Remembering Selected Recordings of Us
Undone Theatre Artistic Director Gabriele Uboldi reflects on staging our company's London debut show and explains the importance of creating a living archive of queer work.
I still can’t quite believe it, but it’s been over two months since Selected Recordings of Us debuted at The Space. Now that the torn script pages, the polaroids and all the drawings have been—ironically—packed up and stored away, it’s time we looked back and tried to make sense of the whole experience.
Selected Recordings of Us was the strange, little play that we decided to stage as Undone Theatre’s premiere production in London. It represents everything our company stands for: it’s a non-linear piece playing with language; it’s a play that’s also an experiment, demanding that the audience act as a kind of observer, drawing them into the narrative and asking them to witness the story, take sides, be pictured alongside it.
This is what we mean when we say that we make experimental theatre—we want to create pieces that challenge traditional forms of storytelling, we want to tell stories about how we tell stories. To us, this experimentation always comes for a precise political reason: it’s meant to give space to underrepresented voices. In this sense, Selected Recordings of Us is a queer play—the queer love, intimacy and memory we represented on stage simply demanded that we take a different dramaturgical, structural approach when telling this story. Through this play we wanted to raise questions such as, What does a queer love story look like? How should we tell it? And who has the right to tell it?
We’re interested in how queerness can be documented, creating a wealth of contemporary approaches to LGBTQ+ stories and attempts to make sense of queer history, or lack thereof.
We’ve often described Selected Recordings of Us as a show exploring the notion that, for queer people, the project of remembering is at once personal and political. What we mean is that our two characters’ focus on documenting their story is parallel to our company’s concern on the ethics and politics of storytelling. Our play acknowledges the erasure of queer histories and starts a conversation about how stories about LGBTQ+ identities and queer intimacy can be devised from scratch. Once these stories are out there, we’re interested in how they can be documented, creating a wealth of contemporary approaches to LGBTQ+ stories and attempts to make sense of queer history, or lack thereof.
This is the bigger picture within which we want to place our work, and we are under no illusion that our play by itself can change the course of history or make up for the erasure of so many queer stories. But we do believe that it’s a significant, if small, contribution to consciously address this erasure—as well as the start of a process of documentation that can make sure that such (hi)stories are no longer forgotten.
This is what the Remembering Selected Recordings of Us Project is about: it’s a kind of queer history-in-the-making.
During the R&D process of Selected Recordings of Us, we often spoke about an urgent desire for queer history, the need for LGBTQ+ individuals to acknowledge a continuous existence through time to ground our present experience. This is what the Remembering Selected Recordings of Us Project is about: creating a present documentation of queer work that can be part of a larger, future archive—it’s a kind of queer history-in-the-making. Just like our characters say in the play, we want to proudly claim that “We were here. We existed. We are worth remembering”.
Alongside our show—and just like our characters!—we have collected pictures, audience reactions, and more, to create a living archive of our creative process. We have also commissioned a documentary about the making of our show, which you can find here, or on our dedicated page. We want to acknowledge just how special this time has been for us and for anyone who may resonate with our work—we want to be able to remember that we’ve formed a diverse, queer team, had important conversations about LGBTQ+ identities and histories, and we’ve created something together. You could say that we’ve gathered a series of... recordings of us. And these recordings are destined to grow, because you haven’t seen the last of us and of Selected Recordings of Us... more news to come soon!