A response to rehearsals for English
I’m writing this on the train journey back to Manchester from Cardiff, where Ali, Kate and I have just spent a few days in the rehearsal room for English, Quarantine’s collaboration with National Theatre Wales that will premiere at the Wales Millenium Centre as part of the Festival of Voice this June.
More specifically, I’m writing this whilst stuck in Gloucestershire, unable to travel further north because of an incident on the line. As we wait for some communication about when we will move again, I find myself thinking about the moments of performance and conversation that I have witnessed or been part of over the last 24 hours.
This list of disparate thoughts is my response to those:
– A young silver birch tree that was in the garden of the first house we ever lived in. It had a sort of furry texture when you stroked it. When I was little, maybe around 7, I cycled in to it and broke both my wrist and the tree. I think my mum was more upset about the tree.
– If I had to flee suddenly, the thing I think I would most want to take with me is a book. I’m not sure what book, but I hate the idea of arriving somewhere I don’t speak the language and not having anything to read.
– One time I made up a joke that had a Spanish place name as the punchline. I was pleased with it until I told it to my Spanish friend and she didn’t understand. Turned out I was mispronouncing the place name and so the joke actually didn’t work at all.
– I now know several important phrases in British Sign Language: rest time, tea break, and lunch time.
– There are some kinds of movement that I’m not sure will ever sit comfortably in my body. Northern Soul Dancing is one of them.
– Last year when I was in Ghent there was a market by the river with stalls selling only books. Ben and I bought one because we loved the illustrations, even though it is written in Dutch, a language neither of us can read. It is one of my favourite books to look through if I am feeling kind of lonely.
– A lot of different things can be communicated by a kiss on the cheek. It is one of the few places on the body it is acceptable for strangers to kiss, for parents to kiss, for lovers to kiss, for friends to kiss…
– It has been a long time since I just sat and listened to something from start to finish: a story, an album, a radio programme, a news report.
– Often when I am in the car with the radio on I will spend a long time listening to the words before I realise that it is in Welsh, not English.
– I think I will start to learn Spanish again.
Sarah Hunter, artist-producer, Quarantine ensemble
Images: Kate Daley, artist-producer, Quarantine ensemble