One of my favourite things about working with Lenni as iOrganic is how we introduce lots of different ideas from plenty of genres and forms. When we’re first talking through an idea theres always a lot of links being opened on laptops to great things we’ve seen and plenty of animated discussions about performances, writing or anything, really, that we’ve come across that we think we could introduce. It all seems to fly about until there is a really tangible change in tone as one of us says that one idea/theme/image that becomes central to the show.
With Sense and Diagnosis it was the blindfolds. We were talking about and around various themes that we wanted to explore, getting the eras we were going to perform decided at a very early stage. Then we began to think about how to do this. It’s at this point that we decided we wanted the participant to cross a threshold into each era when they are performing with us. As we had quite a restricted space to perform in, we thought this should be an imaginary threshold. We talked about how we often close our eyes to imagine something more clearly, something I think a lot of us do, and we wanted our participants to do the same so that they are fully immersed. The putting on of the blindfold also represents a physical act of crossing that threshold. We found that upon performing many of the blindfolded participants would forget that there was also up to fifteen people watching them, or would otherwise stop caring, and really indulge in the performance.
Truth or Tale!? really came out of handling collections. When we were meeting with a volunteer at the library who could share with us the collection, we found it pretty funny that these ancient objects are handled just how a microwave or watch or any prize in a terrible 70s gameshow would be. After the encounter we sat down and starting throwing various ideas at each other, examples of film, radio and performance that we liked. When Lenni said we should just do a gameshow, it was exactly the departure point we needed. Most people know the set up of a gameshow and purposely making it look and feel naff made participants feel comfortable to ‘have a go’ at creating their own story about ancient artefacts. It also meant that the others watching the participant were also performing as they would cheer or interact with the participant, shouting out whether they should choose the Truth or the Tale envelope at the end of the performance.
Empty Kitchen was produced on residency at Contact Theatre, over that week we had plenty of tangential, non-linear thoughts that had to be connected by a central theme in order to make them comprehendible. By collating all of the video, spoken word, audio and tactile elements under the banner of ‘a meal out gone wrong’, we could fully immerse the participants in an environment that was as familiar as it was bizarre. It all played into the comfort that we want our participants to feel in order to fully engage in the show.
Producing work by exchanging ideas and finding that one central focal point means that we are always aiming to produce something new and engaging but that is inspired directly from the world that our participants also recognise. By putting something forward that has a firm handle, we can hopefully encourage our audience step into somewhere new.
Featured image by Arnoldius