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MAking Performance at Leeds Beckett
Hi I'm Jaye, and I'm discussing studying an MA in Performance at Leeds Beckett.
Landing Party, the MA Performance graduating showcase, was just two weeks ago…
Over three days I performed my one-to-one performance (a show for one person at a time) every body’s brilliant 18 times. This experience was essentially a facilitated conversation, in a cosy tented space, which asked participants to think about what their bodies are capable of rather than how they look.
It was an emotional rollercoaster. People were very honest and often very funny. I enjoyed myself immensely. I can only hope that the people who came enjoyed it half as much as I did.
I could not have predicted that this very gentle experience is what I would make. When I started the course I wanted a nice and simple, ready to tour studio show, but it is the culmination of my journey, drawing on my experiences throughout the course, and was particularly influenced by my favourite module, Embodied Knowledges.
Looking back is hard, I’m still struggling to admit that it’s all over.
I remember the interview for my MA like it was yesterday. I think it was in Beckett 2, on Headingley Campus with the then course leader, Beth Cassani. I took her a lucky dip bag with 5 items in and told her she could choose three for us to discuss (or more if we had time). They were designed as prompts, key aspects of my performance making practice and career so far and were labelled:
I don’t remember what each of them were but I know the building one was a small Lego house.
I talked about wanting to build on the experience I already had – having made three shows between 2010-2014 - about feeling stuck and hoping to find inspiration, a need for structure to get me out of my creative rut and my hopes of finding new collaborators through the course.
In my first module I referred to Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist and a page within in it with I found useful in talking about the kind of work I was interested in making.
Two years later and this still remains pertinent and vital to me as a manifesto for life, performance making and as I think back on my MA experience, for learning.
Research is HARD, especially when you are not used to doing it, but if you can find a question or a topic that excites you, once you start reading around it, you will probably find that it gets even more interesting and you find yourself leaping from artist to artist, book to book… Sometimes the hardest part is knowing when to stop!
I’ve received a huge amount of support and patience from my family and friends in undertaking this MA. I could not have done it without their words of encouragement but also in giving myself permission to be anti-social and single minded. Also being kind to myself, carving out space and time to give the MA as much room as I could to allow me time to enjoy it, has been essential.
It hasn’t all been easy, though I generally found something positive to take away from each module and some of the hardest (ahem, Conference!) I actually found the most rewarding. I began the MA because I wanted to be challenged. I have been.
A willingness to look stupid
Something about being on the MA and treating everything as a learning experience gave me the freedom to just make, try something, do something. Knowing that I would always have a chance to reflect on it afterwards meant that I felt freer to get things wrong or try something new. It became very liberating.
As a mature student (I’m 42) I was the oldest on the course. It hasn’t been an issue though. In fact, the range of different people I have met on this course (nationalities, races, sexualities, genders/identities) has only enriched my experienced and enhanced my learning both in and outside of the studio. I really hope we’ll stay in touch.
A few weeks before the end of the course, when things we’re very stressful and intense, someone said they couldn’t wait for it to be over. I felt (and still feel) the opposite. I said I didn’t want it to end. In fact, I wished I could start all over again and do it even better. With all that I have learned, imagine what I could do second time around!