What do you get when you’re asked to write in and about lockdown and it consists of 5 people, 4 walls, a bit over 3 weeks, 2 cats and 1 walk?
In April, and at around 4 weeks into lockdown I was commissioned to write a short play as part of the Paines Plough project – Come To Where I Am. This was to sit alongside commissions from 3 other Peterborough Playwrights – Aisha Zia, Phil Ormrod and Marianne Habeshaw. The project had been adapted from the previously named: Come To Where I’m From, which saw playwrights from across the UK writing about their home towns. The work was turned into an App that included a map of the writers and a link to their pieces.
I had reconciled myself to the idea that I wasn’t going to be able to write during lockdown – I’d learnt that one of my personal requirements for that is absolute silence, which obviously wasn’t going to happen with a house full! However, I really wanted to create something that came from the heightened sense of connection and disconnection I was experiencing. So whether it was by taking walks with a dictaphone, or getting up at 5am, whilst everyone slept, I was able to carve out some time to get things down on paper and then to film my piece.
Living in the time of this virus has affected us so differently. I won’t complain, or say I’ve had it particularly hard. For me, it’s my much-needed personal space and ability to apply myself to the usual amount of freelance work that has been the main difference. There have been so many others for whom it’s had far more profound and/or devastating implications.
However, I do feel for those of us who have become full-time care givers, whilst trying to juggle our own careers, not least single fathers/mothers/carers – I don’t know how that possibly works!
My piece started with getting thoughts down about connecting with nature and with others; historically, in the present and through technology. I quickly started to focus on the morning walks at the King’s Dyke nature reserve with my daughter and cat, which had become a huge source of pleasure. I set that against an incredibly frustrating phone call with my phone-service provider.
It’s so evident that the environment has been one of the major benefactors in all of this and our collective appreciation of it has grown. I was drawn to write about noticing and appreciating the small details from our morning walks. I noticed and appreciated, that was then reinforced by the act of writing about it and even further layers were added when filming for the piece – searching for shots of those small details, which could accompany the writing.
A Little Understood is launched as part of Come To Where I Am, with Eastern Angles and Paines Plough on 10th June 2020, 7pm.