Hesitate and Demonstrate 1982-1986

Geraldine Pilgrim (2013):

‘After Shangri La, we left Artsadmin to have our own administrator, and moved with the People Show into St James Institute, an old Church Hall building in the East End. There we created So More Songs of Love. This was a very different process for me as we now had – all be it small- a rehearsal room and the company had expanded again with new members added to the family. Meanwhile a major event had taken place in London: John Ashford had left the ICA and the whole ethos of the ICA had changed, with Hesitate and Demonstrate no longer welcome there. We took So No More Songs of Love to Polverigi … By this stage I lived in Amsterdam … and I commuted all over Europe, while the administrative centre of Hesitate and Demonstrate was still based in London. So No More Songs of Love, had gone on tour without me as I was away directing another commissioned show, and I went to see it in Holland … I watched and was completely shocked because the cast had changed it: the protagonist was no longer female but male…’

‘The whole point of Hesitate and Demonstrate was that the protagonist had to be a woman [but] one of the male performers at that time thought that he knew more than I knew and that his role was more important. … The good thing was that it made me realise that everything I believed in was true. Because when I saw it, there it was, it was different, and it wasn’t right. … for me, it was really interesting [in terms of] the role of a woman as director: I didn’t come from theatre, I was working with theatre people and they thought it was alright to change the show. … I was never very clear about the role of a director as [being] an employer. It really disturbed me. I never quite knew how to be assertive without being aggressive; I never knew how to make a stand about my art to employees. It was a very difficult time for a young woman to be in charge of a very successful company without having the support of people that understood the position I was in. …That’s why my producers gave me more support than everybody else, because they understood what I wanted to achieve. I didn’t have an agenda, I was just Gerry, doing what I did, creating my performances.’

‘After the success in Polverigi of So No More Songs of Love I was invited to create a show in Italy and to form an international Hesitate and Demonstrate company. I moved out to Bologna and invited a performer I knew from Paris and worked with performers recruited from Italy. This show A Woman Alone, but called Femmina Fatale in Italian, was to be the last Hesitate and Demonstrate show. After a successful opening and tour in Italy, coming back to a UK tour and a long run at The Place where John Ashford was now based, the truck crashed and our set destroyed. We had to cancel the first part of the UK tour to rebuild the set and we opened later in Warwick Arts Centre, but then there was an Easter break and the international company went to stay together in France. I was asked by my then administrator, to get a temporary increase in our overdraft from the bank to cover our lost income from the cancelled gigs, but he [the Bank Manager] said no. It was the beginning of the first recession and because we were a charity and did not have enough money – even though it was temporary situation- to pay our bills, we had to cease trading immediately. The Arts Council said that they would continue to fund us but as we hadn’t put in for the following years grants they couldn’t put it in writing, so that was it… the end of Hesitate and Demonstrate. I always thought it ironic that Janet and I founded it on July 4th – Independence Day and it ceased trading on April 1st -April Fool’s Day.’


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