work in progress
Period Drama is an autobiographical piece that looks at the experiences of anxiety disorder through a female experience and our relationship with time. The piece draws parallels between menstrual cycle, life cycle of a butterfly and fluidity of our mental health. The performance uses corde lisse, new writing, physical and verbal comedy, and original music by Ashley John Long (www.ashleyjohnlong.co.uk)
The first phase of development has focused on text, dramaturgy and the relationship between the action and the music.
In the next stage of development, I am looking to further explore the possibilities for the piece to exist in unusual spaces that in some way relate to the notion of time passing. That could be clock towers, old watch factories, decaying buildings, and nature spots based around water.
I am seeking a visual artist/set designer to help me explore ways of grounding the imagery from the piece (butterflies, water, plants and visual metaphors for blood) in different places within the public space realm and to look at how the elements of the “scenography” could be used to magnify the direct experience of time passing. If this could be you, get in touch!
The first stage of R&D took place in January/February 2020
Funded by Arts Council of Wales
With in kind support from NoFit State and Circomedia
See to bottom of the page for testimonials.
"Olga is contributing to an important artistic discourse with this work, pushing & questioning how a circus artist can speak through their practice with honesty & complexity, and achieve both physical and theatrical virtuosity.
The meditations of Period Drama are vital in a time when we hear so much about mindfulness but still publicly allow little space for diverse experiences of mental health. The solo form that Olga is exploring holds this space in a very powerful way, drawing the audience through a vivid & sensory depiction of the negotiation and flow she experiences living with anxiety and hormonal fluctuation.
Olga is drawing on female bodied experience and pulling this out to reflect back on a distinctly human level. The work promises to be accessible, funny, poignant and relatable. It works towards problematising the health/illness binary, the ‘waiting’ for recovery, for normality and also contends with the historically linear approach to women’s bodies and female growth and becoming and the way that female biology can work to reinforce this.
Most prominent for me in the material is this exploration of our ‘selves’ and what is within and beyond our control. How connected we feel to ourselves and to the greater whole, how this dictates how in or out of control we feel when navigating life.
The modes, stages & patterns echo to me the different ways in which we find & lose ourselves on a sometimes daily basis, how we synthesise our experiences through analysis, anger, wilfulness, poetic reflection.. and how we are inevitably faced with change."
Nicole A’Court- Stuart, Arts Producer
"I liked the combination of surreal humour, personal storytelling and lyrical aerial. I liked the themes of anxiety and the arc of mood changes with the menstrual cycle. It feels very relevant as our society is increasingly comfortable with discussing menstruation and mental health, and it could play a key part in this social gear shift. It was an interesting use of aerial, showing a lyrical metaphorical aspect to the storytelling that also shows Olga as a physically strong woman, which is a nice counterpoint to her stories addressing anxiety. This feels more urgent now as we have to face ourselves in isolation and are likely to come out the other side with increasing levels of anxiety.”
Grania Pickard, Artistic Director of Oddly Moving
“I wanted to laugh and cry throughout, it is personal and socio-political and important. It resonated with me enormously. (...)
The style was helpful, the fast moving, cabaret style segments helped with this. I think if I had a different personal experience, I could have taken something completely different away with me that would have been just as thought provoking and enjoyable. It also took you to so many different places in an hour - again, the form relative to the content - proper loved it. (...)
This show has the opportunity to be a real gift. Things it’s made me personally think about a lot since:
I feel less alone having laughed at something so familiar with a group of other people.
That just because something feels solitary doesn’t mean it’s not heard by other people.
That repetition isn’t a trap. You’re still moving forwards.
Don’t invalidate your feelings just because they are linked to your hormonal cycle, doesn’t make them “less”. Women have put up with being considered “hysterical” for long enough already, let's not do it to ourselves.
Yes, I absolutely do feel like a caterpillar. I just didn’t know that I did. Thank you.
Stop with the self-doubt, you’re a perfectly spectacular butterfly already you just also cry a lot and that’s okay.”
Alice Downing, Theatre Maker
Testimonials form the collaborators:
"(...) The work contributes to current, wider research regarding the connection between physicality, concept and text - specifically the role of aerial rope in relation to ideas around mental health (...)"
Laura Murphy PhD, circus and performance art practitioner
"(...) the writing extremely well crafted and perfectly integrated into a wider artistic vision. The combination of skilled technique, comedy, vulnerability and, above all, emotional honesty to be considered and affecting (...)"
Ashley John Long – composer and musician
"Olga's work brings joy and passion into the room. The stories that unfold are poignant, touching, funny, strong and daring (...)!
Bianca Bertalot, performing arts facilitator specialising in clowning and fooling technique