I love the Albany. As we took our seats I mentioned to the rest of the Cog team that I think this is the venue I have been coming to most consistently throughout my life. It’s so great to see a venue (and the team behind it) that so embraces and serves its community. And it’s nice that it’s only a 5 minute walk from our studio.
The shows I’ve seen here have been very different to each other. Those that stand out include the beatnik indie-pop performance of The Blue Aeroplanes in the ‘80s, Ken Campbell’s bonkers science show in the 90s, Don Letts’s intense Speakers’ Corner project in the 00s and the excellent Sean Mahoney show Until You Hear That Bell, more recently.
Tonight’s experience also defied any clear genres: dance, spoken word, performance with some audience participation, tales twisted tight as hair weaves, a celebration, an examination, a conversation, a whole evening as the ‘show’ ended and we moved out of the theatre and into the ‘Head Wrap Bar’.
As a bald, white man, rapidly approaching his 50s I feel more than a little uncomfortable talking about the empowerment of women of colour, or about the unapologetic stage presence of women dancers. It’s not my place, those are not my stories to tell. But that’s what this evening was all about. And those three women (Shanelle Clemenson, Sheila Attah, Habibat Ajayi) told that their stories wonderfully, with enthusiasm, sincerity and lot of humour.
It was a privilege to be in a mixed audience, watching as characters were conjured before us. Those characters resonated with me but obviously struck a deeper chord with many in the audience.
The whole evening was wrapped-up as beautifully and meaningfully as the brightly printed cloths of the stories we saw. A great time, had by all, including the performers, which is always a joy witness.
The Head Wrap Diaries is touring the UK. See their website for details of the tour and how to buy the music from the show.