Gig theatre is an evolving form that myself and fellow members of the PUSH THINGS FORWARD Collective (Middle Child, nabokov and Not Too Tame) believe is not just a show that has music in it. Gig theatre is a form that breaks down the problematic, alienating etiquette of theatre. It is an alternative to rules of behaviour such as sitting quietly in the dark, not being allowed to make any noise unless it is collective laughter or a round of applause, and all other noises that are frowned upon. You can’t discuss anything in the moment and feel uncomfortable if you laugh at a serious bit. You can’t go to the toilet otherwise you won’t be allowed back in, you can’t go to the bar to get another drink unless it is at an allotted time, and you can only eat snacks if you can do this without making any noise, because rustling of packets is frowned upon.
Theatre needs urgent change in order to remain relevant and popular, and we need to find new ways of creating live events that focus on attracting those people who feel alienated by it. Many of my pals don’t have disposable incomes and have limited funds to have a good time with, so why would they take the RISK and spend £20 plus for this kind of experience when they can go to a gig, a rave, a comedy night or just sit in their local boozer where they feel comparable and where they belong.
Gig theatre is an atmosphere. A celebration. A social place where we can come together and have a good night out. It is LIVE. The audience are seen and included. I often get the feeling that I don’t exist when watching a traditional play. If I stood up during yet another tedious production of, say, Hedda Gabler, and shouted out ‘this is boring’, I would not be noticed by the performers and the audience would try to ignore me – the show would go on. Gig theatre is the antidote to a world where people rarely connect – it acknowledges that performers and the audience are ALIVE in a space together, just as a stand-up comedian acknowledges a heckler, the MC in a rave speaks directly to the ravers and a band acknowledges the crowd and asks them how they are at a gig.
At the heart of gig theatre is a story. There has to be a story. Otherwise it is just a gig.
Last Night, nabokov’s latest gig theatre experience in collaboration with critically acclaimed band Benin City, presents 11 rhythmic snapshots of London’s fading nightlife (50% of London clubs and venues have been shut down in the last 10 years). Each track celebrates a different story, an experience from our nightlife culture from lost loves and drunken fights to jokes night bus rides homes. We took the music from Benin City’s second album and weaved elements of spoken word and interviews from London dwellers – DJs, property developers, barmen, and of course, the ravers throughout to bring the array of stories to life.
Last Night is performed in a gig-like environment where you can grab a drink, dance, chat and vibe as you please.