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Walking: Holding, Battersea Arts Centre

Devised by Rosana Cade

Pros: A new approach to challenging audience members’ perceptions of others.

Cons: It’s a very challenging piece that could get rather uncomfortable and is therefore definitely not for everyone!

Our Verdict: A social experiment rather than traditional theatre, but a half hour spent in the company of six interesting actors that will change the way you think about your place in society.

Courtesy of Battersea Arts Centre

This was my first experience of one-on-one theatre. It was a very intimate performance in more ways than one. Not only did I have six actors all to myself but I also got to hold each and every one of their hands.

Rosana Cade has gathered together a group of actors that span the breadth of London society today. She places each audience member with each actor for five minutes apiece. They walk and talk, holding hands all the way, before being passed on to the next actor. You are asked how you feel holding hands with these individuals, how often you hold hands with others and who they are. You are invited to think about yourself as an individual within society, how that society sees you and what it expects of you. More of a workshop or social experiment than a show, Walking: Holding allows you to experience how you are treated if you don’t fit society’s norms. It was a stirring experience.

What I especially loved about this show is how it is a different experience for each audience member. If I had been a different gender, ethnicity, physical build or sexuality, my experience of Walking: Holding would have been totally different. As a young woman, I saw things differently from how an older man would see the exact same thing. I gained new insight into topics I’ve often discussed with friends, such as the experience lesbian couples have if they want to hold hands, or the response mixed-raced couples receive. I am so grateful to Walking: Holding for this insight.

In busy Clapham, people were going about their day-to-day lives, while I was walking along holding the hands of people you probably would not expect me to be with. There were glances from strangers (part of the show’s purpose), but perhaps not as many as you might expect. I may not have noticed, or perhaps this particular area of London is accepting of all people. Though I spent only five minutes in someone else’s shoes, the experience taught me more than anything I could have read or watched.

It’s not a comfortable half an hour. For those uncomfortable with attention or touch, walking around holding hands with a drag queen in a bright pink dress, or any of the other distinctive actors, might not be your idea of a fun night at the theatre. However, those who could distance themselves from the ‘embarrassment’ of holding hands with strangers were no doubt rewarded by the experience.

Walking: Holding is sublime in its uniqueness. Not quite theatre but absolutely outstanding.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Walking: Holding has finished its runs at The Battersea Arts Centre. Visit https://www.bac.org.uk for information on upcoming shows.

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Founded in 2011, Everything Theatre started life as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts and – thanks to the Entry Pass Scheme for 16-25 year olds – regular National Theatre goers. Today, we are run by part-time volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds. Among our various contributors are people who work in theatre, but also people who work in law, medicine, events, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for the London theatre scene.