As an artist working in the oral form I have created a number of oral performance installations across a range of challenging topics with a variety of people.
one of our ain’
Sandra Brown, renowned children’s rights campaigner, approached me to create a live oral communication performance of her experience growing up with a paedophile. Together we created a performance for Sandra, titled ‘One of Our Ain’. Sandra had a difficult story to tell, and a one woman show gave her a platform from which she could deliver her disturbing tale intimately. As Sandra put it, “Pamela Neil believes ordinary people who are not professional actors but have experience of public speaking can use drama to tell their story.”
‘From the moment she stepped on to the stage Sandra had the first-night sell-out audience eating out of her hands.’ Evening Times (Glasgow)
‘dear Jane… you have been a kind friend’
Detention Action wanted a piece they could use to persuade their supporters to campaign for a change in the UK government’s policy on indefinite detention – with the stipulation: “No talking heads please!”
I worked with William Kapato, an ex-detainee, storying the key ideas from William’s life into a moving letter to his support worker, ‘Dear Jane…you have been a kind friend’ performed by William. It captured all the key elements of Detention Action’s message – ‘indefinite detention doesn’t work; it’s immoral’.
‘William’ is saying goodbye to ‘Jane’ because he can no longer go on living in fear and without hope. www.detentionaction.org.uk
‘in on the act 1 & 2’
James Thompson, Professor of Applied and Social Theatre at the University of Manchester wanted to create two pieces of work.
The first, ‘In on the act 1’, a performance lecture exploring the role of the international researcher in communicating information about the Rwandan genocide to non-Rwandan audiences. I worked with James to create a “lecture” he has performed widely in the UK initially at the London Metropolitan University.
‘I thought it was absolutely brilliant, and a very exciting and challenging format for academic presentation of research. It is potentially a form that can bridge the gap between University and the world. It makes all kinds of exciting things possible; ways of making as well as communicating knowledge’. Jenny Hughes, Manchester University.
The second, ‘In on the act 2’, was a performance installation exploring a theatre project in a former child soldier camp in Sri Lanka where three months after the project, the young men who took part were massacred by local villagers. The performance by James deals with questions of responsibility, memory and healing, all central to the dilemma and complexity of working in war zones.
‘It was a fascinating evening. It certainly captured remarkably effectively the dilemma, the puzzlement, the search for the ‘truth’ of what happened in the camp, why and by whom, and ultimately the irresolvability of the events that tool place. When the key photo was shown, that was an excellent moment, all the more so because the visual and the verbal were so vitally interdependent; completely absorbing; it left you wanting to know more. Professor Tony Jackson. Manchester University.
’10 minute tales’
Bolton at Home commissioned me to create a series of performances titled ’10 minute tales’ exploring issues affecting the estate community and encouraging debate amongst the residents.
Malcolm Orr, a resident, had been asked to talk at a national housing conference about living on a council estate in Northern England. His session was titled ‘participation and engagement as a resident living in a council house’ and he was keen to make parallels with other experiences in his life.
Malcolm had previously written his account about being a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. He was one of 4 children from blind parents who found himself as a young soldier captured and held prisoner only a few months after joining up at the age of 17.
Malcolm spent 5 years living in a close community with other men he had little in common with as a prisoner and 60 years living in a council flat on an estate with other council tenants.
In storying Malcolm’s experience as a young prisoner of war we took a simple tale of survival and turned it into a powerful message about living together Malcolm is proud to tell.
‘The absolute honesty held my interest. Entertaining and I’ll bet some folk can draw parallels with tales told. Yes! This is an excellent idea that has great potential for helping others.’ Bolton at Home, Community Housing and Regeneration Group.