The roots of much of my practice can be seen through a series of projects I began in 2003. Traveling across several continents, I spoke with people ranging from Tuareg tribespeople in the Malian desert to physicians in the USA. I conducted 30 interviews in English and French with people I met in passing, in everyday life situations. When I met someone and the opportunity arose, I asked if I could video them answering a couple of questions, all of which pertained to the fundamental question: What does it mean to be a good human being?
When I then moved to London, I took The Potentiality Project as a point of departure for an interactive performance at the Southwark Playhouse (2005) entitled The Journey. With a team of 7 women we conducted interviews within the community, bringing these responses into the rehearsal room, and integrating these with the team members’ life experience. The performance was created through dialogue, improvisation and writing, and it culminated in an event that engaged the audience as collaborators in creating stories that related to the real life stories of the performers and those they had interviewed.
In February of 2007, I took a closer look at this methodology with a residency and bursary from the Centre for Excellence in Theatre Training during the How to Act conference. To create Shhh! I worked with four collaborators to develop a new site specific story. This used the same methodology as The Journey, but refined to focus more directly on how information gleaned about the lives of people encountered in the field (i.e. in their “real life” settings) can be blended with the lives of the actors, creating new, composite, fictional characters that belong in a particular time and place. It produced a method crafting new work that fuses real-life and fictional elements of character, narrative, and form in complex webs of interaction. I presented a lecture at the Central School of Speech and Drama’s Postgraduate Conference in London later the same year on this topic to high acclaim from academics and professionals.