After two successful ShipShapeUp open days celebrating and sharing the work created during the Kent Autistic Trust, Wendy Daws and Underground Pearl residency we are pleased to announce that Michael Imerson from Dizzy O’Dare will be collaborating with three generations of the Neale family, local residents with a wealth of history of Gillingham and the Pier for the third Lookout residency. Mike writes about his first meeting with Robin Neale:
After numerous talks with Paivi at LV21 throwing ideas back and forth, trying to figure out how we at Dizzy O’Dare might use our time aboard, we decided that stories were the key to our work and taking local stories to create an interactive experience on board seemed very interesting. And so Paivi paired us up with the Neale family, I had no idea why Paivi was so keen on this pairing and so I turned up on day one a little bewildered and unsure how this was going to pan out.
As I walked onboard I was introduced to Robin Neale, a lively character, a salty sea dog who had spent a long time living on the river, a man with literally thousands of stories and I realised instantly why Paivi had paired us together. I love stories, the more fantastical the better, especially if these bizarre and wonderful stories are so authentic you can taste the sea air. From the moment I sat down with Robin until I said farewell many hours later, he told me story after story of his life on the river Medway, and this was by no means an ordinary existence. I learnt about the river’s history, about the prisoners in the 1800s building the docks and their dreadful existence, and his personal stories of finding treasure, overcoming adversity again and again, adventures, hermits living in the island, near death experiences… and all of them true, all experienced first hand by Robin. When I said my goodbye my brain was spinning with possibilities, but mostly I was thinking how on earth am I going to do justice to these stories, how am I going to bring them together into a theatrical experience, the scope of these stories are epic to say the least. I have found myself in that sticky situation where I have all these wonderful ingredients but I have no idea what to cook.
We’re looking forward to finding out what the final recipe will be!