The Journey of an Idea. At The Beginning of Marco by Simon Jones

In the beginning I knew I wanted to make something. 

Something to share. 

I love sharing. 

It is not a love of performng, 

Or a need to perform well, 

perfectly, 

with virtuosity. 

It is a love of sharing. 

I have problems with sharing. 

I tend to “over share”, 

apparently. 

This, I think is explained from the point of view of someone 

(me)

needing to fit in to an established group on a semi regular basis. 

Or not so often, but at key moments in my growing up. 

I was friends with Christopher Nixon. We did everything together at school. We dressed the same. We liked the same things. We played together on the weekends. If he had a leather bracelet with metal studs: I did. If I had a toxic green and black t-shirt with a skeleton on the front: he did. It had nothing to do with the large C&A in town offering cheap kids clothes; it was because we were subconsciously in tune. We played formula 1 in the play ground - he was Senna, I was Mansell. We both kissed Chloe, with chris pushing my head in for the kiss; or was it me pushing his head in? We got caught showing each other our willies in the toilets by Mrs Smith. 

We were friends. 

And there was no proving it. 

There was no fitting in. 

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At the end of year three dad got a job as a head teacher in a place called Taunton. 

Taunton is in the south west, Somerset. We lived in Ely, Cambridgeshire. 

 

1992 was when I said goodbye to Chris. 

 

1992 was when I got put on a table with Lloyd and Nathan. 

Year four. 

They spent most of the day laughing at me. So I asked them why they were, they didn’t know. 

They were nine. We became friends. Nathan and I did work experience together six years later.

At the end of the day Mr Robinson gave us some homework: to write two lines about our summer holiday. I went up to him when we were all leaving and said: “don’t expect much from me”. 

He ignored me. 

Or rather he chose not to respond to me. 

Instead, he called my parents, and then put me on a reading and writing programme.

I learnt how to read and write. 

(I haven’t mentioned - I was bullied by Mrs Smith in year 1 and stopped learning how to read and write, I stopped talking mostly). 

 

Mr Robinson was ace.

But I found it hard to fit in. 

At first.

As my confidence grew with reading, especially out loud, I discovered confidence in my imagination, and sharing my imagination. Mr Robinson’s year 4 class was a breading ground of imagination: the solar system was stretched out on the playing field, moonscapes were made with clay, as were greek masks. Jupiters storm spot was discovered through spreading ink in water. We all had tie-dye t-shirts. Jokes were learned. And I was in the school play. I was loud. LOOK AT ME. I couldn’t play football, so colin and I ran on to the pitch as greek gods. I told stories by creating worlds in the playground. I had a girlfriend, Sarah - although we mostly avoided each other through embarrassment. She once said she would leave me for Robbie Williams. I think at the time I felt that was fair. 

 

Year five and six were Mrs Townsend. Drama drama drama. Brilliant. Drama club. Brilliant.

And then: moving to secondary school. Had a look at them all, and the best one was the one dad was the head teacher of. 

 

Suddenly I was no longer the loud quirky fun, difficult kid. 

 

I was the son of mr jones. 

 

Jonesey!

 

No longer part of a group, I had to jump in on conversations, learn how to be on the periphery of a group. When the group went back to class I had no idea where we would meet up again. 

 

I lost a language. 

 

I no longer knew how to be relaxed with someone, 

you know, 

like with chris nixon. 

I called him up. Mum had his number. It was shit. I told him I liked radiohead. He said he hated them. We spoke for five minutes and then he said bye and hung up. 

 

I lost a language. 

All I seemed to know was:

Get in a group, make them laugh, when that stops find another group. 

 

Then I learned how to rollerblade. 

Got given some for my birthday. 

Brilliant. 

I went skating every day and then Jason (mum and dad didn’t like Jason - he smoked, he got me to have a go. I was thirteen) said he was hanging out at Hamilton skate park with Liam. I went. I was good. We barely spoke. We just skated. Told each other to do stuff, like:

“How far can you jump?” 

“I bet you couldn’t jump over that” 

“Try a three sixty” 

I liked it. I went every day. Jason Leigh stopped. But I carried on, and met Jon and Julien. We skated every day. 

We never really liked each other. 

No, that's a lie. 

We did. We liked skating and we liked each other. Jon once puked on my parents sofa. We all went to different schools, but that didn’t matter. And I didn’t have to prove myself. I didn’t need to entertain them. 

I could just skate.

 

I did my GCSE’s. Did well. It was a slog. Really hard. Answered the wrong questions. Had to get a maths tutor. But I did well.

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Dad got another job. 

In devon. 

So did mum. 

We moved. 

Just when I had made some mates and felt good - unpressured.

It's not their fault, and I wasn't angry. I'm not angry.

It just helps explain things.

 

I went to Exeter FE college. Did a Btec in performing arts. Started again. No-one liked skating. Everyone knew each other from school. 

 

I lost my language again. 

    

This is all run-of-the-mill stuff, right? Champagne troubles. First world problems.

 

It kept happening: NYT, Drama school, now acting work. 

 

I have learnt the language of making friends quick, letting them know everything about me - share share share, never really learning about them, reaching the end of the job, bailing out starting again. 

It’s exhuasting. 

I am paranoid no-one likes me. 

My friend says - “what are you talking about, you’re always the centre of attention, everyones looking at you”.

“yeah - it’s exhausting”. 

 But I also like it.   

I do like sharing. 

It is something I’m good at. 

It’s tiring. 

But now it is my job, and I love it. 

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Of course you get over these paranoias, these things. I am married, so clearly I did learn about someone and learnt a language with them. 

 

But the sharing has stuck.

 

So I knew I wanted to share something.

 

A story.

Or not a story.

Something about my angle on the world. 

 

So I looked about. I looked at my family. At my friends. And started thinking.

 

For about ten years.

 

And then jenni showed me a film. Or rather a trailer… A happy man by Jonas Mekas. 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories. 

I always remember wanting to be like someone else. 

My sister, 

My brother, 

Chris Nixon, 

My mum, 

My dad. 

Mr Robinson. 

My brother, 

My drama teacher, 

My brother. 

 

I also wanted to beat them. to win. 

 

ok…

 

ok…

 

memories.

 

ok…

 

competition…

 

ok

 

fitting in…

 

ok…

 

“Read this, Simon. It’s the secret race by Tyler Hamilton. It's about doping in cycling.”

 

How blood is manipulated.

 

ok.

 

ok…

 

2013.

Journey of an Idea: What competitions I participated... What I competed in from Birth to now. In no particular order: (written in the spring, 2017). by Simon Jones

Today I have been doing thinking and moving.

 

Here is a list of competitions I participated in and competitions I made out of non-competitive things:

  • 4X100m relay. Year seven, eight and nine sports days. I came first (my team came first) in all three. But were disqualified from two for swapping lanes. Note - it was not me who swapped lanes.
  • Poetry speaking Year Seven, eight, and nine. I came second in year seven and first in year eight and nine.
  • bowling with my Nana and the rest of my family. Most years lost.
  • Under 13's tennis tornement. Taunton. Dead last. I didn't win a single game. I stopped playing tennis after that.
  • I.M.Y.T.A. (I Match Your Trick Association). Each skate trick has to be matched or bettered. If you fall or fail you gain a letter. the winner is the one with the least amount of letters. A kind of "last-MAN-standing". I won a lot.
  • Longest jump at the skate park. I won a lot. I have a scar from needing stitches as a result of this competition.
  • ski slalom on school trip. I caused Mr Morgans son to fall over and cry because I was beating him. He was three years younger than me.
  • Guess-the-adverts with my sister. I was very good at this. I beat my sister every time. I now try and play this with my wife. She refuses.
  • Swing-tennis in the back garden. My brother beat me all the time.
  • stone skimming. I will get more bounces than pretty much anyone.
  • hitting the stone stack dad built on the beach. my dad usually wins this; unless my brother is playing.
  • football cards. we would throw them at the wall. who ever got the closest would win them. I won mostly.
  • rugby tournament  - i stopped getting picked at scrum half.
  • volleyball at school. none picked me because they thought i would be rubbish. I trained at home and got really good. everyone was surprised when i was good, but still refused to pick me for their team.
  • mountain biking. generally who was the fastest down the hill. i won this a lot.
  • races to the next lamp post.
  • monopoly
  • table tennis
  • throwing a stone and hitting it with another stone.
  • speed walking on holiday.
  • table football
  • 2 penny rugby. i won the school league.
  • dancing the longest
  • staring without blinking
  • tiddlywinks
  • Rummy
  • Shit-head
  • most card games
  • the longest without talking
  • fastest switch (holding onto a car whilst on skates) before letting go.
  • holding my breath
  • handstands
  • most amount of spins in a jump
  • highest note sung
  • lowest note sung
  • GCSE's
  • A-Levels
  • Driving test
  • cycling proficientcy
  • swimming badges
  • gymnastics badges
  • throwing a ball the firthest
  • throwing a frisby the furthest.
  • spinning ten times and then getting to the beer first.
  • indoor olympics at home
  • obstacle courses. sometimes against my dog.
  • pottery
  • pad-a-tennis
  • arm wrestling
  • thumb wars
  • alphabet bands game
  • alphabet countries game
  • bike race to school against someone who doesn't know i'm racing them.
  • racing my friend without them realising - at any time.
  • being the first to work.
  • washing the dishes
  • completing a work task first
  • earning the most commission in a day
  • having the most sculpted calf muscles.
  • getting a KOM on strava
  • getting the highest heart rate.
  • getting the lowest heart rate.
  • beating my instructor at an exersise.

the list goes on - i will add to it.

Best

S

Journey of an idea: In a Shop Unit. I Want To Open The Door And Let People In. by Simon Jones

Here I am
I have been given an opportunity I wan’t expecting.

 

It came also on the back of me deciding I was not ready to take this piece to Edinburgh.
I wasn’t prepared,
Psychologically,
To risk so much money and emotion on the festival.

I want to test this show in front of people,
But i don’t want it to end so quickly,
and Edinburgh felt to me like an ending -
like a result,
and my body is not ready for results.

But I am ready to perform the work,
To test, and make, and bank it.

to make
to show
to tour
to bank
to review
to see where we are

SO

At the end of last week

I got a lovely email from the bike shed theatre
Saying that I could use the space.
Somewhere along the way emails got lost,
And the space was ours.

So i cancelled my work
And drove to devon
On my own
To use this space.

I arrived last night,
Monday night,
And cycled in to the theatre this morning

I met the entire bike shed team for thirty odd seconds.

Then Emily walked me to the space,
Showed me around.

And here I am.

I have set up my desk
To look out at the shop front and the people walking past.
I have music playing ,
And I am thinking about what I should do.

This is a piece about me,
This is a piece about us,
This is a piece about Marco,
And Marco is a piece about you.

How do i open up my world
So that i can share it with you,
So that it is no longer about me,
But rather the finger is pointing outwards
Using me as a tool
To point at us

I keep thinking about Robert Le Page.

I want to open the door to this shop unit
And dance,
And see,
See if anyone decides to come in.
To watch;
And then what?
What is expected of them?

This week could be very interesting.
This week will be hard.
This week will not be wasted.

Let's see.

The Journey Of An Idea: How to Celebrate... written in 2016. by Simon Jones

I have not written for a while. I have written, and have been writing and continue to do so (non-stop), but not here. So I thought I would ease myself back into it gently. I have been spending the last two weeks working with a wonderful group of people collaborating on my work, and me collaborating on theirs. We have all been collaborating with each other! Such is the brilliance of James Blakey's idea of finding an ensemble approach to solo shows. It has been hard too. Of course it has. It should be. Sometimes it doesn't feel like collaboration at all. Sometimes I don't want to collaborate. But this is all part of this journey I am on, and now a few more people are on too.
Tonight I head to Shoreditch Town Hall to make use of some dance floor. I have invited the people who will be joining me to read out the methods of celebrating when you win. Below is a list of ways in which one might celebrate, I will be in continual turning. Pivoting around a central point, as if I was in a display cabinet.

Put a flag around your shoulders

Breathe Heavily

Raise a thumb to your coach

Clap

Bend in the knees whilst reaching up

Blow air through your lips

Smile 

Thrust your hips in front of your body

Open your palms to the world

Run like a headless chicken

Kiss the floor

Wave at the crowd

Cry uncontrollably

Lie on your back and continue to cry

Fall to your knees

Bump your body against someone else's

Touch your face

Make an angry happy face

Thank the sky

Perform the running man

Play air guitar

Punch the air with both your fists

 

best wishes

s

The Journey of an Idea. 3: A teaser... written in 2016 by Simon Jones

I spent the last few days on my new bike. That's right - I got a new bike! It's a very nice bike and has cost me a fair whack of money, plus all the extras. I have cycled for the vast majority of my life, yet suddenly I am having to learn to ride again. A road specific racing bike is very different from any bike I have ridden before, even my single speed. The biggest change is that my feet are stuck to the pedals with cleats. So now I approach a set of traffic lights as I did when learning to drive as a 17 year old - desperate not to stall the car (or stop on the bike, thus having to unclog or fall off the blasted thing).

But it is a joy to ride and a joy to be riding at speed and over long distances. Yesterday I went for (a relatively short it turns out) 30 mile cycle ride. In no time I was out of the pollution of London and in the countryside pushing up steep country lanes and then freaking myself out riding back down them again. 

I would like to quote Michael Barry from his book "Shadows on the Road": "Speed is relative. Victory is fleeting. But the ride lasts forever."

 

 

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The Journey of an Idea. 2: Finding a language... written in 2016. by Simon Jones

It's started raining again. It's been blowing a mighty gale all day, but that hasn't stopped my parents and me from going out for some lunch. It was sleeting and raining and we had hail this morning. Now we have rain and wind. I am sat by a fire. I am very lucky.

My performance piece, or play, or show is going to be on at The Dare Festival at the end of April (30th April) at The Shoreditch Town Hall. I am really looking forward to spending some time on this project. I have, to be fair, been almost ignoring it since I came back from Stratford-Upon-Avon. I guess I wanted to sort out my life, house and me out before anything else happened. Go on a holiday, have a break, read, paint the house and clean and make things ready for the rest of 2016. Do all those things before heading back into this world.

I guess though, like with all projects we invest in, this world of The Cycle Play was never far away. I began and have almost finished reading the Book, "Shadows on the Road" by Michael Barry. It is about his time as a professional road cyclist and domestique for The US Postal Team (Lance Armstrong) and Team Sky (Bradley Wiggins). It is getting my brain tuned in again with the language of cycling. This language will form some kind of base form, or note, to the piece. Some kind of lyricism on the language of a road bike racer. Understanding the rules of this sport are vital to unlocking how we build this character and the world they inhabit. Through investing in this spoken or written language and it's rules we can abstract it from it's form as far as we dare and still it will have a root in the world we exist as an audience (I hope!).

I want to taste the blood in my mouth. I want to experience the death-defying tuck. I want my legs to scream.

Also, in the time I have been back, I took part in a pretty inspiring workshop on Choreology taught by Olga Masleinnikova. We studied the language we use and the choices we make with our bodies in space. We studied the organic choices we make to inhabit the world in both the everyday and in dance, and then broke it down to find the inorganic, the things we want to highlight or play with or "fuck-up". We used the work we are involved in to test the language we were learning. For me a struggle is finding a non-physical language to The Cycle Play. How spoken word fits into my piece. I found this workshop was incredibly useful to understand and therefore unlock and play with language to tell the story. And certainly not exclusively in a linear narrative or linear sentence structure.

I am probably also ignoring the fact Marco Pantani was Italian. I can't speak Italian. Ha! Not that this piece is about Marco at all, but rather about some blur between him and me. Or whether any of that matters at all.

I still continue to have a lot of questions to ask in finding out what I want to make. Whether it is a blow by blow account of a cyclist journey to death, or something more akin to my dreams and the desperate nature of our memories. The subjectivity of what we choose to recollect. But I am starting to land on what the form of the work will be and am quite excited by the ideas I have in my head.

I highly recommend Olgas workshops. She is an excellent provocateur and teacher for all creatives. You don't just have to be a dancer to benefit from the teaching of Laban's Choreology.

I am not sure why yet, but the more I see and do, the more I want or need stillness. I am finding out how long I can push stillness in my own life and in the performance work I make. Can there be a point in stillness that the audience begin to present themselves upon me. I am not sure, but I'm excited by the prospect of testing that out.

In the meantime I am here in Devon, waiting for the rain to stop and spending time with my parents and thinking about buying a bike.

 

The Journey of an Idea: The Cycle Play (Working Title)... written in 2016 by Simon Jones

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Three years ago Jenni Jackson showed me a wonderful short video by Jonas Mekas. It was a trailer for his full length cinema piece A Happy Man. I was blown away by it and the thoughts it sparked in me. Questions relating to our memory and how we mix ingredients to generate new or fictional memories; what we see in front of us compared to what we remember. And then maybe how I could manipulate people in remembering something fictional! Basically lying to them! Ha!

I then read the book, The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton. It was all very coincidental that I read the book and watched the film at the same time, but I felt there was something in both. The Secret Race is all about blood doping in cycling, Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamiltons experience in Lance's team. So I wanted to make a show about blood doping, endurance cycling and memory. Big stuff and probably too much.

I was at the RSC doing a show with some time during the days for myself. So I decided to use that time to test out the ideas. I generated a durational movement piece, a clown piece and something more like story telling. All three seemed to fit with an audience watching a man destroying himself in endurance. I liked the thought of that.

So I started to think that maybe the piece was about that. About an endurance test. With the audience as witness, or collaborators; that they are complicit in that work. That they are responsible for my well being. To push them into a place where they want to tell me to stop.

Then I got other work and had to put all this to one side.

Until I was invited to direct something at East 15 Acting School. So Picked it up again and turned it into a 16 person dance piece pushing the form of duration and endurance in the body to see how much the audience could take. Some of it worked some of it didn't. The performers (students) were fantastic and really pushed themselves to the limit. I thought - there's something in this.

I got some space at The Oval House through the kindness of Rebecca Atkinson Lord. Unfortunately I wasn't able to commit to it in the end, although Rebecca sat me down earlier on in the process and gave me some wonderful expert advice on the show and how to put something like this on.

Ok - I decided to go back to The RSC to remount the same show. I knew James Blakey was doing the associate directing on it and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to test the work further. I have worked with James as a collaborator and actor in his shows for a few years. He said yes to my invite and when we got time and space through the support of The RSC, namely Claire Birch, we began.

We worked through the ideas I originally had and then picked up a book I had just read and was getting inspired by, "The Death Of Marco Pantani". This book was the biography of a famous champion cyclist and the story of how he came to die of an overdose after winning almost all competitions in his sport. Here we are, this epic Greek tragedy of a story, all about success, failure, competition family and memory! We decided to attempt to tell it. We enlisted the help of some lovely actors from the show: Rebecca Johnson, Harry Waller, Laura Prior, Mimi Ndiweni, and Jordan Metcalfe. We generated some wonderful work; but James and I realised our work is a one man piece right now. We continued to make and experiment and made some great stuff together. It was so nice to work with someone who seemed to just get where I wanted to go and pushed me to delve into things and stick to them without drifting. We clearly have a shared language and understanding of work. I also spent a lot of time during this period talking to Jenni Jackson about the work, getting brilliant advice. We filmed a few things and set down what we wanted the show to be.

 

In this time James was getting in touch with other artists who had approached him to make solo shows. He seems the person for the job! He had a wonderful idea that we should get together and collaborate on each other's work. He and Tom Mansfield set about to create a festival commissioned by Shoreditch Town Hall called DARE. The idea, or question: how can we have an ensemble approach to devising solo work? The artists he has invited and who will be showing are myself, Jennifer Jackson and Heather Long.

So now we are here at a point waiting in for our funding application through UpStart Theatre. I should add the Dare festival is also in collaboration with Tom Mansfield's work "Phone Home" - a theatre project with three companies in three countries following and collaborating on stories about and from refugees and where we call home.

At this exciting time I am now preparing what the form of the show is and will send out a breakdown or "copy" for you to have a look at.

Best 

S

A Friends Work... written in 2015 by Simon Jones

Here is a great performance piece a close friend of mine has made. It is a must see and of course is in need of some hard cash to put the show on for us all to see. Please allow this to happen by visiting this sight:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1309873892/i-gave-him-an-orchid

Please donate to this. Art in all its forms is a vital part of our society. To Thrill, entertain, question or confirm; to give us another way to view our shifting world. We are living in a society governed by powers that do not see the necessity of art, so I guess it is up to us to keep looking for it.

Best

S

Journey Home (From Hornsey Town Hall) written in 2015. by Simon Jones

I enter through the electric doors

As they open too slow I can't wait

Pushing impatiently through to the beep

I take my seat and wait for the pull

Taking off in slow momentum down the line

I turn my body and through the black

The grey Elephant looms and disappears

In the carriage light

And Tuncston throbs from left to right

But mostly black

Or rather the outside dark

The window becomes mirror

Opening a world of people either side

Nosing into our secret lives loud in whisper

And throb are the lights

And every voice discourse adds chords to the chorus

Our coughing train time choir

And somewhere distant: sparks shatter night

for a moment the world reworked

from darkness we resound 

 

Best

S

The Cycle Play or In Memory of Blood written in 2015 by Simon Jones

In February last year I decided to take advantage of The RSC's Studio space and begin the creation of a new piece of theatre. I spent two weeks working on what I called The Cycle Play. This is a piece of work based on ideas I have been having about memory and the world of sport cycling (The Tour de France for example).

At the end of the two weeks of discovery, I presented my work at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford.

I then had to shelve the piece whilst I embarked on other projects with other wonderful theatre makers.

I have now decided to come back to the work.

as a result Simon & Co will be working with East 15 Contemporary Theatre 2nd year students in June and July. We will be working with them on themes from the piece as a starting point to make something new and exciting for their summer project on multi-media starting points.

After this Simon & Co will be working in The Oval House, London, to further develop the world and structure of the potential piece that will be hopefully heading out into production in early 2016.

Please watch this space for developments in the work.

adding content... by Simon Jones

Hi all,

so I am trying to collate all my content, from a blog i had a while ago, and add it all here. so some of this stuff was written many moons ago. I will try to add the dates of when they were written.

best

S

This is new… by Simon Jones

This is a new experience. I have tried to create similar things in the past but have never quite made it this far. So please be patient with me.