Dear Fringe, I am writing to say that I would love to bring my Show Hi Anxiety to the Fringe. Even though over the years I have done the Fringe you have deeply hurt me and challenged me, and broken me in cash terms and emotionally, drained the life out of me, but having said that I met some of the most amazing people who are solid friends and would do anything for you. Oh and the views and the bars and the Scottish lust for life, lust for living is catching. But creatively I am totally bemused by what’s supposed to happen, and is it a good idea is it good for your Creative track record, do you get a badge at the end? Because its such an extreme idea isn’t it to go into a small space and perform in a time slot like 11 am, I’m not been funny but that like makes no sense to my body or brain or soul, but hey if it works for you, I guess at least then you v’e got the day to yourself to recover from performing to 2 people, to tell yourself not to take in personally, to try and love yourself and not to cry.And so having said all this, I’ve realised that I’m up still up for it and that whatever doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and even though you reap what you sow, ( I’m not even sure what the harvest crop would be) apart from some crazy nights out, some cracking life changing hangovers, some new friends some bloody great stories some incidents in gay bars and possible an audience greater than 2.So Dearest Fringe I wonder if someone could get back to me ASAP, about coming up that is.
All the best
I’ve never SOLD OUT before it a new experience which means phew I can just get on with the show and stop pestering people …are you coming ..are you coming…enough . Thank you for booking is all I can say .
I’m in the middle of my tour and I have to say I like this way of life . I like all the stuff that comes with, the driving vans the loading up my props that just look like a pile of junk, I like getting to venues and making new friends with the crew and staff, I like pretending I’m meditating when really I’m having a sneaky nap, I like pretending I’m doing a full vocal warm up when all I can remember from training in acting at Manchester Poly, is diaphragm flapping and trying to resonate vowel sounds through my body …
i like doing the work, the tech the runs been able to focus even though we were up against a brass band rehearsal and the local Morris dancers rehearsal at the Trades, god I love you Hebden Bridge, keeping it real.
I like taking the breath and telling myself I can do this and asking the Universe to protect me before I go on stage, even though I have an on off relationship with the Universe, these are my habits my rituals, so that I can get on stage and be honest and share this story and hope that I connect with you, that’s all .so this is where I am, I’m doing and re doing and practising and Someone said 10,000 hours is about right, so I better crack on, and you could book my show and that would add more hours to my practise, for now I will do it in the lounge. Till Hull on Thursday .
Anxiety Festival time is upon me, in 5 days, and 3 hours. So if you are free do come to the show. The Albany Saturday 28th June at 9pm
Thank you to Ouch for having me on their podcast programme, and I just listening back to it and I do seem to laugh a lot. I often think I’m quite flat, but maybe I’m not as flat- as in low, as I think I am, self awareness not one of my strong points turns out!! Had to resort to getting out on my bike this morning to cycle 5 miles to sit in aCafe with a frothy coffee and had to read Eckhart Tolle’s book on being in the now, and that acceptance of who you are and where you are the only way to feel the joy of life. So to all those fellow people who find mornings hard or even any part of the day or night hard or just find life a bit hard right now read this. ” The joy of Being ,which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form,possession,achievement,person,or event- through anything that happens. That joy cannot come to you- EVER. It emanates from the formless dimensions within you, from consciousness itself and thus is one with who you are.”
Thank you Eckhart …It just makes sense, well to me it did….So put that on your salad plate and drown it in Salad Cream !!!
My home town gig at York St Johns, went down really well, tears, laughter, tick tick. Its so great to have chance to build something to have space the develop a performance stride, to find a flow, and be able to tweek and play. But I was a bit thrown by how was emotional I felt on stage to be performing my show in York where it all happened, and so close to where my Mum lives, and spooky to be so close, one street away from where she worked at York District Hospital, where she walked into town on her lunch even when she had a bout of Agraphobia, she made herself walk into town, to face it . It was also spooky that a man on the front row, right there in the centre was a lecturer in Theatre and Mental Health – it couldn’t be more coincidental , Theatre and Mental Health, and he specializes in this, and that’s wonderful, and even more wonderful he asked me would I come back and do the show again for the students and some NHS people, so I said YES of course, so thank you Dr Nick Rowe,( a safe pair of feet).
So here are a couple of lovely pics thank you to my bezzie Ruby Porter for taking these on I might say a tricky camera, thank you Roo for coming out of retirement to take them !!
And thank you Ashley for being the best director and keeping me calm and focused and having the best Kate Bush album The Dreaming on CD in your bag for the journey there and back!!!
Well it was a great start to my tour at Slung Low in Holbeck, Leeds. It started with the most lovely welcome by Porl and Allan and Lucy and Billy the dog, a cafetiere a coffee and home made brownies on a bench in a yard full of plants growing in baths and feeling like you’ve just met up with old friends is not the usual welcome you get at a Theatre !! The philosophy of HUB and Slung Low is also so unexpected and liberating, its a space that theatre makers like myself can use for free, to make to rehearse or just show, and the audience are also free to pay what they feel on the night, and I think they felt alright after seeing my show because the Jar was pretty full, they don’t do massive marketing and spend 1000’s on that, instead they use the web and good old fashioned talking to people, and most people come to one thing then see whats on next via a good old fashioned poster and come again and tell others. So thank you for hosting me, its my kind of place, refreshing, alternative almost from another era, it reminded me of the 80’s of arts centres of people making theatre to say something, of politics of passion and of creating beautiful things on stage…oh AND for those of us in our 40’s who’d loved telly as a kid it reminded my of the Double Deckers, the TV children’s show from the early 80’s, the yard and space is so Double Deckers ! Come aboard we’re the double deckers !!
Yippee we are go. Team Anxiety is go!!! When I phoned to tell my Mum I got Arts Council funding she said “How lovely who else has got it? Is it hard to get Debra? What is it again?” I said “Mum yes it is, its like trying to get a Michelin Star for a sandwich shop” (gourmet sandwiches of course!!!)
Anyway, it was weird trying to explain why I was so excited to be funded by the Arts Council to my mum, age 79, who is now a poster girl for the show itself. “Oh Debra not that photo,” I said “you look gorgeous in that picture the height of 70’s glam” anyway I’m rambling….
So since we got the news its all systems go, and you know when something feels so right and you feel in flow, well this is how it feels. Today I called someone to book a van to take us to the venues. He asked what the show was about and we talked for half hour about depression and how the time is now, it so the right time to be talking and how language traps us, how the modern world of communication brings us together but still leaves us lonely and disconnected. Anyway it got deep and I’m not so good at keeping up with deep, but what a great chat we had, and he’s a flyposterer, ticket seller (multi-talented) and a philosopher and a plasterer!!! And he said “I don’t want to change the world, I’m not an aid worker but I am going do a really good job plastering walls in Little Hulton.”
Start small, be local, do stuff to help people locally – and I love that and that’s my quote of the day, so thank you David.
So, here it is! This is me part of this brilliant documentary made by Dabster Productions for BBC Radio Scotland. I know it’s not all about me, but if you’re pushed for time and want to listen to my bit, I start at 4:40 and finish at 11:17.
It was quite hard to listen back actually – they recorded me listening back to the material I performed and I found it quite emotional (as you’ll hear!). But what it has made me realise is that it is still so important to keep talking about these difficult experiences and places that we find ourselves in.
What’s weird is, yesterday I saw an invitation for people to get involved in a national conversation to beat the stigma of mental health. The day is on 6th Feb and it’s called Time To Talk. So, I’m gonna have a think about where we could do something local. Any ideas, drop me a line!
Enjoy Feeling Kind Of Funny!
I’ve had such an amazing time developing Hi, Anxiety and am looking forward to taking the show on the road later this year. So what better way to start the new year than by being featured in a BBC Radio Scotland documentary. Richard and Julia – who devised and created the documentary – came to Manchester to see my performance of Hi, Anxiety at Ducie Bridge. They loved the material so invited me up to perform at Feeling Kind of Funny:
“a special BBC Radio Scotland recording of a brand new series called, Feeling Kind Of Funny,featuring exciting comedians and storytellers from around Scotland, the UK and the world sharing stories, jokes and revelations about their experiences with mental health. By addressing subjects such as anxiety, compulsive behaviour, addiction and depression through comedy, they’re helping to challenge stigma and increase understanding.”
The show features excepts from people’s material along with interviews in which they talk about their inspiration for doing the work they do. I really enjoyed spending time with the guys up in Edinburgh and can’t wait to hear the finished recording.
More information on the website here: Thursday 9th Jan 13:30
In addition to touring Hi, Anxiety as a full theatre performance, I am also available to do more public speaking around the issues touched on in the show – mental health, anxiety, depression, older people, caring/coping, the role of health professionals.
I performed an excerpt of the show to new social work students at MMU this autumn as part of their initial induction. Ali Gardner, Senior Lecturer, said:
I have been teaching social work for over 10 years and this has been one of the most impressive things I have seen. The students singled the performance out as the most powerful part of their induction process as it offered them an alternative means of engaging with the issues relating to service user and carer issues.
I was also pleased to be booked as the headline act at the closing ceremony of the Love Arts Festival in Leeds. They said:
We were honoured to have Debs Gatenby in attendance to share her moving and funny story of mental health, ‘Hi Anxiety’.
If you would like to know more about booking me to attend your event or conference, or to speak to a group of students or other professionals, then simply drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Performing at TedX, Bradford
Recently performed Hi Anxiety at Ducie Bridge and am SO proud of my amazing audience who all donated over and above the ticket price to raise a whopping £200 for a local Bi-polar Support group. It’s so important to me to raise money for this group, as they receive no core funding and the group is run entirely by volunteer service users.
I dropped the cash off to the group last week and they told me that the money will ensure they can have meetings for another 6 months. When I was there, there were close to 30 people turning up for the meeting – shows there is such a demand for the important role that this group offers.
It’s such a lifeline it is to some people so well done to all those who came along – we did a good thing!
Well, its post the showing of the show, to a warm packed room of folk, we all shared tears and laughter, a very special night.And now I am ready to proceed with what I learnt. Having recovered from being overwhelmed and exhausted emotionally and physically, I’ve learnt just how much it takes to do a one person show, how much focus and energy you need, how much faith you need, how much you cannot let any seeds of doubt enter your mind.And then you have to put all of that to one side,put yourself to one side and really look at the show, what does it need what can it lose. Having had sometime to sift through all the great feedback, negative becomes positive, and can I just say I’m loving the way things grow, I’m loving being open to sharing the work and taking in the changes, I would never of been able to do this before, and now is the time, loving the process,becomes loving working with it. Team Hi Anxiety is go.
This is what started everything off!
I was asked to do a TedX talk at Bradford last December and it was the start of what has become my one woman show, ‘Hi, Anxiety’. Many thanks to Emma for asking me and Imran for chasing the students up to edit the footage! I’m really happy with the finished result and hope you like it too:
I loved performing Hi, Anxiety at the Contact earlier this year. The 30 minute work in progress has now been developed into an hour long show – still a work in progress! – and I get to perform it as part of the Women In Comedy Festival in October.
I’m performing at the gorgeous Ducie Bridge in town, they’re lovely friendly staff, we can take beer up stairs into the venue – and they’ve even got a lovely smoking terrace on the first floor!
The show is on for one night only and it’s on Tuesday 22nd October, 8pm – 9pm. Tickets are sold on the door with all proceeds going to a local Bipolar Support group.
Hope to see you there!
Map to Ducie Bridge here
More on the Women in Comedy Festival here