>> “Bring the Happy is a project about happiness” [Official tag line and the first words of the show]
Bring the Happy is a collaboration between us and Invisible Flock, an interactive arts company from Leeds. For 2 years now Invisible Flock have been collecting memories of happiness from around the UK. They set up shop in a town centre and stop passers-by to ask if they would share a memory of happiness, plot it on a map of their town and give it a score out of 10. The show is essentially them telling those stories and us making music to support them. At the end of 2011 we did the first show in Leeds and since then the project has grown. We’re now at the beginning of a 2 year tour of the UK, gathering memories from more and more towns to produce shows unique to those towns and ultimately to produce a study of happiness from across the UK. So far, so theatre yeah? Neat idea but… [shrugs] Whatevs… Thing is though, it’s amazing. Absolutely, heartmeltingly amazing.
>> “This could well be the best thing we ever do…” [Ed to room whilst mixing the Bring the Happy album]
The reason it’s amazing has less to do with us and Invisible Flock, and more because these stories of everyday happiness are often just incredible.
When asked to tell a story of happiness people don’t just deliver a neat anecdote of happiness, so often people answer with why they’re not happy now, the moment when their happiness was taken away. There is the breadth of life here. There is laughter, dancing, tears and heartbreak in what we are doing here. It’s all collected together because life is messy. It doesn’t have a neat story arc that can be neatly tied into a half hour tv slot with gaps for 3 ad breaks. Happy and sad are not mutually exclusive. Stories don’t always have happy endings and sadness isn’t always a full stop. Sometimes our happiest times are banal and fleeting, sometimes our saddest times are coated with that absurd sense of humour that life keeps in her back pocket.
>> “I’d describe it as somewhere between a wedding and wake…” [Rich – the Invisible Flock]
As Hope and Social so much of what we do is about happiness. We sometimes describe ourselves as “fun enablers”. We deliver good times but we’d like to think that the reason that we can do that is that we know that life is not a cartoon painted in primary colours. Laughter at a funeral is not necessarily the wrong reaction.
>> “I was reading all the stories from Coventry last night and I really don’t think I’ve got the strength to do this…” [Vic – Invisible Flock]
There’s a weight to this project that none of us really expected. The emotional weight of carrying all these stories; these fragments of the lives of so many real people. Vic from the Invisible Flock literally has a bag that is full to the brim of the highest and lowest points of thousands of lives. Simply stated stories of the moments that made all those people who they are now. The moments that made their hearts lift and the moments that dashed their hearts to pieces.
As we gather more stories there’s also a weight of responsibility that we’re all feeling as performers. Something about the banality of the question and the openness of how it’s asked seems to result in people sharing their deepest moments. These moments deserve to be presented as they are. To bend these moments to tell a story of our choosing would be not only disrespectful but actually dishonest. This is not reality TV. This a privileged insight into people’s lives.
On Wednesday and Thursday we’ll be doing our Coventry show. We’ll laugh, we’ll dance, we’ll listen and we’ll probably have a little cry (as we have done every time we’ve performed this show) and then afterwards we’ll go to the bar and drink and laugh and try to find as much joy as we can. If you get the chance this week, or later in the year as this show winds it’s way round the country, we urge you to come see it. It really is a wonderful thing.
Ed (In the van on the m6, just had a sandwich and a coffee, 7/10) x