Guest Blog: Charmaine Childs on POWER

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This Spring Charmaine Childs, a Strong Lady of extraordinary abilities, will perform at the Lawrence Batley Theatre her new show POWER. Here Charmaine delves into what power means to her, what to expect from her show, and why it’s important to embrace both fragility and strength in an increasingly polarised world.

I’m very excited to be bringing my new show POWER to the LBT from April 30th to May 2nd 2020 – I hope to meet you there! This is a little window into who I am and why I’ve teamed up with the Lawrence Batley Theatre to create this new show…

In a time where so many of us feel powerless and polarised – I wanted to create a piece of theatre that celebrates the ways we are powerful (even in an uncertain world) and that reminds us there is more that binds us to each other than holds us apart. Also… to have a laugh together.

I have been touring the world as a circus artist, a Strong Lady to be exact, for almost 20 years. This new show will utilise circus physicality, dance, comedy, verbal and physical storytelling to explore moments of power.

The stories will weave between moments in my own life and the experiences of real people I met around the UK. Their voices, captured in interviews where they recounted a moment where they felt powerful, will form the backbone the soundtrack to the show, as they allow us to glimpse at their experiences of overcoming, change, choice and chasing dreams. As a Strong Lady with control issues, my own journey to realise that you can never be strong enough to eliminate uncertainty, is a source of much of the comedy in the work (and in my life).

In embracing uncertainty, this whole project is utilising my circus skills and strength in ways I have never done before. As a Strong Lady, the journey of my shows have usually been “here is the exciting trick I am going to attempt…” – then I do it and people cheer. There has always been an interesting subtext of the strength of women, the kindness of men, body positivity and optimism… but the actual narrative has been remarkably simple.

In POWER, however, I’m making a massive shift in my artistic practice with mentorship from collaborators including Complicite, Ockham’s Razor, Spy Monkey, Jess Love, Mervyn Millar and Emma Bernard (directing the project). I am finding ways to use the genuine effort, struggle and fragility in circus skills to embody the stories being told. It’s exciting (and a bit frightening).

I just performed the first public ‘work-in-progress’ show of part of the work – I am happy to report that it went really well! People laughed lots and used words like ‘moving’ ‘uplifting’ and ‘inspiring’ in their feedback… so we are on track to create something lovely for you in Huddersfield in Spring!

POWER is a key commission of The Lowry’s WEEK 53 Festival with co-commission from the Lawrence Batley Theatre and Cambridge Junction/Creative Arts East. The work is supported by Arts Council England funding and in-kind by Metal, Jackson’s Lane, Queens Theatre Hornchurch, Seachange Arts and mentorship from Turtle Key Arts.

– Charmaine Childs, Strong Lady Productions