We spoke to Sam and Olivia from Kindle Theatre about their Ferment Fortnight double bill, two works-in-progress which are not to be missed this January.
Briefly describe (for us) what your show is about?
Always keen to challenge ourselves Kindle are not just presenting 1 show for Ferment but 2 and on the same night. These two shows will be a first for Kindle. It’s the first time that company members are making solo (ish) works (Lady GoGo Goch has a solo performer plus live musician) and it’s the first time we’ll present brand new work outside our native region of the West Midlands. That means that Bristol will be the first to see what we’ve been up to this winter. Both shows have a strong sound / music element, something that we started to explore in the The Furies – a music-theatre performance that we presented at Mayfest in the studio last year.
Lady GoGo Goch will explore the fire, wildness and beauty of the Welsh voice. Sam from Kindle will work with Portuguese musician Ricardo Rocha to unpick why Wales is known as ‘the land of song’ and why the Welsh are renowned internationally for having such MASSIVE voices. Expect the sounds of a male voice choir, a ferocious dragon and some brassy divas built live on stage.
In contrast, A Journey Round My Skull treats the audience as collective patient who have been diagnosed with a brain tumour. The narrative takes inspiration from the extraordinary medical testimony written in the 1930’s by Hungarian satirist Karinthy Frigyes. A Journey Round My Skull explores how the relationship to physical illness can parallel malignant relationships in our personal life and the complex dynamic of this.
Now describe it in 3 words.
A Journey Round My Skull: Extraordinary medical odyssey
Lady GoGo Goch: Welshness, dragons, divas
Is it similar to what you’ve done previously or are you trying something new?
As with all our work, collaboration with other artists is a vital part of the making process. For these two projects we’ll be showing work following an R&D phase that happened at the end of 2012, when we spent some time in different parts of England and Wales. It’s the first time we’ve worked with a writer, Nick Walker, who has been helping Olivia on A Journey Round My Skull. It’s also the first time we’ve worked on a show and not had all 3 company members in the rehearsal room all of the time. But it’s not the first time we’ve had a strong musical element to our performances. This has always been important.
The most important thing that we’re trying out is making and presenting tour-light shows for studios spaces. In our 8 year history we’ve never, until The Furies, made performance in and for theatre spaces. Our early years were spent in Birmingham’s decommissioned factories and post-industrial spaces, Churches, moving vehicles and even 100ft underground. Whilst the scale of these two new shows might be slightly smaller our ambition certainly isn’t. We’re really looking forward to testing our ideas at Ferment and with a Bristol audience. If you like new writing, music-theatre, voice work, medicine and women then you might like something in these performances. We’d certainly like to know what you think about them.
How will it make people feel? / What will it make people think about?
Expect some loudness, though we also hope you will find the performances beautiful and thought-provoking.
Much of Lady GoGo Goch is performed in the Welsh language which has a beautiful lyrical quality. We are trying to build the show for audiences that speak Welsh fluently, know a bit of Welsh, and those who have no Welsh whatsoever (including international audiences that won’t speak a word of English either). If you don’t speak Welsh then you won’t understand the literal meaning of the words / lyrics but we hope you’ll enjoy experiencing the piece a bit like you would a poem or a song.
A Journey Round My Skull has a rich narrative broken into live and recorded text and because it treats the audience as collective patient we want them to feel like this operation is happening to them. We’re interested in what happens when we’re afflicted with illness and how the subsequent disruption can affect everything we do, how it can alter our perception and our experience of sound and associated memories.
What stage will it be at in its development when we see it in January?
Both pieces are in very early stages of development, they will be a first draft of the material so far. Our relationship with the live audience is extremely important and so for Ferment we’ll be most excited and interested to see how audience respond in the live event and afterwards if they want to have a chat with us over a pint in the bar. Olivia would ultimately like lasers in her show and for it to be more like a night club than an operating theatre or studio theatre. Come and see it to find out what she’s getting at. Sam hopes she will eventually be able to raise the beginning image of Lady GoGo Goch at least 2 metres from the ground, and create a sound world built entirely from Welsh phonems. The hope is that Ricardo will also achieve his idea of building a Marimba-style instrument made of Welsh slate, and a Crwth-inspired instrument made from a high-backed chair which he can sit on as well as play.
What elements in particular are you looking forward to testing it out on Ferment audiences?
A Journey Round My Skull is for a limited audience because of how Olivia would like you to experience it. It’s difficult to do a collective operation. If you have to go for surgery you are one patient with a whole team of experts making sure it all goes to plan, but the convention of this performance with a collective audience means there is just one operator and forty of you so conceptually that makes it a bit of a challenge. Olivia wants to see if you consider this performance to be intimate when you know you are part of an audience. Emily from Kindle has been working as an ‘outside-eye’ on both projects, and she’s looking forward to experiencing the work with other audience members and enjoying talking through people’s initial responses afterwards.
What are your personal highlights of the line-up for January’s Ferment Fortnight?
Having been to Ferment before to see Adam Peck’s tender Only we’re really looking forward to seeing other works and being part of it. It’s a bit of tricky question because if we had two weeks in Bristol, we’d see as much as possible and if we had to say what we’re looking forward to then this is what we’d say… The Wrong Crowd who are on the same night as us, because their form is very different to ours and that interests us. We know Jake and Jack from Untied Artist who are fellow Midlanders and are showing For Their Own Good which we’re in full support of. I and The Village looks really interesting because it’s a script-in-hand performance and scripts and writing are new things to us. Memetune because we love the sound of life having a sound track. Dead Line because it’s about mortality which is always a favourite topic of ours. Byron Vincent’s Just Because I Have A Laundrette In My Thigh Doesn’t Mean I’m Milkshake Wednesday because we’ve seen him before and have really started getting into spoken word having been to Jodi Ann Bickley’s ‘Speak Up’ event in Birmingham. Finally, Sue: The Second Coming because it’s music, comedy and a man dressed as a woman.