HighRise Theatre reflect on their Creation Space residency
| Tue 28 Jul 2015
In February 2015, HighRise Theatre joined us in the Creation Space to work on ideas for The Concrete Jungle Book, their take on Rudyard Kipling's classic. We caught up with them to find out how the project developed during their residency.
Could you introduce HighRise Theatre?
HighRise Theatre was established in July 2012. Company members are Dominic Garfield (Artistic Director) Joe Barnes Phillips (Artistic Director) Gerel Falconer (Actor, Devisor, Facilitator) Oliver Tunstall (Actor, Devisor, Facilitator) Fahd Segujja (Actor, Devisor, Facilitator). We also have a large squad of incredible, beautiful, multi-talented performers that we work with on a project to project basis.
We believe that theatre has a massive part to play in keeping people talking about the UK’s cultural and political issues. We use workshops, Forum Theatre, immersive techniques and exploration of modern day verse to connect to the X-Box generation of today. Every project we work on starts on a social level. We thrive on flirting with different ways of affecting and playing with an audience and with this bringing fresh faces to the theatre.
Which particular elements of The Concrete Jungle Book did you focus on during your residency and why?
Our main focus was the delivery of the material. Due to the rhyming style and intensity of the material, we wanted to see how it was received. We worked hard to bring as many elements of it to life so the audience could gauge the full extent of its layers - music, physicality and strong animalistic characters. We weren’t sure of the age range that would watch it, so we also wanted to show as much of the content as possible for an outside opinion.
Were there any surprises? Did you make any new discoveries about the project?
We learnt the verse was to be highlighted at points and played down at times, to give a better feel to the overall outcome. We played with the idea of transforming the animals from The Jungle Book into modern day contemporary human characters. Doing animal studies can be a difficult thing to unlock for an actor but together we managed to explore in a really interesting, safe way enabling us to feel free in creation. We also learned that sometimes too much energy existed.
What did this residency enable you to do that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to?
Reconvene as a company away from our everyday (non-theatrical lives) to catch-up, devise, explore and play. Having the space to work in for 2 weeks was a luxury we never really had before and we thrived on every second of it.
What are your next steps for this project?
We are planning to develop the piece both as a show and a workshop for young people and are in discussion with artsdepot as to how to facilitate this. We will go into a second R&D phase towards the end of the year and use this time to further explore the text and plan how to move the piece further on in 2016.
What else are HighRise working on at the moment?
So far, 2015 has proven to be an incredibly busy, challenging and rewarding time for HighRise:
We showed our Hip-Hopera Penny Lane at Yard Theatre. The piece will also transfer to Leicester.
We are in post-production for our immersive game Big Smother which premiered at Oval House in April. Big Smother will be touring in 2016!
On top of these three pieces we have also just taken over as Directors of ‘Spotlight Youth Theatre’ in Langdon Park (Tower Hamlets) with support from The East End Community Foundation
This residency was supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation