The Neon Shadow is a new short film created in isolation by Tom Jackson Greaves in association with Kneehigh. Alongside the film, The Creation Club (LGBTQIA+ Individuals from Cornwall) has been exploring the themes of love and isolation through digital movement and writing workshops with the film’s creative team. Nick Richardson is one of our Creation Club participants and writes about their experience of the process:
I have very recently escaped a very negative relationship, which has been crumbling for some time and it was during this relationship I finally realised that I was trying to squash myself in a box of expectation that I now know I will never fit into. For many years I have battled with both gender identity and sexuality and have never felt right committing to one gender or another, but have forced myself to act as wholly female for many years for the benefit of not having to explain myself over and over. I have also discovered that there is a whole, wonderful community of Asexuals alongside this, and finally I don’t feel like I have a medical problem, but instead just another sexual identity which is experienced by many people around the globe. I am only just starting the journey of discovering myself, and it is like spending years collecting the broken feathers of my identity and finally making myself a pair of wings. I’ve just reached the edge of a precipice, and now I finally feel brave enough to fly.
I was drawn to the Neon Shadow project for several reasons. I remember being a carvery chef for one of the Kneehigh Theatre productions held at Heligan Gardens, and have spent my whole life wanting to be part of the magic of creative expression, theatre, writing and the arts, but was stuck on the other side of the curtain in a life that was held together with tape and survival instinct. The story of the Shadow also felt incredibly relevant, because up until this point I have always felt on the wrong side of the curtain, looking into a world I desperately want to be a part of, but too afraid to step into the limelight.
I also wanted to get involved because for the last ten years I have not been allowed friends and I have really wanted to find my way out of my shell again, but this time reaching out to a community that I feel I can relate to, and finding new paths and connections that will allow me to finally fly free.
When I was around twelve to fourteen, I was part of a youth group for underprivileged children near London where we put on productions, such as hip-hop / street dance, musicals and fashions shows. It was one of the only places I felt I could truly flourish, and I have never forgotten the magic of theatre and the buzz of being involved in something with a huge amount of creative energy and passion for supporting those from backgrounds that often get overlooked. I have a huge drive to make people feel included, loved and valued, and if I can get involved in projects like this, it helps me feel I have given back in some way by encouraging and seeing the value of others who might also be overlooked.
I loved every aspect of the workshop, it was fantastically inclusive, full of energy and so positive to be a part of. I revelled in the genuine feel of community that developed through the meetings, the warmth and encouragement we all gave one another and the raw, unscripted core of creative talent that everyone put forward for scrutiny, without fear of having their innermost thoughts devalued or dismissed.
I loved the gradual incorporation of expressive elements, like blending thoughts into movement, adding words and creating a beautiful heart-story with minimal resources and space. The short creative tasks were exciting, inspiring and fun, giving us all the chance to be expressive and feel we had contributed pieces of ourselves to the evolution of an idea. I will take away the challenges to use in my own writing, in ways to stir up inspiration when my energy isn’t feeling on peak. The story board process was another lovely insight, as one day I would love to see one of my books on screen, and would really want to be part of the process in building the visual ideas up one scene at a time.