Heather Agyepong’s powerful new solo performance The Body Remembers explores how trauma lives in the body, particularly for Black British women across different generations.
Through a unique and compelling relationship between the audience and artist, it creates a collective cathartic experience.
Created & performed by multidisciplinary artist & actor Heather Agyepong, The Body Remembers features interviews of Black British women in trauma recovery. The performance is inspired by the therapeutic practice of Authentic Movement with Agyepong as The Mover and the audience as The Witness. Featuring dynamic projections and an immersive soundscape which help the audience to re-discover the power of self-reflection as the start of recovery and healing.
You’re touring The Body Remembers, what can you tell us about the production?
The Body Remembers is an immersive performance piece about how trauma manifests in the body and explores ways in which we can aid our own healing. The piece centres around interviews from 20 black British women from different generations talking about listening to their bodies and their healing journeys.
There is also an immersive soundscape and video projections created by Gillian Tan and Donato Wharton to facilitate the audience’s experience, keeping them connected to the work and asking them what is happening in their body throughout the piece. The core component to the work is inspired by a process called authentic movement, which is moving the body through impulse, in order to release stress and tension from the body which I do every night through structured improvisation.
What inspired you to create The Body Remembers?
Black people are over-represented in the statistics around mental health and we have seen the onslaught that women have to deal with, especially in the last month, so that group feels like they need to be centred in work around mental health.
My own personal experience of how PTSD can show up in your body with headaches, palpitations etc and discovering you can be experiencing PTSD and not know it also pushed me to create a performance about trauma and healing.
We often talk about major traumatic events causing PTSD but trauma can also be emotional neglect, triggered by a difficult break up. I want to widen the conversation around the definition of trauma and continue the conversation of not just listening to our heads but our bodies.
How did you discover Authentic Movement and what have been the challenges of using it in a theatre production?
I remember Fuel (the producers of the piece) asked me what did I wanna do for my next project and I instinctually said “I wanna move”. I’m not a dancer in any way but my body really wanted to expel energy and I later discovered movement is really key in therapeutic practice and recovery, so it almost felt like my body was trying to repair itself. The work is incredibly cathartic to me but it’s hard work. I imagine it can be tense to watch but it always ends up in a mass release. I guess the only way out is through.
Tell us more about the specially created soundscape for this production?
The soundscape Donato has created feels like you are inside the body, it complements the movement and really holds the audience inside something. There are some gorgeous tones that add to the power of the experience.
What do you hope audiences take away from the performance?
Nothing specific to be honest, just that we can pay more attention to what is happening in our body and also highlight the provision that is needed for those most affected by mental health issues.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see The Body Remembers?
Open your heart to the experience and be gentle with yourself.
The Body Remembers is currently touring until 13th November, full listings and ticket information can be found here.