Walking:Holding

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate these differences.” Audre Lorde

ʻWalking:Holdingʼ is a subtle, experiential performance that involves one audience member at a time walking through the city holding hands with a range of different people on a carefully designed route. Born out of a series of ʻholding hands experimentsʼ in Glasgow, with both same sex and mixed sex couples, the piece asks people to challenge prejudices in the flesh, and experience first hand what it is to walk in someone elseʼs shoes – or hands. The work is focused on exploring the experience of queer and minority identities within a city, and at the same time is a broader experiment into what can be learnt when two strangers share an intimate moment in public. It also asks questions of the social diversity and cultural codes within each city that it takes place.

The performers, or ‘hand holders’ are a group of local people from a range of different sections of the community. The aim is to get people who are different ages, races, genders, sexualities and social backgrounds to participate, to create a diverse and rich experience for the audience member. This performance is about bringing very different people together to walk hand in hand in public. It’s about flesh to flesh experiences of difference. It hopes to encourage greater understanding and tolerance amongst people who experience it, and to open up new possibilities for ways of being in public space, and ways of being with each other.

“Everyone acknowledged the astute provocation in Cade’s seemingly simple concept, with its flesh and blood challenge to prejudices and its honouring of individuals and their differences.” The Herald.

I first made Walking:Holding in 2011 in Glasgow and have since presented it extensively across the UK, including at the National Theatre, as part of Spill National Platform and Showcase, at Forest Fringe and at Battersea Arts Centre; as well as taking it to several European venues such as Warehouse9 in Copnhagen, Gessneralle in Zurich, Teatro Maria Matos in Lisbon; and also to Kwai Fong Theatre in Hong Kong. I always work with a range of local participants in each place to make it happen.

My artistic collaborator on Walking:Holding is Laurie Brown and together we have developed a deep and holistic process for working with the participants, which involves workshops, rehearsals and reflections sessions. This process was developed through a mentorship with Adrian Howells, as well as five years of practice in a range of contexts. We have experience of facilitating a mixture of different group sizes, participants of lots of different ages, people with different access needs, and working across different cultures and languages.

“Cade’s gorgeous embrace of a piece forms a meditation on intimacy and difference, offering the attractive promise of a pause within the constant noise of the urban space… What eventually emerges from the experience, on a personal level, is a spirit of quiet defiance, of refusal to be deterred by others’ looks or opinions.” Exuent

For more information and tour pack contact Sally Rose on: sally.c.rose@gmail.com

CLICK HERE FOR WALKING:HOLDING PHOTOS

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO DOCUMENTATION In April 2015 I created this audio documentation about Walking:Holding for Sexology at the Arches in Glasgow. It is about 3o minutes long and the idea is that you listen to it through headphones whilst moving through public space.

Testimonials from Participants:

“The experience was one of empowerment, both physically and emotionally… I felt a kind of universal love, not so much related to a particular person but manifesting itself as a gratitude to be alive and surrounded by so many other great human beings, all potentially friends.”

“There happened something after the performance.  Last week, a recruit took a picture of me and my partner kissing in the train after the performance. He obviously shared it with his soldier friends around us as we noticed that they all started to make fun of us. After a moment of feeling intimidated, we decided to respond. This sunday, we waited for him holding posters with a love message at the station where he should transfer to another train. As he appeared, we shouted: take a picture of us now!  We were holding hands and I felt so strong and again I had to think about the performance. Surprisingly, his pleasure of taking pictures of lesbians in public had gone… I think. Your project gave me the courage to stand up against street harassment.”

“All of it felt very intense and charged, but in such a healthy, positive manner… I feel very changed and I think this helped me unlock a bit of myself that I didn’t really know it was there and it now gives me so many opportunities for self-exploration, if it makes sense. 🙂 and I think it taught me to be even more patient with other than I already was.”

“It was one of the greatest experiences in my whole life. To feel and be in the gap between private and public, strange and familiar, close and distant.”

“Walking:Holding allowed me to feel safe in opening up about my feelings, speaking truly about my vulnerable state, as well as allowing me to show affection and care for others, even though they were “strangers”.”

“Walking:Holding was for me a project of enacting the simplicity of love. An act so simple as holding hands with another human being. For me the experience was very touching and emotional. The energy and the care of the group lifted me up and made the distance to the people in the street a bit smaller somehow. 
I could not help thinking about the danish philosopher K.E. Løgstrup saying this: ‘The individual does never have something to do with another person without holding a part of the person’s life in his hand. It can be very little, an atmosphere passing by or a mood that one gets to wither or awake. But it can also be so much, that it is actually up to the individual if the other person’s life will succeed or not.’ “
“W:H taught me to keep believing in love and empathy as ways to fight the dark sides of the time we live in, where people develop a fear of others and of differences.”

8 thoughts on “Walking:Holding

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