Danusia Samal’s Busking It, based on her own experiences as a licensed TFL Busker recently played at HighTide Festival. The production opens at Shoreditch Town Hall on 10 October, with previews from 9 October and runs until 20 October. Danusia joined us to tell us more.
You’re bringing Busking It to Shoreditch Townhall, what can you tell us about it?
Busking It is a semi-autobiographical show inspired by my ten years as a London Underground Busker. It’s an unusual blend of jazz gig, one-woman play, and an Underground busking pitch! We play original music and covers to tell a story of London. It’s about reaching beyond what can be an isolated existence and connecting. It’s a hopeful show about how music connects us and can be something we draw strength from as we try to make change come.
What inspired you to write it?
I had a lot of interesting experiences over the ten years I spent as a busker. I met all kinds of interesting people and saw the city at its best and worst. Sometimes you’d have a moment with a total stranger and it was quite profound. I ended up writing these down so I wouldn’t forget. I started sharing the stories with friends, then as short pieces at scratch nights. People were interested and wanted to know more so I decided to write it as a whole play.
How have your experiences of Busking helped you shape the performance?
All the characters in Busking It are based on people I really met, and there were even more characters who didn’t make it into the show. However, the lessons they taught me have remained at the heart of Busking It. Like when you busk, the whole piece revolves around the audience/performer relationship and what happens when we cross that boundary and connect. The underground Ditch space we’re performing in is also a gift for a show about busking, so we’re having a lot of fun turning Shoreditch Town Hall into the London Underground!
What led you to pull together the different elements in Busking It?
I wanted to combine all the best things about busking to make this show: live music, people, the aesthetic of a tube tunnel. And with a piece of theatre you can lift those things into something even more magical. Like a fairy-tale version of the Underground, where anything can happen!
What has busking, and turning it in to Busking It taught you about yourself and the city you live in?
Being anonymous can be a gift and a curse. It means you’re liberated to be your best or worst self. I left busking with the ethos that if you perform a piece of music and really believe it, you can make a positive change in someone’s day.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Busking It?
Come for the experience and the chance to see a side to London you wouldn’t otherwise! And if nothing else, come for the music, composed and beautifully played by Hugely Problematic (Adam and Joe). Oh, and come thinking of a song you love.
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