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Q&A with Sioda Adams

We had a catch up with Sioda Adams who worked with her sister Keira Martin to create Good Blood, a show which will be part of our upcoming New Work Weekend in March. Sioda delves into her practice, growing up in Barnsley and what its like creating work with her sibling. Enjoy!

Could you tell us a bit more about you and your creative practice? 

I’m originally from Barnsley and am now based in Warwickshire, although I work all over. I’m a multi-media artist using movement, poetry, music, theatre and film and to be honest, all things creative. Often I choose to treat quite serious issues with comedy, inspired by some time I spent training in Jaqués Lecoq Clowning practices at The Actors Space, BCN. Storytelling is at the heart of my work and I like to tell stories that are fictional and fantastical but that represent real life. My work has been described as ‘socially charged’ (probably influenced from my Barnsley roots) and ‘moving poetry’.

As my formal training was in dance and most of my performance career in dance theatre, movement often plays a strong part in whatever I create. I performed for 15 yrs with other companies and then when I decided to have a family 6 years ago I started to build my own company Earth-bound, where I work with a mix of multi-skilled artists to tell the stories I create. I now mostly direct and am also currently taking on more filmmaking projects, since shifting my creative practice during the pandemic. I caught the bug for filmmaking and so alongside my current work, I’m now studying part time at the National Film and TV school, funded by a scholarship from the BFI. I love how with film you can make almost anything happen, I can make all those crazy visions in my head come to life, in a way that isn’t always possible in live theatre. I also really enjoy playing around with sound and composition for my films. Generally if I’m being playful and creative, I’m happy!

I think everyone should be able to experience this in life whether you’re a pro or not and I work really hard to try and promote this through my community work.

How much and in what ways has your Irish heritage and upbringing in Barnsley influenced you as an artist? 

I would say definitely growing up in the folk scene has had a huge impact on my work and life – going with Mum and Dad to music sessions and seeing people doing weird and whacky things in the streets, all different and interesting, from all parts of the country definitely impacted my outlook on life from a young age.

I definitely wanted to be like the cool girls who were older, playing music and singing in bands. They were very different to what might be perceived as “normal” at school etc. and so was I. I feel very lucky to have been exposed to this world because it gave me a sense of belonging and identity; from a young age I was confident with who I was, even though I was different, even a bit weird to some kids at school. 

I didn’t find my passion for dance/physical expression until I joined Barnsley Youth Dance Theatre (BYDT), which was set up by Performing Arts Development Service (PADS) and where I also played in the Youth Orchestra at the time, – it was my first time experiencing contemporary dance, choreography and improvisation. I loved it, it was as if I’d found my voice! (I was a very quiet child, as Keira points out in the show!). I used to struggle with words in a sort of normal social set up and my time with BYDT gave me confidence and nurtured my creativity. I never really connected with Irish dance or more formal styles of dance. Generally they made me feel bad because I didn’t feel I could do it well – I wasn’t interested in learning and executing steps perfectly, I liked to let loose! BYDT made me feel like I was good at something and I could just be myself. It was all down to an amazing, inspirational teacher Alison Thornton-Clarke who Barnsley were very lucky to have. She was a great role model for young girls like me. She had so much drive and passion and worked hard to give kids in Barnsley opportunities that just wouldn’t exist otherwise, the whole service did that and it’s a real shame that it no longer exists for young people today.

I was also very lucky at school with my music and performing arts teachers who pretty much let me explore whatever I wanted! And even then I mixed monologues with music, song and dance. Back then in the 90s my whole world was about music, dance and performance, even friends I made through those experiences became life long friends and some of them collaborators. So yes, my Barnsley upbringing had a huge influence on my work and life. It was a good time to be a kid in Barnsley.

Good Blood is performed by you and your sister Keira and explores the relationship of two sisters. How closely does it reflect your sisterhood in real life?

I think it reflects enough of our sisterhood in real life. We tried to keep the work honest but it’s also important to protect ourselves and our ‘real life’ relationship. Sibling relationships are complicated, all family relationships are, so you have to find a way to detach yourself from the work so it doesn’t feel too personal and cause damage. This is hard to do and working with your sister is difficult. It would be for anyone. We did delve deeper and try to reveal more about our relationship but we chose to hold something back and leave more up to the audience’s imagination. You have to be sensitive to the situation and remember that we are both human beings. It’s something that is often forgotten by our industry and artists aren’t protected when it comes to exploring autobiographical work. We have been told in the past that people would like to know more about us and the stories that we share but we are ‘actual’ sisters and protecting that relationship is more important than the work. Also, it’s not such a bad thing to leave audiences wanting more! 

The piece combines dance, live music, song and storytelling, is that something intentional? 

Yes, it was always going to happen this way based on who we are and both of our interests.

What impact do you hope Good Blood has on those that see it? 

I think both of us hope that ultimately audiences enjoy the music and dance and that our stories resonate with them. I’m sure people will recognise their own sibling relationships and the dynamic between us on stage. We hope they enjoy both the the comedy and sometimes the heartache in that. As artists both Keira and I advocate for female voices, so we would also hope for other women, mothers and female artists to relate to the work. Whoever audience members are, I think everyone will take something away from the performance, even if they haven’t seen anything like this before. We just want everyone to have a great time!

Find out more and book your tickets for Good Blood and New Work Weekend by clicking here.

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