vessel is about how we gain and maintain stability in the unstable world of contested narratives, alternative facts and irreversible consequences.

The poetic and political script utilises polyphony as each of the four performers grapple with unity and independence to contemplate current concerns regarding political engagement, self-preservation, agency and the nearness of history.

Vessel takes the medieval practice of Anchoritism, which saw women choosing a life of confinement within a locked cell housed within a church, to ask the across-centuries question of how do we hold history and how does history hold us?

vessel was co-commissioned by the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and Battersea Arts Centre and premiered October 2018.

Original cast:Tess Agus, Angela Clerkin, Kailing Fu, Karlina Grace Paseda

The performance uses creative captioning throughout, designed by digital artist Giles Thacker so is accessible to deaf and hard of hearing audiences.

An original score by Owen Crouch accentuates the themes of radical aloneness and radical togetherness and underpins the delicate choreography of Seke Chimutengwende. Ben Pacey’s luscious set and Holly Murray’s costumes re-imagine the Anchoress and her cell for the 21st century.

Download print quality images as per those displayed in the gallery above.



The feelings that words create, rather than their meaning, come to the fore in this quietly revealing piece
— Miriam Gillinson Mon 12 Nov 2018, the Guardian

Four peaceful-looking women sit on chairs in a cramped stage space. Grainy light seeps through three small windows. An orange screen above the women is filled with a stream of projected words, which the women recite. The phrasing is fractured, overlapping and untethered. Glimmers of meaning occasionally wriggle free, but meaning isn’t really the point. Vessel is a chance for the audience to step away from reality and get lost, perhaps escape, together.

Read the full review at the Guardian online

MacLaine crafts a sentence the way a composer crafts a melody: subtly changing tone, timbre, pitch and emotion through the full spectrum of the actresses’ voices.
— Natasha Sutton Williams - November 17 2018, Disability Arts Online

In vessel, Sue MacLaine has created a quietly hypnotic show utilising the bodies and voices of four different women from different backgrounds, races and experiences. With their voices she composes a musical quartet using words that repeat, overlap and interweave. Sometimes a single voice is heard, at other times all four voices create a polyphony of sound.

Read the full review at Disability Arts Online


Other productions

Sue MacLainevessel