“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock
The idea of collaborating can be a scary one. You know what you do and you have your own individual style, so the idea of external people coming in and changing that dynamic can be daunting. But on the other hand it can really shake you out of your comfort zone. It offers you the chance to pool skills, bat around fresh ideas and see what happens when new people join the party. One of the best things that we ever did was bring in musician Melanie Borsack. By having another body in the space we began to view things from another perspective, meaning that live music is now a key feature of our shows. It has influenced characters, the atmospheres we create and our projections. A collaboration can be an exciting springboard into the unknown.
2014 brings with it the terrifying discovery that we Filskit Ladies have known each other for nearly seven years (I know, we don’t look old enough right? Right?). Knowing each other so well can result in some great performing and devising attributes; sensitivity to each other on stage, understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to be horrifically honest with each other (with no hard feelings as soon as the kettle goes on). It does however have a few drawbacks. You may start to fall into natural patterns and predictable rhythms that come from working with the same people for a length of time. You may start to play it safe and forget to keep pushing the boundaries. So when we were presented with the opportunity to collaborate with fellow associate artists at Stratford Circus, with nervous excitement, we decided to jump in.
Tea Dance for Little People (TDLP) focus on designing interactive and immersive installations in unusual spaces, which encourage artists/performers and families with very young children to explore their creative and physical potential through sensory play. Through our collaboration, we will be combining our love of visuals and theatricality with their interactivity and scenic expertise. When looking for others to collaborate with, we were keen to find those with a similar outlook towards creating an exciting experience for children, however who would also bring different skills and experience to mix into the pot.
So after many weeks of meetings, planning and funding applications, we finally got into a room and had a chance to play together. It was time to begin building A-Maze-In, an interactive experience for 0-8 year olds using a blend of crafts, projection and sounds. As the title suggests, the setting for this experience is one of the most ambitious aspects of the project. With the help of a great team and Stratford Circus we are going to build an actual maze. This is one of the most exciting parts of the collaboration. To date, most of our shows have always taken a more minimalist approach towards set for aesthetic emphasis on the multimedia and also practically, to enable transportation in our tiny vehicles! The idea of building something so ambitious is far more normal in the world of TDLP, which arrived with an array of exciting boxes full of materials in order to build, make and do. Add to this the technical sound expertise of collaborator Jay and you can begin to feel that this could be the start of something very exciting indeed.
One of the first realisations to hit you is that after being almost entirely self-sufficient for so many years is that you are not entirely responsible for everything. This includes creative ideas and the how, as well as the hard grind to make it all happen. Being surrounded by other artists makes it easy to bounce ideas off each other, sometimes seeing the potential in areas that could have otherwise been missed. One of our biggest anxieties when looking to enter into collaboration was actually the artistic approach. How can two companies with separate identities create something cohesive? Will one company dominate? Whilst we think it is fair to say that those who know both Filskit and TDLP will be able to identify trademark moments, the overall result will definitely be something new and imaginative.
Meanwhile, we Filskit ladies have been locking ourselves away at The Point in Eastleigh, in order to start the development of our next show. Admittedly there will be no mazes involved, but we’re sure the influences from working with another company will be evident. We’re now keener than ever to call people in during our creative process, whether it is for work on clowning, advice on lighting or even nursery children watching and taking part in the work. They may just be offering feedback or guidance but even that can have a significant influence on the work that you create. Try blending your skills with others and you might just be surprised at the results.