Monday, 15 September 2008

Ghost Writing For Performance: The Lad Lit Project

A great couple of days at the Writing Encounters symposium in York this weekend.  It felt more like a performance festival than a conference, with some inspirational presentations, notably Barbara Campbell talking about her extraordinary 1001 Nights Cast project.

I gave a performance/paper exploring the idea of The Lad Lit Project as an act of Ghost Writing - moving, I realise, from a literary genre to literary practice.  Here's an extract elaborating on that:

After seeing the show my friend and colleague Annie says: “What I like about it most is that I can see the ghosts of the other men on stage - the men who aren’t in it.”

My first guess is that she means the performers who aren’t in the show.  But on further reflection, I think she is also referring to the men who’s stories are told, but who aren’t physically present.  The men who inhabit the empty chairs lined across the stage.  The men who the audience are invited to imagine themselves in the position of.

This puts in my mind the idea that I am a ghostwriter for these men.  I interviewed A. and then retold his story in much the same way as a ghostwriter would when researching an ‘auto’biography.  So in one sense, I am his theatrical ghostwriter.

But I didn’t go to him for his story.  I went looking for our shared stories.  I knew I wanted this particular chapter, a chapter about being excluded.  I didn’t know it would be his.

The paper felt like it went well (giving the audience beer as they come in obviously helps in this respect), and got some really good feedback.  So I'm looking forward to presenting the whole show later this week at Déda (formerly Derby Dance) and next month at the Pazz Festival in Oldenburg.