Times aren’t getting an easier for aspiring young writers. But if you keep your networks active and immerse yourself in an idea you’re passionate about, then you might just get somewhere – that’s what I take away from meeting Move to Stand theatre company.
Fresh out of rehearsals for the upcoming show Fat Man, a quirky play that tells the story of “Orpheus doing stand-up for the Gods,” Director Martin Bonger tells me about his enthusiasm for INCOMING festival and bringing The Collision Of Things back into the spotlight.
The Brighton-born ensemble, Move To Stand, made its debut with The Collision Of Things, directed by Ben Kidd. The award-winning, razor-sharp script tells the story of a young couple living in London with their lodger, and exploring the possibilities of an unlikely friendship. Through stunning physical theatre, the play explores themes of loneliness, friendship, longing for new life and descending into darkness. The Collision Of Things received rave reviews, and was awarded Best of BE Touring Prize at Birmingham’s highly acclaimed BE Festival.
Move To Stand is a collaborative company, created by Bonger and Kidd, who first met whilst studying at the LeCoq School in Paris. Bonger trained at LeCoq for two years, studying the language of the body, how we express ourselves through means other than language, which later influenced the physical theatre used in The Collision Of Things. Bonger went on to get a degree in English and Theatre at Leeds University. After graduation, he toured with a Shakespearean company in the US and he believes this experience greatly shaped his practice, enabling his love for classical text and more traditional forms of theatre to play a part in his own writing and play-making.
The enthusiastic duo both attended London International School of Performing Arts, in Lister. Bonger told me that he found creating The Collision Of Things an incredibly interesting process, dynamic and ever-changing. He describes it as “a show that deals with stuff that affects us deeply – things you say amongst friends, true, profound, deep and lively things.”
After graduating in 2009, Bonger and Kidd embarked on the journey that led them to The Collision Of Things, and on reflection, Bonger believes he was incredibly lucky during his time at university to work with such talented people on wonderful projects. The pair explored the idea of following one character in pursuit of his unknown father. Along the way he meets two friends, who complete the triangle the piece centers on. They invited Simon Day to run workshops with them, in physical theatre, movement and body control. Sound, lighting technicians and a set designer helped create more layers of the complex, physical three-hander show.
Bonger found the process to be full of surprises, as the script developed in an edgy, conversational way, rather than a methodical, traditional structure. The process involved gems of ideas, and lots of improvising and devising. Bonger enthusiastically describes the process: “We’ve talked about what worked, honed in on it, pulled things apart, grabbing more and more focus.”
Compared to working with published scripts – which involves establishing back story, exploring how characters move, think and feel – devised work reverses the process; everything is new, scenarios change, and then condense. It’s a process of packing up. The trio’s journey with The Collision Of Things grew and changed as both Day and Kidd moved on to work with other projects. With Bonger left at the helm, two new actors came on board and the piece moulded to the new dynamic and chemistry between the actors. It seems the collaborative process for Bonger is the source for his success and inspiration for ideas. Move To Stand has close links with Little Mighty theatre company, whose creative input and support has been invaluable in The Collision Of Things.
Bonger and the Move To Stand team are thrilled to be a part of INCOMING festival. Bonger finds that being part of a pool of writers, directors and actors creates wonderful potential and opportunity for change, sharing ideas and flavours of what theatre creators are making at the moment. “What makes theatre great, what makes a good play, that’s what we love talking about”, Bonger tells me. Audiences can expect The Collision Of Things to bring a contemporary edge in an exciting and unpretentious way. Move To Stand’s work strives to connect with audiences, explore issues about sex, youth and change.
Bonger believes aspiring writers and companies should find an anchor. He advises them to become immersed in an idea that they are passionate about and love, an idea that keeps you talking, debating and exploring. In the earliest stages of devising, Bonger suggests getting in touch with venues, having conversations with other people and getting them excited about the work you are creating. He says, “You have to, it inspires you to go on even when the going gets tough and the pool of ideas starts to run dry. If you feel that you have a strong anchor in the piece you are making then you can do it. Be quick, confident and ask people for help. If you believe in it, so will audiences. Make it happen.”
The Collision Of Things will be performed on Wednesday 21 May as part of the INCOMING festival at New Diorama Theatre, London. For more information and tickets visit the NDT’s website.