I Don’t Know What I’m Supposed To Be Doing

‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing’ was something Emma’s Mum said repeatedly in the early days of her dementia. Over 10 years later, now her mother has died, Emma finds herself asking the question for herself. Emma’s Mum was a librarian, Emma is a library assistant. Especially created for libraries, this show goes on a journey through time, mother-daughter love and life re-evaluation. A funny, moving, inspiring tale using poetry, theatre and library books.

Following the long, cathartic, personal and creative journey that was Beyond Dreams of Aberystwyth (about my father), I always thought, perhaps crassly, that there was likely to be a show from my life and relationship with my mother. The last 16 years of my life were richly coloured by the aging process of both my parents, my mother’s being dominated by her dementia. I struggled to watch them change, to fail, to require me to step up (or not) to the challenge of changing roles and become ‘grown-up’ at last. To put to bed (or not) some of my resentments of their imperfect parenting as spawned in adolescence. My relationship with my mother, perhaps inevitably, was always the more loaded.
When my mother died in January 2015, despite the imperfections of our relationship and the fact she’d had dementia for over 10 years, I never felt more lonely. I gradually turned my attention to this possible project as a way of processing it all – picking up old poems, fragments of writing, memories, photos – and her legacy to me as embodied in her love for literature, culture and books.
I Don’t Know What I’m Supposed To Be Doing has been and continues to be one of the most satisfying creative and personal processes I’ve embarked on. I learnt so much from doing Aberystwyth. As well as developing more confidence and understanding of the creative processes involved in making theatre out of life, I feel I am growing in understanding of the potential cathartic nature of theatre – as true medicine for the audience and practitioner alike. I am taking this into my teaching – running workshops and classes in creative and life-writing and making drama from life. I feel this is something my Mum would be proud of.
I am very excited about I Don’t Know. Contact me if you’d like to know more or book it.
Thanks to my employers at Calderdale Libraries for their help developing and supporting this project.

Audience comments

‘Completely absorbing, entertaining and poignant.’
‘Very powerful performance. Loved the mixture of visual photos, music, props and story-telling.’
‘A wonderfully thoughtful, life-affirming, therapeutic, caring and compassionate portrayal of lives.’
‘You captured so beautifully and tenderly so much of what many of us go through with our parents.’
‘Very well put-together and performed.’
‘Absolutely excellent’

Reviews & Media

Burnley Express
Big Issue North
Yorkshire Times

Up-and-coming performances

Weds 14 August 2019
Knaresborough FEVA Festival of Entertainment & Visual Arts
7pm  Knaresborough Library, North Yorks, HG5 8AG
Weds 2 – Thurs 3 Oct 2019
Cork Libraries – Positive Ageing Week, County Cork, Eire
Sun 6 Oct 2019 – 2.30pm
Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival
Carlisle Library, 11 Globe Lane, Carlisle CA3 8NX
Weds 9 Oct 2019 – 1pm
Almondbury Library, Huddersfield, HD5 8DT
More dates to be confirmed.
See Events for more details.

Related material

Mother’s Day
Old Wound

Photography & film

Lucy Cartwright