Invisible Ink talk ‘The Terrible Things I’ve Done’

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Tell us a little bit about Invisible Ink and how The Terrible Things I’ve Done came to be.
We’re a company made up of Sita Calvert-Ennals (director), Nia Skyrme (producer) and Alan Harris (writer). Alan and Sita have been working together for about the past four years on various projects (Nia joined recently), and our first production was an adaptation of Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop – a sell-out success at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, supported by the Arts Council of Wales, co-produced with Theatr Iolo.

Clarity of storytelling is at the heart of our collaborations and the audience experience is integral in the development of any Invisible Ink production; we are as happy making work for a village hall as a main house auditorium.

It’s important for us, as a company, to collaborate from the outset – trying things out in the rehearsal room to develop the storytelling/narrative and creative choices right from the beginning. We will always strive to tell that story in the most effective, engaging way and we will never be afraid of exploring a variety of art forms/genres in the pursuit of clear storytelling.

The starting point for The Terrible Things I’ve Done was an initial brainstorming meeting by Alan and Sita at a residency hosted by Bristol Old Vic Ferment.

During January 2015 we set up a “confession” booth at Ferment and invited the public to share their terrible things with us – the results were remarkable in both range of stories and the theatrical experience of confession.

And, following on from that, we applied for a successful Arts Council Wales R&D grant and split that research into two sections; another week of story gathering at various locations throughout South Wales and a week of seeing how these stories could be turned into a show, working with three actors. The show was taking shape…

What made you want to create a story about people’s guilty secrets? What makes you fascinated by this?
At that initial meeting, and added to since, we wanted to answer certain questions and areas of interest regarding “terrible things”:

– Exploring the dignified humility of admitting that you did something wrong.
– How you befriend your inner wrong. As hard as it is to admit you’ve done wrong, it can be liberating. Confession is good for the soul, isn’t it?
– Can we really forgive people/ourselves?
– What is a terrible thing?
–  What are the positive outcomes of our terrible actions?

What’s fascinating for us is how terrible things are buried away, sometimes never to emerge and the effect that has on people and society. Also how do you show this breadth of emotion and confusion in a theatrical way? We love a challenge.

What would you say the audience can expect when the show debuts?
Because of the nature of the variety of stories it is a show of variety – it has to be. Audiences can expect three actors who convey the truth of these stories (and even though this is not a verbatim show, these are stories that are being related back to the audience).

What’s the most scandalous thing you’ve uncovered in your two years of collecting these stories?
That inaction can be as terrible as action. We’ve had some amazing, terrible stories (from druggings to infidelity to the injuring of pensioners to the regrets about death and internet porn). But, we’ve found, a lot of the time the most touching, scandalous, affecting stories are those in which someone regrets not doing something. We’re, of course, not going to give away any specific secrets in this blog…

It’s an exciting time for us as we start work on redeveloping our Studio. How does it feel to be a part of our very first Studio Walkabout season?
There’s something special about being part of Bristol Old Vic that’s being shared with the rest of the city. The Wardrobe Theatre is a wonderful space and if we had to go “walkabout” from the Studio, we couldn’t have wished for a better home. Exciting stuff.

The Terrible Things I’ve Done continues our Studio Walkabout Season at The Wardrobe Theatre 29 Sep-1 Oct. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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