Illusions of Liberty is a new one woman show coming to Applecart Arts in February 2021
Lorna Wells has found a new avenue for her creative talent after having to give up her career due to chronic illness, Wells was a working singer/songwriter, running a dance and vocal workshop business creating, mini-musicals for children and running a music agency, Lorna has found writing to be very therapeutic (especially comedy) although at times, incredibly challenging, due to her illnesses. Her play Illusions of Liberty is a semi-autobiographical piece about living with an illness that no one see, and it explores the mother-daughter relationship. Four years in the making. Lorna wanted it to give a voice to the often hidden and voiceless. She has previously written the Book and Lyrics of the Musical ‘It Tastes Like Home’, after beginning An MA in Writing for Musical Theatre at #Goldsmiths University. London. ‘It Tastes Like Home’ had three theatre runs in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to critical acclaim. Lorna is grateful to have received funding for’ Illusions of Liberty’ from the Arts Council and The National Lottery England for this project
Full show schedule : DATE & TIME: 7:30pm, February 15th , 16th and 17th 2021. Running Time : 85 minutes. Tickets: Payless £8/ Standard £10/ Pay More £12. More: http://www.applecartarts.com/
What has it been like moving from dance and song writing to theatre?
It’s been interesting, as they say. I’ve always written stories, but never to be used for anything. I guess it was something I always enjoyed. The move to theatre was helped by my first piece being a musical, called “It Tastes Like Home”. It meant that I could use my song writing skills, and musical skills, as well as writing. It was a great way to move from one skillset to another. It’s been incredible though to be creative in another way. Creativity in any form is always rewarding for me.
What has been the challenges and joys of starting a theatre production?
The joys are seeing something that started as a thought in your mind, come to life on stage. The joy is watching people enjoy that piece, hear their laughter, and hear that the piece has somehow touched their life. The joy is gaining insights due to collaborating with others. The joy is telling people’s stories and allowing them from that, to have a voice. The challenges are financial, trying to find money from somewhere to put the play on stage. We have been lucky to secure funding from the Arts Council England and The National Lottery for this particular production. As a Black production we often struggle to be taken seriously. The assumption is sometimes that it just will not be any good. For me personally with invisible illnesses, the struggle is a physical one. I need to have a strong team to put around me to assist in all aspects of the production. This includes my personal/ support assistant and all the production team.
Tell us a bit about what Illusions of Liberty means to you and how it plays into your own experiences?
‘Illusions of Liberty’ means a lot to me. It is an expression of what it is like to live with an illness that no one can see, and still look relatively well. It expresses what it is like to suddenly be told that you have a forever illness. It explores how it effects your friendships, your relationships and your work. I guess it started as a cathartic piece, and then grew from there. My experiences of being diagnosed, dealing with the medical profession and medical racism are elements of my own life. It is a comedy – drama because it reflects how I use humour to manage my life.
What has the lockdown taught you about yourself?
As many people with chronic illnesses would testify to, the lockdown has taught me that we live in a permanent state of lockdown. This had taught me that I am resilient, adaptable and positive. There are challenging moments, but ironically it has given me more access to the world in terms of Zoom and other online platforms for meet-ups, art, theatre and classes in all sorts of things. I have very poor mobility, so it means that I wouldn’t be able to attend any of these things normally.
Do think that there are misconceptions around Black women and mental health?
Yes. I think the strong Black women trope, which of course can be true, can work against us. We are not allowed to be vulnerable, softer, or anxious. It is assumed we can cope with so much more, and in the meantime, we could be suffering a lot.
Why do you think African and Caribbean communities shy aware from talking about ailments and illness?
I’m not sure why. I wonder if it is seen like a weakness, or maybe not trying hard enough. Maybe if you are sick, you are not seen as productive or valued by the wider society, and so illness brings a certain shame or even embarrassment.
Tell us about Liberty who is she in the play?
‘Liberty Jones’ is a vivacious Black woman in her early thirties who is a Principal Cellist in a London Orchestra. She has grown up in a one-parent family with a mother who is a piano teacher. She got a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, her childhood dream. Her Cello is called ‘Bob’, she loves Pad Thai, the spiderman franchise, films and comics. She loves Jazz and hip hop as well as classical music. She has a great sense of humour and is very close to her Mother and Boyfriend.
How long did it take to get the production of the ground?
It has taken five years to get to this current production of ‘Illusions of Liberty’ off the ground. It was premiered at the King’s Head Theatre in 2019. This current production is a further development of that.
How is APPLE CART involved?
Applecart Arts are a theatre in Newham, East London, who specialise in live- streaming theatre productions. This would have been a hybrid production (a combination of in-person and online) if coronavirus restrictions would have allowed for that.
Why should people watch this play?
This play is a funny and poignant portrayal of four days in the life of a young Black woman after she has received life-changing news. It has Drama, it has Comedy, it has Live-music and a few unexpected characters along the way. It will give you insight into a world you may never have seen or been aware of before. It will cause you to really ‘see ’the invisible. It incorporates the views and feelings of others who live with an invisible illness. You will be so glad that you did.
The play will be live streamed over three consecutive nights. Tickets: http://www.illusionsofliberty.co.uk SUPPORT BLACK BRITISH THEATRE: Share this!!
WIN TICKETS: Answer the following question?
The only criteria being a woman of colour: Q: Who plays the lead in Illusions of Liberty? Send correct answers to arts – support @ alt – africa.com by 13th February 2021 winners will be notified by email.