Keisha Thompson loves words and mathematics
Keisha Thompson is a writer, performer, singer, and producer born in Manchester. She has been writing since she was a child. By the time she was 16, Thompson's texts had been published in three anthologies, her debut EP was released in 2014, and last year her first book was published. Her latest monologue, the acclaimed Man on the Moon, masterfully combines poetry with storytelling.
Written from the point of view of a black person in Britain,Thompson's Man on the Moon is a powerful and current performance that examines, among other things, what kind of effects mental health can have on family dynamics.
A journey towards her own identity
In Man on the Moon, Thompson portrays the fragmented relationship she had with her father, and how she has to dare to dive into his world in order to find her own identity. A hermit, he communicated with her only through letters and books that he sent her through mail since Thompson was a child. This distance left Thompson confused about her identity.
One of the major themes in the performance is a strong sense of rootlessness. Born in Great Britain to a Jamaican father and a Guyanan mother, building an identity was not easy. Thompson describes feeling somewhere in between British, Jamaican, and Guyanan identities.
In Man on the Moon, the audience gets to come along Thompson's journey to her father's world in a way that is both personal and relatable. The story contains situations and things that all viewers can relate to.
– The audience doesn’t always need to know which bits are true and which bits are not. It always starts with truth, says Thompson, emphasising that, as a storyteller, what's important to her is not the veracity of small details but the core message of the story.
A passion for mathematics
In addition to words, Thompson loves mathematics. It is an integral part of Man on the Moon as well: Thompson examines the way mathematics has helped her understand the facts of life. Their shared interest in mathematics has been valuable for Thompson and her father, who gave his daughter numerous science-related books.
Music and mathematics sound like two worlds apart on the surface, but Thompson herself sees a clear connection between the two.
– When you learn about time signatures, rhythm and chord progressions it is all linked to numbers.
In her opinion, both mathematics and science are creative
– [Mathematics and science are] puzzles, patterns, lens into the world. Mathematics is problem-solving. It is inherently creative. You use the tools and knowledge you have to create something new and beautiful, she states and compares problem solving to cooking.
From Manchester to Finland for the first time
Thompson's performances at Tampere Theatre Festival in August will also mark her first visit to Finland, which she says she is looking forward to.
– I hope the show resonates. It is a Manchester story with a lot of Manchester references so hopefully I can bring the audience into my world. …I just want to connect on a emotional level, have fun, tell a story, take my audience on a journey - hopefully to somewhere they've never been before.
Man on the Moon
7.8. 19 o'clock
8.8. 14 o'clock
Duration 1h 30 min
Performed in English
This article is composed of an interview with Keisha Thompson along with the following sources:
Text: Sanna Stenberg
Translated from Finnish: Lotta Salomaa