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How The Table came to be – reflections from Claire Macdonald

I’m sitting in an empty room, in Leeds, at Yorkshire Dance. It’s the afternoon of the evening of the first (official) Table event — a dinner for twelve. It’s taken many other tables, talks, discussions and decisions to get to this simple idea — that Charlotte and I should curate and host a site for interdisciplinary women practitioners that begins to grow a network — after all we have been hosted and enabled throughout our careers, its time to turn the tables. So I’m here now thinking about other tables I have sat at, about the tables that have led to this one, about how The Table came to be.

Charlotte and I both began as performers. More than a decade apart in age, we never performed together but we were around the same groups, close enough in terms of our collective, ensemble, physical theatre approach to know about each other, and yet never meet. We finally met, in a way, about three years ago, over the ghost of our own performing pasts. Charlotte remade a part I had made in a theatre piece in the 1980s called The Carrier Frequency (pic), for a revival of the piece in 1999. Once we met and began to work together for a week here a week there, and then to make a show — we also began to talk about women, art practice, what we would like to see change — and what we each want to do now — now that we perform less, write more and have become those strange hybrid creatures cultural leaders. That’s where The Table began.

Tonight is a starting point in a travelling conversation, a bringing together of a group of writers, dancers, thinkers and artists to talk about where to, what next, how to create peer to peer networks that draw on the kinds of skills of looking, listening, responding and making that it has taken us all several decades to develop, and how to create networks across generations that support and encourage, advocate for and initiate opportunities for the future. I think that’s where we are, at 5 p.m. on a spring afternoon in Leeds — a city that happens to be the place to which I gravitated on leaving school, and in which I found my first creative home. Charlotte was in Sheffield, just forty miles away, so Yorkshire is a natural home for our first Table event — and there will be many more, hundreds, possibly thousands of miles away — as conversation travels.

Clare MacDonald, curator of The Table

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