What is control? 

What is love? 

Photo by Betsa Collins 2024

Real love, real loss, real pain and real joy. We brought all these fresh ingredients to Aldeburgh with us to make a piece of theatre. Those, plus a mannequin, a fishing rod and a papier mache moon.

Except that I’m not an actor. I can be on stage, but all I can do is be real. 

Past and present collided when I first walked into the Britten Studio. The ghost of the person I could have been, delighted. The shadow of the person I am now, intimidated as hell by the imposing surroundings. It’s just as well we bathed in the sea at Aldeburgh on the Sunday after we arrived, I thought. Purification before the fire. 

After an intense first day of setup during which the tech teams performed real miracles, including constructing a custom spatial mic array for our massage table, my fuzzy head made it plain that I’d forgotten to drink anything. Elischa and Jamie Harley, our amazing sound engineer, overrode my instinct to curl up in a blanket and forced me to eat real food and rehydrate, at which point my brain got a grip on the situation. Three days to bring this incredibly complex show together. New MIDI to movement SOMI 1 wristbands I’ve only had for two weeks. Two concert halls. Quadraphonic sound. Acting. Half naked acting. A late night physics and philosophy masterclass with Karen Barad, one of the most eminent professors in the world. Choreography. Costume changes. Is it possible? I made a conscious decision not to panic, visibly at least, and decided that since we had started writing the show we must, therefore, be capable of delivering it. To think otherwise wasn’t an option. 

The next day, we once more received a warm welcome from all the team, the only difference being that I am now present enough to take it all in. Snape Maltings really is the most beautiful place. And it’s ours, for four days only now. We can reimagine it. A space for freedom. A space for play. A space where pearls bounce and petri dishes click and tubing coils and twists its way from one concert hall to another. Until fire regulations put an end to that particular idea….

Photo by Betsa Collins

I have to improvise when I play, as my glitchy brain demands it. Elischa, on the other hand, told me in our first session that he can improvise only if he feels compelled to do it. So then it became a matter of finding the answer to the question: what compels you? Make an experiment, a happening, make a constellation of questions, make a glittering array of objects to help us both figure out how to be in this world. 

We’ve never worked together before this, but it all seems so intuitive. Synergistic, even. And the team here have backed our ideas completely. Two concert halls, incredible sound and lighting, cyborg costumes custom made by the unreal Genevieve Devine, twenty different types of ASMR. The gnarly objects we planned to find in the grounds and collect on stage never materialised, sadly, as we never ventured further than a few metres away from the concert hall. Too many marvellous ideas to explore inside. And before we know it we are on stage for the final sharing. Flour is kneaded, zips are parted, salt is spilt, questions are asked of the moon. Only some are answered. 

Photo by Betsa Collins

Real questions, real answers, real long lost family videos, all of the threads of light and dark those memories bring, real love, real pain. 

I’m so proud of what we achieved in such a short time. Elischa, I trust implicitly to give his whole soul to a creative project and just when you think it’s done, to add that little bit extra which takes it to another place entirely. Since we were selected this work has travelled everywhere with us both, a new book to read here, a new sound to hear there, inhabiting our collective subconscious, so many layers of dreams and ideas and stories, so many more possibilities which we can’t wait to explore. 

Every ounce of gratitude to the amazing team at Britten Pears for believing in us and backing us, even when we got the flour and the bondage tape out. To Sofi and Fabian for giving us permission to dream even bigger. To Jamie Harley for taming our modest 40 mic setup with zero feedback. To Karen Barad for the gift of your time, words and the most beautiful insights into science, life and being. To Genevieve Devine for making the most incredible cyborg costumes, bestowing magic on every last thread. To Matt and team for incredible videography. To Betsa for beautiful photos. We can’t wait to come back. 

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