RELATIONSHIPS

Love and Other Devices

Love and Other Devices

To what extent should we medicate a lack of love?

Is a chemical attraction better than a digital distraction?

Or should we just be left to our own devices?

Google Trends report a surge in searches for ‘mobile phone addiction’, closely followed by ‘social media addiction’. Mine is on my lap. It’s not off. It’s never off. Because this is Normal? 2018, and we are living in an always-on culture. The conversation is ‘Love and Other Devices’. We are here to talk about love, and how the rise of mobile phone addiction might be the death of romance.

Love is critical to our survival. Babies are literally helpless without it. Without attachment, they die. They need us to be responsive to their cries, attending to their needs. Love carries us through life. Arguably, it is all we seek.

Yet in our relationships, we are choosing to be elsewhere. Sat with our phones never more than a reach away, we scroll through a never-ending sea of content. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we respond to each ring, ping and notification with a panting, slavering hunger. Leaving our partners starving for our attention. Our screens are the new seductress. What is left of love, if we are so easily drawn away into our mobile phones? And should we be chemically resuscitated to our desire once we have lost our passion?

I admit, the discussion wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Anticipating a chat about addiction to scrolling, the conversation swiftly segued into love and medication of love. It’s a difficult conversation. I confess to not knowing the voices of everyone who has a stake in it. Medicating those with depression, children with ADHD, prescribing pills, can sometimes problematise more than it solves. But it did beg the question. Should we ever be ‘prescribing’ love? Or, more fascinatingly, suppressing love?

A relationship expert, an addiction expert and a man with a PhD in Love walk into a bar…  

The conversation drifts from phone addiction, towards the ‘answer’ of medication. Why is medication the solution? Why should we not be left to our own devices? Have gone so far over the line that we no longer discuss the cause of the addiction, but head straight for medication?

The research is exciting. That we can track the brain's signals and chemicals and reproduce them as a cure, is a positive advance in science. I think. But.

What is love?

Baby don't hurt me

Don't hurt me

No more

- Bex Bell

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Love and Other Drugs - Philosophy Now

America's Love Affair with Prescription Medication - Consumer Reports 

Chemical Attraction - Observer

Phone Addiction is Real - Forbes

Dad Dancing // Rosie Heafford, Alexandrina Hemsley and Helena Webb

Over the past month or so, choreographers Rosie Heafford, Helena Webb and I have been working with a supporting cast of people local to Gloucester on our show Dad Dancing (2012 onwards). It is a show that came about when our three dads would come to see our dance performances at Laban back in 2009, completely befuddled by what we were up to. It has grown into a show that reflects on the role of fatherhood - acknowledging the diversity within these roles and how they are taken up. We work with dads, father-figures and children of any age to tease out tender portraits of what’s at stake between and within these relationships.

It’s a project whose emotional weight strikes me at different points. Composing from the external vantage point of choreographers to sharing the lived experiences and dynamics of our own father-child relationships is very affecting. More and more, I think that the show asks for resilience and vulnerability to be intertwined particularly for the supporting cast. It is an ask that we as a creative team nurture as best we can. Our process spends time dancing altogether with the  simple but dedicated task of listening to the textures found within music and our internal rhythms. Our hope is that engaging in these acts of improvisation reveals the joy of movement, the space dancing offers to process emotion and an ever-changing sense of togetherness that can be evoked as a group. 

On stage, I had a sense of collective building, revealing and witnessing. Resting post-show now, I am reflecting on how important these three actions are when considering relationships between parents and their children, more nuanced understandings of parenting roles that undo gendered inequality and the need for society and governments to better understand the diversity of father roles and re-shape policies that represent and support this. 

- Alexandrina Hemsley

 

Links Relevant to this diagnosis:

Dad Dancing at Strike A Light 2018

dad-dancing.org 

Putting Dads in the Data - Fatherhood Institute

Paternity Rights - Guardian

Mobile / Paper Birds Theatre Company

Mobile / Paper Birds Theatre Company

Mobile marks the second installment of Paper Birds Theatre Company’s trilogy on social identity. Performed in a disused caravan before an audience of nine, the play aims to explore the emotional ambivalence caused by social mobility. After a brief, somewhat awkward ‘name game’ on deck chairs outside, the guests are invited in, offered biscuits and other hospitalities while our host gives us an overview of her situation. Her story is a familiar one: after the abrupt termination of a long term relationship, she finds herself without a flat to live in or a safety net to catch her. She is forced to return home. Perhaps in attempt to salvage some sense of progress, she shuns her mother’s actual home in preference for the caravan instead. 

MOBILE / Paper Birds Theatre Company

MOBILE / Paper Birds Theatre Company

Mobile marks the second installment of Paper Birds Theatre Company’s trilogy on social identity. Performed in a disused caravan before an audience of nine, the play aims to explore the emotional ambivalence caused by social mobility. After a brief, somewhat awkward ‘name game’ on deck chairs outside, the guests are invited in, offered biscuits and other hospitalities while our host gives us an overview of her situation. Her story is a familiar one: after the abrupt termination of a long term relationship, she finds herself without a flat to live in or a safety net to catch her. She is forced to return home. Perhaps in attempt to salvage some sense of progress, she shuns her mother’s actual home in preference for the caravan instead. 

GOD'S WAITING ROOM / Karen Bartholomew

GOD'S WAITING ROOM / Karen Bartholomew

God’s Waiting Room is a darkly comic play that tells the story of Connie and Stella, two middle-aged sisters whose hospice-bound mother is at the brink of death from terminal cancer. The play focuses on the impact on the sisters’ relationship - apparently prickly at the best of times - of watching their mother die slowly and in agony. It explores how old sibling resentments, envies and tensions explode under the almost unbearable strain of dealing with their mother’s painful and undignified end.

F*CKING MEN / King's Head Theatre

F*CKING MEN / King's Head Theatre

Ten interlocking scenes present separate sets of lovers, each semi-ironically riffing on different ‘aspects’ of love. The platonic ideal. ‘Simple’ carnal lust. Tortured archetypes (‘Actor’ and ‘Journalist’) playing out and struggling with their desires, counter-desires and the simple physical fact of their bodies. 

TRAVESTY / Fight in the Dog

TRAVESTY / Fight in the Dog

Travesty is a play dealing with transitions. From one state of life to the next. Between innocence and ageing masquerading as experience. From a romantic relationships move from cradle to grave. From early 20s insouciance to the creeping fear that this might be all you’ve got. From dissatisfaction to, well, what exactly?

IT FOLDS / Junk Ensemble & Brokentalkers

IT FOLDS / Junk Ensemble & Brokentalkers

At first, It Folds feels baffling, a blur whose beauty defies close analysis. It blurs the boundaries between life and death, making the ghosts of murdered children walk among their grieving families. It blurs the lines between truth and fiction, drawing on real-life stories of child abduction but muddying their details until they become universal. And most of all, it blurs the categories we place performance into. Its large cast mix dance, physical theatre, matter-of-fact monologues and disconcerting wit into a piece that creates a incense-heady atmosphere of its own.

SPOONFACE STEINBURG / Top Right Theatre

SPOONFACE STEINBURG / Top Right Theatre

Spoonface knows that people in operas die beautifully and she wants to die beautifully too. Diagnosed with autism, and later terminal cancer, the child walks along silver linings in this hour-long monologue. Tackling the difficulties of development disabilities and terminal illness, Spoonface’s optimism never falters, as the backing track of Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ lulls us into a romantic view of death.

CALLISTO: A QUEER EPIC / Forward Arena

CALLISTO: A QUEER EPIC / Forward Arena

Ideas of utopia are embedded deep in queer culture. They promise an environment that’s free from rigid heteronormative, patriarchal structures: one where sexual and emotional relationships can be imagined afresh. In 1850s New York, the Oneida Community enforced non-monogamous ‘complex marriage’, and cared for children communally. In the 1960s and 1970s, gay and lesbian communes formed, in single-gender societies that were segregated from the world outside.

THE CONVOLUTION OF PIP AND TWIG / PEP

THE CONVOLUTION OF PIP AND TWIG / PEP

Cryptophasia is the phenomenon of a language developed by twins. At the start of The Convolution of Pip and Twig the consistent, unintelligible muttering suggest these two are among the 50% of twins who have created their personal idioglossia; an idiosyncratic and essentially private language invented and spoken by only a couple of people.

SWEET CHILD OF MINE / Bron Batten

SWEET CHILD OF MINE / Bron Batten

While Bron Batten’s performance of Sweet Child of Mine (seemingly) did not seek to directly explore ideas of ageing and care; making the piece with her father led to an additional layer of performance gently weaving itself in. In this piece, the lines between Bron’s relationship to her parents on and off stage begin to blur.

DECLARATION / Sarah Emmott & Art With Heart

DECLARATION / Sarah Emmott & Art With Heart

Declaration draws on Sarah Emmott’s experiences and (late) diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Developed with medical professionals, ADHD and mental health support groups, the piece begins with a highly energetic and comedic tone. Emmott shares childhood stories of embracing her then-undiagnosed self-defined “weirdness” within a supportive family context.

TORCH / Flipping the Bird

TORCH / Flipping the Bird

The setting for Torch is a narrow one: its narrator has locked herself in a toilet cubicle at a nightclub, unable to summon the confidence to storm the dancefloor despite plenty of shots and a snort of coke. Within its confines, she journeys across her past, reflecting on the relationships and sexual experiences that shaped and eroded her sense of self.

THE MAGNETIC DIARIES / Reaction Theatre Makers

THE MAGNETIC DIARIES / Reaction Theatre Makers

A poetry play based on Madame Bovary, The Magnetic Diaries describes a contemporary battle with severe depression, and the course of brain-altering repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) therapy that our protagonist, Emma, embarks on.

I'M DOING THIS FOR YOU / Haley McGee

I'M DOING THIS FOR YOU / Haley McGee

We get a balloon to blow up as we walk down into the theatre. We are offered vodka, laughing juice - the merriest of spirits, we are informed - by a woman in open-toed kitten heels, red dress and suicide-blonde hair with an overdose of makeup. We’re at a surprise party and she’s the host.