GUEST BLOG: Performance Anxiety present SKELETONS (Or How I Learned to Love Fucking Up) 

Ahead of  SKELETONS (Or How I Learned to Love Fucking Up)  here as part of #Sprint17 next week, Performance Anxiety talk to us about shame, fear, vulnerability and how it feels to share your most personal secrets with a room full of strangers…

Performance Anxiety is London-based writer-performer duo Lee Anderson and Adam Loxley. We make contemporary experimental work that is chaotic, confessional and communal. We’re interested in chopping up bits of pop-culture, biography, music, YouTube videos, politics, advertising, stupid costumes, random stuff found in skips and hoping that whatever we can make out of this mess will touch someone, somewhere.

It’s hard to pin down what first gave us the idea for Skeletons (Or How I Learned to Love Fucking Up). We don’t work in a linear way or to a clearly defined format, so it’s tricky to say what the starting point was with any real clarity. What’s more, the nature of the show means that Skeletons continues to mutate and evolve with each new audience. In other words, it’s been a somewhat weird and disorderly process (in the best possible sense, of course). In the past, we’ve usually started from a question, or a provocation, or an image. With Skeletons, it began with a dare…

I dare you to share your most personal secret with a roomful of total strangers.

At least I think that’s how it started. Two blokes – one balding, the other receding – egging each other on, testing boundaries, one trying to outdo the other with their truth telling chutzpah. Childish, really. Still, it revealed something interesting. Despite our friendship, there was a lot we didn’t know about each other. Bravado soon gave way to vulnerability. We opened up. We were honest about what we really felt – about money, sex, relationships, our bodies (they’ve seen better days, folks). As one revelation led to the next, the same concerns began to emerge out of these random confessions: fear of failure and a treasure trove of secret shame.

So, we spent a lot of time talking about shame and failure. Why did the personal revelations we were struggling to articulate fill us with this uniquely dreadful feeling? Why does the prospect of failing publicly terrify us? These were the nagging question we kept returning to. Shame is the knot in your stomach when you’ve transgressed some unwritten social norm. It’s the hot sweat on the back of your neck when the inadequacies you’ve been trying to suppress come flooding to the surface. It’s the threat of exposure. The fear of failure, of not being good enough, of not fulfilling some self-imposed standard, became the crux of Skeletons. It’s a show about the reality of failure and our need to confront it head on.

We spent a lot time in rehearsals watching YouTube videos of self-help seminars, TED talks, motivational speakers and life-coaching lectures. We wanted to get to grips with how these self-appointed gurus of wealth and success deal with the subject of failure. We soaked up their sound bites, mantras and positive slogans. We became fascinated and repelled by this quasi-philosophy of aggressive self-improvement. It was through the collision of our own cathartic confessions and the ultra-positive doublethink of the self-help industry that Skeletons began to take shape. This show is our attempt to smash the false idols that would like us to believe perfection can be achieved through positive thinking.

Since setting out to make Skeletons (Or How I Learned to Love Fucking Up) in January 2016, we’ve collected hundreds of anonymous confessions from strangers and audiences. These confessions are by turns hilarious, obscene, transgressive, moving and bizarre. But they’re all courageous in their honest admission of shame and failure. So, if you fancy getting something of your chest, add it to the vault…

Share Your Secrets

We will select a batch of secrets at random for each performance.
The secrets we choose will be different every night. And that is where you come in…

We’re inviting you to share your secrets via this online form. (Yay!)

Tell us about a time you’ve FAILED.
Tell us about something you’re ASHAMED off.

Your identity will remain 100% ANONYMOUS at all times (we couldn’t 
find out who you are even if we wanted to). We will NOT ask you to disclose 
your name, e-mail or phone number.