After the various phases of creation of the Goddess version of the play, involving a few different friends for Telegraph Hill festival 2015, a new opportunity arose. I was called upon to bring the show to a festival in Norwich, and neither Sabine nor Ursula were available. This show about several Goddesses ideally required at least two female performers. Some searching followed, and Lidia was the obvious choice. She had filmed the previous show so knew the score. We had never otherwise worked together, though I knew she, like me had a background in physical theatre as well as being an accomplished life model. We did not have long, but she was game and we would adapt the show for two, rehearsing in her Haggerston studio space. She was also adept technically so we were able to rerecord all the soundtrack according to our new specifications (I had recently split up with a partner who had assisted in this regard previously).
Lidia threw herself utterly and thoroughly into realising her roles – she sewed costumes, bought her own wings and wig for performing Isis, sourced appropriate paints for the Enchantress scene, and learnt her lines. We rehearsed methodically, and even within the limited time of a few weeks (a couple of which I was away in Spain) we managed to develop a strong stage rapport together. It did make a considerable difference bouncing off (sometimes literally!) a collaborator of equivalent training. Also, as neither of us are particularly tall (I am 5′ 4″ and Lidia is not taller) and we are of comparable height, the shared low centre of gravity makes for ideal contact movement work. Her relative sturdiness compared to my more slender disposition meant she was better suited to carry my weight if a lift was required. The contact in our performance enhanced it greatly, and gave the dance elements more emphasis. The physical closeness matched the tightness of our connection as performers; we operated well as a unit. Lidia’s attention to detail meant that the fairly complex structure of the play was smoothly absorbed and delivered.
I had just enough time to improve on the previous script of about 6 weeks earlier. I had felt it was lacking punch at the critical climax of the play, during the witches scene. The tragedy needed to hit harder of the women’s fall, from all their power as enchantresses, to being cruelly wiped out. With an added monologue, and Lidia’s idea to bring another conceptual layer to the body painting, this extra drama was achieved. The result felt powerful.
We performed in a very cold stone church – St Margaret’s Church of Art, quite late in the evening on Saturday May 8th 2015. There was no running water in the building, and only an outside portaloo, so there was no chance of washing all the sticky fake blood, and the thick black paint off us afterwards. We had to put on old clothes and let it dry before showering at our residence a while later.
The coldness of the building was overridden by adrenaline, and possibly contributed to edginess! It did however mean that the chances of getting the audience to strip off at the table-turning audience-modelling scene were vastly limited. We were at least lucky to get one keen taker, who seemed possibly suitably inebriated or otherwise altered for the occasion. He did very well, and Lidia and I both drew him.
It was a very friendly crowd, and our message of menstrual celebration was well received by the Norwich Dandies. Eloise O’Hare in particular was displaying several of her own menstrual paintings in the exhibition in the church. There was so much vibrant work and activity in the space, it was a pleasure to be part of Dandifest’s alternative vibe.
It was also an intense and valuable experience working with Lidia. Life and other commitments have gotten in the way of further collaboration, however I am sure more will emerge when our theatrical spheres converge once again.