Anna Beecher and Rachel Lincoln

Anna Beecher and Rachel Lincoln reflect on their Creation Space residency

| Tue 19 May 2015

Anna Beecher and Rachel Lincoln recently joined us for a two-week residency in the Creation Space working on ideas for Nest, a new show for babies under one. We caught up with Anna to find out how the show developed during their residency.

Which particular elements of Nest did you focus on during your residency?

Building an immersive environment was a really important part of the residency for us. Our designer Kirsty Harris (assisted by Esme Duncan and Alice Helps) did an amazing job of building an egg-like sanctuary in the Creation Space, complete with a willow doorway and soft floor. While they were getting on with making, Rachel and I were on the other side of the partition in the Creation Space working on the content of Nest. We created a complete script for our 35 minute journey through the seasons, developing lots of songs and sensory activities to engage babies. Our rehearsal then focussed a lot on how we would move within the space and how we would transition between moments in the piece. For us it was vital that we got to a point with the work where we were ready to share it with families so that we could see what babies reacted to best. We were really happy to be able to bring in families at the end of each week to share and refine Nest with.

Were there any surprises? Did you make any new discoveries about the project?

There are always surprises when you are working with babies! We both have a lot of experience of early years work and had done loads of research into what babies can see, hear and respond to at different ages, but the individual reactions of each child are still incredibly varied and exciting to watch. We had one ten month old who began to clap at the end of our sharing which was a lovely moment. Through our sharings and meeting different families we realised how much Nest will change from performance to performance, responding to who we have in the room. For example a moment that you might play as really high energy for a laughing baby might next time around need to be incredibly gentle and quiet. We also made some really fun discoveries by experimenting with sound. We always knew we would sing together and play vocally in the piece but having time and space to explore that has brought out some unexpected elements including weaving between speech and song and a jazzy duet between my ‘cello and some buzzing bee finger puppets.

Did you bring in any collaborators?

Our designer Kirsty Harris has been a huge part of realising Nest. Not only did she make our performance space, she also made and sourced most of the props which are a huge part of the visual and sensory side of the work. Kirsty works in performance and installation so she’s really knowledgeable when it comes to making immersive spaces and we couldn’t have done it without her. You can find out more about here on her website www.khmakesthings.co.uk

Did this residency enable you to do anything that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do?

Absolutely. I think all performance work benefits from having some proper space and time, but for this kind of work, which is all about creating a very particular environment, it is absolutely vital. Without this opportunity Nest would still be very much at the ideas stage whereas we have been able to create a 35 minute performance in a unique space and share it with a trial audience. We will continue to refine the work and performance space but feel like this residency has allowed us to do the main bulk of making the show and we are really excited about getting out into the world as a finished piece of work soon.

What are your next steps for this project?

At the moment we are taking stock of what we achieved over the residency and planning the future life of Nest. We’re exploring which venues might be good hosts for Nest and making plans for how we could make the work more portable.

What else are you and Rachel working on at the moment?

We’ve got two collaborations coming up as well as some of our own projects. Our theatre company FAT CONTENT, which we run with Daniel Redfern, is in the early stages of creating a new play called Dogs’ Teeth, which I will write and Rachel will direct. Rachel and I are also about to start a project which is a collaboration between the BRIT School for the Performing Arts and St Christopher’s Hospice, making new a new performance work over six weeks with the students and patients. Similarly to how we worked on Nest, Rachel will take the lead on the physical and visual elements of the piece and I will focus more on text. We both have some exciting projects we’re working on separately coming up too. You can keep up with what we’re doing on our websites www.racheltheatre.com and www.annabeecher.com

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This residency was supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Read more about our Artist Residencies programme

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