ABOUT THE PROJECT
I have a confession. I am not a gardener. Or at least, I wasn’t until I started this project. Now, my houseplants are flourishing and there is a constant garden of herbs to cook with.
// SEED came about in response to Covid-19 and the unexpected challenge of creating theatre with no guarantee when theatres or rehearsal spaces would re-open or what it would look like when they did.
In April 2020, during the lockdown in the UK, there was an undercurrent of anxiety and a sense that people were missing connection with others. For this reason, I wanted to create an online encounter evoking the sensory nature of theatre, and where participants could meaningfully connect to another person.
With // SEED, I provide the conditions for conversation to be able to grow, but participants have the freedom to change topic, reflect or just get on with the task of planting in a shared (virtual) space; participants are more co-creators than spectators.
'...there was something about me being 'other' and him being 'other' that gently brought us together amongst the nodding tomato plants of his greenhouse. I liked nothing more than standing there, clearing away the weeds while he clipped the tomatoes and told me stories.'
- Lemn Sissay
The choice to plant seeds together, as well as being a beautiful metaphor, is also inspired by the idea of an encounter lasting longer than the time the performer and participant spend together. The seeds are both a gift but also an obligation, which the participant honours by taking care of them and potentially passing on by cooking with the herbs or having in their living space.
One-to-one theatre is a unique format which does not lend itself well to economics of scale, so it is rarely programmed in traditional theatres or arts centres. However, the switch to digital theatre places this piece outside of the limitations of those constraints because I do not have to think about the cost of hiring a performance space, a rehearsal room, or people to run the technical aspects; I can make a show where the only essential thing is a steady internet connection.
Additionally, because this project is the final project of my MA in Advanced Theatre Practice (ATP) at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, it also sits outside of the usual financial constraints of making a show. Therefore, this encounter is free of charge and participants receive all of the materials pictured above to experience the piece.
What is one-to-one performance?
One-to-one performance is an encounter or show where only two people are present, the artist and one participant/audience member. The amount of interaction between the two people varies, as does the time they spend together, but they are often very short and generally interactive. // SEED is an hour, but it doesn’t feel that long because of its gentle pace.
Do I need to be a performer?
No, you don’t need to be a performer, you will only be asked to chat or reflect – to do whatever you feel comfortable with in the space/time we are together.
What will happen if I participate?
You will receive a package in the post with compost, plant pots and seeds. At the allocated time, click on the link and join the meeting. We will chat to each other while planting the seeds. You are free to talk as much or as little as you want. If any time you feel uncomfortable, we can stop or change topic, the goal is to emerge feeling energised and listened to.
How do I participate?
The piece is part of the Form(at) Performance Festival. There are very few slots available, but there will be a link where you can reserve a place on Eventbrite at the end of August. Or feel free to email me.
What do I need?
You need to be able to receive a package through the post, a laptop with a webcam, and a steady internet connection. It also helps if there is somewhere for the seeds to live once you have taken part, for example a window ledge or balcony. During the piece, you’ll need a clear surface where you can plant the seeds and some water you can pour into the pots.
What if I don’t know how to use Zoom?
Zoom is easy to use. Once you have set up an account with your email address, you just click on a link to open the meeting. This guide will help you.
Do I need to be in the UK?
Not at all. The wonderful thing about doing this digitally is that anyone who has access to a computer and a steady internet connection can participate.
Gardening...always comes back to the simple basic of relationship. And that’s a good thing, because when I look at the state of the world now, every single problem in it...happens out of a breakdown of relationship. So when you sow those string beans this month, or plant out your sweet peas, it’s a little bit of world that is positive, a little bit of life that isn’t in breakdown.
- Jeanette Winterson
My name is Carla Keen, and I am a theatre-maker based in Cambridge, UK. I make work with an interest in form(at) and structure, and some question about what is happening in the moment.
I enjoy the everyday minutiae of people's lives, and I find people endlessly fascinating. I think there is real beauty to be found in the world around us and I love the capacity that storytelling gives us to see things from different viewpoints.
You can find out more about my work at carlakeen.com