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Wayne Steven Jackson: And Here I Find Myself

Wayne Steven Jackson: And Here I Find Myself

Returning to the stage following the national tour of From Me To Us, Wayne Steven Jackson’s new solo show combines digital media, original music, and live performance to explore parenthood, life goals, disappointment, and the sticky veil of heteronormative expectation.

I wake up. And I’m aware of being present again, amongst the same walls, and floors, and people. It’s as if my whole past has been condensed into a single moment that feels as though it has only just happened. Solid, impenetrable, unchangeable.

The world has shifted. Laws have been amended, rights instated, and possibilities created. But what if, after all this change, things still don’t work out the way we planned?

After multiple unsuccessful attempts to become a father, a single gay man, on the brink of turning 40, questions how he ended up here, whose rules he has been following, and, most importantly, what happens next.

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Wayne Steven Jackson: And Here I Find Myself ON TOUR

Our review on Wayne Steven Jackson: And Here I Find Myself

And Here I Find Myself - The Lowry, Salford - Friday 9th September 2022 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

By their very nature, smaller studio shows do not always attract the same amount of attention as the larger, all singing, dancing, glittering big budget productions, but I desperately urge you to never be fooled into thinking that makes them any less of an experience.  Some of the most emotive work I have ever had the pleasure of crying buckets at, being educated at, and learning a little more about myself at, all the while being thoroughly entertained, have been in the Lowry’s Studio Theatre, so with that in mind, I cheekily invited myself along to tonight’s showing of Wayne Steven Jacksons latest venture – And Here I Find Myself. 

The show is immediately captivating, with Wayne entering the performance space, speechless, but following a series of instructions that appear on a luminated piece of paper hanging from above.  He has to hide.  But where?  He cautiously breaks into our audience space, but the instructions and messages tell him this isn’t good enough.  We can see him.  He must do better.  He tries again, fails again.  Now he must jump.  But how high?  He is told.  Higher.  He must jump higher.  And so, the scene is set, instructions on a piece of paper simulating a society full of rules that we unquestioningly follow with no real understanding as to why, other than that’s just what you do.  As the demands become more obscure and unfathomable, from instructions to perform pelvic thrusts or handstands, and as Wayne’s discomfort grows, the responsive giggles from the audience to this almost Derren Brown style psychological opening die down as we start to realise that this is all a metaphor of how trying to follow societal rules, laws and expectations can leave you lost, stuck, or on a never-ending loop to nowhere. 

As the show unfolds, a rhythm emerges.  Flashbacks through time to Wayne’s childhood home, where every year everything has changed, yet nothing has changed but the matching duvet, lampshade, and matching curtains.  Rules that Wayne must follow, boxes he must tick, that somehow stay unticked, portrayed through the inventive use of a step ladder.  The monologues pushing on through his history, memories, half forgotten, half remembered, his touching and moving truth of trying to become a parent.  Questions are dropped in, questions that I doubt anyone had an answer to, creating spellbinding and thought-provoking moments.  Do we really want the things we aim for, or are we just programmed from a young age to think we want them?  What happens if things don’t work out the way we’d planned?  How did we all end up here in this theatre together tonight?  What led each of us here?  Different outcomes of different paths, plans or choices may well have meant that I wasn’t experiencing this show tonight.  But I am, and I’m glad, so how can I regret the circumstances that made it happen?  Even if those circumstances mean things haven’t worked out the way that I’d planned either?

All this brilliant, philosophical, internal debate is divulged through exceptional new and innovative modes of storytelling, combining digital media, original music, physical theatre and performance.  There are truly wonderful moments, such as black and white moving images brought to colourful life with a sweep of a hand, and the paper slatted scenery being shredded before your eyes.    

And Here I Find Myself is funny, poignant, intriguing and delivered by an instantly likeable performer.  You want to listen, and even when Wayne is not speaking, you want to hear.  He shares his story of trying to become a father as a single gay man, and even when the world catches up and Laws are amended to make this possible, somehow, it is still out of reach.  Things don’t always work out the way we planned.  It’s a harsh but honest truth and one that each of us can relate to in our own way. 

Wayne Steven Jackson has multiple strings to his professional bow.  As well as being a captivating performer, he is innovative in his work as an artist, lecturer, workshop facilitator, writer, and collaborator.  Starting out as a co-founder of Escape, he has since produced critically acclaimed show Now/Then, become a published academic, Head of TaP at Manchester’s own Arden School Of Theatre, and is collaborative founder and senior lecturer for performance practice at Sheffield Hallam University.  He is known for his innovative work regarding memory, developing exciting explorations through performance of its vulnerabilities, reliability and its power to hinder or elicit change, both personal and social.  Much of his work, and certainly tonight’s performance, comes from a personal and truthful place, evoking genuine emotion in both performer and audience alike.    

There are some beautiful, poetic, heartfelt sentiments in the play, such as, “True love is not wanting to fall asleep because your reality is better than ever dream could ever be,” and I admire any performance that can equally make my heart melt, engage my brain, make me ponder some of the big stuff, and simultaneously make me giggle like a naughty kid at the back of the class.  And Here I Find Myself is entertaining and intriguing, and at just an hour long, it’s a show that holds your hand as it takes you to the metaphorical funfair, then leaves you on your own to figure out what ride you want to go on.  Whichever one you choose; you might just find it leads you to exactly where you’re meant to be. 



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