I am a Leeds-based writer and T’ai Chi and Reiki practitioner. I am also a member of the Performance Ensemble, where I work as a dramaturg and performer. Our recent production, ‘Crossing’, was performed at Stage at Leeds in February 2020, just before Covid 19 reared its ugly head and shut everything down. Since then, I have been helping to gather and edit stories from the ensemble, which you can read here. Our next major production will take place on the main stage at Leeds Playhouse in August 2021.
I teach independent classes across the city in Creative Writing, as well as running regular workshops in T’ai Chi and Chi Kung. In autumn 2018, I opened a Reiki Room in Oakwood, Leeds where I see people for one-one sessions. (See my Reiki In Leeds page and Classes with Barney page for details.) Currently, most of this work is online only, due to Covid 19. But hopefully this is only temporary. It will be nice to work with people, face to face, once more.
I have been part of the Leeds Playhouse Creative Engagement programme since 2009. Leeds Playhouse is a Theatre of Sanctuary, and I have run workshops there called ‘Finding Your Voice’, to encourage confidence and performance skills in the refugee and asylum seeker community. Also, I have collaborated regularly on two exciting projects: Heydays a dynamic programme for older people; and Our Time, groundbreaking creative work for people with dementia and those who support them.
For the Every Third Minute Festival 2018 at Leeds Playhouse, I co-wrote a short play, ‘A Horse Called Freedom’, with Rosa Peterson, a woman living with dementia. Despite the public perception of this complex condition, our work together was surprisingly poetic and uplifting. And we laughed (and cried) alot!
Rosa and I continue to write together from time to time – and most recently wrote and performed monologues for a piece called Bus Ride, brainchild of director Alan Lyddiard, and his company the Performance Ensemble. You can read more about that here.
As an arts journalist, I have written regular freelance features for the Guardian, Psychologies Magazine and Femail, some of which you can read by going to my Blog and Features Archive page, and have published three books.
The first, way back in 1986, was Flowers in Hell, an investigation into women and crime.
The second, A Handful of Earth, came out in 2007. This was a diary of grief and recovery in the garden. (For five years I was garden correspondent for On:Yorkshire magazine, and now write for them online, regularly reviewing books and covering all things green and arty!)
My most recent book, Old Dog, was published in 2013, and is about the exceptional bond between dogs and humans – in particular, one special mongrel called Muffin. It is also a deeper meditation on life and death, bereavement, and recovery from loss.
Currently, I am working on a new book, with the working title ‘Phoenix Rising’. This is a memoir of the body and what it teaches us, in sickness and in health.
I am also a linguist, am studying Hungarian – very hard language, wonderful country – and love singing, travelling to Eastern Europe, and messing about in my garden. I am also a member of the Roundhay Ukelele Group, which is quite delightful. Communication is really important to me – in words, in movement, in voice, in music. Giving voice – in whatever way you can – is a powerful thing.
Facebook, Author: @BarneyBardsleyAuthor
Facebook, Reiki: @barneybardsleyreiki
‘A Handful of Earth’ (John Murray)
‘Old Dog’ (Simon and Schuster)