What we’re beginning to witness more of on our stages is the importance of presenting a wide range of stories from various perspectives, and this needs to continue to further enrich the theatre experience. Damilola DK Fashola’s Fragments of a Complicated Mind places the complexity of a black woman’s thoughts centre stage, a culmination of storytelling, direct address, dance and poetry bringing the thoughts and feelings of our protagonist to the fore. Ahead of the show, we spoke to Damilola about how she approached creating the show, responses towards the show’s debut last year at the Omnibus Theatre and Theatre503, and what she’d like for audiences to take away from the show!
Hi DK! Your show Fragments of a Complicated Mind will show until Saturday 1st February at Theatre503. How are you feeling ahead of the show?
Meh! Anxious yet excited.
The show explores ‘the surreal, obscene and unspoken thoughts of a black woman’s complex mind, as it tackles race, religion, sex and cultural expectations’. Why in particular did you want to explore this topic further?
It deals with some obscene and unspoken thoughts, when it comes to race, religion, sex and cultural expectations. From a mind who happens to be a black woman, oppose to the focus being for every black woman because I certainly will not and cannot speak for everyone, which is part of the discussions highlighted within the cycles.
How did you approach creating the show?
There are some new pieces but it’s actually formed of cycles that have been written over the last decade. The work I create, the Silhouettez style of theatre, is very much informed from years of creating, and conversations/ discussions – this wasn’t written overnight. So I’ve got some stuff in there written years ago that I’ve revamped and relooked at from a different angle. And it’s also very much influenced from devisory theatre. And what I mean by that is as much as I come into a room with my own material and musings, what I write (end product) is often then influenced by the other creatives I’m in the room with, including Black men, and other BAME and Caucasian artists. So I’m very selective about the type of performers I work with as they will also contribute to the process, having discussions about society which will contribute to the piece. So it’s never just a one sided perspective. With the various stories being told being things I’ve seen around me or that have happened to friends or family etc.
The show premiered last year at the Ominbus Theatre and Theatre503. What were responses towards the show? Have you adapted the show at all since then?
Yes, people were really positive – we got some amazing reviews and you can see more about that research and development process on our website. During that time, I spent a lot of time adding in a singular narrative arc. But this time round I chose to be true to myself and my artistry, scaling back to the different cycles in their own rights
Have you learned anything new since creating the show?
Trust myself more as a theatremaker and a writer
What can audiences expect from the show?
Something a bit different. They should come with an open mind. It’s fragmented. It’s a vignette piece. Which means it’s a collection of plays within a play. So if you’re looking for a typical A to B narrative, with a main character or anything – NAH.
What would you like for audiences to take away from the show?
Anything and everything. I want them (the audience) to think differently, leaving having dismantled some of their stereotypes about our culture, women, about black women, about what theatre can be, what it should look like, what it’s supposed to look like on black bodies.’
What advice would you give to writers and theatre makers?
Study, learn and train. Like any other job, it shouldn’t be taken for granted the knowledge and skill that goes into being a writer or theatre maker. Keep studying, learning and training, whilst you do so start making/writing. Try to be fearless and believe in your own voice whatever that is, when you find it.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Fragments of a Complicated Mind is currently showing until Saturday 1st February at Theatre503. To find out more about the production, visit here…