I had the pleasure of working with Jemma McDonnell from The Paper Birds in my final year of training. We devised a show under her direction and used it to audition for NSDF.
This week, I heard The Paper Birds were performing at The Ustinov Studio in Bath and I was very excited to book my tickets and meet up with Jemma for a coffee and to catch up. As it happened, we couldn't manage a coffee date because Jemma and Kylie were doing a workshop at that time so they invited me along to that instead, which was an absolute joy!
The workshop took me back to my final year and the excitement of devising, writing and creating material with these wonderful women, and a room full of other creatives from my city! We played games and did exercises and wrote stories and got material from each other, creating characters and performance effortlessly. I just love their way of working and how it creates interesting and political material with such seeming ease.
So, that evening I was very excited to see the show they had produced about what it really means to be 'broke' in our society today. The show focused mainly on 'Sally' who is a single mum trying to get by and pay her bills. The use of story books and childrens' toys was a wonderful theme that highlighted the political game being played with the country's money. Sally is the everywoman, in many ways. I'm sure we could all relate to her want to just buy food and not worry about each penny or being invited to do something and not being able to say 'no, I can't afford it'.
Featuring Jemma and Kylie as well as their longstanding composer, Shane, who took the stage alongside them, this show was an incredibly enjoyable watch. The use of verbatim and personal stories made it real and heart-wrenching and the use of sock puppets and the voice of a young boy who would spend all his money on 'chocolate bars that make you fly' made us laugh out loud. The reality of sleepless nights worrying about debt and spending alongside the pain experienced by the protagonist was beautifully executed and without each other the highs and the lows of this show wouldn't have worked nearly as well.
Fantastic work, once again, from The Paper Birds.