I can’t quite believe it’s week four already! That means we’ve had seven wonderful workshops led by Brain Lobel and Nathaniel Hall. We’ve been looking at all the research related to the BRIGHTLIGHT studies, sifting through a wealth of information and trying to get a sense of what it all means. Contact Young Company have also been looking at the tools we have as artists to create and reflect on the issues raised.
Nathaniel’s practice is influenced by companies including Frantic Assembly, meaning he focuses on physicality; using our bodies to create work rather than staying stuck in the head. This week CYC created a list of tools we’ve been exploring which included lots of Contact Improvisation, with games like Round/By/Through and Hymn Hands. CYC have also experimented with Majoring and Minoring, how to give focus to a particular moment happening on stage - which proved useful this week as the company performed as an entire unit for the first time.
Meanwhile, in Brian’s workshop CYC welcomed back Lorna Fern and Ninja Tag fan, Jeremy Whelan; a professor of cancer medicine working to improve outcomes for young people with cancer. As always in Brian’s workshops there is a plethora of research to get through, and it’s done in the most interesting ways! Looking at research relating to cancer care environments our company created various tweets, GIFs and even some old fashioned Vines. We discussed the little things that can really get on your nerves when you have cancer - surprisingly hospital food and parking caused some people more anxiety than chemo! Keep an eye on Contact and BRIGHTLIGHT’s twitter for these little gems.
As we near to the premiere (less than a month away now) there is one thing that’s beginning to surface in the group, one that I think is important to mention. As well as the usual fears of ‘Will the audience get it?’ there’s another conundrum that is just as prevalent - ‘Do I have the right to talk about this?’. It’s an argument that every artist will have in their heads - and that’s ok. In fact that’s necessary, particularly when dealing with a subject you haven't had first hand experience with.
It’s true, we may not be able to fully understand what it’s like to have cancer. We don’t all know how it feels to receive chemotherapy, and perhaps those stories are not for all of us to tell? But, we do know what it’s like to be completely disorientated by medical terminology (or ‘cancerspeak’ as one member calls it). We all have an idea of that fear connected with cancer. We’ve all known the frustration of not being taken seriously, feeling lost or even dealing with hospital parking! But, perhaps most importantly, we are working as part of a wider community of artist and researchers, and we have the BRIGHTLIGHT study at our disposal. This study has been created by young people with cancer, who have been through treatment and who have told us what they believe needs to change, remain or what just annoyed them. So as artists we already have this amazing tool at out disposal.
Creating art isn’t always about our own voice, sometimes it’s about using our craft to help tell another person’s story. But that doesn’t mean we can't own it as well. Naturally and without effort we imprint ourselves onto it, because that’s our job. This process becomes so much more vivid when working in a group. A melting pot of personalities, talents, and perceptions work to create a chorus of different voice types; each one individual, but forming part of something bigger. Our mission now is to work in harmony with those voices we’ve discovered, acting creatively to understand them as best we can and responding with them, making our choir heard.
We have one more week of workshops with Brian and Nathaniel before we start our intensive rehearsal period. We will once again be joined by Performer and Director Adura Onashile. Adura has the job of putting all this information together and guiding CYC to create our show; There Is A Light:BRIGHTLIGHT. All always, stay tuned for updates, and go book your tickets before it sells out!
Mark (Assistant Director)