“How My Light is Spent”: A Dramatic new Chapter for Sight Life
“How My Light is Spent”: Dramatic new Chapter for Sight Life
Thanks to everyone who came to see the Sight Life drama group perform at Chapter on November 18th and 19th. A few years ago none of us could imagine appearing on stage. But we did, thanks to the support of a professional team led by director Chris Durnall, ably supported by musician Stacey Blythe and audio describer (and performer) Alastair Sill.
Joining the Sight Life drama group was a big step for all of us. But the benefits in terms of confidence — and simply the fun we have – mean we want to carry on and do more. We’re not a closed shop and any Sight Life members are welcome to join in our next project – whatever that may be.
The six of us who performed “How my light is spent” know that performing on stage is a daunting prospect for most people, even more so if you have poor sight. So we thought we’d share our thoughts below in the hope that they may help overcome any entirely understandable doubts you may have about treading the boards.
She adds that “being a member of the site life drama club is a wonderful opportunity to work alongside friends with sight loss.”
The two performances we’ve done so far are based on our personal experiences, so as Lou points out: “It’s truth not acting, and this is what makes it special. Each of our stories is genuine and moving.”
Many of you will know Roz — a newcomer to the group — from chair yoga and the Sight Life reception desk. “The production for me initially was terrifying, but with such amazing professional support from Chris, Stacey, Alastair, Sion and Dan as we neared the performance. It all became possible! It was a wonderful experience with amazing people who I consider are now my friends. I have definitely gained the confidence to tackle further challenges.”
Jane reflects the shrinking violet feelings many of us had prior to joining the drama group. “I am usually happiest in the background. Performing is very much out of my comfort zone. In our first drama session, I couldn’t even manage to say my own name without fluffing it up! But I love the deep bond we have developed as a group. There is no teamwork like it – so supportive, caring and fun.”
Camaraderie and confidence
Lockdown was a difficult time for everyone, but more so for some than others as Sharon explained so movingly on stage. “I thoroughly enjoyed doing the shows,” she says. “It was a very positive outcome for me with the friendships and camaraderie and being able to have a laugh. It’s made me more confident, doing something in later life I never thought I’d do. Don’t think you can’t do things just because you’re older and vision impaired.”
Companionship and increased confidence are themes highlighted by Emma too: “It was an unforgettable experience, full of laughter, innovation and a great sense of unity and support. I encourage anyone with sight loss who may be hesitant or lacking in confidence to take a leap into the unknown and join the drama group. They may find a new creative and exciting world opening for them that they would not have known existed had they not taken that first step.”
Our backgrounds and experiences of sight loss are very different. John, who was born with nystagmus, says: “Growing up with a sight problem, the performing arts always seemed off limits to me. I never imagined I’d be on a stage telling my story in front of an audience, let alone that I might enjoy it. That we succeeded is down to the support we gave each other and the support we got from the truly talented professionals who believed in us.”
In addition to Chris (3) Company of Sirens | Facebook, Stacey Stacey Blythe and Alastair @wordofmouth74, we would like to thank photographer and video maker Sion Berry, lighting designer Dan Young (who lit the set without dazzling us) and set designer Edwina Williams-Jones.
We are also grateful to the Arts Council of Wales Arts Council of Wales | Arts Council of Wales, the National Lottery Home | The National Lottery (national-lottery.co.uk) and Cardiff Council Tree Dept. Parks and green spaces (cardiff.gov.uk), the staff and volunteers at Sight Life, Andrea Salt and, of course, Jordan Kelly and Taff, the very patient guide dog.