You Can Take it With You was a collaboration with artist Julia Heslop and writer Lindsay Rodden telling stories of border crossings through visual art, music and spoken word. It was installed in Chester Castle, Liverpool Playhouse Theatre and New Bridge Studios, Newcastle. Starting from a purely audio/visual work, it evolved into a full theatrical production.
Clip 1 – East Berlin, the poet:
Beneath me as I sleep tonight the sewers gasp for miles. Tonight I will dream by torchlight, I’ll map my journey through the tunnels. From far ahead in the darkness will come a sound like an orchestra tuning up under the sea and the echo of my heart pounding off the bricks the backbeat to the discordant symphony. Pitter patter rats will carry apple cores and chicken bones.
I’d heard that they’d found one up north of here the night before and collapsed it. A whole family inside, arms and legs, a subterranean Guernica. I will not dream of this. Neither will I dream of the other side.
When I wake I will leave this in a green envelope in a clean pickle jar above the cooker. Not hard to find because I want it to be read.
All the letters from now on will be written in my head.
Music – Martin Heslop
Words – Martin Heslop and Lindsay Rodden
Voice – Vidar Norheim
Clip 2 – the letter home:
What can I tell you? Every stranger is dead quiet in the dark, caught frozen on the railings, falling with the swell. Nothing but the roar. I set my body strict like stone against the wind.
Then the clatter of chains, and the ship heaves and steadies. Still I can’t see.
But there’s gulls crying, a crane creaks through the mist and the docks rise before me. A faint glow now, a light swings and sharpens the edges of… buildings, up into the night. So this is it, just like she said.
The ship sleeps against the dock wall, and from the river the city folds up into the sky. The sea still thunders behind you, don’t look back. Don’t dare sleep.
Wait till last, nobody follows or sees. A flood of people on the quay, meeting, embracing, drowned by the birds. Don’t watch. Keep your eyes steadfast, as if you know this road. Hands tremble but are steadied by the weight of the case. Climb the road away from the water, turn at every corner. Imagine you are lacing through the trees by the river back home. Walk until the light weeps onto the pavement, beginning the first of a thousand days in a city where nobody knows you. Try to imagine the rest of your life though your bones already feel old.
The past is always behind you but if you turn to look you’ll find nobody there, just the flutter of a coat, or a muddy letter in the gutter.
That’s what it’s like, that’s all I can tell you.
Music – Martin Heslop
Words and Voice – Lindsay Rodden
Percussion – Christian Alderson
Clip 3 – the land:
This was the time when the drought stretched so long the land broke brittle, its dust-shelled teeth chattering in the fever of the long nights and fiery days. The last steps they took here, they tread so tenderly, gently, painfully. But the cracks scored the surface like the skin of an old man on his death bed. And one fissure joined another, bleeding into tributaries, spreading into the great dry rift that rose and fell with the swell of the dust in the wind.
When the wind blew for the last time it lifted the ashes from the fire, the fire which had cooked the last meal, which had fed the last family to leave the town. To leave the town heading towards the great mountains that divided the poor and the slightly less poor, heading to the west.
Music, Words and Voice – Martin Heslop