1. Who/what would you say are your biggest influences?
Often the young people I work with on projects influence me a lot. They tell me about what’s important to them right now and what art they like or find boring. Also: Tania El Khoury’s installation work, Katie Mitchell, all female German collective She She Pop. The director Phelim McDermott of Improbable. Films and visual art: Wim Wenders’ Pina, Alma Har’el’s Bombay Beach, Adam Curtis, Olafur Eliasson. Thinkers I often return to are John Berger, Ai Wei Wei, Tim Etchells and Rebecca Solnit. And then I’d say it’s the things I react against that often influence my work: inequality, systemic racism, war and other things that make me feel lost or angry.
2. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
To make people really see things from someone else’s point of view for a while.
3. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I was given advice by a very experienced artist that in order to survive as an artist you need to get used to being told no. The right people at the right time will say yes. Now I live by that mantra and its served me well.
4. Is there a topic or subject you’d love to tackle in future?
How the left and right see each other and what the substance of the gap between them is made of.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists/performers?
Start from a place of your own truth. Go ahead and respond/dislike/admire/steal ideas from other artists’ work but don’t try to be like them.
6. What can audiences expect from the show?
They can expect unusual ways of being told a story and to be immersed and held by sound and light. They can expect to be taken on a journey to really get to know a Syrian artist, Reem Karssli, and her experience of living through a war. They can expect moments of real beauty and moments that will feel very sad. Above all they can expect to be inspired by a very brave and extraordinary woman.
7. What was the most challenging thing about making the show?
That there was a war going on and this was someone’s real life.
8. What was the best thing about making the show?
Making a friend.
9. Have there been any memorable audience reactions or feedback?
Reem and I were outside the venue in Galway when a family came out of the show – a mother, her two grown up children and their partners. This family of five stood and asked us if we were the ones who made the show. When we said yes they all started to cry and asked if they could give us a hug. To see a family all together so moved and to also be with Reem was a very special moment.
10. Is there anyone in particular you’d love to come and see it?
The show was in Darlington and there was a Britain First march outside the venue. The speakers at the march were acutely Islamophobia and using hate speak to denigrate immigrants and refugees. I wanted those people to sit and watch the show and to then have a chat with me afterwards. It may be a naïve notion, but I hope the show might have made them rethink some of their anti-immigrant feeling.
Now Is The Time To Say Nothing is at Battersea Arts Centre from 2 – 19 Oct, with performances from 12pm