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INTERVIEW : Laura Hope Steckler Talks This River

photo Credit Ruth Barrie

Depicting a poignant and uplifting journey of ageing, Laura Hope Steckler presents her courageous piece This River in collaboration with film-maker Ruth Barrie and in association with the Audacious Women Festival.

Based in Scotland, Laura Hope Steckler is a 70-year-old American performing-artist whose practice triumphs over physical limitations.

Derived from her personal relationships with dance and disability, Laura Hope Steckler showcases a beautiful and hopeful performance piece that explores the acceptance of the challenges of aging with humour and pathos.

I got to speak to Laura about This River to find out more and to find out more about what it's like performing her own story.

photo Credit Ruth Barrie


What is This River about?

This River is about the journey of aging with its sorrows and surprising joys.

What do you think makes This River unique?

The unique combination of movement and text, the mixture of humour and pathos, the wicked humour and risky portrayal of the body. Also, the mix of the abstract with the pedestrian.

What is it like performing your own story? And how did you feel when writing?

The writing kind of just poured out. It was fun to write. As it developed into a performance piece there were many layers to delve into and it became like an excavation. Performing my own story is both satisfying, fun and scary!

How much input did you have in the visuals / production of the film?

Quite a bit. It became quite collaborative.

What are you wanting the audience to take away after watching the film?

I hope they will have a really good laugh and maybe a bit of a cry...I hope they will have a new perspective on ageing. And maybe even death. I hope they will see their own bodies as part of nature. I hope that younger women will be less afraid of the aging body.

photo Credit Ruth Barrie


After 10 years of not producing new work, what made you come back now and why this story?

I wanted to make work because I could…I had been very ill from about 2011 – 2016 and began dancing again around 2016. I began to feel more confident that I could make work again. Unfortunately, I relapsed in 2021 which is why I made the piece into a film as I was not strong enough to do the whole thing.

I think this story came about because of my age of 70, knowing my days are finite but also enjoying the fact that life is sweet at 70 and I can still move!

For anyone with physical and mental disabilities who may have been told they can’t do something. What advice would you give them?

Sometimes a ‘disability’ is a gift that forces you to find your own path which is different from the mainstream. Be like a river that flows around the rocks and see what happens!

Who is your target audience?

I think this film will particularly appeal to women but equally men can appreciate it. We all age!

Favourite part of the Film?

I love the section that we call the ‘cloud’ section. It’s a movement-based section with simple movement. I find it exquisite. But if I can have a second choice there is a moment where I ask the viewer a question which still makes me laugh.

Describe the show in one sentence.

A beautiful, courageous, and hopeful performance piece that explores the acceptance of the challenges of aging with humour and pathos.

photo Credit Ruth Barrie


This River depicts Steckler’s and our own profound journey of healing and relishing in the physical and mental capabilities we must appreciate. Inspired by her love of sensuous and organic movement, Steckler also draws from her mature age, her work as a somatic.

psychotherapist, and her hidden disabilities. After 10 years of not producing new work, Steckler returns with original text and contemporary dance, with This River’s intimate journey.

This River is supported by Creative Scotland and DanceBase, and an audience discussion led by Debbie Allan will follow the screening.

photo Credit Ruth Barrie


Important show info

This River

Friday 29th September 2023, 7.30pm

Location - The Space, Edinburgh

Running Time - 45 minutes, followed by tea/coffee and a 45 minute


Age Guidance - 16+

Content warning: Some language and content that some viewers may find challenging.

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