With its exposed brick-lined arches, dark moody ambiance and
classic Blur pumping through the sound system, the atmospheric
Southwark Playhouse was the perfect setting for this nostalgic trip
that takes the audience winding gently back to the cultural oasis
of the late 90s.
Wilby's effortless story-telling through a clever mix of comedy,
song and photography, weaves through a narrative that offers plenty
of opportunity to place ourselves right back into the era alongside
Familiar events, recognisable music, motifs and modes ensure
that whilst envisaging Rosie as a Brit Pop wannabe, we are
simultaneously casting our minds back to our own similar desires
and depressions of the time - well perhaps that was just my teenage
There's a catharsis achieved through gazing back at such a
recent period of British history which permits us to laugh at the
trials of a younger Rosie; and in doing so we are invited to laugh
at our own younger selves.
And yet now is the right time for Wilby to be telling us her
story of desire and loss. It comes at the same time that the
autobiography genre is enjoying a resurgence, suggesting that we
are feeling drawn to self reflection or at least curious about
reflections and the lives of others.
This special performance, funded by Southwark LGBT network, which
included guest appearences from some of Rosie's old bandmates ended
with a panel discussion on autobiography and the considerations
when 'going public' with personal life material. Chairing the
discussion was Jane Czyzselska (DIVA magazine) with panelists Rosie
Wilby, Nick Field and Brian Lobel.
Nick reflected on how he measures whether he's created a good
show - if audience members are keen to come and share their own
personal stories, this indicates a real sense of intimacy has been
created between the performer and the audience, a connection that
encourages the audience to confess also.
Brian talked about using his experience of testicular cancer not
only as a story but as a means to create intimacy and build trust
in the 'unique space of the performance'.
Rosie reflected on the concept of the 'malleable memory' and the
tension between what was actually experienced and how it is
remembered, and how these can be triggered by the likes of music.
The use of photos in her show bring some truth into the story as
well as a contrast with the memory being shared.
The issue of whether autobiography that makes reference to other
people's lives requires consent and approval was considered
alongside an acknowledgement that a performer can own their story
and that in this world of self publishing every mundane factoid of
our lives, no one really has control of where their story
Additionally, the panellists discussed how much we reveal and in
what spaces, how important the LGBT identity is within this. All in
all, a fascinating discussion and one which merits a listen when it
is broadcast on Rosie's radio show 'Out in South London' on
Resonance 104.4 FM. Check her website (below) for more details.
Future performances in London: 10 July at The
Hob in Forest Hill as part of Sydenham Arts Festival www.sydenhamartsfestival.co.uk.
For nationwide dates, check Rosie Wilby's website: http://www.rosiewilby.com/
Southwark LGBT Network: http://southwarklgbtnetwork.com/
Brian Lobel: http://www.blobelwarming.com/index.html
Nick Field: http://nickfieldpoetic.co.uk
Out in South London radio: http://outinsouthlondon.wordpress.com/
Review courtesy of http://www.planet-london.com,
the ultimate guide to lesbian London.