What a milestone! Home Is Where… finally had its first full-length performance on 2nd September at Rich Mix, a fantastically supportive and welcoming multi-arts venue in East London. Huge thanks are due to the wonderful team there, and of course to the extremely dedicated and talented cast and creative team of Home Is Where…: writer Guleraana Mir, producer Clarissa Widya, composer and sound designer Yaiza Varona, movement director Paula Paz, and performers Sharlit Deyzac, Joanna Greaney, Leonora Fyfe, Mark Ota, and Kal Sabir.
As well as celebrating what we’ve achieved in this latest phase of the project, I also want to take a moment to acknowledge that this was probably the most challenging creative process I’ve ever experienced. It’s the largest team I’ve ever led, the most personal show I’ve ever created, the most technically ambitious project I’ve ever attempted, and also the shortest period I’ve ever given myself to achieve all these things. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, then, that the performance itself represents the biggest gap between the astronomical potential of the idea and the reality of what we’ve been able to put on stage so far. It’s been a long road already, and we still have a long way to go, but we will get there.
I believe in this project, and this team, and this incredibly difficult but brilliant process of devising. I believe that the raw materials of this project are truly special, and that our interviews with dozens of Third Culture Kids will make urgent, powerful, necessary theatre. I believe in the risks that we’ve taken, and I believe they will pay off in the final production.
In our scratch performance back in January, we focused on dynamic ways to present the verbatim interviews, using movement and music to enhance the headphone verbatim performance. The result was fun and maybe a bit too upbeat to be a true reflection of the TCK experience. We also felt that what we’d made lacked an overall narrative, something to give it the drive necessary for a full-length show.
So in this R&D performance, we looked for shadows to balance out that bright tone – and we didn’t have to look far, thanks to the Brexit vote happening in the middle of our devising process. We created a narrative-heavy dystopian world that almost swallowed up our interviews, the most rich and beautiful element of the project. Now that we’ve found those extremes of tone and form – and a lot of really interesting performance techniques – we can choose where to steer the next version of the play…
I’ve learned a lot over the last year as we’ve created this new company and started to bring Home Is Where… to life. And I still have a lot of questions, too, which I know can only be answered by continuing to make work, both this piece and future projects, too. These are questions I’m going to spend the next 10 years of my career answering. Maybe more…
How can you tell from ten separate phone calls and coffee dates how a new company is going to work together? How can you guess how much devising time, writing time, and rehearsal time a new piece is going to need? How can you invite an audience into the creative process so that they’re expecting a piece in development, while still giving them an excellent and exciting performance to enjoy? How do you manage expectations – on both sides of the fourth wall – and keep the pressure of performance from short-cutting the process of creating the best possible piece of theatre?
And now… what’s next?
Well, first off, there are several other aspects of this project that we’re developing alongside the performance. Guleraana delivered a pre-show workshop in partnership with Hope Not Hate, which was a great success and loads of fun. She used drama games and lively discussion to explore the themes of the play, and we’re tailoring her plans for a visit to an international school next week. She and I will co-facilitate, with two of our actors demonstrating their headphone verbatim technique by sharing some of our TCK stories. I can’t wait!
We’ve also got loads of encouraging, helpful feedback from our audience to consider before heading back into a new script development phase. I’m sure it won’t be long before we get out trusty sticky notes again and have a crack at a brand new draft…