Writer, theatre-maker, and artist Luca Rutherford will bring her impassioned performance piece You Heard Me to Battersea Arts Centre, before embarking on an autumn tour.
Exploring the complex and messy ways in which we connect to our internal power, Luca’s story of resilience and self-discovery empowers audiences to honour themselves by taking up space and finding their own voice.
Are you listening? You Heard Me is a true story that celebrates a single moment of noise that allowed creator and performer Luca Rutherford to escape an attack. This moment made her understand what it means to occupy space, to heal and be part of something much bigger than herself. A theatrical experience about refusing to be silenced and the power to re-make, re-mould and disrupt, You Heard Me follows one woman’s journey to reclaiming the space she occupies.
You Heard Me is at Battersea Arts Centre Wednesday 27th September – Saturday 14th October 2023, more information can be found here.
You Heard Me is coming to Battersea Arts Centre, what can you tell us about the show?
You Heard Me is a fierce, powerfully soft and loud show about resilience, the messiness of connecting to your power and not being silenced. It is a really visceral experience for the audience. There is integrated lighting and sound. The intention of the piece is not to silence or diminish talking about sexual violence.
The show is about taking up space and not apologising. The piece is very precise, bold and warm. The hope with this work is for audiences to leave feeling fired up and thinking about their own power. Care for the audience is at the heart of You Heard Me. There is a content warning announcement before the performance starts and the audience are welcome to come and go as they please or need to.
What inspired you to create it?
I was attacked back in 2019, whilst on a run. The attack was motivated by sexual violence. I won’t go into details, because the show will do that, but what I will say is that I got away. This experience led me to understand the power of my own voice and learn how to take up space. It got me thinking about how often I have apologised when it hasn’t been my fault, how many times I have made myself smaller when I didn’t want to be.
I wanted to make a piece of work that captures the messiness of connecting to your power. For me, it has been a journey of resilience, community and finding spaces for joy in amongst the relentlessness. I also wanted to tell this story and not apologise for telling it. Horrifically my story is one of too many. I wanted to add to this conversation.
Did you find it challenging to write about something that actually happened to you?
Yes absolutely. But the team* I collaborated with are incredible. Safety and care were at the core of our process. I did the personal work I needed to do (and continue to do) in order to play with the artistic work that needed to happen to craft this piece. Performing the show is a safe and comfortable thing for me to do. It was a fascinating process of unpicking the layers of meaning within this piece. We never wanted to literally dramatise the violence on stage, nor to traumatise myself or an audience in the duration of the show. And at the same time, we need to go into the darkness of the piece to be able to express the power within it and the messiness of that.
* (Maria Crocker, Melanie Wilson, Tanuja Amarasuriya, Bethany Wells, Bethany Gupwell, Linzy Na Nakorn, Adam Robertson, with initial input from Jenni Jackson and Steph McMann)
It will then head out on tour, what are you looking forward to about that?
It is amazing to be at Battersea Arts Centre for a three week run. This gives the time and space to understand and notice the tiny details in the work. I am looking forward to going out on tour around other parts of England to meet new audiences and new spaces. I am going to a fair few venues I have never been before, MAC, Colchester Arts Centre, Hexham Queens Hall, Sheffield Theatres. Really looking forward also to sharing the politics at the heart of the work. The work does not hide from rage and the reality that it is okay to rage and perfectly possible to be okay as well as raging! So I am really looking forward to seeing how the work lands for a multitude of different audiences.
All of the performances will be relaxed, why was that important to you?
It is super important that the work is about nourishing those who become part of it/experience it. The team and I made sure we did everything we could (within the limits of what we control) to not perpetuate any violence to anyone. What is brilliant about theatre is also what is unpredictable about it; a room full of strangers, all with unique experiences. You don’t know the day someone has had, or what has happened in their life to lead them to this point where they walk in to watch a show.
We cannot control what someone’s reaction to the work is going to be but what can control is how we set up the work. Informing all audiences that the show is an intense piece of work revolving around sexual violence is vital. That way everyone coming to see the show has agency to make a choice, not only throughout the performance but also to turn up in the first place.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see You Heard Me?
You Heard Me is for anyone who has been told to shut up. Anyone who has be made to feel smaller than they feel. Anyone who has been afraid to walk home. Equally it is for anyone who does feel heard and are open to being softly challenged about how they can make space to listen to other people.
Audiences can expect to see a highly visual and physical show. It starts with unapologetic joy and fun and then moves into a deep look at how a personal experience of being attacked led me to understand what it means to take up space, refuse to be silenced and not apologise. I hope audiences leave thinking about their own power, feeling fierce and fired up.