Notes from my ‘Hands Off’ journal

Something that never got posted, for some reason, from a journal I kept while devising the show Hands Off with my theatre company. One week the stimulus was your ‘calling card’ as a performer. We were to devise a short (two-minute) piece of performance to demonstrate…


I am thinking about my ‘calling card’. Thinking about what constitutes so brief a summary of what I am. Or is that even what it should cover? How do you know something like that? How do you pick from the vast mass of Stuff, the criteria, let alone the actual matter, that answers that call.

I am also drawn to thinking about performers. Specifically, how they see each other. I find it interesting in my theatre company how we are constantly swapping roles. Handing over to each other, back and forth, keeping this ball in the air by almagamating ourselves into this ever-more-headed being that can make anything happen. We are growing, expanding, letting more and more people in to become a part of it; develop our creative ideas with us, introduce their own. I wonder, when I take over someone else’s role, even for a minute, how it will be swallowed. And what that means. Whether it’s a good thing. I feel right now that we could handle anything, between us. That we are arriving slowly at this wonderful place where we can do this handover smoothly, and the people standing in front of us, listening, barely even notice. A raptured audience that are just interested to have the aura, the essence of what we mean as a collective, engaging with them. Perhaps not. Perhaps more fractured, more exposed.

I make eye contact, I sing, I do everything against my normal inhibitions. I feign professionalism and experience with all my might and hope the act comes off. I talk honestly, demanding no respect except that which they should choose to pay, delivering barely-edited fresh opinions and hoping that they have some weight in them, even just for the listener. For one of the listeners. What is my place here?

I wonder also about what these newcomers make of not only our dynamic but of us as individuals. What do they think our separate specialities are? Do they see any at all outside our immediate connection with them? In rehearsals I am quiet, observing, I do little. Outside I write, I act, I dress up. I feel the need for them to know all this. I am a multi-faceted person too, I act too, I could be up there with you. Do performers see past their own acts? Past their wingmen and see the audience? What do they understand about the people watching them? I feel that maybe this is important in informing their performance. They should have some modesty, some respect, for the silent beauties and talents that sit so quietly, not showing off, in front of them while they do. There is a feeling of things that should be kept in mind.


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