Guest Blog: Libby Liburd on creating ‘TEMPORARY’

Writer performer and single mother activist, Libby Liburd, returns to CPT with her latest show TEMPORARY. In this blog post, Libby writes about the similarities and differences between her ★★★★ hit-show Muvvahood and TEMPORARY and what to except.

TEMPORARY arrives at CPT on Sunday 28 Jan at 7pm as part of the Calm Down Dear feminist theatre festival. Get your tickets here

My name is Libby Liburd and I’m a writer performer and single mother activist. I’m the creator of solo show, ‘Muvvahood’, which explores the social and political demonisation of single mothers. I’m proud to say that ‘Muvvahood’ started at Camden People’s Theatre – I did a 20 minute scratch of it as part of Calm Down, Dear 2015 and then developed it into a full show featuring a mix of stand up, TED talk and verbatim – a real mash up of styles and forms – lots of projections, lots of comedy moments. Over 2016 and 2017 ‘Muvvahood’ played at great venues including CPT, Stratford Circus, Park Theatre and the Pleasance.

‘Muvvahood’ was developed using verbatim testimony and extensive research and one of the things I noticed as I created the show was the sheer number of women that were struggling with housing issues. Being a single mother makes you more vulnerable to housing struggles and as someone who’d gone through an eviction myself I felt it needed more exploration.

Of course, the housing crisis is a hot topic – there’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s very current talking point. One of the key symptoms of the crisis is the surge in the number of households in temporary accommodation. This is specifically what I decided to explore in my new piece ‘Temporary’ , having spoken to women with children who were moved into cramped, dirty, unsafe accommodation miles away from their home boroughs, quite literally social cleansing.

I think there’s a general lack of understanding surrounding what temporary accommodation actually means. I mean, most people would rightly assume that temporary genuinely means temporary but there are endless accounts of women and their children spending years in this type of housing. The effects of this are truly devastating – children don’t have room to play, families may not even have cooking facilities, the mental health effects of being torn from your community and placed hours away are disastrous. In the time that I’ve been working on ‘Temporary’, the figures have soared. Mid 2017, 77,000 households were recorded as being in temporary accommodation, just a few months later in the later part of 2017, the figures had hit over 78,000. This isn’t going away.

‘Temporary’ is a bit different from ‘Muvvahood’ in that it’s a two hander and there’s a narrative storyline that runs through. As with ‘Muvvahood’ though, there’s the trademark use of comedy, props, projections – lots of projections – music and verbatim. Stories from those living in temporary accommodation can feel bleak but single mothers are fighters – my god, we’re fighters – and it’s important that my work feels like a fight back, a deconstruction of the lunacy of a failing system, not a descent into misery.

I’m delighted that I’m working with director Julie Addy who directed ‘Muvvahood’. Julie is an all round fab theatre maker and we work super collaboratively with her taking the role of dramaturg, director and pigeon whisperer (see the ‘Muvvahood’ show image for proof!). We’ve also got the astounding Susie Riddell on board who is multi-roling up a storm in the show.

‘Temporary’ is a work-in-progress, with it’s first public outing on 28th January at 7pm. We’d love you to come and see it and give us some feedback. In return, we promise an hour of hard hitting humour and heart (with power ballads as a bonus)