Connection- The Process 2

Mar 23 2017

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: The receptionist at the community centre

Wow, I've just had 2 days of gentle nurturing, mind-expanding and soul validating, connecting back with the original source, Franki Anderson.

16 years ago, Franki first introduced me to ‘Fooling,’ an incredible risky and connected solo improvisation form / life-style choice which has influenced my work and life ever since. Her three month course, ‘The Fools Journey,’ enriched the soil in which my teaching and facilitation skills still grow.

All the way through this work-in-progress project, I’ve had this sense of completion, finishing something I started a long time ago. It’s becoming clear that one of elements of this ‘something’ is solo performance. I never came back to it after Franki’s course. I compered for cabaret, told stories in schools, marauded through street theatre festivals and toured around theatres with various gangs of clowns and led a merry band of misfits around festivals making music, but I never did a solo theatre show. My extreme stage fright prevented me even trying. 

Both mornings when we arrived at St Werburghs Community Centre (which incidentally has a brilliant cafe these days), Franki asked me if I'd like to draw a tarot card and both days I drew 'Rebirth'.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Osho Zen Tarot


"The card depicts the evolution of consciousness as described by Nietsche. He speaks of the three levels of Camel, Lion and Child. The camel is sleepy, dull, self-satisfied. He lives in delusion, thinking he's a mountain peak, but really he is so concerned with others' opinions that he hardly has any energy of his own. Emerging from the camel is the lion. When we realize we've been missing life, we start saying no to the demands of others. We move out of the crowd, alone and proud, roaring our truth. But this is not the end. Finally the child emerges, neither acquiescent nor rebellious, but innocent and spontaneous and true to his own being."

Connecting back with Franki has reminded me of what I loved about performing. With her kind eyes, offering their permission and acceptance, I’ve met my cast of internal characters (or “masks”), listened to my body and dropped deeper into feeling states, lightened up around ownership of “my” material and found more space to play on stage. I’ve conversed with shame, sadness, discomfort, vulnerability and my inner academic (she has an awful lot to say) and I have had so much pleasure in the process.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Holly

Each mask now has their place on stage, as pictured above (the chairs serving as markers). I’ve explored their connection to each other and how they function as a community. I’ve honoured the work that they’ve all put in to keep me safe over the years and I’ve found a particular configuration for them that I hope will allow me to stay safe whilst also being able to take risks with live unplanned improvisation.

At the time of writing, I would like the next show to have less set material and more space for discovery, using the masks I’ve been playing with over the last 2 days. The key to this is keeping an eye on the academic over the next week and a half. She can’t help herself, if there’s a room full of people, she just wants to share all her knowledge and to do that, she likes a lot of preparation time. So in order to keep her from over-writing the whole show, Franki gave us some homework as a parting gift (the academic approves of  homework). I’m to:

1.) Breathe out fully 3 times, 3 times a day.

2.) Observe- watch myself and other people closely and with curiosity

3.) Dance whenever I get the chance

Check out Franki's website here.

Come and see how all this grows into a show on 2nd April at 7.30 at The Wardrobe Theatre. Pay What you Decide. Venue info here.

Facebook event here.

All the blogs from This Work In Progress Project are conveniently listed at the bottom of the first blog, which you'll find here.

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