We have just started the process of making our brand new show; OLD BOY. A piece of theatre exploring male relationships across generations and ideas of legacy and connection in Scottish men.
It’s an idea we’ve had for ages. Right back since after we first made Hand Me Down in 2010 and worked with a family of women from Port Glasgow around similar themes. This show allowed us a deep process of engagement with women about the love they had for each other and the things they felt were passed down through their family ties. It was all about the things they felt they they learned from their mothers, their grandmothers and the hopes they had for their daughters. It was about the things that they meant to each other.
For the time we worked on Hand Me Down (and still today) we were moved and enriched by these women. Altered by the unspeakable ties we witnessed in that rehearsal room. We saw the tears in the audience in each new venue as they recalled the women in their own lives that had carried them forward.
And it felt like it mattered. A lot.
And so we wanted to make another piece. This time about men. About the bonds that are shared and the complexity of love and legacy in male family relationships. We wanted to share this and see this and celebrate this and understand this.
I have a 3 year old son and the process of watching him and my dad build a relationship that is all at once robust and utterly tender and fragile has touched me in more ways than I can understand. It has led me to question the things that need to be taken forward and the things that are better left behind. Of the nature of what it means to be a man. To be in in a family. To love other people. To keep making sense of complicated things.
So now we are making OLD BOY. It’s piece we first scratched with Luminate and Platform in Easterhouse in 2015 and are now working on the full production of which will be presented as part of the Luminate Festival in October 2017.
The piece is made up of a sequence of three duets performed by:
A 2 year old boy and his grandfather
A 11 year old boy and his grandfather
A 21 year old man and his grandfather
Rehearsals began last Sunday with a session with Kai (aged 11) and his grandad Les. We spent the session getting to know each other (always the most important place to start). We asked each other questions and shared stories of the things we felt we had to teach and the things we still had to learn. We spent a lot of time laughing (you can see here in the pictures) and we listened to music together.
It was a beginning full of possibility as beginnings ought to be. I left wondering how the show could hold everything it felt there might be to explore and ready and open to the size of the task.
We are going to use this space on our website for Tashi and I to blog about the process of making this show as a way to share out thinking (and feeling) more widely as things progress. We have been working together for 13 years now and made many many shows but this is the very first time we have blogged about how we do it and why we make the creative and emotional choices we do. I’m intrigued to see how it will turn out and what this space will offer us in the way of dialogue and reflection.
So this was my introduction. Expect part two next week…
– Jess Thorpe, Co Artistic Director