We find ourselves at a new edge, an ever-shifting edge.
Is that an edge? A precipice? or a new horizon waiting to be explored…”
How are you doing?
I hope you are healthy and happy. I hope that the events of the last year are starting to heal a little and that your body and mind are strong…
Take your time. No rush.
The last year was really something wasn’t it? I’m only just starting to process it all and feel like I will be for a long time to come to be honest.
In many ways it feels like it’s been a very galvanising time for people. We’ve seen tremendous acts of collective care and solidarity but equally there have been moments of acute isolation and loneliness. I was very lucky to spend lockdown with my husband at our home in Botallack, Cornwall. Walking most days out on the cliffs. Idyllic really. Wide open horizons to stare at and dream about. And thinking… lots of thinking. Over thinking!
The word Isolation really came into focus last year didn’t it? Somehow as if it never existed before. A new collectively owned pandemic sweeping the country. People all over, feeling isolated, out on an edge of their own.
It really got me thinking about the levels of isolation that people lived with pre Covid (on a daily basis). Isolation that won’t/can’t be healed by the development of a wonder vaccine.
In September last year, we all experienced a little let up. A small window of freedom between lockdowns. Suddenly the summer opened up again for us as a possibility to create work and our Wildworks instinct was to create work, with and for people whilst we could.
But what? What should we do? A Wildworks show can often take years to create and we have no money!
To be honest I really felt the pressure to create something cheerful especially after our collective extended period of doom. A possible sudden rush of energy after a months of standstill.
As theatre makers there is always the pressure of creating the next big, bright shiny thing! Which is great sometimes, who doesn’t love a song and dance and glittery costume.
But that just didn’t feel right. It definitely didn’t feel ok to gloss over what had happened so far last year and the feelings that people were very much still processing.
All we knew was that we needed to grab the opportunity to create work with people, employ as many freelancers as physically possible and share that work with an audience.
A simple moment of connectedness.
We began to talk to people and ask them about their experiences of isolation and connectedness. We asked a very open question “What does the edge mean to you?” And the responses began to come.
We set out to create a piece of work that was about listening. An audio-visual experience in the landscape, at home in Cornwall on the cliffs at Botallack. We threw out the need for elaborate sets and costumes and we focused the words of the testimonies/stories that we had gathered.
We created a binaural soundscape to underpin and interact with those testimonies. We wrote new music and worked with a community choir and recorded them all individually. We worked with BSL interpreters to make sure the work was accessible to hard of hearing and D/deaf audience members but also to explore depth and meaning in people’s words and emotion.
We adapted everything that we knew and learned how to create work together and welcome an audience whilst socially distanced. We were antibac’d within an inch of our lives.
Meet Me at The Edge – Botallack Sept 2020
Our journey in sound and landscape explored responses to isolation and connectedness within our communities and was inspired by Mercedes Kemp’s experiences of living at the edge and a collection of other stories of individuals that live on the edge both metaphorically and geographically.
Meet Me at the Edge was a dawn till dusk series of live showings of an immersive sound piece, for a limited audience. All too be experienced whilst socially distanced, on the edge of the cliffs of Botallack. The show was ticketed (for Covid safety reasons) but free. It sold out within hours.
Unfortunately, the live showings of Meet Me at the Edge were cancelled due to Covid19. We were unable to share the work with our live audiences. We packed up our headphones and went into a second lockdown.
The space between was worse than before to be honest. I quickly adapted back to daily zoom marathons and was frequently visited by the overwhelming daily doom clouds of what next? Why bother?
Like so many other people, delving into the pit of despair, whilst other people post on social media, worrying that I’m not doing enough, attending the right zoom webinars etc. Planning and replanning, planning for ever changing restrictions.
Moments of honestly asking ourselves- what next? With the uneasy feeling left over from not being able to share the work we had gathered and created back in September, not being able to share the stories that we had gathered that really needed to be heard. What next?
One of the positive things we did gain last year was the sudden moments of silence. The voids… and within those periods of quiet we gained the opportunity to listen and start to tune in with each other about our basic needs. Health, safety, respect, care, legal rights, equality…
When we listen – without the pressure to know the answers. We really listen.
It then began to worry me that the silence wouldn’t last long. I started getting nervous when I heard people say “I just can’t wait to get back to normal”
What would that mean? The world will start opening up again and the loud voices will get louder again, drowning out the other voices that often don’t have the opportunity to come into focus.
The quieter voices soon will be drowned out by the noise of ‘Back to normal’
It was so important that we shared this work as soon as possible.
We have spent the last 6 months working remotely with the people that have contributed their testimonies to Meet Me at the Edge. We have gathered sound and film footage recorded by those people, from their own personal edges and we have created a Film. A collective expression exploring and documenting isolation and connectedness which will premiere on 21st April 2021 at 7.30pm on our YouTube channel.
We find ourselves standing at a new edge as the world now begins to reopen and get louder again. It’s exciting!
But just before we step or leap forward. If that’s back to normal or to new beginnings… We invite viewers at home to spend just under an hour, to watch, listen and think…
What have the events of the past year taught us? What old behaviour do we want to set down and leave behind and what do we want to pocket and take with us, as we boldly or tentatively step forward together.
Meet Me at The Edge – FILM is a unique mosaic of real stories, contributed by real people. We feel it’s an important time to be sharing these narratives.
Mydd Pharo – Artistic Director