I was in Manchester working for TiPP teaching drama students who are studying Applied Theatre. They are all going to do a project in a prison, so it made sense for them to see an example of something that had been performed in a prison. A few Manchester based folk came along too and we had an audience of around twenty-five in the studio at The Martin Harris Centre on Thursday 2nd October. Here are the public potatoes from the performance.
I particularly enjoyed the questions in this performance, which included queries about the potato’s South American origins and concerns about my relationship with the potatoes and possible dependency issues. A piece of feedback that I really valued was from Janet Batsleer, who is Principal Lecturer in Youth and Community work at MMU, who said that she enjoyed that the piece was “affectionate and kind”.
Here are two more pictures from the performance at The Marlborough Theatre and the first ones from Friday’s performance at The University. The two very differing contexts led of course to completely different shows.
I was lucky enough to have two audience members who experienced both. One thought that Wednesday was much better for atmosphere, and the other who found Friday more intriguing in a less raucous atmosphere.
Very happy with last night’s show at The Marlborough. Had an audience of forty one people and it was definitely the least serious performance I have done. It felt like a comedy show in lots of ways and I had immense fun responding to the audience. I was also happy with my three flavours of crisp communion which was a last minute addition.
Second performance is tomorrow at 7pm, Grand Parade, University of Brighton.
I am feeling a little nervous about tonight’s performance of Not a Séance so it was lovely to have a look at The Men’s Room tumblr rebelswithoutapplause and find out that they had done a feedback session on the performance I did with them back in August. I love all of this feedback, its all really honest and I think I might be able to guess who said what!. Big thanks to everyone at The Men’s Room. Here’s the feedback:
It was good to watch her preformance and nice to see her do her performance to us, although it was a bit wierd to start off with i found it interesting.
I would pay to watch her performance even though i felt a little bit nervous in the performance. I thought the actress was really convincing in her performance and thought that it was a very good performance.
I filmed Katie do the potato challenge. I enjoyed seeing it first time that Katie done with the potato and I enjoyed it.
the wierd thing about the potato seance is i thought it was stupid at first. but it made me think about somethin i saw on t.v ……it said that plants interact wiv each other……so whos to say that potatoes dont have soulsssss……..? and the other thing me an some one i was sat next to both pictured an onion ! an wrote the same thing on the potatoe ……………………………………some spooky shiiiiteeee rite ther
i dont know if its real
I’d be on my way to the hospital
I seen a lot of spuds but i’m not on about potatoes
kate is nuts shes like a mum
i wouldnt have volunteered
thers some mad shit out ther homessss
As an outsider watching the potato seance video for the first time, the performance seems really interesting— building relationships with the potatos helped everyone reflect on themselves.
Quite an interactive performance that got full participation. It also allowed people to think through things in their lives in a reflective way.
His analysis and questions were really valuable in getting me to really think about what I am doing with the performance and I am going to spend next week puzzling and experimenting with some of the material in the show and ask myself some further questions.
The feedback that has stayed with me the most was his analysis of the different roles I play in the piece. Earlier on in the day I had been helping Ryan McKelvey move and sort through many bags of compost for his performance Dirty History and he sent me this photograph of me in a lift.
So multiples of me was a theme for the day. The three roles that Alex saw were:
1.moment-to-moment facilitator, 2. Meaning maker 3. Performer/persona.
At the moment in the piece the facilitator part of me comes right to the forefront any time I feel slightly nervous or am not sure what to do. I am sure this is because i have spent so much of my professional life in this role, its my default position. I need to really engage with the performer/persona part of me and makes sure she is present throughout.
Cascade Creative Recovery are an exciting organisation working with people in recovery and their friends, families and supporters. They have recently established a choir who kindly let me perform Not a Séance at the end of their rehearsal on Tuesday 19th August.
I was very nervous as I really didn’t know what to expect and we had only decided that it would go ahead the day before. Fortunately I walked into the end of their rehearsal to hear a gorgeous version of Hey Jude being sung, and I knew that it would be ok. Everyone was welcoming and very happy to join in with me.
It was my first experience of having children at the performance and I got Chloe involved in helping me bless the potatoes. She thought they should go in three piles, happy, sad and grumpy. All the small potatoes were sad.
The audience were both playful and serious and through the readings and vegetable meditations we discussed sprouts, butternut squash and aubergine.
I changed a few elements of the performance after my Manchester Mini-tour and have reflected on them here.
The group gave me lots of valuable feedback including the following:
It was about personal growth, teaching self development but fun. I like the interaction, you held the crowd. It was diverse
borderline between reverence and satire
not sure how serious you were
it was about gratitude
a bit like panto with lots of layers – funny rude layers – “Carry on Vegetables”
I liked holding the potato and imagining…also writing “up” and “down” words
out with the old and in with the new
reminded me of a pagan “Make your own deity” workshop
reminded me of gay men’s gathering where you threw things on paper that you didn’t want into a fire.
Nina Conti, comedian and ventriloquist, who I have written about before , was interviewed about monkey, the puppet that often accompanies her and regularly says things that people may find shocking or rude. She said
there’s something about the disembodiment of a thought that makes it more shocking
She is particularly talking here of Monkey’s flouting of social convention and I began thinking about “thought disembodiment” in other contexts. In Monkey’s case I think the word shocking is a good one, but in a more general sense I might choose to say something like
there’s something about the disembodiment of a thought that creates different connections.
I began thinking of Red Bastard an american comedian in the bouffant tradition. A picture is important here:
As you can see, he is a strange semi-human appearing creature which allows him to get away with more than if he was more conventionally attired, that is to say it seems that his appearance is a form of disembodiment. Ben Williams, TimeOut reviewer said of him in 2014
Through provocative audience-interaction Red Bastard gets inside your mind to help unlock your true desires, fears and ambitions. Sound scary? At times it’s petrifying, but you’ll be laughing too, either at his biting wit or through sheer nervousness.
In my performance of Not a Séance I hope that the potatoes will in some ways serve as disembodied thoughts, the messages coming from the potatoes rather than the minds of myself and the audience.