Preview at The Lowry Studio
Written and Devised and Performed by Wayne Steven Jackson
AND HERE I FIND MYSELF is a natural progression/ companion piece to the digital work FROM ONE TO US devised by Jackson in 2020. This latest work expands on the themes around how heteronormative expectations impact our beliefs around parenting, life goals and how we deal with disappointments. Jackson plays deftly with our perception of typical one man confessional performance by utilising a intermedial approach that blends live and digital media. This is a really vital piece of story telling that opens up conversation around how an individual copes when science and society finally expand to permit single sex surrogacy only for new obstacles to appear.
As a performer Jackson is fascinated by memory and the use of theatrical techniques to explore ways in how to re-experience memories. He also has an uncanny ability to appear utterly in the moment which is perhaps how he forges and crafts nuggets of memory into such vivid capsules. This ability to be so present on stage makes for a great connection with his audience, while also making it impossible to tell just how personal this story is to him and how much is devised. The end result is deeply affecting and at times painful to watch, raising the question of who looks after performers when they leave the stage after delivering work such as this?
This is a show that is playful and engaging as we observe Jackson intent and diligent as he is put through his paces by a series of commands…HIDE..JUMP… as he plays hide and seek and climbs ladders. What becomes apparent is that following the rules and doing the right thing does not always culminate in a satisfactory outcome. This is the central tenet of the show as the onscreen images reveal nuggets of family memories from a good boy who grows up in a world that is gradually changing to allow previously unavailable options to a young gay man. Laws change and Science advances and here is the opportunity as a single man to finally have a child. This piece will resonate with anyone who has experienced the trauma of having had hopes raised only to be repeatedly dashed in the lottery of the reproduction process. What makes this work especially thought provoking is the male perspective; this is a potent reminder that this issue is a source of anguish to anyone wishing to have their own child regardless of gender or sexuality. AND HERE I FIND MYSELF also suggests the loneliness of this journey as a single gay man presented at every turn by a single fucking magpie.
Visually the staging looks polished and stylish. The screens either side of centre stage project images of the boy and the man using old photos and new filmed material. The illusion of magic is added by Jackson appearing to adjust colour and lustre to these memories by a sweep of his hand like a painter. The effect is lovely and engages childish glee while also alluding to a performer who can control technology on stage but who feels bitterly let down by it on a deeply personal level. The final scenes shock and dismay as the images literally shred on stage and fragmented hopes and dreams are tenderly gathered together in a tattered pile. This is a thoughtful and really tender production which has been skillfully conceived and executed.