Tuch by Amy Lawrence


I had the utmost pleasure of working as a dramaturg for Amy Lawrence recently on her solo Tuch, performed by Tilda O’Grady. Tuch was comissioned by the Royal Excahnge Theatre for their Co-Lab Festival in July 2018.

The photo above is by Chris Payne, and I’ve re-posted below a wonderful bit of writing about it by Circle&Stalls, an excerpt from their wider text here:

Tuch (devised by Amy Lawrence with collaboration and realization by Tilda O’Grady) opened the festival weekend. The audience are encouraged to find somewhere to stand in the bare studio space. It starts with the simplest of introductions, a sparse explanation of what will happen. Then O’Grady begins to carry out sequences of individual movements – intricate, often at speed, sometimes expansive often compressed – all leading to touch. The intensity of feeling and emotion is gripping – there were moments that reminded me of Boris Charmatz’s thrilling 10000 Gestures.

She moves through the crowd, stopping now and then, reflecting and then moving on. There’s something of a ritual about it. Throughout she talks (sometimes in abstract terms) of remembered moments of touch, seeming to relive them before our eyes. Up close and personal. At one point O’Grady reads from a copy of Ali Smith’s Artful – a book whose narrator is haunted by a former lover. When she lets out a cry or repeatedly runs violently at a wall is something (or someone) being exorcised?

It’s a fascinating work, seeming to withhold as much as it claims to reveal. Starting to tell us something then remembering that there was a decision to cut that bit. Appearing to reach out and touch members of the audience but stopping just short of any genuine physical contact. Repeatedly asserting a need to be touched but then running away when someone eventually plucks up the courage to do so. Things speed up and then become momentarily still, sentences begin and then drift off. We are invited into her train of thought only to be rebuffed. It gives the illusion that we are active participants but what we are witnessing are memories of other bodies. Tuch’s flamboyant self-absorption is however difficult to resist as the fragments of sensuous intimacy coalesce into an enthralling spectacle.

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