Heading into the Light of Day

There is undoubtedly a sense of Spring and hope for the performing arts in the air, following the new announcements by the Scottish Government. Restrictions are easing and a winter in the home office, or for many on furlough (a word that I had to initially look up to find out its meaning!), and hours filled with zoom meetings and online sessions seem to be nearing an end – at least for the time being.

Over the past year many lives have been lost and many hopes and dreams have been dashed. Without realising the magnitude of what there was to come last March and April, all my plans and projects for the upcoming 12 – 24 months were cancelled and my dream to develop a new fully-fledged project had to be put on hold. I withdrew a funding application for a fully formed and dearly loved project, entitled Dreamcatchers.

Dreamcatchers was going to be a collaborative performance project focusing on hopes, dreams and future aspirations of people living with dementia, their families and carers. The project was planning to have a community cast of people who have a dementia, not only co-create, but perform alongside a professional cast as well as carers, family members and student volunteers at Erskine Care Home, here in Edinburgh. Little did I know that, like many of my friends and colleagues, I was facing some dark times on my home office sofa instead…

Three months later the idea for In the Light of Day was beginning to form, continuing on my commitment and passion of co-creating with and developing work for, people living with dementia. Whilst my recent project, Curious Shoes used feet, shoes and rhythm as starting points, In the Light of Day focuses on hands, gloves and gestures – a reimagining of beauty and tenderness in the age of PPE. People have sent me gloves from all across the country. Thanks to everyone for this.

Looking at the new reality I have been working together with my talented and trusty collaborators Nicolette Macleod, Tim Licata, Cai Tomos, Brian Hartley and Alice Wilson, with a view of developing scalable and un-cancellable performances, which can take place outside and inside care homes, in response to any covid restrictions in place.

So where are we at with In the Light of Day?

I was grateful to receive funding from Creative Scotland for this R&D project. We were lucky and giddy to have been able to spend a full day in The Studio at Capital Theatres in November 2020, thanks to a space offer facilitated by EPAD. Being together, mostly in person, on Day 1 made us come up with an abundance of ideas and seeds of material for devising the performance. Creativity well and truly unleashed!

At the end of 2020, we have collaborated for what amounts to one week out of the two planned, for our research and development project. Nine months ago, blended collaborations may have seemed new and exciting but this notion has now well and truly worn off. The blended ‘bit’ proved productive but a bit more challenging than anticipated. Full days online were rarely sustainable, and full weeks were certainly not. Working in the same house with my partner, initially sounded like a really great opportunity. However, it turned out that it was easier for us to be in separate rooms, each online, to be on equal footing with everyone else.

Facing the current reality

So, like everybody else, we have squeezed budgets and pushed timings and possible days in and out of weeks and months. There were many variables and variations to the devising, rehearsing and potential touring of a huge number of projects across Scotland over the last year. This made it extremely challenging to coordinate different collaborators schedule. Luckily, we have remained flexible, light on our feet and have managed to find timings that work for everyone.

We look forward to reconvene for our 2nd development week on 20th April. Well, it’s really 3 lots of 2 days. We are incredibly grateful for help in-kind from Dawn Irvine & Brian Loudon and Capital Theatres for these days and are looking forward to be back in The Studio. With the luxury of a big and safe space, I have high hopes. I have also decided to add a third week of collaboration time. Actual time spent working together with other humans and artists has become the most precious possession to me, so other ‘things’ had to go…

I hope and assume that creating theatre is a bit like driving a car – because my feet are already looking for the pedals…

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