HerStory – our company voice

What did it feel like to be performing an opera (albeit a work in progress) in the Peter Pears Recital Room at Snape Maltings? A huge thanks to all of our cast for sharing some of their thoughts about their experience of the project.

What were the successes?

“Becoming a cohesive group, all supporting each other and respecting each other; performing in a lovely space to an audience; knowing that this was not the end of the story but part of the process; hearing and seeing all the parts coming together.”

“The unifying affect on the entire cast. We are beginning to gel as a group and that is very exciting.”

“We managed to make something cohesive and watchable in such a short space of time when not all the participants had attended all the rehearsals! Quite an achievement.”

“Seeing other members of the group get an emotional benefit from all of us singing and dancing together. I have seen people stretch themselves and then blossom when they find their involvement is a success.”

What were the challenges?

“Knitting all the parts together was daunting.”

“Overcoming feelings of ‘Will I let everyone down?’ Remembering the words music and movements we had to do, concentrating on the task in hand but trying not to be unresponsive. I am slower sometimes when I have to co-ordinate tasks.”

“The biggest challenges for me were keeping my singing in tune and getting up at the right times to take part in the dances.”

“I was very tired after the workshops and for a couple of days after the residency.”

How did performing make you feel?

“I felt proud to have been part of such a great show. You all made us feel we were just the same as a group without any handicaps, which is a major achievement. Parkinson’s was hardly mentioned, no one asked for or expected special treatment, and I think all of us just felt part of the team.”

“Great. I hoped what we did was helping others that also had Parkinson’s.”

“I found that all of us working so well together and actually performing in front of an audience, made me feel enormously proud, emotional, slightly euphoric and glad that it all went so well for others in the group.”

“It is normal for me to feel anxious in the minutes before any kind of performance. But once I got in into it I felt very positive about the whole production and my involvement in it.”

What part does Parkinson’s play in this project?

“It is a fantastic achievement for those with the illness. It highlights different capabilities.”

“In my opinion the awareness of PD is essential to the project going forward.”

“I think that projects like this could make a big difference in changing people’s perspective of Parkinson’s and raising awareness can only be helpful.”

“This project was started with Parkinson’s people in mind aligned with music and dance too. I think that not many people see the true effects of Parkinson’s. They equate Parkinson’s with a strong tremor when it has other debilitating effects which are different for each person affected. [This project] would make an important statement, both to sufferers and the public at large what is achievable and highlight the problems Parkinson’s people face and the abilities/disabilities involved.”

“We need to think about it in terms of what we can and can’t do, especially things like balance and turning round quickly, but you all made it easy for people to do what was within their limitations. In fact, I try not to acknowledge any limitations on what I can and can’t do.”

What impact has being part of this project made on your life?

“I felt that I was at last able to hold my head up and give something back for all that has been given to me via the help and treating us as normal. At the time I felt equal to all of you and your talents.”

“My family have encouraged and enabled me to partake fully in this project. It lightens my mood, gives me more ability to use this feeling to better effect in my personal life. My confidence has greatly improved and I have made new friends whose company I have greatly enjoyed.”

“For me, it’s been an inspiring experience which has meant a lot. I think all our participants have been constantly cheered by singing and dancing, which will have improved all our daily lives.”

“Being involved with the production has helped to improve my mood. The group is very welcoming and allowances are made for any issues without any fuss and bother. It was lovely to feel that I ‘belonged’!”