Proto-type Theater reflect on their R&D Residency

| Thu 9 Feb 2017

Proto-type Theater recently joined us for their Creation Space R&D residency exploring ideas toward their new show The Audit. We caught up with multi-disciplinary artists Rachel Baynton, Gillian Lees, and Andrew Westerside to find out how their ideas developed during their time here.

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

This was an invaluable week for us – a kind of pre-project research period in which we clarified lots about the kind of work we want to make and the ways in which we want to make it. We are incredibly grateful to artsdepot for giving us the time, space (and biscuits) we needed to start work on The Audit - the Creation Space and the team that work around the building are tremendous.

We spent time quizzing each other, poking for gaps in our understanding of the hidden financial systems that govern our lives. We discovered inequalities and injustices we were prepared for and plenty we weren’t. We’ve informed and armed ourselves so that we can start making accessible work about a complex subject.

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

We discovered that it is surprisingly easy to get kicked out of major banking establishments, that - even though you know it’s going to be heavy - gold is still heavier than you think, that you can’t look at some publicly displayed art unless you are dressed right, that keeping you ill-informed is a great way to take your money, and that if you have enough money you can get away with an awful lot.

We suspected most of these things already but now we have some proof…

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

As a company that is split between England and Scotland, and so conduct a lot of our thinking and meetings via Skype, it was incredibly useful to just be in the same room! It was also useful to make and think without the pressure to create something for public display at the end of the residency – this is unusual in our experience and meant that our focus could be turned towards the future of the project. The location of artsdepot was essential to our research too as it placed us close to the financial heart of the UK and allowed for some exciting encounters with the good people of Canary Wharf security.

What are your next steps for this project?

We’re taking some time to think about what we did over the residency and will be reconvening later in the spring to continue work on The Audit. We have some conversations lined up with academics and researchers and we will hopefully build on some of the discussions we had with the artsdepot team.

What else are you working on at the moment?

We are just about to head out on a second tour of our show A Machine they’re Secretly Building, which we developed in response to Edward Snowden’s revelations about surveillance, privacy and governmental power. Full tour dates are available on our website but if you can catch us in Crewe, Salford, Birmingham, Liverpool, St Albans, Farnham, Norwich, Newcastle or Glasgow – and perhaps even want to chat about power and big money – we’d love to meet you!
Twitter: @proto_type

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