Ian Kershaw on We Should Definitely Have More Dancing

Clara Darcy's real-life story forms the basis for We Should Definitely Have More Dancing. Her co-writer Ian Kershaw has written the following about the experience of writing with Clara.


I didn’t know Clara Darcy well. Over the years, we’d collided at press nights in Manchester theatre bars, exchanging smiles and saying hello, eventually becoming friends on social media. One day, a post of hers popped up on my Twitter feed; footage of her being surprised by a brass band in her garden – not an everyday occurrence – so I scrolled back and learnt of what had happened to her. I was shocked, I hadn’t heard an inkling - not from her directly, and not indirectly from our various mutual friends, such is the private and personal nature of life when things like this happen.

Social media is all about front-stage, front-cloth – the sequins in our eyes, the smoke and mirrors, the pedicured feet by a crystal sea with the boastful ‘how’s your Monday?’.
We rarely see the back-stage hardships of struggle, heartbreak, illness.

Knowing every actor’s ‘I’ll-never-work-again’ worry at the end of every job and especially after something like what Clara has been through, I DM’d her to offer my help. There’s not a great deal I can actually do to help, I can talk and listen and write. I said if she ever wanted to write about her experience, I could help oversee or co-write something, maybe a radio-play – whatever – but, at the end of it, if she didn’t want to share her story with anyone, she could put it in a drawer and forget all about it – the endeavour might still be worth it.

We met up, it was all still very present for her, we talked about what had happened, and we started to write together and as we did, we soon realised this story shouldn’t be locked away in a drawer and that we needed people to be with us, to share the story. It’s a story of someone who sailed away and has returned with insight and a message to help us live better, to be better, to be present, to be here.

There’s a moment in The Little Prince where the narrator draws a snake eating an elephant, but when he shows it to people some of them only see a hat and they immediately talk about hats to him. Other people ask him to tell them what the drawing actually is, and when they do, he can explain and they can have snake-eating-an-elephant-conversations. We see a lot of hats in life but rarely do we have the time to have the snake-eating-an-elephant-conversations and they’re the interesting, important conversations, they’re actually life: people telling us stories, their stories. If I’d just scrolled through Clara’s brass band in the garden it would just have been another hat and we wouldn’t have had the snake-eating-an-elephant-conversation of this play and this sharing and this moment may not have existed – this story may not have existed for us - but it’s here now. So maybe, when we’re having a hard time – a life, a week, a day, a moment, and we scroll or click and see those pedicured feet by the water and our envious urge is to simply dismiss them as uninteresting hats, maybe instead after Clara’s story, we’ll be happy for the owner of those toes, because we know there’s been a lot of hard work to earn that moment by the sea, there may have been a debt accrued to enjoy that fleeting moment in the sun, there may even be a deep pain that has been temporarily escaped…there are snakes eating elephants all around us!

And now, me and Clara are good friends, not just Twitter friends, but friends in real life. And I hope that every single person who comes to see and to hear and to be a part of this story will also become her friend too and will maybe leave the theatre feeling the world is a bit fuller, a lot brighter, hugely happier and ultimately - that we should definitely have more dancing!



We Should Definitely Have More Dancing runs at the Coliseum Friday 17 June - Saturday 2 July, before touring to Theatre by the Lake, Keswick and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


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