Friday, October 20, 2017

Any Instant Whatsoever at And What? Festival


Gina in action

***If you click on these sexy pics you will get an enlarged pop up verzionne ***

Oh the highs and lows of performance art. I don’t remember the last time I had such a joyous experience making a piece. Maybe I never have had such a joyous experience; certainly not since the very early BoyfriendRobotique days (when we were basically just covering ourselves in jam and dollar store knick-knacks as a way to take the edge of a comedown). From the first day of rehearsal there was a shared electricity, and a feeling that something magical had settled somewhere in the room with us.

I’d spent a year researching and writing, forming lighting ideas, costume ideas, working on the text that accompanies the show, and undertaking all of the arduous labour (booking rehearsal space, overseeing design, arranging contracts) which attends the making of a new work. To be frank I went into the first day of rehearsal with something like dread creeping over me, I didn’t really believe that I had the skills to direct a show, let alone a contemporary dance piece, having zero experience in either department. I felt as though I was on the bullet train to disaster, and that I was going to take all of my smiling faced collaborators out with me. That was not the case.


My one true loves

In large part because of the relentless commitment, dedication, and generosity of my co-performers Robert Hesp and Jonathon Luke Baker, and in no small way owing to the never ending efforts of our sound designer Philip Cornett, the process was an absolute delight. We laughed ourselves stupid, some days we’d be on the floor multiple times in hysterics. They were incredibly long, demanding sessions but I never once left without feeling elated. I learnt so much, about my capabilities, about my resourcefulness, about what it is I was aiming for, and all against a background of working with people who were pushing themselves every day to be better and bring it harder. Still now, a week after the show I’m almost tingling when I think about what a blazing time we had working together.

I can’t forget to mention the ineluctable Jack Cullen who handled PR and marketing, forever popping up in rehearsal and in our timelines, with audacious new publicity angles. Our Facebook Live video generated such a spike of interest that we were almost immediately assured the show would sell out. Jack’s constant flow of showbiz gossip enlivened many a lunch time, regaling us as he does, with the ins and outs of scene politics over coleslaw sandwiches.

Owen Parry’s dramaturgical advice was prophetic and enlivening, his conceptual read blends so nicely with his unhinged sense of humour, and lead to such strokes of brilliance as the purchase of Gina, our beloved oversize yellow teddy bear, and team mascot. A very wise witch (well Aaron Wright) once told me that what I was indeed of was a dramaturge more than any other specific collaborator, and well, shucks, I guess he was right. I really feel like this is the right method for me, though an assistant would also be graciously appreciated. The closest I have is Mickey, who played our roadie, and whom I wouldn’t change for the world; firstly because he’s an undeniably crucial member of the team, and secondly because he really goes for it when he leans in for a kiss.

And who could forget Dr Sharon Husbands as the voice of Joan Quigley, the voice in the darkness somehow underscoring our rock’n’roll desperation? Or the glorious suits from Beau Homme? Or Max Allen’s incredible shoulder pads? Or Felix at Open Barbers' really terrific haircutting skills? So many people gave so much of their angel dust - like Taylor Mac says, there is no such thing as solo performance.


Marty makes magic with visible light

Special mention of course to Marty Langthorne, for his stellar lighting design. It’s an incomparable experience to perform in one of his plots, the atmosphere he creates is thrilling, somehow he turns black box spaces into Madison Square Gardens. When I look back at the footage, it is all I can do to watch the performance rather than the lighting states.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the support of Jen Smethhurst who produced it, and their stunt double Hannah Maxwell who took over on show day. (And what a challenge that was! Did Hannah know there would be obsolete computers and delayed set designs to deal with right up until curtain time? With fire alarms to come after….) I remain forever indebted to Andrew Ellerby for all of his support in getting the show up at Rich Mix, and on such a fortuitous date as Friday 13th too!


Just your everyday local neighbourhood icon

So yes, now what? Well there’s the new Alexander Geist video for “Far Worse” to look forward to, and of course the potential 2018 tour. Also, the accompanying text from the show is available NOW, published by And What? festival, if you want to delve deeper into AIDS, stardom, and the multiverse. Until next time, take care of yourself, and each other.

Pics by A.M. Hanson

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Poster Comes to Life


Beyond Personae artwork by Kat Hudson


Beyond Personae backstage pic by Alexander Geist

If you've missed out on the BEYOND! salon series, then I am very sorry for your loss. This month we went BEYOND! Personae with Fancy Chance, GFOTY and ShayShay, my identical twin brother hosted. It was a very funny, very provocative evening, I'm really enjoying presenting these salons ESPECIALLY as we have a fully female/trans* line-up for the series. They have been a incredibly useful research tool, to think about how performance builds, to consider its limitations, and to reconsider the triangulation between artist - performance - audience. All of the material gathered in the salon series is going into the creation of a brand new piece for the And What? Festival in October, full details of which are coming soon...In the meantime there will be one more salon BEYOND! Noise to come =)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Beyond (1) Gender


I'm BEYOND excited to announce that my new salon series BEYOND is coming to Hackney Showroom for three extremely glamorous episodes. The first is May 26 and will go BEYOND Gender with Victoria Sin, Travis Alabanza and Rhyannon Styles. Join us for a show...that's also a conversation...it's BEYOND!



Artwork by Kat Hudson

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Most Perfect Story Ever Written

My Mother told me this story earlier this week. I've written it down verbatim, I think it's storytelling perfection. (For context, she was 19 when she had me, she was unmarried and living in social housing with my Catholic grand parents, in Liverpool).

"My Mother hadn't knitted for years until I told her I was pregnant with you. She said,

'Go over to number 27 and ask Margey McQueen for some patterns and some knitting needles.'

So I did. I went over to number 27 and I said,

'Margey, me mum said, can I have some patterns and some needles?'

She said, 'What do you want with them then girl?'

I said, 'I just found out that I'm pregnant Margey.'

Margey said, 'Friggin' 'ell! What did your Mother say like?'

I said, 'She said "'Go over to number 27 and ask Margey McQueen for some patterns and some knitting needles."'

Isn't that THEBESTSTORYEVER?

Margey McQueen is a familiar spectre from my infancy. Though I don't remember her at all, she stalks through nostalgic remembrances like this one; council estate queen, kind-hearted, generous, tough as old boots. She was a cleaning lady and used to ride on the back of her husband's moped to work each day. Seems fitting for a McQueen to ride a motorbike, no?

I swear, on Spring days I can SEE her on that moped, whizzing by in her navy crimplene slacks, flat sandals, oversized cardigan with pockets stuffed full of fags and lose change, a pink round neck t-shirt over a bulging bra, hands full of sovereign rings, glinting like a magpie, decked out, necklaces upon necklaces spelling out MUM and MARGEY. Half Roman Holiday half Greaty market, partial to half a stout, a martyr to her back pains, handy with her fists when she needs to be, shoulder pads saturated with all the tears that had been sobbed on her shoulder over the years. I think about her saving up for Christmas, putting money in the toni, teary-eyed at her grand daughter's first holy communion, threatening to throw her husband out if he made a show of her one more time.

She couldn't have known that she'd be remembered decades down the line by someone who's first pieces of clothing came from knitting patterns she'd kept in plastic sleeves in the magazine rack at the side of the couch, for just such a situation to arise, could she? These every day acts of kindness, support without judgement, keep the world on its axis, and make me proud and grateful to have been raised by working class women. God bless you Margey McQueen! <3

Friday, March 3, 2017

Select Images from Performance

Notorious Beauty, Dixon Place (NYC) 2008

Practically Royalty, Hackney Attic (London) 2015

That Girl (with Ming Wong and Bendik Giske), Ping Pong Galleria (Hong Kong), 2016

Boy in a Dress, Oval House (London) 2012

GEIST, The Arcola (London) 2016

Alexander Geist live! RVT (London) 2014

Alexander Geist live! Paradise (Milan) 2016


Cover Her Face , BGWMC (London), 2014

What About Matriarchy? , The Old Police Station Gallery (London) 2009

Everything Must Go reading, Raumsweiterlanghalle (Berlin), 2014

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Studio

Today team 2D hit the studio in Heywood, "the Hollywood of the North, as it's known. We had a full 12 hours of filmic fun, as 2D Joan made her way into the world, bestowing her regal reminiscences upon the world. She talked us through the end of Francoism, sang us some Andrew Lloyd Webber, and even had time to visit a sick child in hospital, Lord love her. Yes it was a day of intense artistry, endless green screening, and a minor mix up with the butties at lunch time, yet somehow we made it through.

Approximately 8 hours in, I remembered how horrible film making really is, how tedious and exhausting and frustrating. You know when the mic pack jammed into your undies is making it impossible to breathe in your frock, and you feel like you've been stood about since the dawn of time repeating the same (increasingly meaningless) words ad infinitum? Thankfully I had a very cheery team, and with the help of Bren's pep talks, and Grace's circular breathing techniques, we actually made it out of the studio alive.

Highlight of the day? Perhaps it was working a can of Fanta into a scene in a very French and Saunders manner? Or maybe signing 2D Joan's name next to Cristiano Ronaldo on the celeb autograph wall? But probably it was the moment my sister fell asleep during her scene in the hospital bed and woke herself up snoring. That was encouraging.

A hospital bed

Unknown woman on a couch

Unknown woman in a gorgeous chateau

2D Joan relaxing in her dressing room

The team hard at work

2D Joan's signature on the wall next to Roanldo's

Now all I have to do is subtitle the film, colour correct it all, and edit in the music. But that's for next week. Tomorrow I'm off! I'll be spending the day catching up on all the films I've missed out on, with a can of Fanta in hand of course.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Preparazzione

Here in Manchester I've been busy under the tutelage of my drama coach, Colette (still not bored of saying it). Today we spent two whole sessions pulling the text apart to find the different voices (poised, relaxed, aspirational, and faux-apologetic), the accompanying physicality, and of course the subtext. I can exclusively reveal that 2D Joan is heavily stage managed and manipulated by those in the shadows, and unexpectedly sociable, almost effervescent in her love of sharing gossip with strangers (especially if they've been wheeled out for a photo op).

This is the script looking turbulent. My drama coach Colette, not pictured

Also of note, my sister arrived today in preparation of her feature film debut. Having played a role in last year's documentary on Alexander Geist fans ("Hello Lover!") she's had some experience with the biz, but tomorrow marks a change in direction for her career. It's her first dramatic role, and she's changed her professional name to Bethany Rose, so look out for her imdb page and Best Supporting Actress nomination, coming soon. She's also been busy with a face mask, to get that picture perfect look

Celebrity beauty treatment

So that's all for today. I'm hoping in the bath tub with a bag of revels and Episode Two of "Six Degrees of Joan Crawford" to get in the movie star mode. Tomorrow we are making motion picture history on the set of "182 cm Queenie"!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2D JOAN is being born

So here I am blogging from my gorgeous suite overlooking the canal in Manchester, prepping to film "182 cm Queenie", my new mini-masterpiece commissioned by HOME for their new La Movida group show. The film is the central piece of a new work which will be unveiled in April, comprising sculptural, performative and video elements, collated to loosely rework three speeches given by Juan-Carlos I of Spain during his reign. Of course, the material has been run through a psychedelic filter, processed to enhance the subtext and gossipy overtones, and bent into a shape which questions some cherished notions of Western democracy. The text is to be presented by my newest incarnation, 2D Joan, herself a combination of Princess Margaret circa 1951, Joan Crawford, and a Liverpudlian council estate housewife. She is in equal parts horrifying and compelling, and these are her shoes (which I think are really the cornerstone of any given persona).



Today her face also arrived, courtesy of Grace "the face" Oni Smith, Manchester's killer queen maquillage demon, who took an aristocratic template and blew it up to Hollywood proportions, via some classic Kabuki gestures. This is Grace with project producer (and tbh total ride) Bren O'Callaghan, enjoying a spot of tea after our make up tests at the top of the Hilton this afternoon.



And this is the first test for 2D Joan's physical manifestation through cosmetic manipulation (I.E. glued eyebrows).



Tomorrow I meet my drama coach, Colette. I have said that sentence approx 1m times today already but I will never tire of it. Also my sister arrives in Manchester to make her film debut as a hospital patient lucky enough to receive a visit for 2D Joan herself.