It's been a surreal few months for me online as I've been part of a growing movement that is documenting and promoting the participation of women in sport. My friend Julie Angel has created a website called See & Do which also hosts drip feed daily instagram and twitter images of me and my buddies doing parkour, and for which we did a professional photo shoot. I've suddenly become 'someone to know', getting waves of people [mostly men] wanting to be my friend on Facebook, and feminist campaigns adding me on Twitter. But what's also started is the regular questions from people I know in theatre about when The Conker Group are going to make a piece of work about parkour. The answer is I really don't know... Maybe never.
Is that a shame?
Parkour is something I found and do that is completely outside of my practice. I've no doubt that the two things influence each other, but they don't do so narratively. I don't think I want to make a piece of theatre about or with parkour because of the following:
Parkour is not a spectator sport. I've worked with two theatre companies now who want to 'use parkour' to express something physical about character. I can understand the appeal - the character is 'free', 'expressive', 'outside of the mainstream', 'powerful' and so on, but how does that translate in a small theatre space? It can't. Whenever these movements are presented to non-practitioners they look very easy. Because that's the point. Parkour should look easy if you're doing it safely and well. So what's interesting about that? Nothing if you're a spectator. Cue flips. [Boring]
Parkour is not a spectator sport. It's a unique and individual journey that is about understanding the body's movement. It's emotional for many and, the longer you practice, the more intricate it becomes. It's about mastery, it's much closer to a martial art and it's non-competitive. Sure, there are competitions but they cause much controversy within the community and, more importantly, I have no interest in them.
Parkour is not a spectator sport. The only way to understand parkour is to practice it.
So maybe that's my piece and I'll make it when I'm ready. But if you want to see it, you'll have to do some parkour with us. To me that feels like the only truthful representation.
And if you'd like to help me make that happen, get in touch.
[And here's a little campaign I was part of called Bodies In Action. I'm top left and there's a badly edited interview with me too]
[And here's Julie's fantastic website called See And Do]