Letters to Myself is a participatory arts project and theatre show. It is a letter writing project that invites audiences to write to their past, present or future selves and offer them an opportunity for self-reflection. Here, writer and producer Becci Sharrock writes a letter to herself about the process of creating this project and performance.
You can see Letters to Myself on Tuesday 28th & Wednesday 29th March at 7.15pm. Book your tickets here.
You will have an idea for a show that will take over your life for a year, in a good way. You will ask people, first in Sunderland and South Shields, and then all over the country, to write a letter to themselves. And then make a show from the letters you receive. Sounds simple, right? At this early stage you have some idea that this is about the way we talk to ourselves and being kinder to ourselves. And it is. But it is also about much more than that. It’s about all the shared experiences we have in life, that bring us together and make us human. It’s meeting a stranger in a library who, on any other day, you might walk past but who, through this project, you share a moment, talk about life’s ups and downs and the extraordinary narrative every individual’s life story has; about sharing that moment, on stage, with an audience. Inviting them to think, not only about their own past, present and future but also that of those around them; of friends, families and strangers.
You will hold your first pop-up session in a café in Sunderland and a lady will come over to talk to you, pull up a chair and tell you all about her family. About her little boy who nearly didn’t make it but who is now healthy and happy.
You will chat for some time to an older lady in a library in Fulwell who will listen intently and then, when you’ve finished, declare the whole thing ‘daft’.
You will speak to a group of veterans in a library in Lancaster who will tell you tales of fighting in and living through the war but then, when you ask if they would like to write a letter, tell you that they have nothing interesting to say.
You will have lots of inspiring conversations with people about the way that we talk to ourselves as you try (badly) to explain where the idea came from without really remembering the starting point. They will articulate better then you can, the feeling of our inner voice sometimes being against us, of the joy that comes from changing that, of making the decision to be kinder to ourselves, of making changes for the better, of the strength that comes from backing ourselves.
You will regularly find yourself sat on the sofa, hot drink in hand, crying over a letter that has come in for the project; from happiness and from sadness, from the generously shared tales of strangers’ lives; from tales of finding love, of starting a family, of heartbreak and of grief. It will reinforce your belief that everyone has something important to say.
You will feel privileged to share these intimate stories and a weight of responsibility about turning these into a show that does them justice.
You will find yourself in Kingussie on the morning of opening night, staring out at peaceful snow peakedmountains while the rest of the crew are still asleep, trying to write a blog post to describe the mix of emotions you have felt over the past 12 months without sounding too ‘worthy’, knowing that your part in this project has been a very small one and that it is the letter writers who deserve all of the credit for the show.
That evening, the show will open to a sold out audience, will end with a standing ovation and will go on to tour for years (well, if I’m going to write a line to my future self as part of this, I might as well make it ambitious).