Ferment Fortnight: HELP! – Jointventure Theatre Company

I am Viki Browne.

I live and work in Exeter.

And I am telling the truth.

I don’t know if I can tell you the whole truth, my version of the truth is wrapped, packaged into a 60minute play and I will sell you a seat so you can see it. It is packaged into images and metaphors and a carefully arranged script. I have manipulated my story, because I am a theatre maker.


In the beginning there was a room, a table, a chair, a mirror that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, a computer, a door with a gold door knob and me. Out of the window I could see the warm glow of a Wetherspoons pub. I was wearing black thermals, a coat and a scarf because the room was cold. I was cold.

I locked the door and sat in the middle staring at the person in the mirror. I didn’t know her. I didn’t know what she liked, what she did for fun. I didn’t know why she had decided to lock me in a cold room. She was expecting something from me, she was expecting me to have an idea. She wanted me to turn it into words on a computer screen and then she was going to get up and make it happen. I had done this before, thinking, writing, but I had always had other people to get up and make it happen. I would work with them, altering that posture, changing the delivery of that line, moving bodies around a space like pieces on a chess board. I was hesitant; I didn’t know where to begin, because for the first time I was trying to tell my own story.

I waited and waited before realizing that she was just going to sit there. I knew her well enough to know that she was never going to come up with an idea staring at me, so I got up and began to dance. Slowly at first, carefully placing each limb on the hard surface of the ground and before long, our arms were flailing as we awkwardly flew around the room, hot and sweating, we might have pulled a muscle. We didn’t look in the mirror once.

We left the room, and returned. We worked 9am to 5pm in an office, or a dank basement and locked ourselves in the cold room from 6pm to 9pm. It became warmer as we left, and returned, left and returned. As we thought and wrote, and moved, a story started to emerge. It didn’t have a beginning or an end. It was about one moment.

On the 19 January 2012 in a magnolia bush on Wimbledon Common I shattered. When your head breaks it makes you question everything you know, everything is a potential unreality. HELP! is about the time I asked for help. It is about falling apart and trying to piece yourself back together.


And so, I sat in that cold room trying to understand the person sitting opposite me. Trying to tell a story that until now I have never had the words for. A story that slowly and shyly came to the surface but then began to shout, and scream and refused to take a back seat, refused to be pushed to one side. I am inside the story, both because it is mine and because I am the performer. It is a secret, a confession, my best friend, my worst enemy, my therapist, my lover, my fuel, my sustenance and my reason to keep going.

It didn’t turn out as I expected it to. It is full of silver sequins and discos and horse racing and music and dancing and games and videos and poems. It’s not all doom and gloom (I promise). I am now going to return to ebay where I am watching multiple items that are silver and covered in sequins, all under the guise of buying costume. So please come to the Studio at Bristol Old Vic at 6.30pm on the 10 July because I am going to need your HELP!

Jointventure Theatre Company
Bristol Old Vic Studio
Thu 10 Jul, 6.30pm

@jvtheatre | jointventuretheatre.co.uk


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