The Good Neighbour

Battersea Arts Centre's The Good Neighbour: a building wide family performance that ran in October and November 2012.

I have been collecting letters to the future from members of the public for three years with my project Post Present Future. Through this process I have become fascinated with what people love, what they consider as their gifts to themselves, their friends and family and their wider community.

This two month commission from the Battersea Art Centre sparked hands on exploration of the above notions; primarily focusing on neighbourliness within the specific area of Clapham, London, through working with numerous local community groups.

For the commission I created an interactive installation that audience could play with and contribute to in the lead up and throughout the run of The Good Neighbour. My soundscape and design spread throughout the cafe, foyer and public areas of the Battersea Arts Centre.

Audiences listened to the many radios installed through these spaces, before and after the main performance. The radios played a soundscape of edited stories I had collected from local people, sounds from the local area and sounds from within performance.

With the design element, each table in the BAC became a beautiful representation of real family home in the Battersea area set with colourful table clothes and trinkets of delight, these tables became a temporary home to the family or friends who arrive to eat, drink and to listen to the radios. 

Audiences also found the following letter written by their table waiting for them when they arrived.

Dear neighbours,

First and foremost, welcome, I'm your table! Consider me as your temporary home within the BAC. Look around you and listen in. Can you find our house number?

Can you hear the radios dotted around us? They are playing songs, sounds and stories from outside these walls and from inside the performance you're soon to embark on. 

But first I offer you a pre show invitation -
Together decide on something special about yourselves as a group to share with another table. It can be big or small, silly or serious, drawn, written or spoken.

When you're ready to be adventurous, one of you walk over and introduce yourself and your group or family to your new neighbours. Then give or tell them something  special.

Have they read their letter yet? If not, help them find it, and maybe in return they will have something to share with you.

I will be ready to welcome you back after The Good Neighbour performance, and can be used as a meeting point if you are going on different adventures. 

Remember sitting with me, I will always be here as a home for you in the BAC.

With love, 

Your table x x x

I asked the following questions while collecting stories and delivering workshops in an attempt to host the voices of BAC neighbours in an exciting way.

'what makes you feel most alive?'

'what is your gift to your community?'

'if you had a secret power to help people around you what would it be?'

'what do you love most about your street?'

'where is your favourite place in your home?'

'what are your most loved items in your home?'

'what would you like to receive through your letter box?'

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