Which Is Scarier?

I’m still meeting myself coming back after last week, my lovelies! I did two things that seemed designed to push my comfort zone, all in the name of getting this show on the road.

Firstly, I spent four days at Live Theatre in Newcastle doing an intensive residency to put the finishing touches to the Moon. And by finishing touches, I mean ALL the music and ALL the lighting changes and ALL the projections. I’ve never been ‘in residence’ before. In my day job at Apples and Snakes, I hotdesk at ARC in Stockton, so I often take part in Monday morning welcome sessions with theatre companies who are about to spend a week creating or honing new shows. We drink tea, we chat, and then they disappear into the bowels of the theatre and do…..something mysterious that results in a performance. No idea what! But now it was my turn. And what we did was : go through the show, in pieces, in its entirety, over and over, with notes, with changes, with refinements, and finally with a critical audience made up of Live Theatre staff. I lost count of how many times I performed the piece, and I had to be very careful NOT to perform at full power for fear of burning out. On the third day I wondered why I was shaky and crying on the stage, then realised it was 4pm and I hadn’t eaten – durrr. All in all it was WONDERFUL – helpful, exhausting, immersive, profoundly satisfying to be totally focussed on my creative life. And it left me looking a bit like this:

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Secondly, I went back to school. Teesdale Sixth Form in Barnard Castle, to be precise, where I had ten minutes to persuade one hundred and forty teenagers that they should come to the show. Utterly terrifying. My warm-up act was their form tutor hassling them to make UCAS choices, so they were a pretty tough crowd – and interestingly, they had absolutely no idea how to react to an odd little middle-aged woman jiggling up and down the hall in front of them making ‘ping-ping’ monsoon raindrop noises. Some of them whispered and giggled, some looked bored, or confused, or…teenager-ish. In one poem I say ‘shit through a hole in the floor, it’s more real that way’ – that got a reaction (“eeeewwww”). I had no idea how to make my story relevant to them – after all, I left for India in the year they were born. But at the end I talked to them about how at their age I had wanted to get out, away, to anywhere, and how travelling had changed my life. The hall finally hushed. They all were listening. And some even came and took my flyers.

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About Kirsten Luckins

Poet and performer. North East Programme Co-ordinator for Apples and Snakes. First collection, The Trouble With Compassion, launched March 2016 and available from Burning Eye Books. First solo show, The Moon Cannot Be Stolen, voted second in Saboteur Awards 2014. Second show currently under construction. Poet-in-Residence at the Heroism & Heartbreak project, Hartlepool Community Archive, looking at WW1 maritime stories.
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