Heather Agyepong is touring a new solo performance The Body Remembers exploring how trauma lives in the body, particularly for Black British women across different generations. Heather’s show features real interviews with women in the UK and I wondered if you might be interested in talking to her about why is it was so important to use real life stories in her work and why we need to explore female trauma and healing?
Heather recently won London Photo Fair’s Emerging Photographer of the Year and is going to appear in the tv adaptation of Noami Alderman’s The Power, so she is definitely one to watch!
Created & performed by multidisciplinary artist & actor Heather Agyepong, The Body Remembers features interviews of Black British women in trauma recovery. The performance is inspired by the therapeutic practice of Authentic Movement with Agyepong as The Mover and the audience as The Witness. Featuring dynamic projections and an immersive soundscape which help the audience to re-discover the power of self-reflection as the start of recovery and healing. Co-created by Imogen Knight (movement) and Gail Babb (dramaturgy), The Body Remembers creates a space for audience and artist to attend to themselves and each other.
Through a unique and compelling relationship between the audience and artist, it creates a collective cathartic experience. Touring from 7 October 2021 including Bernie Grant and Battersea Arts Centre. ALT caught up with Heather to talk!!!
What made you explore a career in the creative industries?
I think I just couldn’t do anything else to express myself. I tried to live a life of academia but something kept pulling me back. The ability to create just felt too special to me.
What has lockdown taught about you?
I need to prioritise rest. Rest is productive. Taking breaks from social media is essential. Spending time with myself has become really important to me.
What was it like winning the London Photo Fair’s Emerging Photographer award?
It totally came out of the blue. I didn’t even know I was nominated, so I just didn’t really understand how this all happened. I was super humbled.
What does the conversation on diversity look like for you in 10 years time?
Hopefully it wouldn’t exist because we would just be doing the work.
Tell us about why you used the title The Body Remembers?
My therapist mentioned the phrase a few years back and I couldn’t get that out of my head. I found out it was a book and that actually your body often serves like an archive. It keeps memories, stories and even pain. Tension, stress and ailments can be stored in your body if you haven’t processed a painful situation. That’s both incredible and terrifying to me, as I feel like a lot of us are stuck in our heads and explaining away what is happening in our bodies.
How important is self-reflection in your life?
I think it’s really the beginning of change.
What is authentic movement?
Authentic movement is moving the body through impulse in order to release stress and tension from the body, which I do every night through structured improvisation.
What can we expect from this show?
The Body Remembers is an immersive performance piece about how trauma manifests in the body and explores ways in which we can aid our own healing. The piece centres around interviews from 20 black British women from different generations talking about listening to their bodies and their healing journeys.
There is also an immersive soundscape and video projections created by Gillian Tan and Donato Wharton to facilitate the audience’s experience, keeping them connected to the work and asking them what is happening in their body throughout the piece. The core component to the work is inspired by a process called authentic movement, which is moving the body through impulse, in order to release stress and tension from the body which I do every night through structured improvisation.
The piece was co-created by Gail Babb and Imogen Knight.
For the audience I have no particular take home for them. I want them to have their own particular experience and specific experience in themselves. I hope that the audience just listens to themselves more, in whatever capacity that is. When you watch the piece, you’re actually asking to listen to what’s happening in your own body, not just about me. So I hope that it encourages a more empathetic ear to themselves. If I could do that, just that, then that would be magic.