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Performer Lisa O’Hare: “Joining The Sense Of Community Online”

4 min read

They say there are five stages of isolation. ‘They’ don’t, I just made that up. Isolation is different for all of us, even though we are all experiencing it, each perspective will be different. It is, however, as all emails constantly remind us, ‘a strange time’ for us all.

When I last wrote for the Crunchy Tales team I explained how in 2019 I had rediscovered and connected with my love for creativity. My appreciation for all that I gained last year has increased during the lockdown, as I have found that the connections I made during that time have led me to some of the most comforting isolation activities. Activities that have helped me feel a sense of connection despite the isolation measures. Activities that I will still want to connect with ‘once this is all over’.

Last year I started writing for pleasure again and performing at spoken word evenings. Quite early into lockdown two of the groups I had been involved in last year set up daily online writing prompts. Through these prompts, I made attempts at keeping up with National Poetry Writing Month which started on 1 April. I haven’t written a poem a day but I have really enjoyed the opportunity to share work and read the work by other people in response to the same prompts. As lockdown progressed a few spoken word events moved online and I have loved taking part in some of these. The sense of community online in these events has been soul-lifting. I made a bunch of strangers laugh at one of my poems which is honestly one of the best achievements I have had during the lockdown. Hearing other people’s words has been a joyous experience too. These are all events that I will return to in the flesh ‘once this is all over.’

I have continued to read social media posts by people I have met through spoken word events the Greater Manchester Fringe and have been blown away by some of their work. One of the things I am most proud of is hearing a lady that I encouraged to submit her poetry to the BBC Upload website being played on the radio. Even though we have only really met online following our performances at the last spoken word night we both attended before lockdown, I was beyond thrilled for her. We are looking forward to meeting properly after lockdown.

During 2019 I also signed up as a volunteer with Manchester Cares, who are a charity who run social events bringing young and older people in the community together. They have taken activities online and issued an amazing Alone Together activity pack for April, which I have enjoyed dipping in and out of, creating Haiku’s and drawings. Seeing other people’s creations online has been heartwarming of feeling connected doing the same activity on the same day. I look forward to going to a real-life Manchester Cares social when this is all over.

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I am constantly amazed by the fact that access to technology has helped me find non-tech ways of occupying myself at home. For instance, l watched a creative YouTube channel recommended by a friend and was inspired to paint something similar. I then went on to share on Instagram and ended up winning a voucher! I’d had no idea there was any competition open so this news made my day/week/lockdown! I took part in Noel Fielding’s Saturday Art Club and his retweet of my work led to lovely interactions with other people who had taken part. I look forward to carrying on painting ‘once this is all over.’

Another social media led highlight has been Tim Burgess’ Twitter listening parties, which has given me an excellent excuse to organise all my old gig tickets and reminisce with other fans online about ‘the good old days’ and what memories songs bring back. In these parties, we play the same album through from beginning to end at the same time and the artists tweet along with their own memories at the same time. The sense of connection is incredibly strong. A true highlight was getting a ‘shout out’ on a radio show, after revealing on social media how much I was appreciating dancing to their tunes! Feeling connected whilst apart is making a huge difference. And I look forward to gigs and dancing with others again ‘once this is all over.’ I also can’t wait to see the people I have connected with online in the flesh, and thank them for helping see me through ‘these strange times’.

About The Author

Lisa O'Hare

Tax adviser by day, spoken word performer by night. Recovering workaholic. Genuinely worked too hard in her 20s and 30s ‘to drown out other stuff’, Lisa decided to take redundancy in her early 40s and find new ways of living/working. She wrote and performed her debut solo show ‘Fly’ at the Greater Manchester Fringe in 2019, within 6 months of leaving her job, and now regularly perform spoken word alongside a part-time role. She can often be found at spoken word events across the North West including Testify, Verbose, That’s What She Said as well as having work chosen to read at curated events at the Storyhouse in Chester and Home in Manchester.

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