What an exhilarating (and somewhat terrifying) time! I’m so thankful that I got to be a commissioned artist at Camden People’s Theatre, on Starting Blocks 2022. It’s still 2022, right? Phew. I keep dreaming time had sped up after that… What? Oh. It’s almost August. So, obviously the perfect time to post about what happened in March! (Cue trombone: ‘WAH-WAH-WAH’.)

I’m happy to share some photos from my show, I’m Sorry I’m Not Lucy Liu: a playful and political choose-your-own-adventure story that wants to be the show you want it to be. Your decisions can shape not just my show but my identity, and my future.

The process of writing and performing my own work was both enlightening and exposing (practice makes… Practice, as it turns out):

  1. Working autobiographical elements* into a fictional narrative
  2. Working out the time-travel element and the choose-your-own-adventure story branches (two unambitious ideas!?)
  3. Exploring audience interactions
  4. Devising with Masha, my director
  5. Sourcing materials (including a life-size cardboard cutout of Lucy Liu and a DIY shrine)
  6. Writing a song and performing it live
  7. … Keeping my cool (just kidding. That never happened).

* The audience’s assumption is that it’s entirely autobiographical, which will be fun to explore further in the hour-long show.

After my performance, I was pulsing with adrenaline and over-excitement for the rest of the night. My mentor Sabrina Mahfouz, who had introduced me to Masha, had come to see it: a big deal in itself, surpassed when she told me she loved it. I was buzzing for my fellow Starting Blocks artists who each performed the most inventive, laugh-out-loud funny and moving show. I’m looking forward to watching theirs develop (go see them!).

The evening’s elation definitely took a while to sink in, especially as I got Covid the following week (not from the evening at the theatre), and even with the amazing photos and the video from the evening’s performance (helpful to know what I did well and what I could work on – as tempting as it is to just nitpick at my own seeming awkwardness), it’s hard to believe that I actually did it. Well, we did it.

The most humbling thing about it all was how much help and support I actually needed to make a solo show happen. Brian, Emma, Harriet, and Nicola at CPT were brilliant from the start at organising and supporting us as artists and makers. Amy and George made the technical magic happen on the night; not to mention the Front-of-house staff who served and managed the audience throughout the evening.

Masha (writer, director, creative producer and Artistic Director of OPIA Collective, with her own WIP of Babel at CPT under her belt) was fantastic at leading me in shaping the show from my ideas and words, to write and perform a better show than I had imagined was possible.

Since then, almost exactly five months ago, I have done an R&D (research and development), thanks to New Diorama Broadgate, and invited three talented artists to be in the room with me. I’m happy to say that I now have a director, who I’ll be thrilled to introduce very soon. We’re aiming for an hour-long WIP in the autumn, building to a run in Spring 2022 (while preparing for any restrictions related to variants, as is standard practice now). It feels really good to have a plan to work with.

I have a long way to go for it to become a full show, but I feel fortunate to be figuring it all out with cracking collaborators! (Ask me tomorrow and I might feel like it’s never going to happen and I should retrain in cyber, but, for the moment, any amount of hard work feels worth it if it means I never find myself lost in cyber-space.)