‘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. Inspired by 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.
‘Emma’s play about her radical, brilliant mother is fresh, frank and funny. Her mother’s dementia in later life with its souring consequences inevitably challenges the mother-daughter bond, but it is the Youthful Mother legacy that triumphs. It’s a glowing moment when Emma owns up that she recognizes her mother in herself as the driving force of her own fearless self-determination.’
‘Emma’s play was very touching and thought provoking. All of us have mums and relations with those mums are very varied. Your experience sparked many interesting conversations. It was a great evening and I would recommend it to anyone.’
‘Anything that can absorb you, make you cry and make you laugh seems like a real testimony to a thoughtful and carefully observed story told in such an interesting way.’
‘Wonderful. Thank you so much. Clearly resonated with everyone in the audience. Heartwarming and thought provoking. What every family needs! PLEASE keep writing!’
‘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.’