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Who Do You Carry

The Proposed Project.


It is about carrying, and who we carry in life and for how very long.


The interactive, intimate element of the project is that during the piece the performer will take the weight of an audience member. It might be just holding their leaning mass, but the objective is to carry them.


The piece uses one physical ‘performer’ who tells the other that the story is about carrying and he must carry them to tell it. It begins with a story about how the performer started to carry someone in their life and how they have for a long time and how they always will. (see ‘starter text’ below.)


The event explores carrying in a physical way, but also develops the starter text and moves into a free-form conversation with the audience member. The question is whether we carry willingly; whether the people we carry are heavy or light (irrespective of their mass), whether we choose to carry or whether we have no choice. It asks when we begin to carry and when, or if ever, it stops.


Once the participant is being carried or held, the fictional story will shift into real stories of the carrier’s life. And then - as the relationship deepens through the carrying and the trusting - the carrier will initiate a conversation about the person being carried (on their back or over their shoulder or in their arms) - about whom the carried person is themself carrying.


Kevin Dyer wrote the starting point for this in Pret a Manger on Euston station a month ago. It is a first draft, the beginning of a situation, and above is a video of a performer, Jen Durrans, trying it out in a development workshop. The narrative conclusion of the story (as yet unwritten) is that the catcher has to carry the man he has caught forever – to work, to parties, to restaurants, to the cinema, to funerals and weddings, even to bed with his partner.


‘It is really, although I didn’t realise it at the time of writing it, the story of me and my dad, and also me and my son who has now left home and whom, even though he does not know it, is still being carried by me. It has made me think about who I carry – my sons, my partner, my father (who is dead), ex lovers, the child my partner lost and we have never talked about, the people who have hurt me who I cannot let go. Maybe we also carry the people we have not yet met – but who we are desperate to.’ – Kevin Dyer.


This piece is fuelled by autobiography – of the writer, the performer, and the audience member who is being carried.


The performance is a physical act and a metaphor. It is a story already scripted, that moves into an unscripted interactive telling of stories between two people who have never met before.


It happened in a micro second – I was there, walking, and the man coming towards me.


I was in a hurry, that’s what eight-thirties are for isn’t it. I’d done teeth and antiperspirant, a bowl of something, but no time to wait for the kettle. 


It was busy, a run, not jostling but 21st century Britain, everyone going where they are going, getting to B, running away from A.

And there was a push, no not a push; a stumble. And the man fell.


Not a flailing of limbs and a scream,

More like a tree.

But not that stiff; more relaxed, like someone in a trust exercise.


Yes, like he was plasticine, and he knew no harm would come to him.


I didn't try to, I definitely didn’t try to. It was an automatic thing.

I reacted; like a blink or a thing that happens when you’re not thinking.  


My knees bent and my back flexed - the muscles of my back broadened and my arms were strong and soft, like branches. Before I could think they just lay under him and there he was cushioned, cradled, a heavy mass but perfectly stalled in his fall to the concrete. 


He opens his eyes.  Blue like beautiful. 


A little smile that says 'Thank you, thank God, at last.’ 


I said to him.  'I’ve got you.' 


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