In the week before prep begins on Keep, the 2nd show in the Converging Paths series, Artistic Director Alan Lane talks us through the unusual prospect of repeating and adapting existing material for a radically different site…
Because of the nature of Slung Low’s work there isn’t often the opportunity to repeat ourselves.
Slung Low will make 9 new shows in 2012 which is incredibly exciting. But our schedule and the site specific nature of much of what we do means there will be little opportunity to revisit any of the pieces, to explore material or ideas with the knowledge of having done them before gives you.
A lot of what Slung Low makes only happens once and the audience are often central to how things play out so dress rehearsals and small preview audiences are only so much use: the reality is that no matter how like ‘theatre’ Slung Low’s work is fundamentally I am constructing an ‘event’- by which I mean I can only really see (and often truly understand) what it is we’ve made in the actual moment that the thing is finished. It’s true that the more we do the better we get at fully visioning the piece before that moment when the public arrive but it would be highly disingenuous to not admit that it is in that moment when the audience meets the preparation that new things are discovered- after all the thing doesn’t exist until the audience arrive.
However Converging Paths- with its continued world between 5 plays- offers the opportunity to return to some material and ideas. Although each of the 5 pieces will be distinct and different (if nothing else they are all being made for radically different sites) there are naturally connections between each of the pieces.
The first part of Converging Paths (Darkness at Sun Court) was the most formal piece Slung Low had ever made. The opportunity to work with a complete different palette of techniques was unbelievably challenging and invigorating.
For one thing the audience were seated (a very rare occurrence for our work), watching the action behind a series of large floor to ceiling windows, and listening to the characters of Edwin and Phillip remember their shared history and their long gone friend, Helen. The accompanying images, abstract, frozen in ice-cold water and florescent tubes, detached from their place in the narrative and placed in a non-linear order as the boys shared their remembrance.
Because of the way the 5 pieces balance with their sites and the material from the book, Darkness at Sun Court shares the same material with the next piece, Keep which will perform at Richmond Castle on the 3rd June.
Richmond Castle is a very exciting site. All tumble down walls and big Yorkshire vista from atop the biggest hill in town. There’s not a hint of the Edwardian, chess board formality of Scarborough.
And so the next Keep presents a rare opportunity for me. A chance to revisit material. A chance to re-imagine how the stories can be told and presented in different ways in the light of everything we did in Scarborough. A chance to consider audience feedback and give real thought about which bits of their feedback to apply to the material and which not to. The chance to bring in new ideas and images where we want to but crucially to build strongly on what worked in Scarborough. It’s been a very different, but really useful process and one that I’ll look to use again hopefully.
Each of the 5 Converging Paths pieces will have separate casts so we welcome a new team of actors. The brilliant Patrick Young has rather joyfully come through Slung Low’s placement/work experience scheme over the years to now take a leading part in the show. The very talented Ed Smith was a selection from the International Student Drama Festival, an organisation that Slung Low is very proud to have a close association with, and will play Edwin.
So Keep aims to be the best of what has gone before, to build on the conversations we had with audiences after Darkness at the Sun Court and the fresh ideas that a new site and a new team of actors will bring. We start work on Monday – can’t wait to get started and hope to see you there.
Like all of the Converging Paths shows, Keep will be a FREE performance. However, you MUST reserve your tickets through this Eventbrite page: http://keepswaledalefestival.eventbrite.co.uk/