Promises of Happiness: Genuinely Attempting Joy – Robert Clark

Promises of Happiness is a look at ‘happiness’. The experience of happiness and also our desire for it, pursuit of it and how we relate to each other whilst trying to navigate it, ours, mine, yours etc.

About two or three years ago I became aware of a tendency that I had towards making work that was in someway dark which made me feel a bit stuck. I was also looking around and most of the work I was seeing was also similarly focused on the darker sides of life. I felt like happiness was not being taken seriously other than as entertainment in some way, and wanted to have a crack at addressing that.

As a devised work the piece doesn’t follow a narrative line, although it is theatrical in style. The content of the work is special to me as it has been a completely involving process to get the work to this stage. The subject is obviously universal in it’s relevance to every human being and exploring this will hopefully be of interest to many.

The work is devised together with the performers, although lead by me. In the creation of this particular work there has been a very long process of negotiating the authorship of the material both in it’s conception but also it’s presentation. I have been in and out of the work as a performer many times as we have gone through various iterations of it in the creation process. Two years ago when the research first began we started with a week of workshops, inviting in different individuals with a particular specialty in an element of happiness. We had a clinical psychologist who’s personal research is into self-compassion, a laughter yoga teacher, a philosopher and an Alexander Technique teacher and spent this time in open workshops exploring different avenues towards happiness. These conversations have been the starting point for much of the material. This initial six weeks of research was followed by a long break.

Ultimately, the show is a genuine attempt to offer the individual audience members happiness. And if you don’t believe that then come and be given some money, or a hug or a cup of tea. Come and be part of something for an hour. And the Happiness Treatments which will happen on Friday 24 April from 5pm-9pm are an extra special offer, intimate performances based around already existing routes to happiness in our culture, like therapy sessions, spa treatments and more risqué ideas! These are for those who want a more intimate experience of happiness, something just for them.

Promises of Happiness plays in Bristol Old Vic Studio as part of DanceFest on 25 April. Book tickets for the show, and the Happiness Treatments, as well as finding more information on the show here. 

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