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Artist Feature: Stella van Lieshout

Stella van Lieshout

Sometimes writing is a way of making sense of the world as I experience it. But my writing is also meant as a ‘conversation’. Meaning is created partly through the eyes of the reader or the audience and my work doesn’t try to show the truth, but can contain many.

– Stella van Lieshout

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

SvL: My name is Stella van Lieshout. I grew up in a small town near the coast in the Netherlands, lived in London for a year in 2012/2013, spent 3 months living in Kathmandu and currently I’m preparing to go to Malta for two months as a writer-in-residence.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

 SvL: To me, reflection and response are extremely important during the writing process and even after the play is finished. I write alone and preferably night after night, but there are always several moments where I discuss the play or story with different people from different backgrounds to sharpen my thoughts and get valuable feedback to make it even better. The best ideas are often created with more than one mind.

Staging the play after writing is continuously reflecting and responding as new ideas and thoughts emerge from the minds of the director, actors and designers and through working with the material itself. And these connections are extremely valuable and can teach you a lot of new things.

Reflection also means hiking. I’ve walked a couple of long-distance paths and for me it is a way of processing experiences and reflecting upon them, while discussing with myself along the way.

 How does your work fit in with that definition?

 SvL: I write a lot about people who feel stuck and lost or are trying to find a sense of belonging. My characters usually have strong beliefs and dare to question. Through these characters I can reflect on life and respond to issues that are important to me from different points of view. Sometimes writing is a way of making sense of the world as I experience it.

But my writing is also meant as a ‘conversation’. Meaning is created partly through the eyes of the reader or the audience and my work doesn’t try to show the truth, but can contain many.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

SvL: The last play I wrote (and directed) was a play for a group of young actors (19-24) in Kathmandu, titled “+2, The School of Life”. In the play, a group of friends forms ‘The School of Life’. It’s a secret society where they learn everything they find important to life, but don’t learn in school. The play was written in English and then translated and performed in Nepali, an amazing experience.

Fragment from “+2, The School of Life”, 2014

SCENE 8. WHEN THE GIRL WANTS IN.

The Narrator walks up on stage and comes really close to the audience. In the back, THE BOY and THE GIRL dance, without touching each other.

NARRATOR:

In the last few months there were so many cups of tea
That even I lost track of time
She had been afraid to let him know
that she had been following him
He was afraid to tell her what he was doing
And so they spoke about all and more,
but never about the School of Life.
It was something that slept between their dreams
So they could never be close enough
Until today…

THE GIRL AND THE BOY have stopped dancing. She looks very serious.

THE GIRL:                   I want in
THE BOY:                   You can’t
THE GIRL:                   Do you want people to find out?
THE BOY:                   You wouldn’t
THE GIRL:                   Wouldn’t I?
THE BOY:                   You don’t even know what it is we are doing
THE GIRL:                   I know nobody is allowed to know.
That should be enough

THE BOY:                   You have nothing. No proof.
Besides, It’s not like we’re doing anything illegal
THE GIRL:                   You call it the School of Life
And you really believe nobody will be mad?
That they just allow you to think, dance and speak out loud?
And in the middle of the night…You must be joking!
THE BOY:                   Can’t you just leave it?
THE GIRL:                   I want in
THE BOY:                   No girls allowed
THE GIRL:                   Girls are also a part of life
THE BOY:                   You got me there
THE GIRL:                   You have no reason not to let me in
THE BOY:                   Can you dance?
THE GIRL:                   I think so
THE BOY:                   Where is Paris?
THE GIRL:                   In Europe. France. Too far away.
THE BOY:                   What do you dream of?
THE GIRL                    Doing the impossible
THE BOY:                   All right. Can’t say no to that.
Guess you’re in.
THE GIRL:                   Guess I am
THE BOY:                   See you tonight
Bring your dancing shoes
THE GIRL:                   I will.

Girl turns around, ready to walk away.

THE BOY:                   Wait! You need to go to…

The girl turns back again and looks at him

THE GIRL:                   I know where you’re hiding

Currently I’m working on a play about six people surviving death after ‘the others’ burned down their town. In June and July I’ll write a new play as a writer-in-residence for a theater – Teatru Salesjan – in Malta, where we’re looking beyond the borders of culture and writing. I’m very excited to see what comes out of that project.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Sobi

I first met Sobi performing as part of the Café La Palma Open Mic series in Madrid, Spain. Sobi had her EP up for download and quickly established herself as a dope songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist throughout the city. Originally from London and currently living in the musical center of Manchester, Sobi stays active playing shows throughout England. Music provides Sobi a way to reflect on and recast past experiences into positive expressions moving forward. The deeper the Reflection, the more honest her songs become. Sobi put out her first EP Betty La Guapa in 2012 and is ready to drop her second EP Creatures in my Mind with Hourglass Productions on April 5th on Itunes. Peep the dialogue below and be sure to cop the new record coming soon!

Sobi

Reflection is taking time to remember and ponder the past. Response is using the past as inspiration to create something meaningful and positive. Depending on how we respond our past can always have a positive effect on our future.

– Sobi

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

S: Hi I’m Sobi and I’m a Britain-based singer/songwriter. My family are originally from Sri Lanka but I was born in Madrid and have spent most of my life living in England. I grew up in London and at the ripe old age of 18 decided to move to Manchester to study where I very quickly fell in love with the city that I now call home. As a musician and a huge fan of music Manchester has provided me with some of my favorite musical experiences! From watching bands like the Flaming Lips to performing myself with some incredibly talented local artists.

Sobi

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

S: To me reflection is taking time to remember and ponder the past. Response is using the past as inspiration to create something meaningful and positive. Depending on how we respond our past can always have a positive effect on our future.

How does your music fit in with that definition?

S: Writing songs has always been an emotional outlet for me and a way of reflecting and responding to various situations that I have been in. When I’ve had a stressful day or am feeling anxious about something my natural response is to pick up a guitar and turn my bad feelings into something good. The more I reflect on how the past has affected me and made me feel, the more honest and real my songs become.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Nick Nova

We welcome our friend Nick Nova (born Kwaku Boateng-Farrar) to the LIFESTYLE dialogue. Nova’s creative output operates on many different levels, including music/audio, design, and information distribution. The concept of power is one of the central themes in this artist’s piece as he touches on the re-appropriation of past experiences and memories. Nova provides a dope look at this empowering nature of Reflection and Response in addition to other aspects of his creative process. Check the interview below!

Nick Nova

The ability to reflect on personal experience, past innovations, and current affairs empowers one to respond to obstacles, criticisms and general stressors in a fashion that consciously assists their own progression, as well as that of culture and society at large.

– Nick Nova

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

NN: I’m definitely a West Coast kid. I was born and raised in Northern California, the Bay Area specifically. After high school I stuck around for a bit before moving to London, England for college. I’m now back in the U.S.and have settled in Brooklyn, NY.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

NN: Reflection and Response to me represents the two important, synergistic aspects of creating and succeeding. People often lose sight of self-importance when attempting to achieve greatness in a public space, but the willingness to consider one’s own objectives and mapping out personal checkpoints is vital to the success of projects bigger than its creator. Building on that, the ability to reflect on personal experience, past innovations, and current affairs empowers one to respond to obstacles, criticisms and general stressors in a fashion that consciously assists their own progression, as well as that of culture and society at large.

BC

How does your project BC fit in with that definition?

NN: My latest music project ‘BC’ represents this entirely because it is me reflecting on my past, both in the content, as well as the more technical aspect of the project. Recognizing my previous musical inhibitions and seeing how much it hindered my potential, ‘BC’ finds me embracing those flaws and making the appropriate changes to better position myself for achieving my musical goals.

From my observations, it’s common for creators to bury certain aspects of their lives as a defense mechanism, but one doesn’t have a true concept of power until you embrace the most difficult of memories and utilize past pain and/or frustration into something positive and empowering for others. A personal example would be on a record I have called “Tunnel” in which I mention my experience of being bullied. Up until this project I never wanted to share that vulnerability, but upon reflecting on the experience and seeing how much the experience aided my development, I recognized that it was imperative for me to share this so that younger listeners, or even people my age who may be bullied on the job or elsewhere and feel helpless, can recognize their own power through my story and they can stand up to their detractors and even if the results aren’t instantaneous, they’ll know it’s ok to fall down as long as you keep fighting to stand on your feet again, physically and or metaphorically depending on your situation.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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