Not a Séance @ The Marlborough and The University of Brighton

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.





The Morning After

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.

Not a Séance @ Cascade Creative Recovery


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.

Happy Sad and Grumpy Potatoes

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.

energy engagement

connection and curiosity.

Not a Séance @ The Blue Room, Men’s Room Group

I had a marvellous afternoon. The word marvellous was one of the group’s description of the show. We had a much smaller audience than at HMP Styal, three young men and three staff and the room contained a large conference table that we sat round one end of.

Everyone had a reading at the insistence of the young men and you can read my further reflection on my mini-tour of Not a Séance here. Highlights were: one potato bullying another potato and the encroaching of the evil potato which is pictured below.

Interestingly two out of the three young men regularly attended spiritualist churches.

Some of my favourite pieces of feedback are below:

it was testing the audience, will they take the mick, or take it seriously?

thoughts become things

its like a meditation, you get to shut your mind off for a bit.

a bit weird and interesting.

And now the encroaching evil potato. One of the young men thought that the potato with bad energy might be trying to get back into the room, so he thought he would document this in a series of photographs from a worm’s eye perspective.

Inspirations – Dorothy Rowe and Laddering.

Yesterday in Hospital Friends Charity Shop I found a copy of Dorothy Rowe’s The Successful Self. Rowe is a psychologist and writer who particularly focusses on depression. Much of her work focusses on how we structure our views of the world and create meaning. “She has shown how we each live in a world of meaning that we have created out of our past experience”

I got to hear her speak in 2011 about Depression and Creativity at an Un-Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University organised by Arts for Health and Greater Manchester Arts Health Network. I found her fascinating and particularly connected to her laddering technique which is introduced in a chapter called “Which Reality do you prefer/” in The Successful Self. Rowe describes laddering in the following way:

When I teach a psychology class about the structure of meaning I often, as a demonstration, call for some volunteers to go through a process of questioning which demonstrates how the most trivial of decisions which we make is based on a series of judgements, each more abstract than the one preceding it,and all ultimately dependent on a judgement about the nature of the individual’s sense of existence

I would like to use the technique in Not a Séance in a simplified form as I think it encourages you to  very quickly uncover unconscious beliefs and values.


Laddering: an example from my breakfast.

Whilst in a clinical context laddering might be prompted by a statement by a client, it can also be stimulated by asking someone to think of three types of the same thing. In The Successful Self Rowe uses the examples of cars books and food.  I will show an example from what I had for breakfast and will put Rowe’s questions in bold.

Give the names of three foods

Avocado, egg and pitta bread

Can you tell me one way in which two are the same and the other different?

Egg and avocado are natural, pitta bread is processed.

Which do you prefer?

I prefer the natural foods.

Why is it important to you?

I like things to be natural as I think they are healthier and more authentic

Why is that important to you?

When things are healthy and authentic its easier to connect with the world

Why is that importat to you?

Because feeling connected means that you are more open to experience and feel more alive and able to understand more.

Suppose the conditions of your life changed and you were unable to experience your life in this way?

I would feel very isolated and down and not see much point in anything.

Inspirations – Ken Campbell

I saw Ken Campbell perform on several occasions including at a private performance for a stag night in Manchester where i was delighted to have to pick a sausage. He was an amazing performer, he had a real authority and intellectual credibility and sense of academic enquiry. His performances were eclectic, hilarious and thought-provoking by turn.

Here he is talking about his experience of a Séance, DiY Seance: