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Dear Stranger, Dear Friend

I am currently sat in Sun Square, in Lancaster, and the place has never deserved its name more.

The weather is gorgeous, and I’m enjoying a delicious cup of Irish Breakfast tea… You guessed it, I’m procrastinating.

This evening, I’ll be putting The Midnight Soup to the test of the creative team, cooking and all. My main job for the afternoon will be to go shopping for the various bits and bobs we need to make it all happen. It’s also my least favourite.

This evening, the main thing I’ll need to remember is to breathe more. That’s the advice I’ve received from way too many people to afford to ignore it. It’s this advice of friends who were once strangers.

Just breathe, breathe more. Always, breathe. 

I wish there was an equivalent expression in English for à fleur de peau. It’s like my skin is so thin, you can see, and hear everything that’s hiding underneath. It’s feeling everything raw, everything rough, everything in its fullest form.

That’s the space I’ve been, in making this piece. I now need to allow myself to be this vulnerable, to be confident in that I only feel that way because it matters. 

And I need to trust, friends and strangers.

The Midnight Soup has many friends. I am making it with friends. I am inviting friends to it.

Some of them are old friends, some of them are new friends, some of them were strangers not all that long ago.

Every experimental residency that’s led to what I’ll be doing tonight, I stayed in the spare rooms, on the sofa beds of friends. Only in Stockton did I stay in a hotel, and even then, from the first night, I made a stranger a friend, we still write.

I also set myself up for being with strangers by opening Le Bistroquet in each location, by running workshops and doing talks. It’s an excuse and an exciting opportunity. From simple invitations: come talk to me about your favourite recipes; have you every kept a diary; what bus did you have to get to be here today? comes the development of a listening muscle, comes training the skills of being present.

That’s what goes in to making The Midnight Soup. Strangers as friends.

This evening, I might also need to think of my friends as strangers.

I’ll need to put to one side what I think they’ll think. I’ll need to put to one side what I know about them. I’ll need to create and hold a space for them to feel warm in, for them to feel safe in, for them to be allowed to be vulnerable.

There will be leftovers for everyone, I’ll need to make sure they go with them.

In Stockton, someone gifted me this song, it stuck, and I don’t know why. It’s beautiful, it’s playful and it’s banal.

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