When self-care doesn’t feel enough

When I saw Talking Birds’ call out for Nest residents as studio space had recently become available,
it felt like the perfect time to grab the books I’d wanted to read for a while, but not had the time or
space, gather my old notes on the topic I wanted to explore and delve deeper into the texts I’d
recently written. I was ready to jump back into an idea I’d been thinking about for a while, and I was
excited about getting to work around other creative people.

My residency took place in Helloland, a super comfortable and compact studio space with a calming
view of the canal.

It was a dream come true to have space to spread out and hang my research, thoughts and
questions on the wall. I brought with me old research and ideas for plays I hadn’t been able to return
to for a while and I spread out them out on the tables and walls. Suddenly they were tangible and
seemed possible again.

For a few years I’ve been interested in exploring how healthy I can be as an individual in an
unhealthy world. How much is my health and self-care my own responsibility? This interest has only
grown since the start of the pandemic, as we’ve been called to practice, and reflect on the meaning
of, collective care and since even more responsibility has fallen on us as individuals to make
decisions regarding our health.

After several stimulating chats with the Talking Birds team and a really helpful, constructive call with
Caroline Galvis, a Berlin based theatre maker and fellow co-founder of international Rule of Three
Collective, where I talked through my ideas and the reasons why I wanted to explore the topic, I was
getting closer to narrowing down my research to one urgent question: How much can we care for
ourselves in an uncaring world?

When I applied to the Nest Residency, I had an idea of the scripts I wanted to develop, and
potentially combine, but I ended up not only working on those scripts, but also digging out a poem I
wrote in lockdown about how difficult I find processing the news. I started bringing things together I
didn’t expect to, like combining this poem with movement exploring self-care.

After a week of delving into scripts, I felt it would be beneficial l to invite another theatre maker into
the space as an outside eye on my ideas and my writing. Angela Mhlanga, a Coventry based actor,
writer and director kindly came into the Nest and read my scripts out loud with me. It was invaluable
to hear Angela read the plays out loud and the chats we had about them afterwards really helped
me develop each idea – thank you Angela!

By the end of the week, I was able to start thinking about what mediums would work for each script
and how they could all work together in a multimedia installation with live performance, audio and
film.

The Nest Residency gave me the chance to revisit an idea without feeling like I was restarting. It gave
me the space to realise how far I’d come with my research and script writing. By the end of my
residency, I also felt so proud of how far I’ve come as an artist through such a politically and
financially difficult time. I’m extremely grateful to Talking Birds for this opportunity and for all the
interesting and supportive chats we had during my Nest Residency.

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