#25 - Ken Christiansen / Drama Centre, London / 1989-1992
I have known Ken Christiansen for about a decade. I'd actually originally wanted to involve Ken's landlady Gillian Diamond in this project, who was a big deal as a casting director in the theatre world, and in whose house on Burghley Road Ken lived for 25 years. I knew her as the slightly-scary-but-polite landlady downstairs, with her dog George who she adored. Very sadly however, she died last March. So I decided to bring Ken in to the project instead. Also also because, following Gillian's death, he and his partner Matt were leaving Kentish Town (/Camden) for Leyton, bringing a big chapter of their lives to a close.
Ken's sticky memory site was at Drama Centre, London, now the Zabludowicz Collection. Here he also met Gillian, who was working there, and offered for him to live with her. Our encounter retraced the walk Ken did every day from his (/Gillian's) house to Drama Centre, down Kentish Town Road. I recorded our 20 minute walk, as he described how the street had changed, the shops that were still running, those that had closed, the pub the students used to drink at and some of the things he would be thinking about en route to college each day.
Ken was just 18 when he started at Drama Centre having moved to London from Morcambe . He described how harsh the teaching was, but also how brilliant. Nick-named 'The Trauma Centre' many students never made it through for its 'break down, build up' philosophy.
Once we reached our destination, though the gallery was closed to the public that day, we were welcomed in by the staff of the Zabludowicz Collection, who gave us free rein to explore the building as we wished, as well as to look at the show - which marked the 20th year anniversary of the collection. Beneath a Tracey Emin neon work, lit red by the glow, Ken explained how in this room they trained physically every morning. In the midst of Samara Golden's, Bad Brains installation, Ken told how this was where the office was, and some of the stories that went on there.
We made the video of the last stretch of the walk to Drama Centre, London.