I’ve worked in mainstream theatre for 26/27 years, I think I have a handle on the term ‘theatre’ but ‘performance’ is a shady area for me. I went to an accredited drama school, the first to offer a degree in theatre arts (now every drama school and college offers them) but back then the box you were fitted into, as a graduate was very small. I fitted the ‘acting’ box and you very rarely left it. Now most graduates have to understand the whole world of theatre and performance, most form their own companies or produce their own shows; that use many ‘boxes’. When I moved down to Plymouth 12 years ago, because of my partners work, the geographical distance from the rest of the country put paid to a lot of my work, I was constantly leaving home for jobs and I decided to do something about it. With grants for the arts funding I co created and co produced site inspired events within Plymouth, they were called Hidden City events. Because I jumped out of my old box and into another I became aware of the possibilities for me.
I want to explore stories that are hidden, that have relevance to a site, that need to be told so that people have a better understanding. How we leave footprints in these places that continue to reverberate and how our culture and identity can be re-imagined.
I feel very excited about this year I feel like I’m on a diving board about to jump into the unknown and that is very exhilarating. I doubt I’ll know everything in a year but I hope it gives me the impulse to keep learning and looking. What I do know is that I’m doing the right thing and something happened today to confirm that. I received my copy of ‘Performance Perspectives’ – one of the books on my reading list and opened it up to smell it (I love the smell of new books – something you don’t get on a kindle). The page fell open at some photographs, a site specific production of ‘House’ by Wilson+Wilson a company I am well acquainted with who alas, are no longer and there at the bottom of the page was a photograph of my mother, Grace Mitchell who was in that production. Above it was another photograph of her but, unlike the first photograph which correctly identifies her, there is a ‘typo’ in the credits for the second image and instead of Grace Mitchell it says Ruth Mitchell, in black and white. Fate? I reckon someone somewhere is saying ‘you’re doing the right thing’