During lockdown we started Inside Out, a weekly digital drama club for older LGBTQ+ people. We share stories, play improv games, identify lessons from work by queer dramatists, write about our experiences and hone our performance skills. This week we interviewed Donald Hutera, where he tells us more about his experience in Inside Out and what other creative projects he’s involved in!
What has been your favourite part of drama club?
So many things. The creative camaraderie and continuity of it across the months. Hearing everyone else express their stories. And of course the personal challenge of the end-goal: a short, online autobiographical solo.
What are the best lessons that you’ve learned about writing and performing?
First thought: what a bolstering of my confidence levels this has been plus recognising the value of trusting my instincts and riding out – or even using, however obliquely – self-doubt as a reason to continue digging into myself and stretching my understanding of what solo performance is, and my potential within that framework. It’s been validating.
Has drama club helped you discover something about yourself that you weren’t aware of before?
I’ve kind of answered this above but, to elaborate, I always knew I have a lot of raw material upon which to draw creatively, but I’ve not always been clear about the best possible means of harnessing it. What’s been fascinating – and sometimes frustrating, too – is the process of first thinking / dreaming big and then gradually refining those thoughts and dreams until, ideally, what’s left is some kind of essence of what you might want to try and achieve.
What are other ways you’ve stayed creative during lockdown?
• Early on I was part of a 12-week ‘social experiment‘ as part of a small but wonderful and pretty intergenerational group of people who met online to conduct often themed ‘Corona Conversations’ that were recorded and broadcast on Remote Radio. Here’s the finale: Remote Radio Week 12 – The joys and woes of ageing
• I’m extremely proud to have had the privilege of contributing to the making of this short dance-theatre film back in June.
• Around this same time I was also part of an I-think-lovely one-off dance-for-Zoom-camera session.
• In August I hosted 13 online sessions for Taiwan Season 2020 (an annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe showcase for which I would have, in normal circumstances, been doing the PR).
• In October I participated in a day-long workshop with Jacky Lansley and Sally E Dean called The Speaking Dancer sponsored by Dance Research Studio, London.
• In November I attended a week-long series of hip hop dance sessions for over-60s led by Boy Blue Entertainment under the auspices of Dance Umbrella (my group features in the last two or so minutes).
• Additionally I’ve been attending many online talks, webinars and so on relating to arts, health or whatever else most strikes my intellectual / imaginative fancy.
• Oh, I can’t forget this! I’ve been creating, just for me, a series of what I think of small, highly colourful and possibly whimsically odd DIY sculptural collages using recycled base material (medicine, food or Amazon delivery packaging – including egg boxes!) and paper with handwriting on it (from whatever source, not just my own) glued down and decorated principally with markers. Doing that has been an absorbing and usually delightful vacation from words as I must concentrate on a manual activity that exercises my spatial sense, colour juxtaposition, texture and much more.
What can people expect from We Were Seized by the Spirit of Love? Why should people see it?
Those who attend We Were Seized… can expect a truly impressive and imaginative range of lived experience, shaped by each of us – with invaluable and caring guidance – into short, sometimes sharp, bittersweet or moving – and almost certainly engaging, and maybe even mind-opening – performances, devised and delivered primarily by mature LGBTQ+ people. Seeing it is a way of acknowledging and honouring our collective wisdom and individual complexity as community elders, seekers and survivors.