Theatre as Organism - Connecting

Featured Artist

Hayley Williams-Hindle

This idea sprang from my training in somatics – specifically how memory is held within the body viscerally, and how our connective tissue or ‘fascia’ facilitates connection, communication and support through the whole organism. And the fascinating knowledge of how stillness calcifies; and the impulse to ‘hold still’ and prevent pain in our mammalian bodies in fact induces the pain that we have been trying to avoid with that stillness.

Having spent the first half of my career in this sector working ‘front of house’ in theatre venues, the liminal ‘in between’ spaces of corridors and escape passages are where I have known belonging. These are the spaces that I have had jurisdiction over in my appointed roles – to keep clear and to allow flow through.

Corridors and entrances are not gathering places – they pulsate with movement; with transit. There is something here that resonates for me about what it means to feel marginalised (as a person who is Neurodiverse and experienced cPTSD as a result of a life experiencing hostile context at work and in peer group fellowships)  So this idea started as a reflection on marginalisation (on a micro level within this sector, and a macro level societally and culturally), and has progressed to a wider exploration of ‘Theatre’ as organism – of venues calcifying during mandated Covid closures.

Theatres and entertainment venues in the UK were shut down March 23rd 2020. 56 weeks and counting. 393 days to today.  Without movement, audiences, work – the whole organism starts to calcify. In spite of brilliant pockets of creative work still going ahead, and other work adapting to new circumstances, it is clear that this hasn’t been the common experience within the creative sector and referred pain and multi-organ stress are increasingly in evidence.

I imagined this realisation of a concept initially as an instalment of as many layers of fascial (connective tissue) webbing in these liminal theatre spaces that connect the whole, as each day lapsed. Another layer as each day of venue closure passes. The second closure of venues has forced a re-evaluation of that initial concept as an ‘installation after the fact of first lockdown’. But the re-reckoning proves a rich ground for further exposition of the metaphor, especially as the re-opening of these public spaces becomes nearer to reality, and i’m excited to explore this metaphor of theatre as organism, and systemic health within this Outside In Featured Artist online platform. I’m delighted to be working with Deborah Robinson at New Art Gallery Walsall to be mentored through this work.