Charlotte Hodkinson

hello campers

Last week we featured the exciting new theatre company 11:18. This week we have gone one step better-er and have an interview with one of its founding members, Charlotte Hodkinson.

“Charlotte graduated from an MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths College in 2011. Prior to that she was a co-director, devisor and producer for Buffalo Cut theatre, as well a freelance educator, assistant producer and performer. With Buffalo Cut she won funding to take The News From Nowhere to Nowhere Festival in Spain. She has worked at Battersea Arts Centre and with Dancing Brick Theatre, Subject to_change and The Molino Group. Charlotte has also performed at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and at the ADC in Cambridge and has directed new writing at the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena, her home town. She studied language and literature at the University of Cambridge and spent a year studying dance and film at the Instituto superior de arte in Havana, Cuba. She lives in Peckham and has a particular interest in the area, especially its old buildings.”

How and where are you today?

I am on the train from Derby to London and can’t shift the Sunday evening blues. As a funny man in a funny cinema advertisement once said “Sunday can be a hangman’s noose to the wrong man”

How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And was this the destination you had in mind?

I guess I am getting a bit closer to the destination I had in mind but it has been moving and morphing so much that I can never be sure and I know I will never be satisfied- I get bored very easily.

My journey so far has been in many ways conventional and unremarkable and in others, a little intrepid. I went to university, got a job, didn’t like that job, quit, tried to work out what I did like, went to University again and as a result of that, made a piece of performance that has now grown into a company.

Literature, music, theatre and general messing around have always brought me immense joy but it has only been in past few years that I have learnt the importance of these gifts in sustaining life; making life worth living. The thing that has remained constant and also that which has fuelled inconsistency, is a sense of freedom to follow my own path; something instilled and encouraged in me from a very early age- that I could do what I wanted and the most important thing was to do what made me happy. The emphasis on that can change as you get older and gain more responsibilities but it is vital when you are young in order to gain confidence to find your way in the world and to keep from becoming bitter against it.

Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?

Nothing that I am conscious of. It’s funny, I recently did a ‘Performance Making’ Masters course that was a lot about teaching you methods of creating and drawing out ideas but, if I’m totally honest, I don’t really have the patience for that stuff. Perhaps I should get better at it. My company works collaboratively on every project so I spend a lot of time sharing ideas with other people- a process that can be extremely draining. At the end of the day, I like to retreat from those sessions and just listen to how my own brain and body has received and processed the ideas. There is usually a lot I haven’t said in those conversations and so I will use the time on my own to mix these things in with what was voiced. It’s during this time on my own that I will make the meaningful connections and bring these to the table the next day.

Frame of mind is a difficult one to put my finger on but I would wager that the best ideas come when the body is as healthy as the mind.

How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?

The most important part of my background and culture is how much I was encouraged to explore the world as I was growing up. My parents always made sure I could try out everything I wanted to. They took me to the theatre and taxied me to gigs and all sorts of extra-curricular activities. I did everything going, from learning to sail on a boat with young delinquents from the Isle of Man (who were arrested for shop-lifting in the first place we docked) to going on an expedition to Kenya; from shacking up with my boyfriend in Edinburgh when I was 18, to venturing off on my own to live in Cuba for a year. It may sound a bit a removed from the work I make but, really I believe that all these experiences have given me confidence and fearlessness with the world. There is not much that frightens me and I’m not too worried about making mistakes or making a fool of myself and that means that I am willing to take risks; something which is massively important in making interesting and meaningful performance. There has also always been something inside that forbids me to take the path of least resistance. I think that helps me be a stronger, more resilient and better-informed artist.

What does beauty mean to you?

An enormous area but I will say this: everyone needs to stop looking at each other so much and start talking to each other a bit more. Many before me have already coined the phrases about beauty being on the inside but it takes a bit of living in the world and an understanding of selflessness to really appreciate that. Yes, it can give you a boost to be surrounded by aesthetically pleasing things (and that includes everything from paintings to people) but that is never going to make you happy. Beauty has been corrupted, commercialised and, worst of all, homogenised. The homogenisation is what fuels the profit, I suppose; what makes it easy to fabricate and fuel inadequacy and thus want, in people. We are encouraged to gawk and to covet and that’s really bad for the soul. It’s kind of depressing how expertly trained we are in judging people on their appearance and because of this, I think we miss out on more interesting things. Talking to people, rather than looking at them, is always a much more fruitful method of finding beauty. Of course beauty exists in non-visual forms (and this does indeed mean a lot to me) but I needed to get that little rant off my chest!

With regard to the work I make, beauty can be important. It can help tell a story or send a message but it won’t be enough on its own. The strength will be I in the contrasts and the questioning. Where does that seemingly beautiful thing come from? What price did it pay? How can we repay it?

If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?

11, eh? Hard to say. Probably by that stage I was over the idea of being a doctor or a vet and had moved on to dreaming of travelling the world as a foreign diplomat, whilst simultaneously believing that I could replace Kurt Cobain as lead singer of Nirvana and be a dancer, actor, journalist and film director at the same time. I did also go through a truck-driver phase: the image of myself being out on the open road with nothing but mix-tapes for company (and being able to eat as many Murray Mints as I wanted), was my idea of bliss. I still don’t know what I want to be, by the way. Kids! Don’t worry about it! Go out and play, nourish your soul, don’t stress about exams! Unless you’re dead set on being a doctor or an architect, then seriously, chill out about the whole thing and maybe talk to a batty aunt about your future rather than your parents who (fair enough) have more of a duty to make sure you do the right thing (no such thing).

What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?

Drink lots of water, get enough sleep and take regular exercise. The rest of it, all of the other decisions, you’ll just have to take them one by one. Most of it you can’t control anyway so don’t take anything too seriously. In terms of working successfully as an artist, always aim to be better at what you do and if you’re having a bad day creatively, go outside and walk around. You will almost certainly feel better instantly.

 (all photos taken by Bii Orprasert and are of 11:18 performances)

We adore these answers. Thank you Charlotte for being so open and honest. We really cannot wait to be a passenger on an 11:18 journey. Magical.

You are officially in the handsome pretty family! Yippee!

handsome and pretty

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