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Bernadette Cremin - disability arts online
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I guess it is about time I introduced you to ‘Altered Egos’ / 7 September 2011

photo of a foot with a candle between toes

Bernadette Cremin's foot. Photo © Robin James

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Altered Egos is my one woman show. It’s a sequence of six dramatised monologues which tell the tales of six women ‘on the edge’. It aims to weave a loose narrative script with poetry from my three collections.

I first performed it last year at the Brighton Festival (see Colin Hambrook's review) where it won ‘runner up’ for a Latest Award (best literary/performance fringe event.) I was all set to ‘go again’ this year but in true Cremin style having just been discharged from hospital following surgery. I tripped over a bloody golf umbrella (which I’d been using as a walking aid!) and broke my shoulder necessitating more surgery! (welcome to my world!)

Consequently I wasn’t capable of doing up my bra let alone bounding around a stage squatting in the haphazard worlds of Trudy, Joan, Patsy, Val, Tina, Sophie with any conviction! Also, although I welcome a challenge, I concluded that trying to remember  lines on a staple diet of Tremadol and liquid morphine would have proved too steep a ‘learning curve’ for the most hardcore thespian let alone little old moi!

Altered Egos is really the consequence of a ‘happy accident’ in that although I’ve been performing my poetry for more than a decade (ouch!) I’ve never really thought of myself as an ‘actress’ until Emma D’Arcy of Iambic Theatre twisted my arm to ‘go for it’ having seen me read  in character at Jane Bom Banes in Kemp Town.

if I’m honest I didn’t have to waste too much bait luring this rag-bag of women out of their somewheres and nowheres… once I’d lent myself to the daydream they just seemed to cat walk and crawl off the page to take centre stage.

I’ve been asked many times if these women (and my poetry per se) are based on people I know personally or situations I’ve actually experienced… I think this is a very sticky (possibly libellous!) question to ask a writer but suffice to say that I do feel a very real affinity with each one of them and yes, it is true to say that I have grazed in all their worlds in one way or another over the years…

PATSY
She keeps the bits
of manicure sets
that no one understands

a cheap bottle of perfume
rusted by the sun
she’s accidentally let in

a buckled postcard from Paris
signed by a dramatic hand
and three kisses

rolls nervous chewing-gum
in ash with matchsticks
wears pinching patent shoes

that she didn’t choose and sits
catatonic as porcelain
so close to the window.

Celia has spent herself
dissecting the trivial street
through drizzle blistered glass

oh how she knows the weight
of damp traffic and coats
jamming paving stones

as they shunt home
to migraines junk mail
the same unmade bed

her silhouette is a cut   
out of sour cloud
her shadow a spill

under ugly furniture
that she didn’t choose
her own hostage

in a magnolia room
that lets the cold in,
when no one is looking.