This is one film in a series of interventions and movement pieces in Dorset in relation a development of the project Little Blue Man an homage to my dad. It includes some of the music that inspired me as I made this work, some of my dad's favourite songs and some of mine. There are more films in this series.
This is the second sample of the development of The House. It shows fragments from the scratch showing (April 2015) and features a conversation between Dr Jenny Hughes (University of Manchester) and Carran Waterfield (Triangle Theatre), together with imagery driving the work.
The House is inspired by historical sources relating to poor women in the Victorian workhouse and contemporary debates about poverty and welfare. It traces a series of real and imagined characters, and narratives of destitution, institutionalisation, creativity and care, over a period of almost 200 years. Drawing on the performer’s research into her own family’s engagements with social welfare dating back to the Victorian workhouse, The House is an ancestral epic that explores how poor women have responded to welfare regimes historically and contemporaneously.
This performance research project investigates the implications of naming and defining somebody ‘poor’, and focuses on the profound forces of misrepresentation and distortion that coalesce around the poor female. From the ‘dangerous, saucy, filthy wretches’ described in an extant diary written by the master and mistress of a Rochdale workhouse in 1842, through to the punitive welfare regimes of today, the poor female is seen at once the cause of her own poverty, an emblem of the undeserving and debased poor, and a force for self help.
What new understandings emerge from researching the techniques of self-presentation developed by poor women historically, which reproduce, trick, exploit and expose the regulatory discourses that call them into appearance?