We’re nearing the end of our process and coming up to opening night at the Dana Centre. This means a lot of where we’re at is thinking about something we’ve not needed to think about for nearly the whole two year process: the performance.
I don’t really think of myself as an actor, and I don’t really think of this as a play. That said, the show requires quite a lot of Rachel, Nikki and me – moving between narrative, lecture, instructions and interactions. We need to be clear and confident in our communication, but we also need to be very responsible to an audience – read them, gauge the pace they need the show to run at, figure how carefully we need to guide them through the interactive parts of the show. The beginning is particularly tricky – there’s a lot of talking at the top of the show, and holding the audiences attention is important, because this is where we lay a lot of the foundation of the show. It’s difficult to be energetic and engaging at that point without pushing too hard, but that’s what we need to do.
There’s plenty of work that we’re drawing on when we’re thinking about the performance. Chris Thorpe’s CONFIRMATION, which we saw recently at Battersea Arts Centre, was exploring the concept of confirmation bias. Despite high theatricality and breakneck speed, the show was very generous and clear in its explanations – pitched at just the right point for what the show was getting across. I can think of other performance lectures, too – version 1.0’s Bougainville Photoplay Project springs to mind as something that walked between lecture and narrative very well.
We’re going to try see 2071 at Royal Court this week – a performance lecture (I read “anti-theatre” somewhere, though that conjures some names that maybe aren’t relevant). It’ll be interesting to see such a direct conversation about climate change on a mainstage – at the very least it will be useful to see how other artists are engaging with ideas that we’re looking at.
I’m looking forward to developing a strong set of strategies for performing this show. Presenting it to different types of audiences will give us a range for how the show might happen, and how we can make the best of the all the work we’ve done up to this point.
In a show where the performative components haven’t been the process’ main focus, what can we put into place to make sure the show has a consistent quality?