Sarah Butcher & Rob Watt

Sarah Butcher & Rob Watt begin their Creation Space residency

| Wed 16 Sep 2015

As they begin their R&D residency in the Creation Space, we spoke to Sarah and Rob about what they'll be working on during the next two weeks.

Could you tell us about yourselves?

Rob - I am a theatre maker and producer. I currently produce participatory work for young people at the National Theatre, am the Young Company Director at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, I sit on the NAYT Board as well as having a few shows currently in development.

Sarah - I’m a theatre maker, director and producer. Most of my time is spent as one of the co-directors of non zero one making interactive experiences, I'm an associate artist of Sixth Sense Theatre Company who make professional work for and with young people and sit on the board of Salisbury Playhouse. I also do a lot of teaching, lecturing and facilitating with all different age groups.

How would you describe the work you create?

R - This is a difficult question to answer as it varies from show to show. I wouldn't say I had a style of work I create but my work does generally explore the human condition fairly explicitly. I have worked with young people all my career and so there are usually elements of participation in my work and a playfulness. I am fascinated by the visual language of film which does influence my work.

S - It always varies. I’m very interested in telling stories that people can relate to, even if they’re fantastical. I’m fascinated by how we read gender on stage and on film, so I’m always on a mission to show women and girls as complex and surprising, as the makers of plot rather than the receivers. I’m a visual learner, so my work always has a strong visual element to it, I think because of how I understand the world. Writing this has made me realise how much Rob and I share the same passions and how that reflects in the work that we want to make, we knew this already, but writing it down makes it even more obvious why we’re collaborating on this project. This project definitely had to be a collaboration, because there are so many unknowns and that needs dialogue.

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

R - Sarah and I are adapting The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crooke, a story about a boy who discovers fairies exist. Both Sarah and I strongly feel that theatre which is made for young people aged 8 to early teenagers can vary widely in quality and hasn't necessarily innovated in the same way mainstream theatre has over the last 10 years. We want to make a piece of work for young people that resonates, invigorates and doesn't patronise.

S - … well it’s now a story about a girl who discovers that fairies exist (see my comment above), but not fairies as we know them. We’re starting with Mackenzie’s book and re-working it for the stage. We like the danger and the risk in the story, that it questions our ability to think “but what if…” and what happens when humans interfere with nature, and their reasons for doing so.

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

S - We’re starting with the book and we’ll end up somewhere that looks a little different, that means working out what key elements of the story are there, what’s missing, what needs to be taken away and what needs to be added. It’s a creative adventure in itself… so far there has been a lot of paper, post it notes, chalk and… Haribo. Though we’ve had to chill out on the Haribo as we’re only on day three of ten.

R - We are at that exhilarating yet terrifying stage of starting with a blank page. While at artsdepot we will be mapping out the story and exploring all of the possibilities the show might be - what's great is at this stage there are no wrong answers, no budget constraints and no limits. This stage doesn't last very long so it's lovely to indulge in this for 2 weeks.

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

R - My iPad. It allows me to do so many things - I can instantly look up research notes, can play music, record conversations, watch YouTube videos, photograph drawings, video rehearsals. I still use a moleskin notebook, I think the brain works in a different way when you write by hand, but always in tandem with my iPad.

S - Your wits about you, so that you’re ready to go in different directions and try different things, so that you can ask “What if…” and run with it for a while. And so that you can say things like “you know, like that bit in Jumanji when…” and then Rob can look it up on his iPad. |
Twitter: @sarahjenniferj | @wattnot

This residency is supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Read more about our Artist Residency Programme

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