Updated: Nov 18, 2020
You're Never Too Old To Ignite Your Flame
Sometimes times life throws you a googly and it is up to you to catch it, ignore it, or as in my case dodge it. Having just dodged one and feeling raw, I decided rather than drown my sorrows in cheese and “Mid-Sommer Murder” repeats I’d drive to Glasgow and see what Flames was about.
So glad I did…
The Flames is a performance company for people over fifty, directed and devised by http://trickyhat.com/, and the first night I walked in I felt at home.
The room was full of colorful people my vintage and more, and for a person who does a spot of caring it was thrilling. Instead of talking about tablets, and incontinence, people were talking about their last performance and how they couldn’t wait to do the next!
Colour is what I remember along with a sense of fun despite playing a few ice-breaking sessions which usually has me cringing. No cringing this time, in fact, I embraced the whole ice breaking, like a fearless child.
“Write a list of what you fear,” said Fiona the director (who I immediately trusted).
Farting in public and not finding the loo in time being a couple of mine which- desperate for a laugh l could not wait to read out.
The rehearsal drew a lot from inside which, when you over fifty is a lot.
Aya, dance artist and teacher demonstrated with a warm smile, ways of moving as a group that involved a fair amount of eye contact and armpit it showing it was comfortably intimating, surprising erotic, and very human.
I couldn’t help feeling a little more eye gazing may help others connect, especially those I work with who talk to Alexa for company.
Fiona, and Beth, the assistant director had us walking in our glory, (don’t try in the coop) walking stereotype sex, (keep this for the bedroom) walking invisible, and along with many other walks, list writing and reading out. Inhibitions melted as I discovered the joys of skipping with a gay abandonment that usually required way too much drink.
Very quickly the group bonded each with equal space.
The rehearsals were so much fun that I (in my head) continued to skip home feeling beautiful, in fact so drawn was I to the feeling I emailed Fiona who wanted more-a story?
Me, a story of feeling beautiful as if…
Inside each of us is a treasure trove of ideas and feelings just waiting to be nurtured and heard. Beth and Fiona worked with us on our stories helping to expand them into something pretty amazing.
I saw a man light up (not in flames) with applause, a woman enlarge a shoe story into an “oh my God” drama, a Star Trek stand-up routine, pickpocketing with a ‘yes I remember’ reaction, tobogganing as never described before, a granny who say “crime does pay”, an emotional story of scars that made me tearful and many more.
Stories that beat East Enders hands down.
After six rehearsals we were ready.
Fiona a woman whose vision is as easy to follow as her enthusiasm had us performing like pros. I learned not to walk backward, walk with intention, standing still was more than ok, and the true meaning of “less is more”.
Despite no memory of our running order, I knew it would all work out.
In the past, I’ve performed with a pianist that played the wrong song-an actor who performed the wrong scene, and a diabetic director who, with more drama than BBC’s Casualty collapsed in a coma taking the backdrop drop with him.
These guys were pros I felt safe in their hands. We’d rehearsed with musicians who picked things up quicker than a Brighton seagull, lighting that turned a few platforms into a stage of color and a backdrop of film and photos professionally edited and poignantly timed.
And there were plenty of experienced Flames, who’d performed before.
The performance was over with a flash ending with the caste lit in color as closeup photos of the caste’s faces flashed behind us.
Faces as poignant their story’s.
I loved those portraits, real, beautiful, full-on, “here is me” face, faces that said something, to be proud of; faces that along with their performance received ‘loved it” applause.
The Flames taught me many things…
walking in your glory had nothing to do with nudity.
“stand by” meant “shit I’m on soon”
when the nerves get the better of people some shares their makeup, others chocolate.
great lighting is not just candlelight and a few wines.
sharing an armpit doesn’t always require deodorant.
and I don’t have to be funny all the time.
But the most important of all ….
Life doesn’t begin when your forty or fifty or even sixty. It begins when you met the right people who allow you to do what you have always been too scared to try and then cheer you on.