Jo Fong and Sonia Hughes: Neither Here Nor There
Sonia and Jo host a series of conversations that happen over 6 minutes.
Weather permitting there will be a walk, natter, chat, table, chairs, come in sit down.
There will be solos, duets and ensemble moments.
Complexity takes time, it requires multiple voices, many levels of expertise and patience in the unspectacular.
This project has been inspired by the research of Frank Bock and Katye Coe.
Neither Here Nor There began at Experimentica, Chapter Arts Centre.
About the artists. Jo and Sonia have worked together on several project including Wallflower and Entitled for Quarantine and recently Ways of Being Together and The Kitchen Table research as part of Jo’s Creative Wales Award Project 2017. Jo and Sonia contributed to National Theatre Wales’ and Quarantine’s new co-production for Festival of Voice called English.
Sonia Hughes is a writer and performer. Collaborations have been with dancers, directors and visual artists Darren Pritchard, Mark Whitelaw, Mem Morrison, Max Webster, Humberto Velez, Fiona Wright and Eggs Collective. Her extensive work with Quarantine as writer includes the award-winning Susan and Darren, the epic Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring and What is the City But the People? for Manchester International Festival 2017.
“A leap of faith” CCQ Magazine
“A rare experience” Art Scene in Wales
Initial notes for the project
1. There is a shrill abroad. A level of anxiety which gets louder or softer depending on how close you are to the cause.
Weirdly the some of us who are relatively far away from the cause find it hard to deal with it, we are like the mourners at a funeral who even though they never knew the deceased so well somehow wail the loudest.
2. We are presented with dichotomies, they are easier to manage, the question can be answered yes or no, but we know from our own lives that it is far more complex. Complexity takes time, it requires multiple voices, multiple levels of expertise, a very long conversation. This is not encouraged by the contemporary modes of communication from texts to twitter.
3. You are one small person. What can you do? You don’t know what to do? But you have a whole life, however long it is.
4. The language of what we are asking for has not yet been formed, old words and concepts have been discredited or sound hollow now, in the talking we might form better ideas. We may not yet be able to give them a name, maybe by sharing the same space we will at least have a feeling for them, an atmosphere may have been created.
5. There is a problem of scale. Artists often try to make something big and pressing or tiny and esoteric. What is the scale of this piece? What is it’s ambition? What is it’s scale in terms of time? A mountain has a very different timescale compared to a mayfly.
SOME THINGS WE COULD DO
Let’s talk for longer. Let’s find out what we really think, uninterrupted. If there are lots of people then we have to learn to listen to people. To listen perhaps for a long time, to process stuff without commenting. Hearing someone out. The idea of being more than one on one means that you have to be engaged in listening and processing for longer, that you have to mull your own reaction and decide whether it is still relevant to be said or whether the conversation has moved on, maybe your view in the interim has mutated, softened, hardened, become more clear.
Yes you are one small person, but you have a whole life however long. You have a capacity, maybe that capacity needs to be grown, become more honed. The task that is being undertaken is not yet clear, it is something to do with justice perhaps. Or kindness. Perhaps.
Created with contributions from artists Shamshad Khan, Lisa Mattocks, Kate Daley, James Monaghan, Heloise Godfrey-Talbot, Gareth Clark and Rabab Ghazoul.
In Neither Here Nor There Jo and Sonia propose questions about place, where we live, where are we from, where our dad’s are from…we talk about the massive unfathomable problems of the world and equally our home, our neighbours, our garden fences. The work encourages the intimate theatre of hearing one person and throughout the show we journey through many voices, the audience are a part of this and we receive many perspectives, many lives. How can we live together? It’s funny, intimate, warm, political, a bit livid, powerful, powerless and patient. The work has been received openly, audiences found it amusing and yet really delve and are honest in their responses and generous in their listening. The narrative inevitably changes from show to show and Jo and Sonia’s moments are improvised over a few key steering questions.
They lay out the rules and as an ensemble with the audience, we play the game. Its sounds simple but as Jo and Sonia mention right at the beginning of their show “Complexity takes time”.
Neither Here Nor There was commissioned by Peilot and LAUK Diverse Actions.
Diverse Actions is a Live Art UK initiative which champions culturally diverse ambition, excellence and talent in Live Art. Diverse Actions builds on Live Art’s vital role as a practice of artistic innovation and a space to express complex ideas of cultural identity.