Love's Time's Beggar
If you were about to die, and could select one abiding memory to keep with you in the hereafter, what would it be? Hirokazu Koreeda’s film Afterlife dreamed up this intriguing premise about a decade back, and it stayed in director, writer and actor Cora Bissett’s memory long enough to make it a starting point for Ankur’s new show.
Her production, Love’s Time’s Beggar, devised with Ankur’s ethnic minority community company, focuses on a group of people as they arrive at heaven’s gate to tell their stories and select their memory. ‘Five characters arrive completely disorientated, they haven’t a clue where they are, and proceed to tell their stories before they go into the afterlife,’ Bissett says. ‘There are two characters greeting them – one is a kind of cabaret host who kind of taunts and mocks the people arriving, the other is a kind of philosopher figure.’
The characters’ stories range from tales with an element of political awareness to stories of personal adversity; two of them illustrate this. ‘There’s a story about a mineworker in Zimbabwe who points out to his bosses that the mines are very dangerous – he goes down the mine to prove this and gets trapped,’ explains Bissett. ‘But there’s something affirming about the idea of this sacrifice for the sake of other people. There’s also a woman who has been sexually abused, who in her dying days learns to find things to like about herself.’
Bissett’s process seems to have uncovered much in the human psyche about what we choose to remember. ‘We started with the significant moments in the casts’ lives. Wierdly enough everyone came back with quite sad memories. Is there something about a feeling like that – say losing someone, or some other tragedy that affects you and changes you more profoundly than the happier parts of your life? We ended up with a mixed bag, which started with personal stories, but moved on to fictional stories, with people all contributing writing to the piece.’
She continues: ‘Although the stories have a tragic turn, I’m aiming for it not to be an angst ridden piece of horribleness – each character finds something to take into the afterlife that is quite affirming.’
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 20–Fri 22 May