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Luca Rutherford - You Heard Me Interview

After the success of the show’s 2021-22 tour, writer, theatre-maker, and artist Luca Rutherford (Learning How to Die, ARC Stockton; Hold On Let Go; Summerhall) will bring her impassioned performance piece You Heard Me to Battersea Arts Centre, before embarking on an autumn tour. Exploring the complex and messy ways in which we connect to our internal power, Luca’s story of resilience and self-discovery empowers audiences to honour themselves by taking up space and finding their own voice.

Are you listening? You Heard Me is a true story that celebrates a single moment of noise that allowed creator and performer Luca Rutherford to escape an attack. This moment made her understand what it means to occupy space, to heal and be part of something much bigger than herself. A theatrical experience about refusing to be silenced and the power to re-make, re-mould and disrupt, You Heard Me follows one woman’s journey to reclaiming the space she occupies.

Luca Rutherford in You Heard Me. Photo by Eastside.

Luca chatted with us to discuss the show, it’s development and more. 

What inspired the creation of the piece?
I was attacked back in 2019, whilst on a run. The attack was motivated by sexual violence.  I won’t go into details of that apart from to say I got away. This experience lead me to understand the power of my own voice, learn how to take up space. It got me thinking about how often I have apologised when it hasn’t been my fault, how many times I have made myself smaller when I didn’t want to be. I wanted to make a piece of work that captures the messiness of connecting to your power. For me, it has been a journey of resilience, community and finding spaces for joy in amongst the relentlessness. I also wanted to tell this story and not apologise for telling it. 

Horrifically my story is one of too many. I wanted to add to this conversation. 
How easy/difficult was it for you to write the piece?
It has been really hard. I have had to face a lot of myself within every stage of the making process.  I have done a lot of personal work outside of the artistic work but invariably those intertwines in ways you can never expect or predict. I have been shifting as much as the piece has in its development. I have had an amazing team (Maria Crocker, Melanie Wilson, Tanuja Amarasuriya, Bethany Wells, Bethany Gupwell, Linzy Na Nakorn, Adam Robertson, Jenni Jackson, Steph McMann) around me who have had my safety at the centre of all our work together. We have formed a community of solidarity both for each other and future audiences. The audiences’ safety is also at the centre of the work. The show is not about us replaying trauma on stage, nor traumatising myself or an audience. It is about forensically looking at a moment of violence and unpicking the internal struggle to connect with your power in and around that. 
How did you approach developing the show to where it is today?
The show has been on a wild journey. We started making it in 2019. It has spanned the pandemic. It has gone through so many different iterations, so many different considerations on approach, form and  perspective. The team has expanded during that time.  We toured the show last year and have now refined that version to the final iteration that audiences will see this Autumn. The show is a super physical performance with deeply integrated sound and lighting. It is a really visceral piece for an audience that I hope leaves them feeling fired up.

Luca Rutherford in You Heard Me. Photo by Eastside.

The piece explores quite a personal experience for yourself, did you have a target audience in mind when developing the show?
It is rooted in my own personal story but expands out into the struggle of understanding and standing in your own power, which I think is deeply universal. The show is for anyone who has been underestimated. Anyone who has been told to shut up. Anyone who has be made to feel smaller than they feel. Anyone who has been afraid to walk home. Equally it is for anyone who does feel heard and are open to being softly challenged about how they can make space to listen to other people. 
What do you want an audience to take away from seeing the show?
You Heard Me happens inside theatre spaces and with this audiences can expect to see a show a highly visual and physical show. It starts with unapologetic joy and fun and then moves into a deep look at how a personal experience of being attacked led me to understand what it means to take up space, refuse to be silenced and not apologise. I hope audiences leave thinking about their own power, feeling fierce and fired up.

You Heard Me plays at Battersea Arts Centre from 27th September until 14th October and tours. Find full dates and details at

Luca Rutherford in You Heard Me. Photo by Eastside.

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