Stories from our past

I watched Cape Wrath by Third Angel a few weeks ago in a van outside the Theatre Royal Plymouth. A gentle tale where Alex Kelly re-traces his grandfathers footsteps to Cape Wrath on the northern most point of Scotland and I was reminded not just of my own grandmother and her penchant for Bourneville chocolate of an evening, but the need to re-engage with our own past. The re-tracing of Alex’s grandfathers footsteps by coach and foot to the most north-westerly point of mainland Scotland fulfilled a need in him and interested me because of the autobiographical similarity in my own performances and it made me re-evaluate them. What makes us look to our past to make work and does it feed a duel need in us. As Alex raised a glass to his grandfather I wondered why I had drawn on my ancestry for my first solo show and my mother’s and grandmother’s stories for my next show. What is more,there is something about the fact that these stories all happened at a similar time in our lives, my mother and grandmother’s stories happening to them around the age I am now. Do generations of families repeat the same patterns? Do we do this subconsciously, or does life deal us similar cards at certain points in our lives? And, what am I trying to say by sharing these stories with people I wont know? Hopefully, we all relate to these stories on a fundamental level. The dozen or so people who sat on a minibus listening to Alex tell his story had not all taken that route to Cape Wrath but we all understood in our hearts why he was doing it. Some didn’t know Scotland, some had been to the very places he was talking about. Some liked a drop of the hard stiff (but definitely not a blend) and some had family with similar likes to Alex’s. I watched as people nodded in agreement or gasped at a revelation and  I thought how simple family stories can wrap themselves around you, like a cosy blanket.

Watching The Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone by Selma Dimitrijevic for Greyscale also took me back to family memories from twelve years ago. A conversation between mother and daughter that deals in the everyday of life, yet holds clues to things buried deep, becomes devastatingly raw in its simplicity and honesty. Like the mother in the play my mother hid what was truly happening to her in order not to worry anyone…until it was too late. Watching a mirror of my life onstage was cathartic and yet, I didn’t feel alone in the audience. Many people were experiencing the same recall, the fact that the female characters are played by men didn’t change anything.

Both shows were simplicity themselves, devoid of sound, set or props, the acting and the simple storytelling was all that was needed. Everyone has a story inside them and most of those stories have a need to be told, and… those stories WILL contain universal truths. Our stories come from our past, our family and mostly…they have love at their heart.

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