From Aberystwyth to Todmorden a journey, in this case not involving horses or horsemeat; this traveller is most certainly alive and extraordinarily creative. Ms Emma Decent is the performer in question and Beyond Dreams of Aberystwyth is her exploration of her relationship with her late father. Mr Decent, I assume they shared the surname, was himself an actor in his younger days and he toured in Wales before voyaging to Malaya (as was) and Canada.
Emma and I were students at Aberystwyth University in the late 1980s where she was studying Drama and English and I was likewise doing Agricultural Economics. As is often the case we have got to know each other better since we graduated. In fact we probably only found ourselves in each other’s company socially during the third year after I returned from a brief sojourn as a scholarship girl at Washington State University (WSU). WSU is located in Spokane in the lentil growing capital as well as the State being home to Washington red skinned apples. I went so far as to ‘build’ an econometric model designed to measure the impact of the amount of rainfall and the number of sunlight hours on the price of Washington State Apples – OK wakey wakey I know it’s not that exciting! It’s a fairly basic supply and demand relationship which isn’t difficult to work out – i.e. good weather at the right time = glut (big supply = lower price) and conversely poor weather at wrong time = fewer apples which attracts a good price.
Apple preference (of the fruit variety) is a very personal one; I prefer a nice Pink Lady myself or a Cox or Braeburn at a push. I did a whole dissertation on the blessed Washington apples and I still can’t abide the thick red skins. Such was my one time innovation in terms of seeking to establish a ‘relationship’ with a man/boy I actually posted a Washington Red Skinned apple in the post! I’m not sure the recipient knew what to make of the ‘gift’ I don’t think he ever said and I certainly didn’t ask (you know the things one does occasionally, kindof regrets doing them and like whistling and saying loudly ‘I can’t hear you!’ so you can pretend they never happened? No you don’t do those kind of thing? Really…Maybe it had something to do with my posting the irregularly shaped parcel to his place of work..)
Once again I digress; is it me or do other persons of our age find themselves frequently reflecting back as a prism through which to understand the present as a platform to predict the future? I think in this case Emma and I have both found ourselves tracing family footsteps in relation to Beyond Dreams of Aberystwyth her first solo show about her father’s life as a young man. It is, in many ways, a brave journey to embark upon; our parents life before us, its private perhaps and surely they would have told us what they wanted us to know? Emma retraced her father’s steps in her own world tour and has used this to create the one woman show that I will be seeing as a work in progress at the Theatre in the Mill in Bradford.
Working in the creative sector gives you an insight into the process (and incredible amount of time/energy involved); and the bravery of the solo performer. For a couple of years Emma has hosted Magic Words a monthly performance poetry event in Todmorden; the evening is a combination of invited more established performers followed by an open mic session. Magic Words has established her as a performance poet in her own right as well as someone prepared to do something to establish a supportive environment for others.
Do have a look at www.emmadecent.co.uk/beyond-dreams-of-aberystwyth to find out more and join me in wishing Emma luck! I will be sitting in the audience like a proud parent; I promise not to be too embarrassing! No leaping to my feet at the end as simultaneously standing up and clapping wildly would be a high risk strategy; you can imagine what would happen if the slightly deranged disabled woman disappeared out of sight as she lost her balance and inadvertently stole the show!