Recently, it seems there has been a relentless barrage of bad news. From each newspaper front page or TV tickertape, there have been foreign tragedies, domestic disputes and horror in paradise. Even in the escapist, fantastical world of the theatre, there has been no let up with so-called racist exhibitions making the headlines and the Scottish independence question dominating Edinburgh Fringe. Yet, one venue is offering an evening of purely playful escapism. The Place is putting playfulness at the heart of the night, through the delightfully named Trip the Light Fantastic Toe (TLFT).
Coming to Central London, this concept cabaret situates mischief and fun at its heart. There will be dance, improvisation and a huge party to close. With live music, the night will be hotchpotch curation of short pieces based on the theme of artistic undergrowth. Within the creation of this magical landscape the audience can wander and wonder, as The Place is providing no formal seating; instead the evening’s revelry will take the lead.
The artistic brainchild of Giuliana Majo, TLFT is a concept cabaret of cross-art performance that holds movement at its heart. Originally begun as a roving showcase for Majo’s work in 2005, the show went into a three-year hiatus when a venue was built to house TLFT. The result was TripSpace Projects, a site in two converted railway arches in Acton Mews, Haggerston.
Speaking to Majo, she recalls the challenging times of creating a permanent home for TLFT, a showcase that prioritised spontaneity: “TripSpace has been an incredible learning curve for all of us, a bit like a baby: as it grows we learn what its necessities are.” Undertaking this project with Majo was the architect Chino Soria, who “had the skills to make the aesthetic we wanted for Trip’s interior design to come true”. The result is a new and innovative cultural space where TLFT can put down some enduring roots.
Yet creating the space was not the only obstacle that faced Majo and her team. During the three-year gap, there was also the fear of losing of its impromptu, positive nature by transferring a nomadic showcase into a static venue: “I was quite nervous. I was scared I had lost its playfulness, and of course I have also changed and grown aesthetically, artistically and ‘humanly’.”
For Majo, the showcase’s exuberant heart and “all the playfulness came back immediately” when it re-opened. The advantages of having a more settled venue were able to pervade through the whole performance: “Having a permanent home has strengthened every aspect of our creative practice, although sometimes we miss the ‘madness’ and spontaneous chaos that changing spaces creates.”
However, the restless origins of this show could not remain hidden for long. TLFT is now venturing across the capital for its performance at The Place. For Majo, this transferral provided the chance to “be creative with the looks and shape of the formal theatre”. The Place also allowed access to an “amazing technical team and equipment. We don’t have this luxury at TripSpace! It’s all very informal and handmade.”
The excitement and playfulness of this performance is continually stressed throughout the interview. TLFT is billed as an anarchic shindig where you can let your hair down and forget the outside world. The festive atmosphere is helped by the live band, Super Hero Jam, which helps create the raucous final party.
For Majo, creating this atmosphere of fun and escapism is done via an over-arching framework which “allows the programming to be daring and gives to the audience a sense of communion and artistic solidarity although the work is always very diverse.”
Even the potential of the theme of the night to be associated with the subterranean and the dank is turned on its head. Artistic undergrowth instead links art to nature through its ability to infiltrate all corners of our lives: “We feel art and creativity are similar to nature in the ability to take over, penetrate and inhabit time and space. Even in spaces where art is not ‘supposed to fit’.”
Drawing on its itinerant history in temporary venues, TLFT seeks to disrupt the traditional venue of The Place and challenge the audiences’ perceptions of what, and where, art should be. For Majo, “just like roots and branches of tree and the undergrowth of a forest, art and creativity will inhabit every space of the theatre. Unfolding over and under, around, between and through the audience members.”
The fantasy world created by Majo and her team that envelops the audience seems to present the ideal carnival atmosphere to raise spirits against the constant bad news. And just maybe, the dance creations, improvisations, theatre sports and other activities of the night will lead you to find some of your own inner playfulness amidst the gloomy news.
Trip The Light Fantastic Toe is on Fri 17 Oct from 8pm – midnight, and tickets cost £10. To book, visit The Place’s website. As an extension of the feel-good vibe, TripSpace Projects is offering a free drink to the first 50 bookers – to make the most of this offer book now using the code: TRIP