Beam The Play
Beam is a celebration of grannies. More specifically, my Granny, but also of all grannies, in all their glory. The idea started back in 2015 when I was sat on a tube train reading the back of people's newspapers. It had been a tough year, with my own Granny's diagnosis with dementia, and the apocalyptic picture printed on these papers wasn't helping.
My Granny is an optimist, a romantic, someone who survived world war and can find great joy in the smallest packet of jelly beans. I felt it was time to celebrate that.
In collaboration with dance artist Lucy Haighton, who had recent experience working on the inter-generational dance project 'We Danced', Lucy and I devised Beam the monologue in January 2016. This was a short piece, very much based on the truth, about my Granny's love of Jelly Beans. Following this we developed Beam into a full length piece progressing onto Jelly Babies and weaving movement and more multi sensory audience interaction into the piece in September 2016. This piece told the real life story of my Granny travelling across the sea as a 23 year old for love. It was about hope, taking risks and being completely un-apologetically romantic. It's debut received overwhelmingly positive feedback including praise from Exeunt magazine that can be read here.
Following this we felt it was time to take the piece to the woman who inspired it. In August 2017 we took Beam up to Granny's home town, Edinburgh, for the 2017 fringe where she, along with half of the extended family came to see it. The experience was incredibly special and truly showed me the power of theatre to connect, recollect and celebrate. There were a lot of tears and many audience members commented on how the piece reminded them of their own grandmothers. Moving forwards we are planning an autumn 2018 tour of Beam with inter-generational story sharing sessions which we plan to take into dementia settings. We want to give people with dementia, their families and carers the chance to share and celebrate their own stories, both those of the past and inventions of the present. If you would like us to come to you or your theatre, please contact us here
Other artists who worked on Beam include producer Katherine Warman, marketing assistant Caterina Incisa, sound designer Alejandro Albornez, who composed the soundtrack and designer Cat Rolley who helped with set design. We received artistic mentoring from both TC Howard and Theatre Delicatessen.
Beam was funded by Arts Council England, and O2 Think Big Supported as part of Theatre Delicatessen’s Forge North scheme and Sheffield Crucible’s Making Room.