Preview: Sue MacLaine’s vessel


A follow up to Sue MacLaine’s Total Theatre Award winning work Can I Start Again Please, vessel takes inspiration from the remarkable history of Anchoritism to ask if voluntary solitude could ever be defined as a political act. In a world of protests, political incompetence and incomprehension, MacLaine’s characteristically poetic language layers the contrasting voices, and silences, of four women. Through battles with the demands of modern living, from the personal to the political, vessel imagines a life where shutting oneself off from the world could be considered the most radical protest of all.

Vessel will be performed by a diverse cast of four women – Karlina Grace-Paseda, Julie Cleves, Angela Clerkin and Kailing Fu. The performance uses creative captioning throughout designed by digital artist Giles Thacker and will bring together lighting and set designer Ben Pacey, choreographer Seke Chimutengwende and sound designer Owen Crouch.

Sue MacLaine said, “I discovered the practice of Anchoritism after visiting a church in Lewes where the remains of an anchoress cell are still visible and I began to contemplate how this 12th century radical act of withdrawal could speak to 21st century audiences and what it would say. I began to think about political activism and how we survive and respond to the current bombardment of political catastrophe and the personal challenges that face each of us every day. It seems to me that a huge strength of character is required to make the choice to withdraw. This led me to questions of what does it mean to be stable and what does it mean to be mobilised?  Could this act of withdrawal be viewed as political activism and as a legitimate strategy for survival?”

Sue MacLaine is a theatremaker, writer, performer and director. Choreography and choreographic practice play a huge role in her work, and she is known for work that is poetic and inventive in form, winning the Total Theatre Award for Innovation, Experimentation & Playing with Form for Can I Start Again Please in 2015 after being nominated for the award in 2012 for Still Life: An Audience with Henrietta Moraes. She is also a qualified British Sign Language/English interpreter, and is known for challenging and interrogating ideas of access and accessible performance.

Vessel can be seen 25 & 26 Oct at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, 6 – 24 Nov at Battersea Arts Centre and 3 Dec at Edge Hill Arts Centre for DaDaFest International.


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