The first ever performance of Afonja’s Minstrel at Longfield Hall was a highlight of 2018 for yours truly. The opportunity to extend the boundaries of my artistic practice was truly enjoyable, but it was also a great pleasure to see many people in the audience from a wide variety of moments in my life. I knew that a few of them were aiming to attend and I could see some others in the auditorium during the performance, but I was touched and surprised after the post show discussion to see the full range of friends and associates who turned up to know what I was up to.
Seeing all those people in the room helped to jog memories about the way things were when I started out on my journey as an artist. Those who come from artistic families probably have a different mindset about what to expect when they start out, from those of us who don’t, because there are so many things that can be taken for granted when a person is born into the business.
Through a process of trial and error, one becomes a self made artist, if there are no obvious role models in one’s family. That process has led me up several paths that I would probably have not bothered to explore otherwise, but I feel enriched by those experiences, and there are always moments when I can draw from the deep reservoir of what I’ve been through to inform the choices I make as I move forward.
Afonja’s Minstrel is an unusual piece of work. There is probably nothing like it, anywhere else. I was determined to know the piece well enough in my body to perform it in my sleep if possible. I am pleased to say that I almost achieved that goal.
After the first performance, I had the feeling that I had shared some aspects of my vulnerability with an audience of people who had some in depth knowledge of how far I had travelled to reach that point. It was a privilege to know what that sensation feels like and I am grateful to everyone who turned up to share that moment with me.