I’m a few months into my BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship with Third Angel now, and I’m in a sort of whirlwind of making, thinking, learning, watching, meeting and talking to new people (who know their stuff!), and making decisions about what kind of theatre I want to make. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I am experiencing an on-going, long-running professional identity crisis because actually, the Choreographer Hat fits just as well as the Singer Hat. And not forgetting the Lecturer Hat. And the Ensemble-Based Multi-disciplinary Contemporary Theatre Maker one (but this doesn’t fit on a business card very well).
I initially wondered if this project was going to help me figure this out, but I think I’ve discovered that I don’t need or want to. I love theatre, I make theatre and I want to find as many different ways of doing this as possible. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the endless ways in which a performer can communicate with an audience. Is there a ‘best’ way? And how might we measure the success of these communicative devices? Does it matter?
On Saturday 25 January I saw Third Angel’s most recent work, The Life and Loves of a Nobody, a co-production with Sheffield Theatres at The Crucible Studio Theatre. It appears to be the story of a woman called Rachael, but as I sit trying to understand who this woman is through the narration of the two performers, I eventually give up. I’m not giving up because I have lost interest or because I don’t relate to this woman, but because I have decided she isn’t a woman at all. She is humanity. She could be the woman sitting next to me, or the man behind her, or me. The piece is set in traverse so I also have a backdrop of dimly lit fellow audience faces behind the unfolding narrative.
The series of events of ‘Rachael’s’ life are presented chronologically, though the subtle shifts in performative devices allow the sections of narrative to become fragmented and sometimes contradictory. I experienced a kind of comfortable anticipation for what might happen to her next, with a lingering, underlying sense of menace that I couldn’t quite place. There is great pleasure to be found in the low-tech evocative images that are presented throughout. In a few moments, a block of high-rise Sheffield flats emerged; the flickering light of a little girl watching television can be seen, with the lights of the street lamps reflected in the canal below.
The materials for this image consist of grey wooden blocks, a small torch, and some fairy lights on a simple string pulley system. This is my favourite kind of theatre. The same thing is never said or shown twice, but the creative form is ever shifting, each picture or moment contributing to the wider picture of the show. It is simple and meaningful and a little bit magical.
As I move further into the making process of my new show (yet to be officially titled!), I’m working predominantly with the concept of a one-woman ensemble show that critiques the world in which I live, and hopefully the world in which you live too. I’m very eager to put my one-woman choir in front of an audience! Watch this space…
Photo by Flickr user Thunderchild7 under a Creative Commons Licence.