Interview: Artist Remi Graves on Moving Day – An Unmissable Promenade Performance Working with Older People in Lewisham
We caught up with inspiring artist, poet and drummer Remi Graves to talk about the important new show Moving Day, from Entelechy Arts’ theatre company Glorious Age. The story exposes the reality of older people’s day-to-day experiences, of having to leave home and facing eviction. It’s performed outdoors in Lewisham, to be discovered by locals going about their everyday life.
The Centre for Ageing Better’s recent ‘The State of Ageing’ report (March 2022) shows a sharp increase in pensioner poverty, meaning that almost 1 in 5 people of pension age are now living in poverty. It shows that the experience of being older in England is getting considerably worse for many.
Main image credit: Roswitha Chesher and Donkey Studio
Tell us about Moving Day. How did it come about and what should be expect?
Moving Day came about as a collaboration between Entelechy Arts and We Are Lewisham. It’s been organised as part of Lewisham Borough of Culture, an opportunity to celebrate Lewisham and the wonderful people and cultures that exist there! Moving Day is a play acted by a community cast that has been devised through improvisation, and interweaving the stories of our cast members.
Expect laughs, charisma, movement and to rethink your own relationship to community. I hope Moving Day will encourage audiences to take a closer look at the community and stories unfolding around them.
What’s it been like working with the theatre company Glorious Age?
Working with Glorious Age has been a beautiful experience. The ten members of the company are so talented, full of vim and have a wealth of experience that they bring to their acting. One thing that I’ve been struck by is the ease with which many of the company can improvise. You can throw a scenario at the group and watch them run with the idea, bringing humour, tenderness and personal experience to the moment.
I’m used to working with young children and teenagers, so its been really refreshing to work with elders in a creative capacity, and to learn from them. There’s also been heaps of laughter and playfulness in our rehearsals which has been wonderful too!
Who or what inspires you to be an artist?
Being an artist has allowed me to seek out freedoms in varying contexts. I like being free to explore ideas, follow unusual trains of thought and see where they lead me. Artist is one ‘job’ where you’re allowed to do that, where in fact you need to do that to create. I also love being a teaching artist in that I get to share my interests, quirks and passions with others, and get inspiration from the people I’m working with.
As a young person I read loads and went to the theatre often (thanks to the National Theatre Entry Pass!) I never thought I’d be able to create work of my own, but over time my passion for reading became a passion for writing, they feel entwined now.
Oh and cheesy as it sounds, nature is the ultimate artist, creating stunning entities all day long – so that’s another deep source of inspiration for me.
What advice would you give over 65s who might want to get involved in the arts?
Take a chance! Even if you’ve never explored the arts before, its a great way to meet new people and explore new aspects of yourself. You don’t need to be ‘good’ or experienced, you just have to be open and willing to try new things. Who knows what you might encounter.
What are your favourite London/Lewisham haunts?
The Fox and Firkin in Lewisham is a great pub that has jams and live music often – and a really friendly vibe.
I’m actually based in East London so do most of my hanging out there. The wateways in the Olympic Park are a great spot for relaxing. I love the slow pull of the water, reeds swaying in the wind and coots having squabbles on the canal.
Singburi is a delicious small Thai BYO in Leytonstone. It’s affordable (!!) and they change their menu regularly, a gem worth the trek if you’re not in East.
Moving Day is an Entelechy Arts production association with OiBokkeShi, co-commissioned by We Are Lewisham and with funding from the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants.
Glorious Age is Entelechy Arts’ theatre company, a collective of people aged 65+ who create artistic projects and performances which are courageous, beautiful, joyful and risk-taking. Glorious Age has been working together for over fifteen years, devising and performing work inspired by their own experiences and addressing subjects that are important to them including parenthood and family, loneliness and isolation, and what it’s like to grow older in South London.