still be home for tea.
On later reflection, the performance had an element of a dream like quality “railway dreaming” and could symbolise the space in your imagination you occupy as a passenger.
Drawing on my Capoeira training and especially maculele ( people rhythmically striking the sticks together, that looks like “mock stick combat) I moved around the urn hitting the sticks and sides of the urn creating a series of different “dongs”. I also incorporated kicks and spins as I created sound. My intention was to create a loud noise, and when the urn was moved, banged on the concrete, it created a force to be reckoned with, symbolising a call for action, a mobilising of the troops, a wake-up call to bring this railway line back.
I received some encouraging feedback from members of the audience, “I really enjoyed it,” “very powerful and beautiful”, “That was F*** amazing!”, and “I interpreted it as the voice filling the void, where the railway once was.”
I felt encouraged and supported by this feed back, and looking forward to developing this work further and performing it as part of the “Singing the line into existence” showing in October 2015.
Hope you enjoy this Scratch performance you can see it here!