Brixton Village

Tales From Ovid: Press

Just over a week ago – during the day where I was asked lots of questions and I gave vaguely coherent answers to about 33% of them – I ended up being interviewed by Katharine Hibbet for an article about arts and empty shops. And obviously I’m being cool and nonchalent about this (and not shrieking – Write By Numbers is in the same article as Punchdrunk and The Royal Court!!!! Or, as Charlie pointed out to me, that I’m quoted in an article before Dominic Cooke is. Hi Dominic. ) but the article was in today’s Sunday Times Culture Magazine.

Obviously Ovid Reworked – The Brixton Project is Write By Numbers’s first production so we’re just a little bit (read: a lot) merry about this.

Tales From Ovid: If I could change Brixton…

In the next few days I’m hoping to have the chance to catalogue all of our Brixton Village responses to our Wall of Change on our website but for now, they’re all up on our Flickr page which you can see here. The range of responses is both interesting and touching.

On pretty much the first day we opened our shop this tag appeared:

Brixton Theatre

I nodded when I read it but, two weeks later, I’d changed my mind slightly. I wouldn’t build a theatre, I’d ensure there was a space for theatre. And that space doesn’t need to be a theatre-building in the traditional sense. It just needs to be somewhere where people can perform – theatre, music, dance, spoken word, fire-eating – whatever category of performance they choose.

It doesn’t need to be the same space every week, there just needs to be a space. And while we’re at the subject of space, I’d throw in space to rehearse, space to workshop, space to meet. And I think we proved during our residency that all that space doesn’t need to be traditional either. Crikey, we rehearsed, workshopped and performed in a series of empty shops without heat at the end of January. Forget money (well, not entirely some of that might be nice but I know we’re looking down the shrinking corridor there), give me space.

For think of what we could do with that space. What the others like and unlike us could do.

And the first thing I’d do?

I’d start this process by making Shop 82 the first space for performance.

Audience - by Ash Finch

Everyone involved in the Space Makers project have proven that the audience is there.

Snap - by Ash Finch

So, just the space then.

Tales From Ovid: The Bench

I get a phonecall from Designer Emily:

“You know where we should be tonight?”

The proverbial penny drops.


That’s an “oh” with the emphasis on the ‘h’ rather than the ‘o’.

During Saturday night’s get-out from Shop 82 when we were working out how to get all of our furniture into one car in one trip the decision was made that, quite frankly, our bench wasn’t going anywhere. On a majority vote our bench (pretty much the staple piece of equipment for our fortnight residence, what with it being seating, barrier and set) would have been consigned to the ‘anybody who would like these items please TAKE THEM’ pile.

But Emily and I had other ideas. Given the fact that a second empty shops project is looking very likely (we’ve got the bug it seems) we wanted the bench. And if there was no other way to keep it then we were jolly well going to carry it from Brixton, up the hill, to Streatham where we could store it until its next outing.

Full of our final meal (for now) from Etta’s Kitchen we left a luggage tag on the bench apologising for leaving it and promising to collect it on Tuesday night.

Only, we both manage to forget this until it is far too late to do anything about the bench, let alone walk it to Streatham.

Which is why, this morning, Emily and I ended up in Brixton Village Market contemplating exactly how good an idea it had been to want to preserve our bench. A bench that, though its legs fold up, is still awkward and heavy enough that you wouldn’t want to carry it from Brixton to Streatham. And when half of the people doing the moving bit is me (who Charlie pointed out that when he saw me lift a chair during our get-in that this was the first time he had seen me lift ANYTHING) there might be a problem.

After deciding that no busdriver was going to let us on a bus and that Brixton Hill is indeed a hill and, oh, MY ARMS and the bruise that is now on my thigh and, come again, why exactly did we decide that we had to get this bench back? we re-thought, got on the phone and found the bench a temporary home in Brixton Hill. And thereby decided that from now on everything that Write By Numbers does will involve this bench.

Tales From Ovid: Day Twelve 1

Yesterday I blogged about questions and today it seems only fair to provide some answers. In amongst the press interviews I did yesterday I had the rather fabulous experience of being interview by Vobes of Empty Shops Radio who not only called me a “lovely young lady” (ah, still young!) but who asked pertinent, thoughtful questions even though they were utterly spontaneous. Respect is due. For any of you who might want to hear my witterings you can now listen to the podcast here. [We’re ‘Theatre in an Empty Shop’ as you scroll down]

[Warning: My voice is both shrill and a little bit high. Plus I use the phrase ‘learning curve’. Above all I do not sound like I come from Yorkshire AT ALL. I hang my head in shame]

Tales From Ovid: Day Eleven

Today was most definitely a day of questions:

Why do you choose to make theatre in an empty shop?

How are your audiences different?

How did this project come about?

How old are you?

Where is the dictaphone?

What are you doing next?

Can I have another slice of cake?

Are you writing at the moment?

Do you wish you were here longer?

Where did the toilet roll go?

What do you write about?

[brace position]

What’s your role in Write By Numbers?

Do you want to do a workshop for us?

Is that painting for sale?

What did we do right?

What did we do wrong?

What are you doing?

Can I have some sugar?

How are you?

Where’s Etta’s Kitchen?

Is ‘sleeping bag’ one word or two?

What are you doing next?

Do you have the key for the SHUTTER or do I?

Where’s the milk?

Do you know ‘The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock’?

Can I move you because the lighting here makes you look like a ghost?

Are you paying for the electricity in here?

But, really, what next?

Does culture have a part to play in a market?

Did we switch all the lights off?