21 Jul 2020

Live In the Bandstand

Post written by: Erin Walcon

So we continue to jam. Twice a week – outside. In small groups, socially distanced. These ‘Cabbage Jams‘ have proven far more productive than I could have originally imagined.

I think we are bemusing the sun-seeking beach-goers down on Goodrington Green. They don’t quite know what to make of us. We must seem really really odd – parading around chanting ‘Whose Future, Our Future!’ and throwing cabbages at each other in repeated loops. And the accordian draws quite a few looks. Mostly kind ones.

A number of people have stopped to ask what we are doing.

We explain that we are making a show during lockdown. About protest. And that we have started doing these small group sessions to develop a street-based performance for August, ahead of the final show in November.

We’ve managed to obliterate a couple of cabbages.

We’ve worked on harmonies and developed choreography.

We’ve gotten sunburned and rained on, and we’ve had a number of visits from friendly dogs and toddlers.

It’s been really really fun.

And I’ve been struck by how important it is to be seeing each other live – like, real actual humans…together.

In this current climate, fear and anxiety seem to be our constant companions – the rules are changing rapidly (both metaphorically and literally), and I often feel like the sand is shifting under my feet.  It can be hard to know what is okay and what isn’t…. face masks in shops? What is safe and what isn’t? How do I try to be a good person right now?

In the midst of many change and strange and new circumstances, I think we have to try and listen to our heart, to the deep soul-centre place that tells us what we need in order to ride the wave through the crisis, through the challenge, through the storm.

DYT have been doing weekly or bi-weekly or even tri-weekly Zoom sessions since March. Diligently, committedly. They have been wonderfully engaged online. We’ve filled a Google Drive with creative scripts, song, lyric, heritage research content. There has been a rich and layered experience developing this piece over digital exchange and I have learned a lot from it. New skills. Good.

But.

Laughing in person.

Trying choreography together and making mistakes and teasing each other about it.

Trying the ukulele and the accordian together with the guitar and it sounding incredible.

Finding a new chant that can layer over the bass part and it suddenly magically working and everyone knows it at once. Just like -that.

Joking about the fact that I don’t believe in breaks and am uber-tasky.

Liveness.

I am grateful for the new digital skills. I will put them in pocket and walk forward into whatever this next year brings, happy to have new tools. I am glad to be learning new things, and I am also proud of the young people who have worked so flexibly and adaptively.

But the liveness though.

It is transformative.

Whatever legacies Covid and lockdown have for us, I know this – I am reminded that nothing – NOTHING – can replace the moment where I walk up to another human, in person, and say ‘how are you?’. We are all a little rusty and awkward with our social skills, but we are all so hungry for it too.

Someone said to me yesterday, ‘humans need humans’. That we do.

Yes the rules are changing and things are weird and we are all a little unsure how we ‘do this right’. Whatever this is… this life on this planet right now.  I guess the fact that this HLF-funded project is a heritage project has made me think a lot about cycles of history. About humans. Where we’ve been and where we are going.

We are awake and alive in an extraordinary moment of humanity. What a privilege.

The liveness matters.

So we’ll do this imperfectly. We’ll fumble and bumble and be a bit socially awkward and rusty, and try to figure out how we navigate socially distanced rehearsals because we need each other. Humans need humans. This show needs liveness. We all need to be asked ‘how are you?’ and given a real listen on the other side to give a real answer. This is deep within us. As we sit in our socially distanced circles in the bandstand at Goodrington, I’m reminded of ancient civilizations sat around campfires. There is an amp in the middle instead of a fire, but you know… the deep feeling in the soul is the same.

Wherever we’re going to, I want to go with this in my heart. That being sat in a circle in a small group, live, is integral to what it is to be human.

What a lucky moment to be alive. Let’s hold the flame.