Katie Taylor and Katie’s Hands chat about how they created Lost and Found, Damn Cheek’s 19th Zoom production…
Katie: It’s a pleasure for me to reflect on the devising process for Katie Taylor’s Lost and Found. It’s been an ongoing Zoom conversation throughout 2021 between myself and Darren, Artistic Director of Damn Cheek. And, alongside that conversation, there was another dialogue unfolding… one between me and my key collaborators… my Hands!
Katie’s Hands: We’ve been involved in this process from the start, of course. Prior to the pandemic, we’d become increasingly important in Katie’s life when she qualified as a massage therapist in 2019…
Katie: …when I started connecting with touch in new ways: I ran baby massage groups, facilitated workplace sessions on touch and wellbeing, worked on a theatre show in which the audience played party games to build the set around themselves.
Katie’s Hands: The audience’s hands were as involved as their heads were!
Katie: Then the pandemic happened.
Katie’s Hands: And we went into lockdown.
Katie: And I started talking online with other theatre makers, and we questioned where the ‘liveness’ might be when people are not physically together. Then, like many, I started going to Damn Cheek Zoom productions.
Katie’s Hands: We went along too of course – and we loved the intimacy of seeing what the audience got up to at home – clutching glistening glasses of wine, stroking soft pets, burrowing into blankets…
Katie: …and I wondered whether there was something in these small moments of touch that might be able to connect people. I secured a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England, made a professional connection with Damn Cheek, and with Darren’s support began to work on exploring this idea of connection.
Katie’s Hands: The first editions of what would become a 9-month series of Zoom meetings with Darren were really playful explorations of things that felt good for each of us: football scarves; heirloom knitted sweaters; feathers, stones and crystals found on adventures.
Katie: We also played with Zoom green screen effects A LOT!
Katie’s Hands: And started to notice that the more we got involved, the more ‘real’ things felt.
Katie: Around three months into our devising process, an unexpected and sudden death in my family opened up a profound experience of personal grief. As I floated in this sea, I began to see refractions of a grief that I had felt beneath the surface – grief for the loss of touch. Around this time, I also started seeing birds everywhere. It started with the robin which visited immediately after the death. Then a pair of sparrows, stunned on a glass-enclosed balcony. Then a single white feather, discovered impossibly far from any windows at the very heart of my home.
Katie’s Hands: After that, we started picking up feathers whenever Katie saw them.
Katie: Soon, I was walking specifically to find feathers. I didn’t talk to many people at that time. Zoom meetings didn’t really feel possible. But I walked. And as I did, ideas bubbled up about seeing the whole of something, or seeing it from different angles, or ‘seeing’ it with some other sense entirely…
Katie’s Hands: And then we started meeting with Darren again. And it was different. We were still playing – each time we met we’d bring a new piece of play…
Katie: …but I was obsessed with what it was as a whole – so I was acutely aware of its fragmented nature. Afloat in a scattered archipelago. And suddenly I realised that my role could be as a guide through that. That I had to trust my hands to know what to do, learn their routes and go with them.
Katie’s Hands: We held workshops exploring touch with artists who’d collaborated online over lockdown. We got to know each other through the textures of treasured objects and the magic of tactile illusions (like optical illusions for our sense of touch).
Katie: And I gradually started to relax about what it was as a whole, so that in my meetings with Darren, I’d just try to guide him through… through a random assortment of sensory experiences that I’ve collected over this weird year, some of which have make me feel a bit more myself, some of which have helped me to understand how magical each individual person is, and some of which have come up by surprise as we spend time together.
Katie’s Hands: So that’s the invitation to you now – to come along to the Lost and Found and explore all this. Your hands are of course warmly invited too.
Katie: I know there’s a lot of heavy stuff in this – death, isolation, losing touch – but there are also A LOT of feathers. And you get to tell me where you want to go so that I – and my Hands – can guide you through a path that you feel comfortable on, whether that’s via shared moments feeling the warmth of a hot drink together, listening to a story from my Hands’ perspective, or exploring the contents of your kitchen from a new point of view.
Katie’s Hands: It really will be a bit different from many things we’ve done before. So, come along and join us! Booking dates and ticket links are just over here.
Katie: Hope to see you there!
Katie Taylor’s Lost and Found runs from Friday 29 October to Sunday 7 November 2021 – an immersive interactive theatrical Zoom experience for an audience of one!