‘What do you want to be when you’re older?’ is the old school, or just at school ‘what do you do?’ Whatever your answer might be, it will ring (in your ears, anyway) of inadequacy. Unless of course, you’re enlightened. In which case, get off the computer and back to your lotus (flower NOT car)
Kids don’t judge? Well, I remember the shocked look across the faces of other 9 year olds when we’d discuss our career hopes. I’d patiently listen to their crackpot plans to become astronauts, but when I’d come out with ‘I just want to lie in a hammock, drink lemonade and read books with tubes coming out of me so I NEVER have to pee’ their faces would drop. It was like I’d ripped the head off barbie. They were full-on judging.
Well, it turns out the weather in England is shit, I don’t really like lemonade and I get motion sickness so that ambition has gone AWOL. But you’ll be glad to hear, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be Kate Tempest. YES, there are flaws with the ambition – it involves identity theft, she is younger than me and I should’ve already grown up. But details, shmeetails.
Essentially, I LOVE everything that comes out of her mouth. So on hearing that her Brand New Ancients was touring, I booked me and my best mate tickets to see her parade around the Royal Opera House (the side room, not the grand bit).
Brand New Ancients is spoken word theatre at its absolute best. For 80 whole minutes Kate raps the story of the modern day gods. The powerful sounds of percussion, tuba, violin and cello accompany her and fill the room when she occasionally stops for breath.
The lighting adds to the feeling that we are in the presence of something sacred. And that’s her point. The celebrities we elevate to divine status are not gods. We are. ‘The gods are in the betting shops, the gods are in the cafe, the gods can’t afford a deposit on their flat…’
Kate then tells the parable of two South London based families trying to navigate their lives. The themes are those of a Greek tragedy – love, ambition, anger and betrayal. But the characters are normal people – suffering, loving and just being human. Tears streamed down my face and into my fancy nuts on more than one occasion.
First and foremost Brand New Ancients is a story of strength. Tempest wants us to realise that we have the power to do anything. If we don’t like the status quo, we don’t need to accept it. And I’ll tell you what – she is a far greater motivational voice than the bloody Russell Brands knocking about.
The most extraordinary part is her deliverance. She is humility and ferocity all at once, pouring her soul into the performance, without ever being overbearing. The play left the audience gobsmacked, and then standing ovation ensued. Brand New Ancients is probably the most powerful theatre production I’ve ever seen and is on at Battersea Arts Centre now – SEE IT.
Brand New Ancients made me believe I can be whatever or whoever I want to be. But I just wanna be Kate.