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Cannon Hill Collective Week Five: #SoulSelfie

Holstee Manfiesto

The topic of this week’s session was reflection. Not selfie in the mirror sort of reflection, but reflective practices. Where have you come from? How have you got here? What’s changed and why has it changed? How does who you are affect your creative methods? To answer these questions we created a sort of mind map of ourselves, a soul selfie if you will.

To make a #soulselfie you begin by drawing a picture of yourself and then make a note of your skills, attitudes and attributes. My main skill is the slightly vague, ‘words’ and I’m also surprisingly good at navigating public transport for someone with no sense of direction. But the next question was did I have these skills 10 years ago? And if not where did they come from? I found that my list of attributes, being helpful, open to new people, and generally quite positive (or naively optimistic) about everything has been with me for a long time, it’s mainly my skills and attitudes such as determination that have been developed or discovered over the years.

Next up we had to define our creative practices. This is always a problem for me because I am a ‘slasher’, or multi-stringed practitioner, I am a spoken word artist/a theatre maker/a workshop facilitator/playwright, most of which fall under the umbrella of ‘storyteller’. Next we had to think about the moments of how we got there? Personally, there wasn’t a eureka moment, but I can trace loving theatre as a child and going to see The Singing Kettle, through to using drama at school as a stress relief escapism lesson. Then moving to spoken word, because I had an urge to be creative and no money to put on a play, so I signed up for a poetry slam and from there things began to snowball.

All this leads to the question of values. What do we hold as guiding compasses in our work that helps us to make decisions? But before we discussed that it was time for a break, the traditional assortment of Aldi delights mixed with the added festive stollen bites. Moving back to work, we took a partner through our #soulselfie whilst they jotted down key words that they felt summed up our values as a practitioner.

Louise told me about how she loved to research her illustrations and other illustrators, how she wished people were true to themselves rather than trying to look like everyone else and how she loved working with the ordinariness of the every day. From this, I took the buzzwords development, empathy, and empowerment. After telling Louise my tale, she surmised integrity, determination and collaboration, which I think sum up my approaches quite well.

Lastly, we spoke about manifestos (like Holstee’s one above) and we discussed whether or not they helped in making day to day decisions or if they focused mainly on creative work. I decided to have a go at making my own manifesto which you can see below as well; mine was written on the bus, can you tell?

Manifesto


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‘You were remembering buildings demolished in your mind’ – Misplaced Memoirs at Hotel du Vin

Qasim---the-last-known-pose---F
I blame Warwick Castle for the fact that every time I see a site specific piece of theatre, I expect the ghost of Henry VII to jump out from behind a corner, but Qasim Riza Shaheen’s Misplaced Memoirs was a strictly no thrill, no scares, no gimmicks piece of theatre. It was, instead, a beautiful piece of well thought through theatre that told one man’s story as the story of many.

If you went to see his exhibition at mac and were in the majority of enjoying it but not quite understanding it, then this won’t make the exhibition make any more sense – but it’s still enjoyable. It is a personal story told through a series of strangers, jumping continents from Chicago ‘where you waited from 8:33 to 8:42, but I never came’ to Pakistan where ‘you dreamed of your ex’s ex’.

A tale is told to each of audience members through various parts of the hotel, for me winter in Chicago was depicted on the balcony and the wedding night perched on the side of the bath tub in a hotel room, and included slow dancing around the bathroom floor. The whole piece ends with a photo shoot for audience and characters, which I wish they told you before hand, otherwise I would have washed my hair and made an effort.

All in all, did it make me reassess my emotions like someone told me it would? No, but it was interesting how the hand of a stranger became more intimate and familiar as the performance went on. Was it an interesting experience in story telling that made me question what is theatre and what isn’t? Yes, I’m still not sure if the waiter who asked what floor I wanted in the lift was in the performance or not.

(One final note Qasim, if you ever read this – I’m really sorry that I trod on your beads on the bathroom floor when we danced)