Making Time – 1 Year Ago & Now

Last weekend, I was invited to perform ‘Making Time’ at Wrought Festival in Sheffield – a two day festival of one-to-one performances in a warehouse space, followed by a post-festival panel talk.  The weekend marked the one year anniversary of starting this project, which I first performed at Hatch: A Better Tomorrow at Embrace Arts in Leicester, October 2013.  You can read about ‘Making Time’ and the other performances from the event in Leicester here.

‘Making Time’ is a performance project exploring time – how we spend or waste it, how we count it away, how we look to the past for answers to how we got to where we are, how we plan for the future and the things we want to achieve.

The provocation for creating the piece a year ago was turning 30 – a time to reflect on things I had achieved & things still left to do.  I live my life by a set of lists:

lists of things I need to do

lists of things I want to do

places I want to go

skills I want to learn

things that I think will make me happy

At the end of every year, I list 3 things that I have achieved

& think of 3 more I want to accomplish.

Last weekend, as I recited my monologue to the participants at Wrought Festival, I was thinking about all those postcards I would be posting on Monday morning – 1 year on from Hatch in Leicester.  I wonder whether they are expecting it, whether they remember it, whether it comes as a surprise?  Do they still live there, have they fulfilled the thing they wanted to do? Did they even try? Will they get back in touch? Who reads the postcards that land on the doormat of the address where the writer no longer lives? What do they make of it?

After the festival in Sheffield, there was a panel discussion where one of the conversations was around keeping the material fresh and unique for each new participant.  For me, they sit for 6 minutes, but I perform it for 3 or 4 hours at a time – it becomes durational, you have to concentrate to not get lost in the repetition.  But with repetition comes meaning and having performed the piece for a year now, new nuances within the text come out, new meanings, new ideas.  The text begins with the admission that I can’t swim even though I had lessons every week for 4 years as a child.  I don’t know why I can’t swim or what it is about it that I’m afraid of.  It is also a metaphor for other things: being afraid of jumping in, afraid of failure.  A year has passed and I still cannot swim and I’ve done nothing to address it, other than admit it to strangers during the performance.  Will 10 years be long enough for me to master it.  Or at least, to try?

Reading the messages people put on the postcards is always really interesting – the ones I really like are the coded messages which only the recipient will understand.  In-jokes & clues.  I wonder whether you will remember what you meant in 10 years time?  And the ones written in foreign languages and to be sent all around the world – I like the thought of the postcards travelling some distance, going to the places I would like to go.

It is my intention to make a studio piece about the experience – to gather back the stories from the participants and to see whether I too had made time for the things I wanted to do.  And are they even important any more?

One of my favourite lines from ‘Making Time’ goes like this:

“And there’s this place where you really want to go: Brighton, Edinburgh, New Zealand, New York?  Tomorrow that’s where you’ll find me…”

I have fleeting thoughts that perhaps I will read all the postcards, make a list from them and do all the things myself – go to all the places where you want to go, learn the languages you want to speak, write that book that you intended to write…

Maybe I will.

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