Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Luton Seven

The Hat Factory in Luton is a big old industrial warehouse replete with history. The space in which we performed had the capacity to hold eighty people, and was a simple yet beautiful black box space. We spent the afternoon walking around the town, getting to feel the environment, and to know the area. It's hard to know what we were seeing, as we only walked a few blocks in each direction, and most of what I saw was the product of globalization. Chain store after chain store, with virtually no independent vendors of any type. I saw a boy who couldn't have been more than thirteen sitting with his parents at the mall, smoking. We passed a massage parlor, a gay bar (which we went into and asked them if they knew about our performance and the woman there said she did and would "send people along"), and a very brightly coloured pink and orange merry-go-round, empty, spinning slowly to a loop of "The Grand Old Duke of York". We went back to the theatre, which by the time we'd done our walk, felt like a little oasis. We used the space to warm our voices, to feel comfortable in our bodies and to sing. At eight o'clock we walked on stage, and faced our audience of seven. Now the great thing and the difficult thing about twomentalking, is that we interact with the audience; not with their words, but with their listening. What this meant, was that there were nine points of contact for each telling, that is each audience member, Murray and Dan who was sitting in the fourth row.
I think audiences members, me included when I am one, feel invisible in the dark. In the dark as an audience member, I feel free to not react, to laugh internally, to daydream. Sometimes people reach into their bags, and even close their eyes. Usually this is not an issue, if there are enough points of contact, then those moments carry less weight. Last night, these seven people were our reason for telling, and I found it hard not to over analyze their body movements, their reaction or lack of reaction, and make meaning of these. The stories we tell are themselves vulnerable making, exposing and at times take me back to times of great isolation and fear. Being able to stand in my own story, without apology, without being distracted by other's reactions or my perception of other's reactions, is the task at hand. That is what leadership is about. Being able to trust my own truth even when others are not reflecting that back to me. Sometimes it's hard. Last night was one of those times.



Blogger Dan Browde said...

Hi Paul and Murray

This comment is specifically for Paul, because I just read The Luton Seven. I like the name of the post, it sounds like a gritty story about a group of teenagers growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in in Luton. Anyway, that's neither here not there. Really, what I wanted to say was that I really felt for you, reading about and thinking about that experience, the experience you had in that performance. I really empathised, in more than one way. And what I wanted to do was to send you all my love and support, for you to have always, like something for you to keep in the bottom of your coat pocket like an old, trusty coin, something maybe to take out and hold at hard moments like that. Whenever I think about you, whenever I really stop and conjure you up - the real, living you - properly in my mind, I remember how much I love you. It is a lot. I'm sending you that love. Hope you can feel it. I'm also wishing you all the best for the rest of your shows on this tour. I think it's a foolproof endeavour, because of its intention, but still. Go for it!

8:12 AM  
Blogger Bernd said...

From the day I started 'working' - no.... - From the day I became part of this wonderful experience with Paul and Murray, I have asked myself how I could express what it does to me. When Murray suggested to post a comment on here, the answer to my question was found.

We first met on a Monday morning in Hemel Hempstead and it only took a couple of hours to realize that this is not a 'job' but an experience that will give and take a lot of energy. It brought up emotions, truths, memories, feelings and I only realized this yesterday, long forgotten stories about myself. Listening to the stories during performance and rehearsals makes me think about where I am now and where I would like to go – it is both, very exciting and somewhat difficult. … and all that through mostly listening. What will happen when I start telling stories within my relationship or a circle of close friends?

I had the most intense reaction in Luton. On our short trip through the centre of town, this feeling emerged. A feeling I knew from years back when I still lived in my hometown in Germany. A feeling of not belonging, a feeling of fear without any particular reason - something deep in my guts. Uncomfortable. I can’t quite tell what provoked this reaction. The people, the shops, the colours - or the sign in the window of a gay bar warning of the ‘guard dogs’?

Luton needed Paul and Murray’s stories. Although I couldn’t sense much reaction from most of the listeners, I am sure that every single one left the theatre, taking something positive and liberating away that evening.
Thank you, Paul and Murray, for all the energy you give through telling your stories and for all the honesty and openness.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

I love this whole concept of being inside your own truth. It is so hard not to look to the outside world for support, approval, adoration, love...

It must be generated from within and that's what you are practicing. Very inspiring. Oh so hard to do, but ultimately so powerful.

Please fill me in as your path continues.
Lots of love

5:59 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hi guys, really nice speaking to you the other day - I said I'd leave you a comment, and so here I am! Best of luck with the rest of the tour; I'll do my utmost to come see the show in Manchester.
All the best,
(Metro newspaper)

9:48 AM  

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