A photo of Manic Chord Theatre playing an indoor ball game during an R&D residency.

Manic Chord discuss their R&D residency

| Tue 15 Aug 2017

Can you tell us about Manic Chord Theatre?

We (Sam, Al and Dave) started Manic Chord Theatre straight out of university as we wanted to continue making work together and an excuse to hang out! Since then we have remained in Leeds and three shows that have toured (with two more on the way) and developed a creative engagement arm of the company called Generate. Our work is born out of mutual curiosities that we have about the world that we then develop and share with collaborators, communities and audiences. 

How would you describe the work you create?

All of our work to date has been newly devised and has established a distinctive visual style exploring new and unique textual and physical languages for each project. We are continually developing our style, exploring progressive and imaginative ways of storytelling through physicality and bringing together inventive lighting, sound design and projection work. Process is really important to the work we make and varies according to the needs of project we are working on. An ever present part of our work is the ensemble, whether it’s through collectively creating work or sharing lunch together we instil this ethic in everything we do.

What will you be working on during your residency at artsdepot?

Our time at artsdepot is really exciting as it marks the very beginning of our process for This is Yesterday. This is a multi-platform project exploring the mind of someone living with Alzheimers and looking at how we collectively experience consciousness and identity. This is Yesterday will start life as an online storytelling experience opening up the world of the story and our work in communities before being realised on stage in early 2019. 

Which elements of the project will you be developing while you’re here?

Over our time at artsdepot we are working on a number of aspects of the work and immersing ourselves in the project. There is lots of paper on the walls, Post It notes and coffee cups!

We are heading out into the local area and working with people living with dementia, their carers and family and friends. We are spending time in care homes and day centres, having tea, playing games and listening to music. This is allowing us important time to become familiar with these environments and how it might inform and be represented in the project.

We are also joined by Bradford-based artists Lame Studio to help us develop an aesthetic for the work. We are really excited by this new collaboration as it allows us to look at our own work in a different way and starting to about how a story might be presented online not just through the text. More about Lame and their studio space 49 Darley St can be found here: http://lamestudio.org/ & https://www.49darleystreet.org/.

In our second week we have a much quieter space allowing us to develop the script a bit further. We are also spending some time working on the musical elements of This is Yesterday. We are exploring the body and make up of pianos, thinking about how they can be played and used in different ways. We are also spending a lot of time listening to solo piano music, thinking about how a narrative is told through the music and where it might sit in our show.

What’s the most useful thing to have with you in the rehearsal room?

A ball! Games are such an important part of our process so a tennis ball or a football is never far away. We play endless hours of a game called Handball (also known as Four Square). It has got to such a competitive level that we keep score during residencies and have invented our own very particular house rules. This game and others help get us in the zone in the morning but also takes our mind off a project when we have a hit a creative wall!

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