Why I got involved
by Barney Dunn
I met Aoife at this year’s SPINE festival where I helped her deliver a series of poetry workshops to school children in Beckenham Library. She enthralled them (and me!) from start to finish with gruesome ghost stories set in Crystal Palace whilst her tenderness and imagination allowed the children an amazing freedom to express themselves. Aoife and I have since become friends and she invited me to join her on the One Stage at a Time project. When I read the initial idea and script I couldn’t wait to get going.
During my short career most of the work I have done has been with young people. I’ve been a teacher, a reading assistant, a mentor and am currently a support worker for young homeless people in Lewisham. In every case I have been struck by the capacity of words to transport, transform, connect and heal. Whether a song lyric, a line of poetry or a quote from a book, words can provide such strength for people and allow them to access emotions and parts of themselves that they didn͛t know existed. I believe this is fundamentally important in times when life throws something unexpected at us.
In this sense the aims of One Stage at a Time instantly resonated with me. Over the course of the last six months I’ve helped transcribe interviews, write up material from workshops and produce visual content with students from Wimbledon College of Art. Weaving together the visuals, soundscape and poetry has been such an interesting challenge. I’ve also been struck by the material coming out of the workshops – topics, images and phrases I never thought would surface have been so refreshing and inspiring to read. From the outset Aoife was keen to engage with the full range of feelings that living with cancer can stir up and this has been reflected in the variety and emotional power of the material produced by participants.
As we build towards the first performances of One Stage at a Time I feel the project has provided, and will continue to provide, a space to connect people of all different ages (and stages) who have been affected by cancer.
On another, and more light hearted note, every time I lie in the bath now I find myself thinking of my favourite line from the piece –͚the bubbles humming hallelujah͛. May those bubbles of hope and joy reach many more people!