WEEK THREE: TO KNOW HOW YOU STAND 2.0: 50 YEARS OF PROTEST AT WARWICK UNIVERSITY

To Know How You Stand 2.0: Week Three Blog by Siobhan Brennan

It’s a tough process organising creativity.

You have your building blocks down, idea after idea, and you want to include everything… but the process is an iceberg and the performance is only the bit visible above water, there’s so much more to it below the surface.

You want the audience to dive down with you – come see! There’s so much more than this to what we did! Look at all the shiny ideas we had! But it’s not that simple.
You want to share the journey you had with other people.

But no one is going to take the same journey that you did, everyone responds differently to the same stimuli, just as every one of us have had different reactions to this process.Structuring the showThere are moments when it flows easier than anything. Pouring all your rage, your joy, your frustration, your optimism onto a page; dancing free as the wind, letting all of the tension out.

There are roadblocks to surmount. Writing a song – something that should be second nature to me as a singer now, something that feels familiar – suddenly becomes strange when it’s removed from its usual context. The space is safe, the people are safe, but you’re somehow being dragged squarely out of your comfort zone.

I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair (except punk rockers never wear flowers in their hair and I feel about as incongruous as that image).

There’s something intensely personal about the protest songs people have written. We mix our songs together in groups. What protest means to one individual meshed with another’s. The result is a protest within a protest. Frustrated rap meshed with sorrowful harmony. Two forms battling for attention, cohering together, there’s something about that mixture of emotions that seems pertinent to protest, but also to our process. IMG_4894

It’s a battle bringing together everything we’ve created, accomplished, realised, discovered, understood, questioned, and synthesising it into a thirty minute piece.

There are things we all agree we want and don’t want, some people feel more passionately about including certain things than others, some people speak, some listen.

Sometimes an image sparks something – a joyous leap, paper flying through the air, drifting to the ground. Both an act of protest and a celebration, a synthesis of weeks of careful, meticulous reproduction crystallised in a moment of release. The end of a process and the beginning of a protest.

That’s my image. Everyone in the room has a different image in their heads – a different means to the same end. Ultimately we’re working towards the same thing – but what’s the best way to get there? How do we bring everyone’s images together? There are some things that have to be sacrificed, some darlings to brutally murder.

In some ways it feels like we’re organising a protest. Like Anna said: “it feels like we’re learning to make a show, but also learning to make a protest.” There are practicalities to nail down, megaphones to be sourced, small details embedded under the same sense of idealism. There are deeply personal, divergent reactions and opinions, and yet an undercurrent there where we’re all on the same wavelength.

We’ve discussed, we’ve created: Now we’ve got to make a show out of it.  

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