Artsadmin Summer Intensive with Deanna Rodger
My name is Callum Moloney-Joyce and I am a 19-year-old student currently studying Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex.
I saw the opportunity to attend a taster day workshop at Artsadmin via social media in July 2019. If I’m very honest, all I knew I was getting myself into was a performance poetry workshop with an established poet – Deanna Rodger. I had no idea about what Artsadmin was or what it was about. On my arrival to the workshop, I was so pleasantly surprised. The studio room was full of people of all abilities and ethnic backgrounds. Walking into an environment that was so welcoming to everyone was an immediate indicator that this place was somewhere special, and I knew this was somewhere I wanted to spend some time.
I decided to sign up for the week intensive programme in August 2019, which meant I agreed to come to Artsadmin for a week of full days exploring the subject of what performance is, and dealing with the idea that a ‘true you’ may not exist because we are always performing.
The energy in the room on that Monday was immediately an excited buzz as nine creatives, led by Deanna and assisted by Artsadmin’s Education Producer Siobhan McGrath, arrived to make something magical. We created a group manifesto, which immediately opened up important conversations and we all agreed that for this week we were in a safe space, free to share what we wanted to share, make explorations, have a voice and to be heard. One of the first tasks we did was having to draw representations of our past, present and future. After drawing on each of the three pieces of paper, we then placed them somewhere in the studio and took the rest of the group around on a tour of the ‘gallery’ and explained our journey. On this first morning, people already felt open enough to share personal stories, from heartbreak and grief to some of our funniest memories and biggest inspirations. We quickly established a sense of rapport in the room, a willingness to be open and honest. We realised that this was going to be an emotional process but that the emotion didn’t have to be sadness, instead an apprehension that we were about to embark on something very, very special. And that we did.
The week was full of exercises that inspired free writing and thought. Every evening on my commute back home I found myself being so thoughtful, thinking about… well, everything. Who I am in this world, what I want to do, who I want to be, where I want to go, what change I can instigate. I found myself writing more than I’ve written in a very long time. I’ve always been a creative, I’ve been involved in theatre and productions from a very young age but along the way I think I lost my passion for it. Attending this summer intensive lit a fire inside of me that had long been burnt out and I found myself being inspired to write about things that mattered to me once more.
I learnt a lot about myself that week. We looked at something called the ‘Johori Window’. For those of you who don’t know, it is basically a model that establishes the ways one identifies and presents themself in society. It is split into four sections- the things we know about ourselves and the things others know about us (the free window), the things we know about ourselves that others don’t know (the hidden window), the things others know about us that we don’t know about ourselves (the blind window) and finally the things that neither ourselves or others know about us (the mystery window). This led on to an activity where we each had to stick a piece of paper on to our backs and everyone else in the group had to then write the positive words that we each associated with each of these people on the paper. It was a real eye-opening activity that gave us an insight into the ‘blind window’. I found myself learning more and more about the way I present myself to others and compared this to the way I view myself. As I said, the week was full of thought and reflection.
When it came to deciding what we wanted to showcase in our sharing on Friday afternoon, so many activities and ideas didn’t make the cut. That isn’t because they weren’t important or exciting enough, but more because of the fact so much of what we did in that studio room throughout that week was so special and personal that, for one, trying to recreate it would do it a terrible injustice. The week was about the process, with the sharing coming secondary. I wrote two pieces of writing that was inspired by multiple exercises we did throughout the week. One was called ABC and the other was called I am a white male. I performed both of these pieces at the sharing and it was, in fact, the first time I had the opportunity to share any of my own writing- an experience I will hold so closely to my heart for the rest of my life.
The process as a whole was one of the most fun, thought provoking and challenging weeks of my life. I was challenged to do things I’ve never been challenged to do. I learnt how to articulate my thoughts and express them in a creative way. I learnt the importance of communication and expression. I learnt how to facilitate. So much of the week will come with me in so much of what I want to do in life.
I can’t urge people enough to go to these workshops, go visit Artsadmin, go put yourself in positions you’re not necessarily comfortable with and challenge yourself because I did, and I am so eternally grateful for what I got out of it.
I have been inspired to write a collection of poetry as a result of this week. I’ve decided to share the two pieces of poetry I wrote throughout this week that will be a part of my collection.
A wise woman once told me that our language fails us.
Our prime form of communication prohibits us from even communicating.
They say there is a word for everything yet i find myself searching.
It is not possible to articulate every thought into words, nor those words into a sentence.
You are not your thoughts despite the constant consummation,
too many words to put on paper
save them for later
so much data, you’d go into overdrive.
But this is an attempt at understanding this jumbled ABC,
With the hope it will one day flow into the alphabet it is supposed to be.
I am trying to articulate thoughts that aren’t quite ready, they’re premature like a baby who came six weeks too soon.
But man- this is overdue.
I’m trying to find the words to communicate what I’m thinking, because we live in a society where instead of talking we turn to drinking, always overthinking, mentally sinking into a dark hole. I am guilty for this, I know that’s true- my pride always stopping me from saying what i want to.
We are so hard on ourselves all the time. We love to perform, put on a brave face. As we get out of bed and draw the curtains, it’s like we’re drawing the curtains on our very own stage, ready to step out for another day, another night. We perform in our own shows yet we’re not even the directors, we let somebody else call the shots on our own adventures.
We swap communicating for internal debating. We put on a brave face because we have to deal with this on our own… right? No… JUST PICK UP THE PHONE.
This has gone on for too long. People thinking if they express their emotions, that it’s wrong.
There is no shame in talking. Hey, we need more of it. Talking leads to understanding. And without understanding? It all just turns to shit.
I believe if we all learned how to communicate a little stronger, it would solve 95% of all our problems and we could be round here for longer.
Of course it’s hard to be transparent, because what good is being transparent when you’re cloudy inside? Communicating with yourself is the hardest part of life.
That internal collide, between the multi-layered, multi-purpose you that has to decide which side to provide, to present, to perform. Because this one layered, two dimensional image of perfection we all have in our mind, this idea that our layers and dimensions make us imperfection… that idealistic image doesn’t exist… not one single part of it.
Because we are flawed. We feel. We learn. We listen. We grow.
Sometimes when you’re struggling to find the words most they somehow come to you. In a passionate tyranny of thought and emotion. In a messy splurge. A purge. A reminder that we’re all the same no matter how much we think we’re alone, or going through it on our own.
You’ll realise you had the correct words all along.
Because a jumbled up ABC is still the alphabet,
It’s like a puzzle. A puzzle of the mind. But the answer to this puzzle my friend? Only you can find.
I am a white male.
I am a white male.
A white male who has something to get off my chest.
A white male who has seen the destruction other white males have caused throughout history.
Why we have a bad rep is no mystery,
Just look at the misery,
The countless white male victory.
I am a white male.
A white male who takes responsibility for my predecessors and learns from their mistakes,
It makes me so angry, it’s such a piss take…
How entitled we are.
I am a white male.
A white male who understands his privilege and vows to use his privilege to give a voice to those who’s voice have been taken away.
Because imagine if a white man had to be a black woman just for one day.
They’d soon have a lot to say, make the oppressor pay.
A white male who believes in facilitation, and accessibility, a world of civility. A lot less hostility,and a hell of a lot more humility.
A world where just because it’s not happening to us doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
I am a white male.
A white male who is sick of the Trumps and Weinsteins thinking they can do whatever they want.
A white male who is sick of the casual racism and inherited sexism. A white male who can recognise that it is 2019 yet all these ‘isms’ are just as present as they were in the past but now instead of being honest with their discrimination they hide behind a mask.
Islamophobia, homophobia- they don’t exist!
Because to have a phobia means you’re scared of something, but you’re not scared you’re just a prick.
I am a white male who has abused my power in the past. A white male who can recognise how easy it is to abuse power when you’re powerful. A white male who can understand the odd power struggle, internal blip, mess up. But I am not a white male who will stand by and let other white males thrive and survive in the very narrative that we have created, the very narrative that states we can do whatever the fuck we want because of the fact we have a pair of white testicles. A narrative as old as time. It’s time to draw the line and redefine that narrative.
Where my white skin and patchy beard will no longer be my source of power.
I am a white male.
A white male who is ready for change.