Episode five: from 28 July
Lucy McCormick: The Art of the Subversive
“A lot of the time I just sit on the tube and I just have an idea and I do it. There’s not really a mystical process”.
Lucy McCormick is trying to pin down where the seeds of her work come from, and explain how they evolve from the first idea to the opening night. That phrase, “I just have an idea and I do it”, could be adopted as mantra by any creative working in any discpline, but McCormick’s shows, whether they are born as daydreams, or - as was the case in her most recent creation, Life: LIVE! - as angry raps in her bedroom, will go through any number of experiments and iterations before a fully-fledged show goes on stage.
“I imagined that show into existence,” McCormick says of Life: LIVE!, which is described on her website as a “subversive, immersive, pop concert spectacular”. The project is a collaboration with artist Morven Mulgrew. The two had been working on a separate piece when McCormick, mulling ideas, simply said out loud to Mulgrew what she had been thinking to herself: “If this was a dream situation,” she said, “I would have my own songs.”
But there was a problem. McCormick knew what she wanted, but she didn’t know how to make it happen. She didn’t know how to write the songs, at least not in the beginning, and she didn’t know what the show should look like. “I’ve absolutely chanced it, bascially,” she admits.
McCormick was “quite depressed” when she started writing the songs that became Life; LIVE!, and the show was driven in part by sheer catharsis. “I often think if you’re in difficult times what you want is either to laugh or to dance or to listen to really loud music,” she explains, “and that was just what I felt like doing at that point.”
It’s an approach that worked for Life: LIVE!, but other shows have followed a more orthodox route on to the stage. McCormick tested sections of her 2019 show, Post Popular, in cabaret spots, stand up nights and performance art events. “It takes quite a long time to transfer that into an hour long show,” McCormick says, “it’s not easy.”
“It’s not like you can go ‘oh great, I’ve got this 10 minutes here and that 10 minutes there’ and sellotape it all together. But it’s definitely how I’ve been trying out new ideas and seeing what I’m enjoying.”
McCormick’s shows have been called “utterly indelicate”, exercises in “extreme bad taste”, and “fantastically entertaining”. Anybody who has seen her perform will tell you that all of those descriptions are true - at least those people that didn’t walk out. As McCormick looks to get post-lockdown stagings of Life: LIVE! up and running again, she tells Tramshed Presents how she aims to skewer misogyny with her work, question pop culture, and laugh at herself - as well as what drives her to create shows she knows will divide audiences.
Get the full story on Tramshed Presents from 28 July.
Photo: Kaleido Shoots