Ferment Fortnight Preview | Reclaimed

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.

An Interview with Edward Rapley, The Self Trilogy

Edward Rapley is a Bristol-based performer who has trained in Paris with Phillippe Gaulier (the French Master clown), is a member of local artist collective Residence and has toured to audiences all over the UK. This September he opens our Autumn season in the studio with The Self Trilogy: 10 Ways to Die on Stage, The Middle Bit, and Who Know Where. His work defies expectation and offers his audiences a new fresh take on the big (death) and the small (atoms). Intrigued, we interviewed him via long-distance-electronic-internet-based-communication (email) to find out what it’s like to perform your own life on stage by yourself. 

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Tell us about the trilogy.
The trilogy is this sprawling piece of work which I’ve been making for the last seven years. Very simply it is three solo shows I have been inspired to make by events or times in my own life as a way to communicate with other people, to share what are perhaps common mistakes and joys.

Describe them in three words (three words for all of them!)
Ridiculous, touching, hopeful.

What’s it like performing autobiographical work?
It makes me laugh at myself which I like. When you use your life as the source for a performance it’s important that you do it for the audience and not yourself. That avoids a lot of potential problems. That’s why it’s great working with Holly Stoppit on the shows, she’s got a great eye for the audience and the ability to get me to where I need to be.

Is much of your work a solo performance? What’s it like always performing by yourself?
Almost all my own work is as a solo performer: on stage, with installations, or one to one games. It is both terrifying and exhilarating. Before the performance I get so nervous, even now with a month until the shows I’m scared. Then when I step on stage everything falls into place and it’s just so much fun. I also work as an actor for other companies and it is great to have other people to play with on stage and to share the experience with.

What is your favourite moment in the trilogy?
It’s the bit between stepping on stage and the bow. Cop out! I really like the balloon bit in 10 Ways, the start of The Middle Bit and the path of all my atoms in Who Knows Where. As a solo performer I get to make the show out of all my favourite moments, that’s one of the perks.

What is the most challenging moment in the trilogy?
For me that’s now, the bit before I start. For the audience perhaps it’s the chair sequence in second show. Those who have seen it will understand.

Describe your ideal audience member.
Anyone who enjoys taking a risk in good company.

What’s next for you?
Directly next will be The Self Trilogy at MAC in Birmingham on the 28th of September. Then I’m working on a new (solo) show and hopefully a tour of the trilogy.

 The Self Trilogy is on in Bristol Old Vic Studio 11-14 Sep. You can watch the trilogy on Sat 14 Sep from 6pm. Find out more here.