Signpost 3: Audience/Participant responses to The House

Journey through ‘The House – researching theatre, performance and poverty’ (Studies in Theatre and Performance Special Issue Vol 31:1)

Signpost 3: Audience Responses to The House

‘The House’ didn’t do the usual touring route so no Guardian review for this one or any other newspaper review as a matter of fact. We chose a different way and invited essays or short responses to the piece which seemed to be more productive, considered and helpful.  The writers came from different fields which added to the rich mix in the response.  It allowed for some real creativity in the responses because there were no rules here.  There was some extensive feedback from post show questionnaires to which Jenny Hughes and Caitlin Gleeson formed into an interesting forward to this section of the research document.  Other contributors here include: Janet Batsleer, Anuradha Kapur, Bobby Smith, Louise Wallwein, Janice B. Wilson, Sandra Reeve and Maggie B. Gale.  Some of these people are familiar with my performance work but most are not, so it was a good mix.  I am very grateful for the feedback.

Hard Copies of “The House” available for £20

The House Script and supporting documentation

I have a number of copies of my script of ‘The House’ available at a very reasonable price. If you are interested contact me and I can send one to you for £20 – a fraction of the online price. Drop me a line at

The full title is: The House – researching theatre, performance, poverty. Special issue of Studies in Theatre and Performance, 37: 1, 2017 ISSN:1468-2761

Why I am part of the moving wood

Gateway Six in Dorset (Little Blue Man)

I am so happy to be back at my Cumbrian outpost.  This coming weekend I am joined by a group of creative people who bring their talent and ideas to work on something that requires “not knowing”.  It’s a brave state of mind to be in and marks the beginning of several new pieces of work we will create inspired by the setting that is Heron Corn Mill

This week I have been reflecting on the idea of  getting involved in something I don’t fully understand if I am honest. I joined the Labour Party recently and I am very aware that I may be seen as one of those people who are just backing  Jeremy Corbyn without thinking about the wider implications.  Well I am joining the moving wood for that reason and I am willing to learn something from this apparent outsider that the others couldn’t teach me in the past or else I would have joined them many years ago.

The road to Beetham
The road to Beetham

Like my creative  group who will work this weekend I have stuck my neck out, paid a nominal fee and am attempting to produce some creative responses to my recent political excursions.  It’s scary putting yourself out there when you feel vulnerable and uneducated in a specific area.  But not knowing I think is the best place from which to learn and I am happy to learn about how things may change in a creative way.

So here is my latest effort on The Marching Trees: my personal interpretation of the mobilisation of the movement that is the people behind Jeremy Corbyn.  Thanks again to Helen Chadwick and Kite for their gorgeous rendition of Goethe’s poem adapted by Robert Bly.

You can see the first effort here:

I can only respond to this Corbyn phenomena creatively from a hunch and an instinct that his vision seems achievable despite the odds.

This effort comes especially on the back of my residency at Heron Corn Mill that has a history of working people and disenfranchised tenant farmers.  People wonder why we go on about history but history is NOW.  We carry history to the present because it marks the unchanging/changing life that we live NOW.  Thanks for reading I really appreciate your support in this particular journey.

The Wood Begins To Move

Red Cardigan and sticks
Red Cardigan and sticks

It has been tumultuous recently with Brexit, the Labour party machinations and the disturbing power struggles of people who would lead us.

I have always been of the socialist persuasion but I wouldn’t call myself very active. However this time I have been compelled to do something because for once I have seen the actions and example of  a leader who has great human concern and dignity.  I do believe that Jeremy Corbyn represents what constitutes a good leader.  He always comes back to his source: caring for those less better off.

In 2010 I was working on a project for the RSC which I called Birnam Wood which conceived Macbeth as a women’s story.  I am slightly stirred again by the current Conservative leadership campaigns which remind me of my work on that project which had, unfortunately, limited development – it was the recession.  It still is the recession and I have found myself yet again reinventing the wheel observing the tree as a teacher as the wood begins to march.

I posted the following on Facebook when the Labour haemorrhage began.  The offer still stands.

“Getting more and more disappointed with the people who are leaving Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet but encouraged by his new appointments. I would like to offer the ones who have resigned a free workshop with me working on physical exercises concerning leading and following. Leading and following effectively is very delicate and complex. It involves walking/moving with, alongside, sensing, being sensitive to: making it almost impossible to see that you are the leader and it is not the same as mirror work. It requires that the leader allows rather than dictates. Enrique Pardo (Pantheatre) introduced me to this many years ago – on a workshop in London when he was over in England. Pardo used to say it was about making your follower look fantastic, making yourself invisible, making your follower look as if they were the one leading. It’s one of the hardest things to do – give up on your own ego and help someone else make an action without anyone knowing whose idea it was, bringing them along with you without taking the credit for the action. It requires great skill with peripheral vision and great sensitivity in making actions in the unknown. It is not about copying it is about being with. I would suggest that Jeremy Corbyn is the perfect leader. Every time I listen to him I have felt as if he is with the flow of the people who do not have much power. He has given me some hope in the possibility of change.”

Since posting,  the bleeding has stopped but we still don’t have a solution…..however, the man with honour continues to hold out an olive branch to those who are making his job difficult.   Somehow I hope and believe things will change and heal.  Jeremy Corbyn, despite the mass men and women who would fell him, stands strong with dignity.

This short film is a return, a short tribute to trees, leadership, peaceful protest and hope.  Thanks to Helen Chadwick for her permission to use the music and thanks to Goethe, Shakespeare and Robert Bly, oh and Ian Cameron for the pic of me in the red cardigan.





Serving Three Mistresses


Lance contemplates multiplicity
Lance contemplates multiplicity

I have three jobs at the moment.  I have often thought you can’t serve two masters but now I think you can serve three mistresses.

The House: Hanging the archive on the washing line
The House: Hanging the archive on the washing line

Mistress One
Since I last wrote I have been working on writing towards a publication about The House with Jenny Hughes which will come out next January in a journal called Studies in Theatre and Performance.  I have also been  teaching my lovely Man Uni students who are now preparing for their devising assessment in May.  There are three interesting works incubating at the moment which will see daylight on May 9 in the John Thaw Studio, Manchester.


Cumbrian Boot Walk
Cumbrian Boot Walk

Mistress Two
Also I have been planning a residential course on devising for Heron Corn Mill in Cumbria that will take place between August and September this year as well as continuing with the performance research work there on Women of Beetham (and the surrounding area). The course details will be posted here soon.


Mistress Three
Then I have also been really busy wracking my brains about Albert, the Tank Tram a lovely clown project I am really happy to be working on with Richard Talbot and his students and colleagues from Salford University together with collaborators from the Tram Museum in Heaton Park, Salford Museum and WIgan Museum. We will be sharing a work in progress on June 1 at Media City. The project culminates In November later this year.

Kaiser Kurt
Crew in training
Crew in training

It’s all okay so far.