FINDING HOME is Cecilia Knapp’s spoken word theatre coming-of-age story that maps the journey of a young girl from Brighton to the tenements of East London as a 20 ¬something. This Sunday 23rd at 10am she will perform it in ROUNDABOUT as part of our EARLIER/LATER programme. Here she tells us a little about the journey behind her brilliant show…
STORIES THAT TRAVEL
Somewhere in the sky over Algeria that I realised how far I’d come. From sitting on my friend Maria’s sofa in Walthamstow drinking wine from the petrol station and starting to write my story, to that moment, up there in the air.
I’ve been writing spoken word poetry for the last 5 years and performing around London and the UK. I write about life and experience. I write as a way to deal with things. One day, I started to write about a bike ride I’d had along the canal in Tower Hamlets on the way to a depressing pub job I had for a year whilst I was at university. What I thought was going to be a standard 3 minute poem soon began to turn into something very different and I started writing the story of my life, a series of flashbacks experienced whilst cycling down that canal. I wrote about relationships, friendships, place, family and the loss of my Brother 3 years ago. I realised I was writing a one woman spoken word theatre piece.
After a year, some Arts Council funding, a lot of red pen and rehearsal and the acquirement of an incredible creative team, I was on the way to Johannesburg to perform my one woman show Finding Home. I’d be performing it at Rise up and Walk Festival, an international youth arts festival which ran for three days at Joberg theatre and featured everything from dance to stand up, hip hop to feminist theatre. And my little show. My story of growing up in Brighton in a single parent household with my Dad, of moving to London, of love, loss and reconciliation.
As I stepped off the plane, and out into arrivals, I couldn’t help but feel completely overwhelmed that writing had brought me to this point. What followed over the next week was a series of exchanges and conversations with some of the most interesting, compassionate and talented people I have ever met. Fellow artists at the festival shared my conviction in the need for creative expression and passion for the arts. We spoke about how it should be everyone’s imperative to enable young people to participate in creativity no matter what their background or circumstance. It was affirming and mobilising to share these ideas with people who lived on a different continent to me. On the second day of my trip, we drove out to the largest township in Johannesburg, Soweto, to run a workshop with local young people. We shared ideas, questions we wanted to ask society and our individual stories. We learnt from each other in sharing each other’s truths and experiences and writing together.
Finding Home is my coming of age story. But beyond my background, circumstance and location, it is a story about learning to love yourself in spite of how hard life can make things for you. It’s about finding home within yourself and I think that no matter where you’re from, that idea is universal. I spoke about this with my new friends and fellow writers and performers in South Africa and about the power that stories have. How in telling your story, you are opening up the door for empathy, understanding and discovery. How stories allow us to transcend and explore each other’s lives. How they help you make sense of the world. My trip to Johannesburg confirmed this. And that’s why I wanted to write Finding Home. To reconcile my past in the hope that others will look into it to and see parallels of their own lives. That there’ll be some hope to find within it.
I want my story to reach as many people as possible. Last week it was in Johannesburg, and this week it’s back in the UK, this time at the majestic Edinburgh Fringe, where, in a similar way to Rise up and Walk Festival, artists come together and share their creative contributions to the world. Where they express and collaborate and comment and change the world through art. I can’t quite believe that when I sat on that sofa in Walthamstow over a year ago and put pen to paper, what would come out was this piece of work. That it has already taken me so far. But it was a story I felt needed to be told. So, I’m going to need some people to hear it. I’ll be at Paines Plough’s venue The Roundabout in Summerhall this Sunday 23rd August at 10am and I’d love to share my story with you. Grab a coffee and come and settle in. Fellow writer and performer Jack Rooke will also be sharing some of his one man show Good Grief afterwards which has received very deserved 5 star reviews and has just been nominated for an Total Theatre Award. Jack confronts and explores grief and the loss of his Father in a brave, innovative and refreshing way. It’s funny and beautiful and important. So come down and see us both. I’d say that’s a pretty lush way to spend a morning. See you there.
FINDING HOME on in Roundabout @ Summerhall, 23rd August at 10am. It is directed by Paines Plough Associate Director Stef O’Driscoll, produced by Liz Counsell and was developed with support from the Roundhouse and Rich Mix.