Page One Theatre reflect on their Creation Space R&D Residency
| Mon 20 Jul 2015
Page One Theatre recently joined us for a R&D residency in the Creation Space, exploring ideas for a new show for children, set at the seaside. We caught up with them to find out how the project developed during the two weeks.
Which particular elements of the project did you focus on during your residency?
During the residency we focused on three main areas, which were: working with sand, object puppetry and movement.
We started the residency at the very beginning of our idea, and so the first week was spent generating A LOT of ideas! We had a table of assorted objects and lots of beach and sea themed imagery. We used all of this as inspiration to take us into the second week, where we focused more closely on particular objects, movement qualities and ideas.
By the end of the two weeks we were brimming with ideas and very excited about the next stages of a project, which now feels like something tangible and achievable.
Were there any surprises? Did you make any new discoveries about the project?
The R&D was full of surprise and delight! The most surprising and enjoyable part was bringing the objects to life. It can be joyful, funny and touching to see creatures emerge from inanimate objects. We really enjoyed sharing these with artsdepot staff and a group of children who joined us for a workshop on the last day.
Through these sharings we discovered that the work appeals to both adults and children, in similar and differing ways. It was very interesting to see that all ages responded to what we had created in a positive way.
Did you bring in any collaborators?
Yes we worked with a range of collaborators, we had quite a big team coming and going throughout the two weeks. We worked with three actors Jen Wakely, Pernilla Holland and Charlotte Law, who devised material with us. Stefanie Sommer joined us as a performer and Associate Director.
Matt Hutchinson came to work with us a Puppetry Specialist. He helped us to create characters by combining different objects. We have worked with Matt before, but this was the first time we saw him performing – he created a very funny one-man puppet of a dancing bird made out of a beach ball!
We worked with designer Helen Coyston, who came in to build our sand castle and also had initial ideas for possible set and design outcomes.
Award winning author and illustrator Frann Preston-Gannon also joined us as a collaborator. She came in at the beginning of the process to be part of our story ideas and see some of the puppets we were creating. She then returned in the second week with draft illustrations inspired by what she had seen. We were exploring ways we could collaborate with Frann in future for interactive exhibitions, and the R&D was very useful as a starting point for future possibilities.
Did this residency enable you to do anything that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do?
The residency was incredibly valuable in allowing us to work with sand for a considerable amount of time. This enabled us to be able to consider the implications of touring with a large amount of sand, and also gave rise to the possibility of a site-specific project on beaches or in sand pits. We also tried out how our puppets worked in and out of the sand and how this would read to an audience.
The residency also allowed us the space to play freely without the pressure of creating a piece of finished work. This meant that we could take risks in the work we created, and the outcomes of the research were very fruitful and creative. We were able to develop our working methods as a company, as well as new material.
What are your next steps for this project?
The next stage of the project involves reflection; we are considering two possible outcomes of the research. The first would be an outdoor pop up performance, which would tour to sand pits. The second would be an indoor theatre piece based on the story ideas we discovered.
The next stages involve further research into possible funding, touring and producing opportunities for this work. We will continue to develop our ideas through running a series workshops with children.
What else are Page One Theatre working on at the moment?
We are currently producing a tour of our next show Lights Out, which explores the magic and mischief of night-time. This performance is for ages 3 - 5 and will take you on a playful and interactive journey where objects light up after dark and take on a mischievous life of their own.
We are also continuing to develop workshops for ages 3 - 5. We have a workshop coming up at Merryhill Primary School, where we will be working with 60 reception children on improvised movement, based on our research findings at artsdepot.
Illustration by Frann Preston-Gannon