Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Lucy, Dramaturgy and Lucy Barfield: Lucy Grace @ Clapham Omnibus 2017

Narnia doesn't exist. Lucy’s just realised. She's 26.

Tue 16- Thu 18 May, 7.30pm

She’s still reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. If the adventures of heroine Lucy Pevensie can’t help, then perhaps C. S. Lewis’s dedication to his god-daughter, Lucy Barfield, holds the key to another wardrobe.

Unpicking a life less documented Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield, is an intimate show about holding on to adventure, falling through the cracks and finding your own way back.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis.

That’s CS Lewis’ dedication to his goddaughter Lucy Barfield at the front of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, published in 1950.

Despite being the namesake for one of the most famous literary heroines, Lucy Barfield is not a well-known name. I was surprised that no one seemed to have spent much time wondering who she was or how her relationship to that dedication developed as she became “old enough to start reading fairy tales again”. I wanted to know why and how she seemed to slip out of the discourse surrounding the Narnia series.

When I found out what her story was, I was determined to tell it, to look away from the fantasy land heroine I had always wanted to be.  I wanted to look at the Lucy who found Narnia and tell the story of a Lucy for whom the real world became a very difficult place.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

2016 is the year producer Chrissy Angus and I formed our theatre company How Small How Far after working together on my debut show Garden at last year’s Edinburgh.

Joining us is director Dan Hutton, who is a member of Barrel Organ. I met Dan when he directed me in a piece for a scratch night run by Etch. I had been mulling over having a director for Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield but knew it would have to be the right kind of director to work on a piece where the performer and writer is the same person and the piece is quite personal. 

Anyway working with Dan, I could see he would be the right kind of director. I think it helps that he works in two camps, as a more traditional director of his own shows and also in more of a theatre maker role with Barrel Organ.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I studied Theatre and Performance at Warwick University before working as a drama facilitator and actor for a few years. I always had strong opinions about theatre, the sort of theatre I wanted to watch and the sort of stories I would tell if I created my own. 

Actually I had very specific stories I wanted to tell, I just needed to bite the bullet and put the fears I had about leading the creative process aside and get on with it.  At the moment I’d say I love making performance because it allows me to be preoccupied with all the big talk you can’t go around discussing every day. I am not good at small talk.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
I thought this process would be quite different from Garden as it isn’t linear storytelling and there isn’t a character leading the action or any “characters” as such. But I have a preoccupation with rhythm, subtext, conciseness and imagery so have found that the traditional means of writing then rewriting a million times before entering a rehearsal room works best for me at the moment!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
The form of this piece contains a lot of threads and sections.  I am thinking of it like a kaleidoscope of thoughts, stories, memories, anecdotes etc, falling to create a bigger picture. I hope that means the piece will be surprising, intriguing, involve emotional leaps, be challenging, jarring. …..in a good way!

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Juxtaposition of language, tones, rhythms, opposing delivery styles, lighting/sound shifts.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Well there is a lot of solo performance being made right now. People who are putting their own individual experiences and perspective of life on the stage; People making sense of the world and their existence in it, sharing vulnerability with other people. I see myself as part of that right now and I hope in 2017 that a part of How Small How Far’s work will be to connect these solo performers and create more of a cohesive community.

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