In 1972 my grandma started keeping a visitors book but lost it in 1983. In the years that followed so many people who stayed with her, chatted, laughed and knowing grandma, probably danced in that house, will have been forgotten. If we don’t keep a note of things we tend to forget.
As I scroll back through my photos, notes and Facebook wall my year is sprinkled around me like confetti. Facebook shows me the big events, the people I spent a lot of time with, the best celebrations. My notes show me a lot of emotion, a lot of half-finished projects, a lot of hypotheticals. My photos show me my favourite bits, the ones I don’t want to share with the world, the faces of those I like most. Combined, these bring back a lot of memories and show me a bit of what this year has been like.
2015 has been the year I went to Calais and India, decided I quite like writing, moved into an actual house, met some people who are quite important to me, stood up for myself, made some things I’m proud of, did some stuff I’m scared of. It is also a year in which I haven’t read enough- for my course or for my brain, in which I haven’t trained for that bloody half marathon I keep talking about, I haven’t watched all of Game of Thrones, I haven’t finished Infinite Jest and I haven’t said many things. A lot happens and doesn’t happen in 365 days. There’s quite a lot to pack in, so naturally some stuff gets spilt over into the next round.
When I was asked for my top 5 shows of the year for this, I realised I’d forgotten so many. Ones that at the time seemed permanently printed in my head, the words and images stuck to my ears and eyes. But apparently I have a crap memory. So thank goodness I keep a lot of notes.
- Every Brilliant Thing, The Tobacco Factory
I wrote about this here and talked to Duncan Macmillan about it here. I have the number I read out in the play pinned on my wall at University. I have never seen before or since a play with such generosity of spirit, such kind heartedness and openness, something that was so full of love.
I even copied the list style in a recent attempt to write my own short play (that I then performed, something that has never happened before. I think the ease and gentleness that comes with this style allowed me to feel comfortable with something that otherwise scares the shit out of me).
I think I talk about this play too much.
- Violence and Son, Royal Court Upstairs
My English teacher used to tell me to go at things with a toothpick not a hammer. Violence and Son is so delicately written. It is a toothpick kind of a play, yet at the end it smashes you straight in the face with a fucking hammer. Although I didn’t write about this online, Violence and Son was the first piece of theatre I saw that made me feel something so strongly that I needed to get it out in words. It is such a sickening piece of theatre, so beautifully written with a moral issue that is so relevant yet still such a taboo. My friend, who had experienced something similar with an ex-boyfriend, wept for most of the second half. It invited conversation that would otherwise never have been touched on and having a real life comparison made the situation all the more terrible. A fantastic, horrible, wonderful play.
- The Encounter, Edinburgh International Festival
I wrote about this in my Edinburgh round up. I am still not convinced this was not magic. It has opened my eyes –or should that be ears- to the possibilities of sound.
- The Bean Field, Edinburgh Fringe
I’ve written about this here, and in my Edinburgh round up linked above, but this has stuck with me because of the presence of the process. I’ve never seen that before. It’s like when the Almeida stripped back the walls of the theatre and let you walk through a dressing room in Carmen Disruption– you know all this stuff is there but you kind of forget how magical it is until it’s served up to you to explore.
- Carmen Disruption, Almeida
I remember arguing with my dad about whether or not the bull was breathing as it seeped oil onto the stage. (I was right, it was.) This play wasn’t perfect, and at times it felt like a very theatre-y piece of theatre specifically for theatre people, but it was utterly stunning. The falling gold confetti and the oozing bull (I was told off for calling it a cow, apparently the fact that it was a bull was very important, metaphorically or something) and the bricks and the dust and the sound and the screens and those side lights. I never knew side lighting could be so sexy.
(Runners up: And Then Come the Nightjars, People, Places and Things, Blind Cinema, The Solid Life of Sugar Water)
Grandma found it almost thirty years later, the visitor’s book. Over the past few years, since 15th June 2012, it has collected a sometimes awkward collection of ex boyfriends and girlfriends, old friends and new friends, best friends and only-just-friends. I am sincerely grateful that we have these memories and lives written down so I can remember them, which, I suppose, is the whole point of writing anything in the first place.
Here’s to 2016, to more stories, adventures and visitors.