Elders in Residence Week 2

Split Britches have been hosting a three week residency on Governors Island, New York City, as part of our preparation for our new show, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) which is premiering at La MaMa theatre in October 2016. 

Week 2

Tuesday saw us returning to the island where we were joined for the day by project manager Edythe’s grandmother, Patricia. As we were not open to the public that particular day, we were able to really focus on the performance and do some writing with Patricia which was great! Lois and Peggy shared some of their writing with us, and read some of Nichols and May's work, which inspires a scene in Unexploded Ordnances

UXO Video Diary for Week 2 by Shelby Coley! 

Wednesday was a similar working day as the island was very quiet and we spent the day working on the porch which was very productive! We later realised that this peaceful day was literally the calm before the storm.….which was incredibly exciting! As you can see, some of the trees which had been so still just minutes before were almost horizontal!

Thursday was the first day of Week 2 that we were officially open to the public and we had a great crowd turn up! 

One of our themes for discussion was ‘Rules for Conversation’. We attempted to draw together some ideas for our Situation Room - what makes a good conversation? What is needed for people to feel comfortable? We had some fantastic responses from Sarie and Barbara who joined us for the day; including ‘don’t turn your head away from bad breath!’ We each made our own lists and displayed them on the wall for people to add their own throughout the residency. 

Common rules for conversation included making sure everyone had a chance to contribute and allowing for difficult conversations to happen in a calm atmosphere. We became particularly interested in the idea of allowing two opposing views to be shared, and equally heard, at the Situation Room table. We were able to put some of these responses in to action later on in the afternoon as we carried out a Situation Room discussion. We discussed concerns around ageing and intimacy in elders.  Warren shared some particularly moving stories. Warren filmed a monologue inspired by Dr. Strangelove for us, as we were so interested in the stories he shared with us in The Situation Room, we hope this monologue will appear in the show! 

On Saturday 17th, we had over seventy five people visit our residency at various points throughout the day - it was buzzing! We received so many fantastic comments about the project and numerous responses to our activities. It was great to see people really engaging with the activities and asking when they could come to see the performance! 

The arrival of a group of twenty year olds from Brooklyn who came to see us just as we were finishing when energy was flagging, was a real highlight!

They were fascinated by the project and gave us so much material to add to our activities; this furthered our longing to ensure the residency was intergenerational whilst catering to elders. 

Sunday 18th was an eerily quiet day on Governors Island, perhaps due to the explosion in Chelsea the previous night. The island was deserted and the weather gloomy.

We were very fortunate to be joined by poet Tom Savage for the day, who brought some of his work with him to share with us. This was great as everyone was able to switch off from our writing, thinking and work for a while, and welcomed inspiration from him. 

As we headed towards Manhattan on Sunday evening, we noticed a number of helicopters flying over the island towards Lower Manhattan. It was President Obama! The ferry was held on lockdown and everyone was kept on-board until the President had landed.


After many conversations about the worrying situation America is in at this time, seeing President Obama and the First Lady land was a poignant moment. Everyone on the ferry cheered and applauded, it was our personal send off to the man we wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to. 

A very special moment to end another fantastic week. 

Check out Shelby's Week 2 Video Diary on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/splitbritches/videos/