October 2015Jacqueline Phillips

I am thrilled as this month I have spent time on the research and development stage of my new play Butterfly, a one woman performance. I’ve had the pleasure of working with actress Jacqueline Phillips on some development workshops exploring the text I’ve written so far and discussing the bigger ideas of the piece.

Crucial to my practice is the relationship of my work to real people’s experiences of community and culture. Currently under duress from the media and mainstream thinking, does a community of experience exist in disability and mental health terms and if so, what are its markers? The audience/community are an important part of the narrative and how the narrative is created, so I will host creative conversations and workshops with people who have experienced mental health distress from the Tees Valley community and beyond to explore how their own narrative might have been impacted by a butterfly effect, and what they would change in the history of mental health if they could, to change how stigma has developed. Understanding how our identities have been shaped is essential to writing or re-inventing our own narrative. The workshops entitled ‘Reclaiming the Butterfly’ will encourage ‘Random Acts of Reclamation’ – the reclamation of identity. Ownership of identity is a recurring theme in my work.

My practice is often complex and multi-layered, I will work as I always do to better understand my relationship with audience and hope that piece is warm, engaging and accessible, and is genuinely concerned with creating new dialogue where there might not be any, enhancing dialogue where it has begun and challenging dialogue where it has been misunderstood or misrepresented. I’m interested in new platforms for the voices of people who might not often be listened to. Oh and funny…I’m working hard on how comedy and tragedy work together to make new narratives better understood.

It has been brilliant to work with Jackie to bring my new characters to life – we’ve been spending time with Beatrice, a completely unsuspecting 49-year-old heroine in a story of survival; with Butterfly a character who takes Beatrice on trips through her recent history; and, with big bold Boudicca, who takes Beatrice on trips through bigger history. It’s been such a pleasure to spend time with these characters and see them grow. None of them is who they seem and Beatrice has a secret that she just can’t seem to remember…an important detail she has forgotten.