Ferment Fortnight kicks off its biannual explosion of work-in-progress and scratch performances from 24 Jan. Here, Wassial Theatre Company member Nick White gives us an inside look at their production Reclaimed. Catch it at Loco Klub on Thu 1 Feb.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
Wassail Theatre Company unites communities through stories that inspire them by giving people unexpected, surprising and positive experiences of theatre. Wassail is a charity based in Somerset and exists through a network of associate artists from across the UK interested in bringing new audiences and new ideas together.
Wassail’s Artistic Producer is Nick White who Bristol audiences will remember from four glorious years at Travelling Light! The show we’re presenting in Ferment has been by directed by Wassail’s Artistic Associate Jesse Briton (Bear Trap, Jones Collective, egg Incubator scholar).
What are you presenting at Ferment Fortnight?
We are presenting our new show (our fifth production so far) ‘Reclaimed’. This is our first fully devised piece and it’s also the first time we’ve made something inspired by true events.
Reclaimed was originally conceived as a show for touring into village halls but we’re excited to bring it to the Loco Klub, following the enthusiastic advice of Emma Bettridge, enabling us to test it in a non-rural, non-village hall environment.
Reclaimed is an immersive piece, placing the audience in the wellies of the people most impacted by the events.
What inspired/influenced your piece?
In December 2013 it started to rain – the most rain England had seen for over 230 years. By early January the Somerset Levels were underwater, to an extent that no-one living in the area had ever experienced. The floods stayed until late February. Several communities had to be evacuated from their villages. Businesses were ruined. People feared for their lives. Some didn’t get back into their houses for 50 weeks. For many, the lasting effects are still being felt today.
Our Associate Producer Emma Vickery (Motherlode Productions) was personally impacted by the events and she wanted to tell the story of what happened to a wide audience.
We were inspired by the experiences, stories and challenges faced by village residents, Environment Agency staff, the Emergency Services and the incredible actions of a group of volunteers from Khalsa Aid. We hope to have explored how communities are strengthened or fractured by the unexpected, and what it means to be British in times of crisis.
What does the work that Ferment do mean to you?
Ferment brings the best of the south west together, offering a platform that is a genuine springboard for future development. Being invited to take part in the Ferment Fortnight is as much of an honour as being asked to engage in any co-production – possibly even more so because you know the conversations that will happen in the bar afterwards will push you on to the next level.
What would you say the audience can expect in three words?
Dredging, Boxing, Samosas
Ferment Fortnight takes place at Bristol Old Vic 24-25 Jan before moving across the city to Watershed and Loco Klu from 26 Jan-3 Feb. For more info and to book tickets, click here.