An Interview with Gill Nathanson, multi story theatre company

We caught up with Gill Nathanson to talk The House Jack Built…  

Briefly describe (for us) what your show is about?
The House Jack Built originally set out to look at how attitudes to change differ across the generations. Is it the changing world that shapes our attitudes or our attitudes that shape the world?

The story at present goes like this: Jack was an architect whose son, Bill, inherits the house Jack built.  Both Bill and his wife, Gill, are architects too. Their daughter Becky was studying to become an architect . A veritable dynasty. But Becky drops out, the house starts to crack just as Bill & Gill’s other daughter, Natalie, is about to go into labour.   Then Becky, caught up in the worldwide Occupy protests, goes missing.

As their world crumbles around them Bill retreats into the world of fantasy computer games, his heroic avatar fearlessly battling dragons.  Gill, meanwhile, struggles to find a solution to the real life challenges facing her: searching for her daughter on the internet, texting birthing advice to Natalie whilst garnering some expert advice on how to stop the house falling down.

And trolls, it turns out, are not just fantasy monsters….

Now describe it in 3 words.
In three words?  Not sure yet!  It’s the curious thing about our work. We often seem to set out thinking we’re examining one thing and then discover the journey has led us somewhere a little different and unexpected.  And we’re never quite sure where that is until we get there!

Is it similar to what you’ve done previously or are you trying something new?
This really is a brand new show.  And quite different to our previous work for adults.  It’s neither immersive nor straight-line narrative. In fact, as we’re in the process of rehearsing/making I’m not really sure how to describe it. One of the reasons we want to bring it to Ferment is to see what YOU think it is!

How will it make people feel? / What will it make people think about?
At the moment it feels strange, new and exciting; we’re making discoveries every day– so I have no idea at all what audiences will feel or think – though I suspect that reactions might be different according to where you are in your life at present.  And what your attitude to change is.

What stage will it be at in its development when we see it in January?
We’ll have a preview performance at the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple the week before Ferment – which could be interesting as it might initiate some re-work  before we get to Ferment or we might just continue to tighten up what we have. We’re really hoping that the two showings will help us find a way to hone the piece before we take the play to Prague this summer.

What elements in particular are you looking forward to testing it out on Ferment audiences?
The episodic format, inter-cutting and diction are all so varied that I’m fascinated to know if an audience finds that as exciting as we do! 

What are your personal highlights of the line-up for January’s Ferment Fortnight?
We’re based in North Devon but we’re hoping to stay in Bristol the night before our show to see Man up, Jonny Fluffypunk! and of course we’ll definitely see Just Because I have a Launderette in My Thigh doesn’t mean I’m Milkshake Wednesday.

If it were possible we’d see all of what’s on offer – we’re festival junkies and have been known to cram in 25 shows in 4 days at our own Fringe TheatreFest in Barnstaple  .

The House Jack Built will be performed as part of Ferment Fortnight on Thu 31 Jan. You can find out more information here.

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