Our year kicked off with a little trip to New York to check out some shows at Prototype Festival and Under the Radar. After the small matter of a bomb cyclone storm cancelling our flight, we arrived in Manhattan dressed in every piece of clothing we owned (it was -16°C), theatre tickets in hand and ready to sample the delights of the city.
We were headed out there as part of our Open Space residency at Snape Maltings to see new work and build connections with international theatre makers. We caught a bunch of shows and two in particular stood out for us - AFTER by Andrew Schneider and Acquanetta by Michael Gordon and Deborah Artman. Both had a very singular artistic voice and featured concept-driven stagings whose twists and turns delivered shocks just when you thought you'd got it all figured out.
AFTER's multi-sensory, stream of consciousness-like format wove together a huge range of vignettes from a single motionless body on the ground, to a balloon floating through the space, to the appearance of a huge gospel choir or a ghostly apparition in near total darkness. The cumulative effect of which not only left you wondering how the hell they'd done it but also showed how our everyday lives can be just as random, frenetic and visceral if we take a sideways look at them.
Acquanetta on the other hand was a slow burner that gradually teased out information until the walls literally slid apart to reveal all of the inner workings. Propelled along by Michael Gordon's trademark rhythms, Daniel Fish's staging created an uneasy sense of truth vs. fiction. A giant film screen projected images of a motionless actress, she turned out to be singing, there were other people in the room with her, a single hand bursting through the back wall of the stage suggested it could be live and in a final propulsive set piece an entire film crew and cast were revealed to have been working backstage all along.
These shows provided the starting points for some glorious conversations as we wandered around Manhattan - soaking up the sights and talking through our own practice. Taking the time to sit down, see shows, chat about them and discuss our work opened up whole new avenues of exploration for us and seeing so much art (be it theatrical, visual or musical) in such a short space of time was really eye-opening in challenging us to think about exactly what it is that we want to make. For us, the trip taught us three things:
Turn Up - Go to see shows, go to industry get togethers, go to the bar after for a drink.
Talk - Talk to the people that inspire you, talk to your collaborators about what inspires them, talk to yourself about what it is you want to make.
Challenge Yourself - Challenge yourself to make the bolder choice, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to see work you wouldn't normally go to (you never know, you might just like it).
Heading back across the Atlantic after such an exhilarating week, it was hard to not feel like old habits might just creep back in. So we'll take the above as our New Year's resolutions for the year and you can hold us to them. Come say hi if you see us around and let's go get a drink/coffee/soda water and put the world to rights.