A little all about me this brief misif but that's largely so that it can act as some means of justification as to why its been a little quiet round here recently.
Rather brilliantly everything has suddenly got delightfully busy on the actually making some theatre front. Our show in Brighton is getting tantalisingly close and I'm quite excited about it. Although it's nominally an extension of the Exposures show I did in Edinburgh last summer it's actually taken on a faintly uncontrollable life of its own and (much like the baby in overlooked Disney sequel Honey, I Blew Up the Kid) keeps wondering off in unforseen directions, while I run in circles around it panicking, trying to let it blossom without losing those things that people seemed to so enjoy first time round. It's a careful balance; fundamentally I want to offer this audience more than I offered to those in Edinburgh in the frantic 14 hours I spent coming up with the idea and the putting it together, without losing the show's initial simple charm.
Fundamentally, I want the audience to be invited to create not just a series of discrete images but a narrative; I want the photographs to have a larger coherency - through taking these shots I want the audience to transform the landscape around them (the sights (or sites) of Brighton) into a place (of invented history, of fictional community, a place of stories). I want them to think about the difference between looking and seeing. I want them to see a fictional world of their own creation shimmer in the streets in front of them. I want them to get lost in this world; and with the involvement of hidden local performers I want the borders between this world and the real one to blur, Brighton transforming into a site where place and theatrical space collapse into each other.
Yet at the same time, as Tough time, nice time displayed beautifully, narrative can be overbearing to the point of totalitarian; it can subsume freedom or the potential for originality within its familiar arcs. And possibly part of the piece's original joy came from its incoherency; that in refusing a predetermined narrative the participants didn't feel manipulated into any particular response to the questions that I posed of them. Like the figures in The Hour we Knew Nothing of Each Other, each question was in itself a beginning (a signifier of a potential story) that they were offered the opportunity to complete for themselves. If the questions had been too obviously connected together into an overarching narrative the locus of creativity would have been wrested from them and remain with me, the theatremaker, who was merely asking them to jump through a series of meaningless hoops in pursuit of one inevitable conclusion that was never in doubt; like leafing apathetically through the multiple-choice answers of a Choose-Your-Own Adventure book.
So all the time that we are conjuring this narrative, this gloriously seedy, intoxicating underworld to Brighton (telescoping everything from Brighton Rock to the second summer of love in one long relentless grey-tinted binge of counter-cultural excess) I'm constantly hauling it back from the point of coherency, constantly attempting to undermine any narrative super-structure, keeping each of the photographic instructions as a single unfinished moment; a question, or a challenge or a hint - leading the audience off in unexpected directions.
Anyway - it should be an exciting experiment and I hope you'll all be able to venture down for any weekend in May. And, as with The Day Trip, if you know anyone in Brighton who might be interested in being involved - please do let me know, there's room for everyone...
I'm also off to Ireland next week to start work on the next instalment of Exposures which'll be hitting the streets of Dublin in September. And, rather excitingly, I'm also there to begin a brand new project that I'm creating specifically for a festival in June (but more on that later).
And if that weren't enough I'm also beginning work on the programme for the Forest Fringe in Edinburgh this summer, which Debbie Pearson (who ran it last year) has very kindly asked me to co-direct with her. It looks like it's going to be an incredibly exciting project and, again, there will be more on this anon!
For now however I can look up just long enough to direct you towards Chris Goode's exhilirating, inspiring and down-right brilliant post at Dennis Cooper's blog. Let it consume you.