2017 Round Up Email – Sent December 22nd, 2017
Hi all! I spent a misguided few hours today trying to send out a mail out, and after only getting half way through my contact list (if your name begins with a letter that comes before J, you might have this in your inbox), I’ve decided to just copy and paste the whole thing here, and then post the link on Facebook, twitter and instagram. The email is below – pretend it came to your inbox, along with candy and mistletoe:
It’s been an exceptionally busy year for me – perhaps a little too busy. As a self employed artist, I’ve been secretly sitting around feeling sad that nobody seems to realise how much I’ve done this year, and then I realised, I’m my own boss, and it’s my own responsibility to make that known! So having just secretly had the busiest year of my professional life, it felt important for me to take a moment to acknowledge everything that’s happened this year in a public, if invitation only, way. As my friend and colleague, I hope you don’t mind reading this little round up of my projects in 2017. I’d love to hear yours too, if you want to send one along!
January 1st of 2017 I was awarded my PhD, which focussed on narrative preoccupations in contemporary performance. The graduation ceremony was in July, and I got to wear a very exciting yet silly hat.
History History History – touring
With support from ACE, History History History was on a UK-wide tour in the spring of 2017. The show visited London, Brighton, Exeter, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Machynlleth and Nottingham, and was performed in a variety of contexts from theatres and cinemas, to a film festival, a comedy festival and a renowned contemporary art gallery. The show also got a great review in the BFI’s journal Sight and Sound, which, as a film geek, was a particularly exciting moment for me. History History History continued to tour internationally this year, with performances in Lisbon, Llubljana, Brisbane and Melbourne. In January of 2018 the show will have its North American premiere at PuSh Festival in Vancouver. There are also upcoming performances in Dartington (UK) and Porto (Portugal) in the spring of 2018.
It’s All Made Up – The Royal Court
In May I had an amazing experience when I was asked to work with Chloe Lamford and Lucy Morrison on the Royal Court’s project The Site. Chloe designed a very strange and wonderful space and 5 writers were asked to write a piece for Chloe’s design, along with a rule or constraint that Chloe gave us. My constraint was to write fiction, and I wrote It’s All Made Up, a fictional panel discussion between a Brexit-loving mom, a dubious, charming, Spacey-esque male director, and a secretly pregnant artist. I had the amazing privilege of being directed by Lucy Morrison in a cast of three actors at the top of their respective games – Siobhan Redmond (MBE!), Richard Lumsden and Amaka Okafor. I also wrote a little booklet of short stories that took place in The Site for audience members to take away with them, called “Some Made Up Stories for the Real Life Site.”
The Give and the Take (Tim Etchells) – Tate Modern
In July, Tate Exchange brought back Tim Etchells’ durational and relational piece The Give and the Take, which I performed in when it opened in 2016. Along with fellow performers Season Butler and Souheil Sleiman, this July I got to revisit the pleasure of spending several days hosting conversations with strangers at the Tate.
Cameo Live – The Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh
This August I worked with Corin Christopher to curate a free live performance series at the historic Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh. History History History was performed as part of this series, along with Julie Rose Bower’s Foley Explosion, Mamoru Iriguchi’s 4D Cinema and the UK premiere of Chris Thorpe and Porto-based company mala voadora’s piece Your Best Guess. Cameo Live was awarded a Herald Angel for our first Edinburgh programme of performances.
The Filibuster – Somerset House, London
This year I was awarded a grant from King’s College London and Somerset House Studios Arts in Society Fund to make a durational performance installation that has been on my mind for quite some time, The Filibuster. The Filibuster is a 12 hour long performance installation, featuring one woman at a time who speaks at a podium for an hour, stream of consciousness. There are 12 performers in total – the first woman to speak is 13 years old, and the speakers get gradually older throughout the day. At Somerset House our last performer was 73 years old.
The first iteration of The Filibuster took place in the Grand Arch of Somerset House on September 2nd. Listening to the incredible women who spoke made for one of the most invigorating days I’ve had in recent memory. 12 hours literally flew by. Full credits for the Somerset House iteration of the piece (or for any of the pieces I’ve discussed here) can be found on my website, but I want to take an opportunity in this email to specifically and publicly thank my assistant on this project, the artist and writer Eno Mfon, without whom the project would not have been possible. If you’ve made it this far in reading this email, once you’re done, be sure to look up her and her work.
I enjoyed watching and putting together this piece so much that I want to do it and see it again and again, so if you want to help make that happen, please get in touch.
Inside Bitch – Clean Break
Since 2016, I have been collaborating with the force of nature and Northern Irish playwright Stacey Gregg (Scorched, Overdrive, Shibolleth) on a new project for Clean Break, working with four Clean Break graduates who are all women who have gone through the punitive system in the UK. Together we’re devising a piece questioning the ways that women in prison are portrayed in mainstream media. In September of 2017 we did our first invited sharing of the piece (named “Inside Bitch” by the women). It was hugely fun and very moving. Expect to hear more about this in 2018.
Melbourne Fringe Exchange Lab (Forest Fringe)
Oh my gosh how is this email still going? I’m exhausted already! It really has been a busy year. It was perhaps at its busiest when Andy Field, Mish Grigor and I went to the Melbourne Fringe in Australia to do a two week long exchange with Melbourne-based artists Plastic Loaves, Shian Law and Stuart Bowden. We explored Footscray, making work that responded directly to that suburb of Melbourne, got to know each other’s practices, and worked with the Substation (who also very kindly hosted Melbourne performances of History History History), to make work that responded to the Melbourne Fringe as a context, and to West Melbourne as a place. It was an intense two weeks of new friendships and new collaborations.
InForming Content – Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Together with Volcano in Canada, Queen’s University (my undergrad alma mater) hosted their first InForming Content.
InForming Content is a 3 day creation lab I have run in Canada almost every year since 2008. InForming Content creates a context in which students work with artists to make new pieces based off of some of the leading academic research in Canada, led by the some of the most exciting live artists in Canada. Over the years we’ve been home to experiments in performance by Nadia Ross, Jacob Wren, Ravi Jain, Heidi Strauss, Marjorie Chan and Sunny Drake, just to name a few. This year, we hosted new experiments by an incredible group of artists – Shannon Cochrane, David Yee, Nova Bhattacharya, Aisha Sasha John and Liam Kerry. The weekend was fantastic, and Queen’s made for perfect hosts for the lab.
Alright! Finally, the last project of the year! Along with York University’s Theatre Department, I collaborated with choreographer Kate Alton and director Ross Manson (Volcano) on my concept Post National, an instruction-based piece for 12 guest performers at a time, all between the ages of 18 and 24. The piece uses instruction-based choreography created by Kate Alton, and asks performers to answer live questions addressing their generation’s attitudes towards nationalism, revolution and protest. The piece runs between 45 minutes and an hour. At York, it was made alongside a pre-rehearsed piece that we devised with the fourth year acting students, also called Post National.
And in 2018…
My plan for 2018 is to do a bit less. The list of projects you just read did not include everything – I didn’t include some of the brilliant work we’ve done with Forest Fringe (including big props to the Amateurs Club and our most recent Pass the Torch fund!), or the very exciting work I’ve had the privilege of doing as a dramaturge this year, or most of the teaching and workshops I’ve run. In 2018, I’d like to focus on getting some of the work I’ve made this year out there, making no more than 2 new pieces (!), continuing to collaborate with brilliant humans, and getting better at letting people know what I’m up to and when.
Thank you so much for reading this round up. When a year has been particularly full, it does feel important to publicly acknowledge that in some way.
Finally! A new Website is on its way and will be launching soon! Watch this space.
I’m spending this Autumn in Canada! Throughout October and November I will be working on a new piece with Volcano and York University in Toronto called Post-National. Post-National is an instruction-based piece for 12 guest performers at a time, all aged between 18 and 24, about nationalism, revolution and protest. It premieres in Toronto at the end of November, but we’d love to bring it to a festival near you, if you have a group of 18 to 24 year olds you’d like to hear from about the future of your country. More info here.
The three day creation lab InForming Content is going on the road to Kingston, Ontario – October 20th to the 22nd – hosted by Queen’s University. If you are based in Quebec or Ontario and want to come along, information about that is here.
Also – the next dates for History History History in early 2018 are in Vancouver, Porto and Dartington and will be announced soon. In the meantime, sending you love and overhead projectors.
*I keep this news section up very sporadically, so please don’t see this archive as any kind of accurate representation of my activities. Feel free to get in touch and ask for a CV if you want more detail. With that said… Archive below!
If you are keen to see History History History and haven’t already, it will be at the amazing Cameo Cinema as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from August 6th to the 10th. Click here to book. I’ve helped Corin Christopher at the Cameo Cinema choose a whole roster of brilliant shows to host for free at the Cameo throughout August, so be sure to look at the rest of their programme here. It’s a very very tiny programme because they can only host shows around their cinema’s screening schedule, so performances are only on at 11am or 11pm.
History History History will also be in Llubljana at Malda Levi Festival with Bunker in Slovenia on August 22nd, then coming to the Brisbane Festival in Brisbane from September 12th to September 16th and to the Substation as part of the Melbourne Fringe from September 20th to the 23rd. I will also be part of running an amazing Forest Fringe workshop as part of Melbourne Fringe while I’m in town, along with Andy Field and Mish Grigor. Find out more about that here.
I am very excited to announce a new and epic performance art piece – The Filibuster – which will be on at the grand arch at Somerset House from 10am to 10pm on September 2nd. Come any time between those hours and stay as long as you like. The Filibuster is a collaboration with Dr. Anna Snaith and is being funded by King’s College London’s Arts and Society project.
On September 7th, I am hosting the first Forest Fringe Amateurs Club at Somerset House Studios. We will examine the old Hollywood Studio System of the 1950s, and try to figure out whether or not applying a communism-inspired, moneyless ethos to it could open up new and weird models for films that are directed by a collective. More information about that here. I really don’t know what I’m doing, and hopefully that’s half the fun of it.
If you’re keen to see Deborah in London, she will be performing again in Tim Etchells’ wonderful piece Three Tables at the Tate Modern from June 15th – 18th.
I am extremely excited about having been interviewed on Chris Goode’s incredible podcast Thompson’s Live. Please have a listen, as it’s basically my favourite conversation I’ve ever had on the internet.
Get your copy hot off the presses. Tim Etchells wrote an introduction to the book which is pretty much better than the book itself, and which you can read here.
I have been frankly terrible at keeping up this news section of my website, and a full year has now gone by since I last updated it. Below is archived “News.” But of course, given that I didn’t really keep up the news site for the last year, a lot has happened that I haven’t mentioned, and a lot is happening that I haven’t mentioned. But Frankly, Internet, I don’t give a Dame. Or something like that. At least that’s how I feel today, and that’s all that all the internet news sites of every professional website ever are, really. A record of how that person felt about chronicling and validating their professional achievements on that particular day.
A lot of lovely things have happened. I will write them all down one day.
November 2014 – At the beginning of the month I was in Budapest, finishing up a research trip for a series of residencies with Art Quarter Budapest in 2015, for a large scale project about history, revolution and cinema.
Throughout November and December, I worked as dramaturg for Made in China‘s piece Tonight I’m Going to Be the New Me which premiered in August of 2015 at Forest Fringe.
Along with digital concepts by Rhiannon Armstrong and Ben Pacey, my digital concept “Another You” was selected to go through to the second phase of scratch development for Battersea Arts Centre’s Scratch-on-the-space project. Rhiannon Armstrong’s beautiful piece was ultimately chosen for the full commission but programmer Oscar Wyatt and I had a great time working on our project. You can see some of what we did by following @deborahpearsona on twitter.
On November 13th I co-presented “Narrative Realness and the Illusion of Now” with Kathryn Siegel at the London Action Resource Centre. I read out an old work-in-progress script of The Future Show and Kathryn will be discussing her research on anti-narrative, anti-illusionistic American film and video practice in the 1970s.
On November 20th I prepared and then performed the 25th full length version of The Future Show at the Marlborough Theatre in Brighton. This was be the end of the UK tour of the full length version of The Future Show and the beginning of a break from re-writing the script for the foreseeable. The full version of the show was since performed at the Malta Poznan Festival in June of 2015, curated by Tim Etchells for the New World Order series.
March – I returned from Bergen, Norway, where I was fortunate enough to take part in Vlatka Horvat’s project Disclosed Location, produced by Volt, along with Augusto Corrieri, Wendy Houston and Pedro Gomez Egena. Vlatka asked four artists to each create an imaginary tour of a real abandoned shopfront in downtown Bergen. I created a ghost tour that slowly morphed into a lecture on ghosts and the paranormal, in which I based all my research on my own irrational hunches and superstitions. No video documentation is available, but Volt will be putting audio documentation and photographs online soon.
April 13th I presented a paper on curation as a form of artistic practice in Montreal at the 2014 Symposium for ACAQ – a conference hosted by the Association of Arts Curators, Quebec.
May 5th I ran the fifth edition of InForming Content with Volcano in Canada, at the Jackman Humanities Institute. InForming Content is an annual weekend intensive workshop, in which a group of artists working in theatre and performance collaborate with students to respond to an academic’s lecture by making a site specific piece of performance in the same offices where they do their research. It is a workshop that seeks a creative dialogue between artists and academic researchers. Read more about it here.
May 7th – 10thI was at the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, Australia, with my performance research project Drifting Right. On May 11th I presented my “findings” at a Breakfast Club event at the Wheeler Centre, where we discussed the possibility of dialogue between those on the political left and those on the right.
May 31st – I presented at the British Theatre Consortium’s “Roar of the Crowd” conference on audiences and spectatorship, on a panel with Colin from Punchdrunk, Annette Mees from Coney, Tim Crouch, and Ramin Gray, director of David Greig’s The Events.
July – I did dramaturgy for two different projects by artists whose work I deeply admire – the choreographer and maker Dan Canham at the National Theatre Studio, and Canadian writer performer Haley McGee during the making of a piece called “I’m Doing This For You” at Battersea Arts Centre. Haley created the Edinburgh sleeper hit Oh My Irma which was on at the Hill Street Theatre last year.
September 3rd – I performed The Future Show as part of TaPra (The Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference) at Royal Holloway in Egham.
September 26th, 27th and 28th – The Future Show at Culturgest in Lisbon. It was a total privilege to be double billed with Tim Crouch and Andy Smith’s brilliant What Happens to the Hope at the End of the Evening.
How I ended up in such great company I’ll never know.
October 4th – 6th – The Future Show at Abron Arts Centre in Manhattan was part of a Forest Fringe microfestival. Made in China, Brian Lobel and Andy Field and Ira Brand also featured in the programme.