Kelly Quigley reflects on new Echo Echo performance project with Alessandra Celesia

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Tonya Sheina, Steve Batts, Zoe Ramsey, Kelly Quigley, Alessandra Celesia, Ayesha Mailey, and Janie Doherty at Echo Echo Studios

We have just finished four days of research and development with Alessandra Celesia ahead of our new work commission project Keloids Symphony (working title) which will take place in August at Echo Echo Studios.

This new work has been two and a half years in the making and something the whole company is eager to bring to life. In 2014 Alessandra Celesia walked into our lives and for two days pushed us to the very limits of our emotional range. She cut through our armour and brought out a genuineness in performance that I had strived for but never experienced before. I remember coming away from that first session not quite sure if I ever wanted to do it again, but as the days went on and I started to process and digest all we had done, I felt in my gut that it could be the start of something amazing. Without knowing any of us at all she was able to reach into the roots of each of us and bring out, with such honesty, what was hiding underneath our protective layers of sarcasm, humour, dismissal and anything else that we felt shielded us from the world. It was startling and nerve wrecking, frustrating and completely exhilarating!  I wanted more….. I was glad to find that the rest of the ensemble felt the same, as did our Artistic Director and musician Steve Batts. We discussed and agreed that this was something worth pursuing and quickly set about trying to make it happen.

We have had two short intensive periods with Alessandra since then, the most recent of which was last week.  With careful and nurturing hands, Alessandra was able to unlock the massive vault in each of our memory banks and bring out the tragic, the comical, the absurd, the grotesque, the mundane and the relatable. We were able to tell our stories with such integrity and vulnerability, that we found ourselves touching those who listened and being touched simply by playing ‘the audience’ when it was someone else’s turn to talk.

I am quite certain that this was able to happen so quickly and with such depth because of our work with Steve over the years. His knowledge, his creative process, his experience, and the depth in the way he teaches and produces work are so inspiring and motivating. He has been so generous in sharing all of this with us, as well as supporting and encouraging us to find our own artistic voices and produce our own work. I feel like this has allowed us to find a route in to the way in which Alessandra works and see the importance of how it allows us to create something of meaning and value. I can’t thank him enough for that.

I would also like to thank the rest of the ensemble; Ayesha, Tonya, Zoe and Janie for their hard work and dedication, in not just this, but in everything they do. You make it easier for me to be an artist in the most challenging of ways.

Thank you Barry, our Technical Manager, for embracing everything you have seen and heard in these sessions (the tears, the snot, the hysterical laughter…), without a hint of judgement or derision, while you go about trying to bring our theatrical vision to life.

I look forward to what August brings…..

Kelly Quigley

Echo Echo Ensemble