Hello! My name is Emily and I am delighted to join the Creation team this Summer as their Theatre intern. Here is a little bit about a project I worked on during my Masters degree… Creation thought you’d all be up for a read! Enjoy!
On 24th June 2016 I remember waking up every half an hour from 3am, checking the results coming in thick and fast. I was three months away from finishing my masters in Theatre Practices in Glasgow and, to be honest, was lacking a bit of enthusiasm. After relocating north shortly after Scotland’s #indyref, I experienced the city in a state of glumness and depression – people looking down and not at each other unlike the previous months leading up to the referendum. It wasn’t until I experienced a community pulling together during the lead up to the EU referendum that I realised how much power this decision had over bringing together communities and, ultimately, dividing them. I suppose the shock of the result made me realise even more how blissfully unaware I was that we had been living in an echo chamber for the months leading up to this date.
In response to the decision made to leave the European Union, I created my performance project Free Haircuts as a political response to trust and intimacy in public space and the implications this vote has had on society’s ability or inability to communicate with the people we share our streets with. In the hope to reconnect these separated communities, I use hairdressing as a mechanism to observe trust and social interaction, re-situating pop-up impromptu hair salons in public spaces. The gesture is free and accessible for everyone, becoming an exchange of mutual trust and social time, reacting directly to the space and people within it.
The first time this action took place was a few weeks after the result of the EU referendum. I had begun discussions about this project for a while beforehand, but the turning point for me was the resulting vote that encouraged the project to take form. In my first day, I met Carol in Kelvingrove Park. Carol was a Californian who was recovering from brain surgery, walking through the park to meet her newlywed daughter and her Glaswegian partner (married in January that year). She let me touch her hair where the scar of her recent surgery was still healing, but I didn’t cut her hair. My first client was Darcy, a strawberry blonde 2 year old who was on her way to meet her friends with her Mum. When initiating a handshake with Darcy, she offered me her empty Tupperware box. I cut her hair by the park’s water fountain with very little conversation. Since the first day, Free Haircuts has taken place in the rain and sunshine, in derelict club doorways and public gardens, in graveyards and busy shopping streets, forming over 100 fleeting friendships with people of faith and people of race, the elderly and the young, LGBTQ+ communities and immigrants, victims of heartbreak and victims of crime.
Over time, this project has developed from a means to understand Brexit and the impact it has on communities on a personal and political level, into something different. Whilst I figure out what the project is or can be, I don’t doubt the power that comes from bringing people together and listening to opinions and beliefs to develop our understanding of community and of each other. I want to encourage positive change in a world that faces so much oppression, and hope to branch this project out to different communities that can help strengthen our future.