‘Reassembled, Slightly Askew’ in London at Battersea Arts Centre

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(image by Richard Lavery/Tickle Here)

Reassembled… is off to an amazing start to its 3 week run at Battersea Arts Centre as part of their ‘A Nation’s Theatre Festival’, in which it is the only NI show to be invited to participate. It’s been in the very capable hands of NI actors, Stephen Beggs & Mary Lindsay:

Mary STephen out front

Coverage so far includes various London-based publications:

Time Out

listed as one of Time Out London’s ‘Hottest Theatre Openings’

The Arts Council NI’s website, a fantastic 4-star review from Lyn Gardner in The Guardian, a heartfelt blog post from Webcowgirl, and post-show feedback from audiences:

“If you see just one production in London this year, it should be this.”

“Profound evening…a real must-see!”

“Wow, what a thought-provoking 90 minutes, a slick and rounded arts experience.”

“Amazing… [I was] touched and impressed.”

“It is moving, beautiful, fragile and deeply important. Thank you.”

“Best binaural piece I’ve seen this year so far (you’re the 4th). “

“I felt more exposed than ever.”

“Such a deeply moving experience.”

 

With the show running until 28 May, there’s more feedback and reviews to come…

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‘Reassembled…’ comes to London this May ’16

ANT RSA screenshotThanks to Reassembled…‘s director Anna Newell (2016 Ellen Stewart International Award Finalist for Artists and Theatre Companies Doing Socially Engaged Work with Youth), Reassembled… has been invited to be part of Battersea Arts Centre’s ‘A Nation’s Theatre Festival’ this Spring, 11-28 May.

A Nation’s Theatre Festival is a two-month celebration of theatre from around the UK from April – May 2016.  There are over 60 shows and events in the festival, across 17 London venues, performed by more than 350 artists from outside London. Reassembled… is the only production from Northern Ireland that is participating.

“It is A CELEBRATION of the UK theatre ecology, shining a light on the breadth of innovative theatre and ideas produced by companies, artists and theatres from around the nation. It’s an opportunity for London audiences and theatres to experience, recognise and champion work from around the UK. It is A PROVOCATION to encourage conversations and debate:

  • How can we reverse the flow of theatre from London out to the rest of the UK?
  • How do we encourage more arts provision outside of the capital?
  • What can theatre tell us about politics, devolution and identity?”

Tickets are available at www.bac.org.             BAC logo

Research, development and funding (2013-2015) was made possible by:

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A secret story in a tiny tent for Belfast-based babies in the world’s first BABY DAY

 

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Tiny Tents for the Sea of Stories (Photos by Simon Hutchinson & Grant Jones)
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Tiny Tents for the Sea of Stories (Photos by Simon Hutchinson & Grant Jones)

BABY DAY is the brainchild of Anna Newell, director of Reassembled, Slightly Askew, in her role as Artistic Director of Replay Theatre Company. You can see a video of the day’s events (the first in the world!), here, courtesy of video artist Conan McIvor.
I was delighted to be one of many writers for the ‘Sea of Stories‘ event who wrote special stories to be read by parents/guardians to their babies in little tents littered throughout Belfast City Hall and Ulster Museum last September. The title we were given to write from was ‘On the Night You Were Born’. Revisiting what I explored in Wiggle Giggle and my training in early childhood pedagogy, I focused on repetition and the sounds of words to animate the story between the reader and baby to write my story:

‘On the Night You Were Born’ by Shannon Yee

(Instructions: To read this story to your baby, there are things that you say and things that you do. It’s up to you if you want to say and do them at the same time or not.)

Do:             Sit down with your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Lay your baby on your thighs, facing you.

Say:             On the night you were born…

My world rocked, rocked, rocked

Do:            (Rock your legs together [and hence, your baby] side to side)

Say:            And …

Do:             (Keep your legs still)

Say:             Ruummmmmmmmbllllllllledddddddd

Do:             (quickly bounce your legs [and hence, your baby] one at a time)

Say:             And…Roll—roll-rolllllllled

Do:             (slowly lift one leg at a time)

Say:             And…

Do:             (separate your knees slightly so your baby drops a little)           

Say:             POPPED!

Do:             (pull your baby up quickly to land on your knees again)

(Go back to the beginning and repeat all again two or three more times from “My world rocked, rocked, rocked… “)

Say:             (hold your baby close and whisper) On the night you were born, my world changed forever.

The Hospital Club h100 Theatre & Performance Award (Oct 2015)

The Hospital Club was founded by Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) and Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics), who transformed the abandoned St. Paul’s Hospital in London’s Covent Garden into a hub of creativity. Since 2004, the Hospital Club has offered people working in the creative industries a place to meet, network, and create. For the past 8 years, its h.Club 100 Awards have been celebrating the 100 most influential and innovative people in the UK’s creative industries. Nominated by the public and chosen by a panel of judges, the long list had 20 people from around the UK, and these were put to a public vote.

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Dave Stewart opens the event

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From a long-list of 20 people from the Theatre & Performance world, 10 finalists were chosen, of which I was one of them for my work with Reassembled, Slightly Askew. The winners are:

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STEVE TOMPKINS & GRAHAM HAWORTH (Architects)

VIKKI STONE (Musician & comedian)

ES DEVLIN (set designer)

JAMES GRAHAM (playwright)

DREW MCONIE (choreographer)

BEVERLEY KNIGHT (actor)

KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS (…um, it’s kristin scott thomas!!)

RACHEL EDWARDS (producer–tooting arts club)

JAMES GRIEVE & GEORGE PERRIN (Paines plough)

Watch a video from the night’s events here:

‘Reassembled…’ resources

A selection of resources about the brain and acquired brain injury on tour with 'Reassembled, Slightly Askew'

A selection of resources about the brain and acquired brain injury that went on tour with ‘Reassembled, Slightly Askew’ (Spring/Summer 2015)

 

A number of resources about brain injury went on tour with the hospital beds and Reassembled… audio for audiences to look through after the show:

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

Brains: The Mind as Matter; by Marius Kwint & Richard Wingate

Neurocomic by Dr Matteo Farinella & Dr Hana Ros

Welcome to Your Brain: The Science of Jet Lag, Love and other Curiosities of Life by Sandra Aamodt & Sam Wang

The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Workbook by Douglas Mason

Living with Brain Injury by Philip L Fairclough

Brainlash: Maximizing your Recovery from Mild Brain Injury by Dr Gail L Denton  (** highly recommended!!)

‘The New Science of the Brain’ National Geographic (Feb 2014)  by Carl Zimmer

Brain Injury Matters—leaflets—Rebound Physio, Younger Person’s Network, Counseling service

Cedar Foundation – Brain Injury Services, Vocational & Employment services

Health & Social Care Trust/ Public Health Agency: ‘Mild Brain Injury: Know the R.I.S.K.S.’, ‘Brain Injury Support in NI’

‘Reassembled…’s development process

It’s hard to believe how long Reassembled, Slightly Askew has been in development, beginning with my personal experience in Dec 2008 (when what took precedent was surviving my subdural empyema) through today, when it has won numerous accolades across medical and arts settings, and plans are in motion for its London debut as part of Battersea Arts Centre’s ‘A Nation’s Theatre Festival’ in May.

Sometimes it helps to map out the journey of development, to see how all those steps, literal (memories of learning how to walk again will never leave me) and figurative (oh, those funding applications and project management emails!) have built on each other to create the project and potential that it is today. Here goes…

Dec 2008–One hour away from death from a subdural empyema. Admitted to Royal Victoria Hospital’s acute Neurosurgical Ward (Belfast). Underwent first craniotomy, involving bone flap being removed from skull and placed in subcutaneous pouch in abdomen. Three weeks later, regrowth of abscesses occurred, requiring a second surgery.

Feb 2009— Discharged from Royal Victoria Hospital, still undergoing oral antibiotic treatment. Still with a section of my skull in my abdomen.

April 2009— Final surgery to replace bone flap in skull. The real challenge begins: “What is this brain injury??!!”

Early Spring 2010— Met up with director Anna Newell to explore the prospect of creating something interdisciplinary about my experience of being ‘disassembled, and reassembled, slightly askew’, focusing on integration of movement (because of my hemi-paralysis down my left side) and sound (because of my noise sensitivity) with dramatic text.

2010— secured a Joint Sectoral Dramaturgy Fund grant (administered by Tinderbox) to work with the interdisciplinary artistic team to explore how binaural microphone technology, sound, choreography and dramatic text work together. Used a whole load of my journal notes and medical reports.

2011— secured an Arts & Disability Award Ireland (administered by Arts & Disability Forum) to do further research and development with the artistic team in Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queens University, Belfast. After creating a general 3-act storyboard of the story structure, we focused on the first act (or fog) to test out. Dramatic narrative, movement, sound, choreography and sonic arts had not yet been integrated in this rigorous way before, so we were not only creating the piece, we were creating the artistic language and conventions at the same time.

2012— Tested out Fog 1 at the Pick N Mix work-in-progress festival at the MAC, followed by a month-long stint at Arts & Disability Forum’s gallery space.

2013— Artistic reflections and meetings led to Shannon’s application to the Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Awards Small Arts Awards (£30,000), which was successful in May 2013, and enabled the artistic team to work with Shannon’s medical team to progress the project.

2014— Shannon was successful in her application to the MAC to be a Hatch-supported artist, giving her space in the building, support from the staff, a small stipend, and time to bring the project to the next level with focus groups of arts professionals, healthcare professionals, neurosurgeons, and the general public as the artistic team continued to work through the creative process. After many rewrites and sonic revisions, with the input of the medical professionals, the entire audio artwork was finished in December.

2015— Shannon secured another Arts & Disability Award Ireland grant, the Hatch residency continued, and Reassembled, Slightly Askew had its world premiere at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival at the MAC. It sold out at CQAF, then headed out on a five-venue tour across Northern Ireland (courtesy of a partnership with Cedar Foundation and a grant from the Arts Council NI) to broaden not only an understanding of disability, but also what theatre can be — in a hospital bed with headphones. In addition to overwhelmingly positive responses from audiences, it secured at 5 star review in The Stage (written by Jane Coyle). It finished it’s NI tour in September at the Arts & Disability Forum’s BOUNCE! Festival at the Lyric Theatre.

Wellcome Trust funding finishes, as does Shannon’s Hatch residency, but she secured an Arts Council NI/British Council Artist International Development Fund award to build international networks for Reassembled… in New York, Boston/Cambridge, and DC.

 

The next steps for Reassembled… involve outlining the various performance models (conferences, medical training, contemporary art gallery settings, festival venues outside NI) and building the infrastructure to not only support its longevity as an artistic piece that has had great success, but also my longevity as an artist with a disability. A wonderful end (or new chapter?) to a harrowing experience that began more than 5 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

focus groups of Neurosurgeons, nurses, health professionals, arts professionals, people who have disabilities.