No Place Like
My practice focuses on the issue of homelessness in London. Using the fable of Three Little Pigs and the wolf I am interested in how participation in performance can engage an audience with ideas around this issue. My role as artist is as facilitator rather than performer.
My research and creative practice utilises many methodologies. Material arises from testimony that I have read, watched and listened to, from many people who have experienced homelessness. My experience facilitating workshops with homeless youth theatre group Cardboard Citizens has fed my practice. I have amassed the understanding that ‘homelessness’ is not the issue itself – but the painful result of any number of other factors - such as problems with family, housing, employment, mental health and addiction. I am concerned with real experiences, yet, having considered the difficult ethical implications of performing a homeless person's story, my work decidedly emphases that anyone could suffer homelessness at some point.
Over arching my project is the concept of ‘home.’ Home is different things to different people. I am particularly concerned with social housing: who qualifies as deserving enough to get a home, and who does not. Through play and participation my project explores what it is to make and have a home, and what it might be like to have that taken away.
The performance space will be covered in maps of London, with piles of cardboard boxes strewn around, a material long associated with homelessness. The audience on entering the space decide where on the maps they want be, giving them a sense of geographic identity. They will then receive instructions to build a house out of cardboard boxes and given a short time to do so, either with others or on their own. Whilst they build, projection of images of different ideas of ‘home’ will be projected onto the maps and building space and songs about home will be played. This creative play is important: the aim is to have the audience be active participants in the piece, they will help create something that could not happen without them, and hopefully is fun. Constructing a home is the utopian element to my work. I want to not just critique an issue but explore the possibilities of the collective in live performance.
When they’ve built their homes, a short film about Focus E15 Mothers Campaign, will be played. For the past 9 months this group of young mums have fought to stay in the borough of Newham after they were evicted from their temporary social housing, and only offered social housing outside of London, as far away as Birmingham. Video footage shows parts of the campaign and the mothers walking around the derelict Carpenters Estate in Newham, demonstrating the paradox of empty properties, and those who desperately need them.
Finally the Wolf enters and destroys all the built houses and leaves. This masked figure represents the facelessness of the brutal system and neoliberal policies that result is such catastrophic social effects as homelessness. As the audience leaves short clips of Boris Johnson and other government figures talking abut homelessness will be played, showing who I see as the wolf. Even if it is the tiniest glimmer, the audience may feel what it might be like to have their home taken away.