27 Sally Christopher, 26 January 2014 Thank you to those of you who have shared your stories with me over the course of this weekend at DandD9 - it is very much appreciated. I have for a while now been interested in the age of 27 and all that can happen to an individual in that year leading to 28. I first started thinking about it, 7 years ago when I myself was 27. I met an inspirational aging surfer/philosopher in Margaret River who, through a series of brilliant conversations, spoke of the period of transition/change/upheaval I was going through as my Saturn Return. As you may know some people believe your Saturn Return is when Saturn returns to same place it was when you were born - whereby an old cycle ends and a new one begins. Sometimes dramatically, sometimes brilliantly, sometimes tragically. Stormy, tumultuous, game-changing, life-enhancing, devastating…all at once. Apparently 27 is the official end of childhood and 28 is the beginning of adulthood. It's a time to re-assess, to overhaul, to relearn, to enhance learning. A sacred passage which we must all go through. Apparently we will then continue to change every 7 years (at age 7, 14, 21, 28, 35,42 etc etc) with two more major Saturn Returns to happen in our lives…and maybe even 3 if we live until we are 104! 27 is also a year sadly associated with the burning out of greatness… I lost one of my very close friends when she was in her 27th year. She was an incredible, vibrant, artistic, shining individual. She joined the legendary (and tragic) 27 Club with the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, James Dean and Amy Winehouse as its members. I like to think that my dear friend Occy is causing havoc with Janis and raving with Jimmy somewhere fantastic. But you know, I don't want to dwell on that side of it too much…because as we know terrible things happen to wonderful people every day of every year. That is life. I also read somewhere that every 7 years your body actually regenerates. I'm not a scientist but I'd like to find out more and if this is actually true. So why all of this now? Why suddenly did I feel the need to pin four pieces of paper with the number 27 written on them on the walls of York Hall at DandD? I think I did it because I wanted to hear your stories. I wanted to hear them in order to remind myself that even in the darkest of times…there is hope. I am in my 35th year and this week has been one of the worst I have experienced to date. My best friend in the world and her fantastic husband lost one of their twins this week. She too is 35. I know this terrible tragedy has very little to do with numbers. It would be awful to lose a child at any age. But I think, I thought perhaps by reminding myself of what happened to me 7 years ago and by hearing what happened to some of you I hoped it might help me remember that there absolutely has to be a way through it all and my role now is to help my friends find their way. I'm not sure what I will do next…maybe continue to collect 27 stories, maybe write a play…who knows. But one thing I do know is that although I have felt terribly sad this weekend for so many reasons…the presence of children in this room has made things so much better. Thank you to them for being here ( and to their parents for bringing them!). I wish them and the other youngsters in the room the greatest of Saturn Returns - blistering, brilliant, life-affirming and magnificent all at once…oh, and try to stay a child for as long as you possibly can. Actually, adults, let's do that too. Thank you, Sal x My 27th year (Sal) Left a well paid job as Script Editor on The Bill and a shocking windowless office in Merton. Probably suffered from really quite bad depression but didn't really tell anyone. Returned to Australia, reconnected with old friends, sat quietly on beaches, smoked obscene amounts of Peter Jackson cigarettes. Came home a week before both of my Grannies died within a week of each other. Hugely supported by parents. Returned to Ed Fringe was employed by Assembly as possibly oldest FOH person ever. Amazing summer. Got jobs as a result with brilliant theatre companies, started my MA, moved to London, saw more theatre/dance/gigs than I ever had or have since. The beginning of fantastic things and I never looked back…I am grateful for all of it. Other collected stories from this weekend: I realised it wasn't my boss' fault I was frustrated. It was just time to leave. I did. Much happier (now 33) * After 4 years of London life and unfulfilling acting jobs, I made the decision to move to Iceland, with my then boyfriend (lived there for 6 years and he is now my husband). Best decision I ever made! * Got an award for my MA design thesis, put all my stuff in storage and spent all the award money going wwoffing instead of paying off my RCA overdrafts. Essential and liberating. * Aged 27 - 1 week before my 28th birthday one of my best friend's died. I was fundamentally changed forever. But found a unique bond with social group - unbreakable. * I graduated from Mime School and had a baby (he is now 14). Then the century ended (it was 1999). I think I still look the same. I have the same hair cut. * I began a year of Jungian depth psychology - i.e a year of therapy * I finally learned from my mistakes. Went travelling again! Tried to learn another language…all in that order! * At 27 I met and fell in love with the woman who is still my wife (or would be if we were allowed to marry - will be when we can! By then we will have been together 25 years!) I also started my first novel at 27. * I very slowly recovered from a bad relationship and break breakup. Worked a boring, well paid job in a city I hated and did not know anybody in. Then crossed the Atlantic to study theatre in London. * I hurt my shoulder…(and thought it was because I was old) it got better! * Studied Applied Drama and it changed my ways! Now 33. * I had the Summer of my life if Paris and Berlin. I worked with people from all over the world - it blew my mind. I fell in love with a Frenchman. I came home. My Granny died. The French man and I broke up. Had no job for 6 months. Diagnosed with major depression. Took prozac. Went into therapy and am so much better now that I am not 27. I am glad not to be 27 again but glad I got the biggest highs and lowest lows. * I fell deeply and madly and truely in love. Still with man and two kids, now aged 41 * I was mugged * I realised that other people's success was not about me. And that I had to work. * Today Happened (Happy Birthday from me, Sal!) * I had to leave New York to return to London. I'm still recovering! * I'm 22 - not sure I'll make 27! (to which I (Sal) wrote - YES YOU WILL!) * I am 20 - what do I have to look forward to?! (to which I (Sal) say LOTS!) * I came to DandD9 in the hope to make me feel like I've made the right choice to devote my life to an unstable industry. It helped. Starting to make my own work. Thank you again for all of your thoughts. Please do email me at [email protected] if you would like to add your 27 story into the mix.