Its been our final week previewing SUGAR – and a week with diverse audiences, venues…
This morning on our final day, we performed to the women in prison. They had created one of the characters, a storyline that was one of the hardest, but the one in the most need of our audience’s ears. It was without a doubt emotional, for the women and performers… the Worry Demon about, it’s a powerful piece with hard issues, and it’s based on real life experiences. We spoke to some of the women who made the piece, heard their pride and read the comments recorded, all saying it was powerful and excellent – but it was too much for some, and this is something for us to reflect upon.
Rewind to last night, Thursday and we’re in Benwell, at Riverside with 70 women wrapped around the show, all sharing their thoughts… ‘best yet’ and ‘it was so powerful’ and ‘if I knew before it was going to be about childhood sexual abuse I wouldn’t have come but I’m glad I did, and I will speak the truth too’.
Wednesday our audience was Changing Lives, their workers and women, some our collaborators. This show was dedicated to one of the women who had helped create Annie. Post show discussion was once again food to take away.
Tuesday we were at Contact Theatre in Manchester, a matinee and evening performance, audiences full of friends, family, and full of love and support (that’s how it felt). We also had the general public, other practitioners/actors/artists – we gathered feedback, critiques and support.
We had travelled down to Manchester the night before, on the Monday, and performed to women from Direct Access hostel (in the hostel) to women who had created Tracy’s story. This is where the Worry Demon popped up again, I thought it had gone, been banished. It appeared when Tracy was talking about the agency worker turning her back, her attitude and the stone in the washing machine. I feared a worker was going to get the sack, for supporting the voice of the women, for exposing the need for women to be supported, given a cup of tea and care….but no, management liked/loved it, spot on – maybe the agency worker needs to worry!
This performance, as with the one on Wednesday, was dedicated to one of the women from the project. We have lost two women on this project – we had asked both where do you see yourselves in five years, one saying she wished her mental health better, another that she could mend things between her and her sister….now no longer with us.
We end tonight with a 90+ strong audience at West End Women & Girls Centre. Its been a roller coaster of a mini tour, a preview that has asked our audiences to tell us what they liked and what they would like more or less of. It’s been interesting, nerve wracking and brilliant.
The actors have been incredible, the task is not easy, three stories and at the same time one. I’m really looking forward to this evening, then later reflecting on the feedback and impact.
We tour to celebrate International Women’s Day (last night someone said it wouldn’t be March if Open Clasp wasn’t touring). SUGAR celebrates strength and reliance, but it also is a Call to Arms for change!