Jack Bradfield and Ben Kulvichit on their residency
| Thu 28 Mar 2019
Before their residency starts on Mon 1 Apr and before they set off on an epic journey that may take them a little bit further than just North Finchley, we caught up with Jack Bradfield and Ben Kulvichit. Here they tell us what to expect from their working process, why they don't plan to hold back and what LX tape is good for.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Jack: Hi I'm Jack. I'm 22 and I direct theatre, write plays and podcasts and I'm currently learning to drive. Recently I've written and directed shows about Alien Life, Simulation Theory, and Video Games. In all my work, I'm trying to make stories that are both experimental and unashamedly entertaining. I'm Artistic Director of Poltergeist, an Associate Company at the North Wall.
Ben: I'm also 22 but my name is not Jack. I've made shows about looking into the future, the secret life of mushrooms, and asking questions about art through cooking a green curry. I make and act in performances with my theatre company Emergency Chorus. My favourite theatre acknowledges and listens to its audience, overflows with messy, complicated ideas and feelings and isn't afraid to be really weird.
How would you describe the work that you create?
Jack: Tricky one, because on the surface Ben and I make quite different work. Ben makes performances that border theatre and live art. In his last show there was like 5 minutes where I sat in the dark watching a mushroom sing choral music. Hilarious. Beautiful.
I make more story-driven work - my last show Lights Over Tesco Car Park, about an alien coming to stay in someone's spare room, was a homage to ET, conspiracy theories, the murky world of documentary. At the end we tossed sherbet flying saucers all over the stage.
Importantly, however, there's also a lot that connects us. We both play with form, we're interested in the role of the audience, we like things that are big and joyful as well as things that are small and sad, we like fantasy, ghosts, goblins, good jokes, bad jokes, staging the impossible. This residency is about mashing our processes together, and creating something totally new.
What will you be working on during your residency at artsdepot?
Ben: Jack and I are making a family show! It's about death and dying, and how we, as children, confront and make sense of the fact that everyone dies, and how we, now as adults, think about the stories we might tell children about dying. If that sounds heavy and dark, that's exactly what the show won't be. It'll be playful and clever, and won't underestimate its audience, but it should be fun and captivating and imaginative all at the same time. All the good things.
We'll follow a small boy and his elderly companion into the land of the dead, and then we'll follow the boy as he tries to find his way back out on his own. A kind of reverse-Orpheus myth. There'll be songs and maybe some magic.
What elements of the project will you be developing while you’re here?
Jack: At artsdepot we’re cooking completely from scratch. We’re lucky enough to have Designer Georgie Hook and Sound Designer Alice Boyd in the room with us, which is going to be totally invaluable for asking the big questions: what’s the story? What does the show look like? What does it feel like? What are the rules of the drama, and when can we break them?
However, we’re also going to be digging into some tricker questions about how we make theatre: how will I (Jack) work as a director with Ben as a performer? What does our writing process look like? Most importantly, we’re interrogating our audience: what do we love about shows for young people, and what do we think needs to be looked at again? This is theatre for ages 7 - 12: the storytelling potential is totally unlimited, so we can’t hold back creatively.
We’re using our time at artsdepot to experiment wildly, take as many risks as we can, break some eggs, make an awesome omelette.
What’s the most useful thing to have with you in the rehearsal space?
Ben: Pens and paper. It’s not a rehearsal room if you don’t have big scribbled-over flip chart paper stuck to the walls.
Big fan of LX tape, too. I’ll always use it to mark out the floor in some way, if only to create a distinct ‘performance space’ within the room that encourages a different level of energy and focus when you step into it. Also it’s just super handy stuff and I always have a roll in my bag anyway.
I always love to be in a room with Stuff in it - random bits and bobs that you wouldn’t ever think to bring in with you. You naturally pick things up and play with them, maybe you use them in improvisations, and then maybe they remind you of other things that you want to use, or they become a part of the show themselves. The work is always influenced by the space it’s made in!
But you asked for one thing and that's several things, so actually the answer is coffee. Coffee is definitely the most useful thing to have in a rehearsal space.