Shoes on Wednesday night (5 November 2014) at the De La Warr, did you go? If you did you were the fortunate audience who saw a unique production of a film and play created by Hallucinating Angels as part of a residency at the DLWP, an artists’ company who have brought to Bexhill the experimental projects ‘WE ARE FOR SALE’ and ‘BAND OF GOLD’ which focus on “the life and stories of our community”.
People were invited to bring along a pair of shoes that had some significance to them, that had a story behind why and where they had bought them, where they had worn them and the personal story that the shoes held the key to. This ranged from a Prison officer, a lone tattooed traveller walking all over the globe looking for Nirvana – his tattoos expressing his spirituality in Sanskrit and ancient texts, walking back to happiness, love and marriage, an elderly care worker, people realising childhood dreams of being a dancer, or giving up a career to be a Busker – a small sample of the people who were inspired by this project.
The film was a series of interviews with the shoe owners who told their shoe stories that were funny, romantic, tender, sad, and philosophical. Everyone could find a connection with something that reflected their own experience of shoe ownership in these monologues. We are all shoe owners.
The performance in the theatre was a cleverly choreographed sequence of extracts from the interviews with live music played by local musicians – shoe songs of course, one written by one of the participants and inspired by the project.
The set was simple, a row of chairs facing the audience for the actors, flanked by a random collection of occasional lamps, a delightful detail which gave an intimate feel to the monologues performed by some of the shoe owners and other raconteurs recruited for the play.
To create a work from self selected participants that has humour pathos and integrity is a difficult thing to do. The demands of the piece were intricate and required confident acting but with honesty and vulnerability. Hats off to the performers who did a brilliant job, and to the creators for assembling the piece.
If I had a criticism as an audience member, it was that for me, it needed a bit of editing for a live performance and a bit more pace, but that is nit picking as this was a first outing. The resonance of the stories and the people who told them linger.
Thanks DLWP for supporting work like this.