Posted: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 10:05 by Esther
We're intrigued by houses at the moment...
Now I'm not sure if its because I've moved to Liverpool recently and I've lived in 3 different houses in 3 years, or if its because we've both got young families so theirs a bit of nesting going on. Or if its because of the whole financial crisis that was started (among many other reasons) by the house market crash in America... But what ever the reason houses and homes are very much on our minds...
So much so, we're working on a new outdoor show called SAFE HOUSE...at the moment we're trying to pinpoint exactly why our homes are so important to us. Below are some of our thoughts but please feel free to get in contact with any thoughts of your own.
All at once homes can offer a place of comfort, somewhere to retreat from the world and a sense of security. But all too soon that retreat can leave us isolated as our four walls become a fortress or, for some, even a prison. From the outside a house can look identical to the house next door but who are the people living within those 4 walls? What are their fears? What are their dreams?
There are many stories that illustrate the way that people project themselves onto the four walls that they inhabit. In this show THE HOUSE is a metaphor for those who live inside it. Spanning different generations, we see familiar stories of a child dreaming of the world outside, of a teenager eager to find a way out, of an adult creating a safe place to escape from the world, and of an older person who realises that (s)he will no longer travel outside these four walls. And just as THE HOUSE is shaped by its inhabitants, so their outlook is shaped by THE HOUSE.
We're keen to create a show that links the changes in the physical performance space, with the changes that we feel as we grow up, grow older, nurture the next generation, or look back as our lives come to a close. As each phase comes and goes, our view of THE HOUSE changes, although the bricks and mortar remain unchanged. Even in a financial crisis that was fuelled by our obsession with home ownership, the need for our "safe place" remains. Somewhere to root ourselves and store our memories, dreams and fears.
IMAGES / IDEAS / POTENTIAL CHARACTER'S
A CHILD Constantly moves around THE HOUSE. Her world is driven by imagination and fantasy. Through projection and aerial performance, the house is destroyed and re-invented as a castle, a palace, a spacecraft and a woodland hideaway. The child allows us to explore the possibilities that are offered by imagination and storytelling. With artwork created by Andy Cooper, this is also an opportunity to explore fantasy worlds that can only be created through animation. The world of the child is constantly moving, incredibly colourful and always optimistic - and the child lives only in the future.
A TEENAGER Constantly trying to escape we see the young adult climbing out of her window and shimmering down the drainpipe. We see her looking over her shoulder and then we see her start to run. The aerial performer is running against a backdrop of projected images of row upon row of suburban houses and all of its constants. The teenager leaps and suddenly we see the world she wants to explore, travel and embrace which is a million miles away from this very familiar neighborhood. She wants to be anywhere but here. But no matter how quickly she runs the images always return back to the suburban streets and eventually tired and exhausted she stops climbs back up the drain pie and back into her bedroom...
AN ADULT We periodically return to the adult character sitting quietly on the very top of the chimney. Up here, her world is still but often confused as she wrestles with a "Fight or Flight" reflex. THE HOUSE is a place to be alone, and she sits on the roof as the house comes to life below her. Work, family and finance accelerate the house into a frenetic collage of activity. Only at the highest point of the house can she see clearly, with her adventurous spirit still asking, what else is out there? She worries about the realities of repayments and protecting her family, as she struggles to remember sitting on the roof as a child and imagining she could fly. The urge to jump is still strong, but does she still have wings?? The adult helps us to explore the highs and lows of "building a life". Caught in THE HOUSE between what has passed (childhood) and what is to come (old age), the adult lives only in the present, and is constantly trying to find time for herself.
AN OLDER PERSON Only ever appears in the same spot, in the same window, in the same room. The old person lives only in the past, with fragments of stories, people and places outside that are prompted by photographs projected across THE HOUSE. As memories start to fade, the photographs become discoloured and are painted over by performers who desperately try to keep the house pristine. The old person helps us to ask which memories we try hardest to hold onto? And why?
Posted: Tue, 07 Feb 2012 12:05 by Megan Vaughan
Way back in September 2009, I had packed up my life in Manchester and arrived in Leicester; bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to embark on the next stage of my glittering career in theatre. I'd harangued the MBD team for several weeks already, via email and over the phone, determined that they should give me a job (if not a restraining order).
Fast-forward a couple of weeks and I was in the office, learning all about the pyro-spectacular that Watch This Space were delivering for Bonfire Night at Lyveden New Bield, and trying to find a security company that could look after all our gunpowder. (I think Esther and Paul had taken pity on me and cancelled the restraining order.)
For the first 15 months with MBD, I worked only a few hours a week. It was unpaid, but gave me a taste of life with an independent and properly co-operative arts company for the first time. I'd come from three years administrating at a commercial theatre, separated from the creative process and rarely dealing with anything more innovative than Starlight Express. The team at MBD were doing all sorts of crazy-exciting stuff; collaborating with a traditional Chinese musician for a street arts rickshaw, building a maze full of TV screens, and working on music to soundtrack an audio tour of a battlefield. AN ACTUAL BATTLEFIELD. I'd basically found myself the coolest place to work EVER.
They've given me a proper paid job.
I've worked on (I think) nineteen different projects, which have been staged everywhere from Stockton to Singapore.
We've reached somewhere in the region of 30,000 audience members, with thousands more participating in workshops and outreach programmes.
Two babies have been born (and our old Project Co-ordinator, Sally, will be adding another to the MBD Juniors line-up very soon).
Upwards of 20 tonnes of brie has been eaten during 'commie lunch'.
And I'm pretty sure that at least 10 tonnes of that was me. Quite an achievement.
The time has come, however, for me to tie up my knapsack once again and seek streets paved with G4A grants. Fare thee well, best of luck, and don't forget to tweet.
Posted: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 15:12 by Paul Long
After the success of FIB, MBD was approached by promoters from both the street arts sector and the visual arts sector to create work for their own arts environments. With this in mind MBD decided to leave their theatre roots behind, and embarked on an incredibly ambitious and pretty exhausting programme of work called THE FOUR SEASONS…
It started with SPRING in 2005 and has finally reached its epic finale in 2011 with the premiere of SUMMER and the staging of all 4 seasons in Lincoln during Frequency Festival. http://frequency.org.uk/
Looking back I'm reminded of so many memories. The all nighter before the premiere of SPRING as we tried to build our first outdoor installation on SAND! Pushing an Austin Sprite through the streets of Leicester at 6am before we squeezed it through the City Gallery doors with only millimetres to spare. The howling gales during the get out of Winter in Winchester, and the late nights, early starts and endless road works as we commuted to Lincoln on a daily basis to install SUMMER.
But with the blood sweat and tears (and there really were blood sweat and tears!) we've had so many wonderful moments. I'll never tire of the many children running around SPRING getting squirted by water and sticking their heads into beehives. I'll always remember the subtlety of AUTUMN and how it connected with the homeless in Leicester. Winter was when the Four Seasons really started to take shape and offered a through line and over arching narrative. With Winter my memories will always be of how it really touched people. It's quite a strange feeling to make people genuinely cry. SUMMER is a true testament to collaboration. Alongside MBD's artistic directors are a group of associate artists and freelancers who work with us to help deliver the vision. Summer would not have been possible without creative input from Steve Gibbs, Kate Unwin, Motion Design and Margaret Reeves.
There were times when I think we all wanted to throw in the towel, but standing in Lincoln after visiting all 4 installations, I felt incredibly proud. Yes we could have done things differently, after all a lot of the journey was about learning. And yes I would have loved just a little more time and money so that everything was perfect but the essence of The FOUR SEASONS is there. With some seasons you have to hunt a little harder, but Polly's life and her connection with the mysterious Gwyn Penn is now finally complete and, although WINTER concludes the series, SPRING follows straight on to start the cycle over again.
And the question we are left with back at MBD HQ is…… What now? All I can say is I'm sure the lessons we learned from FOUR SEASONS will never leave us completely As Mr Penn tells young Polly in one of their discussions, things come back in different ways "Like Caterpillars and Butterflies".
Posted: Mon, 09 May 2011 11:22 by Megan Vaughan
So its mid-May and we’ve started work on a new Watch This Space project called SHINE which involves 5 churches in Northamptonshire*. As ever I find myself amazed at the diversity of my job. The first church we visit, Holy Trinity in Rothwell, is the longest church (173 feet) in the county and I’m privileged to meet Dr. Peter Hill who (as well as being a fountain of Knowledge regarding historic churches in Northamptonshire) was also a founding member of Pentangle! I know…
The next person I meet is the Bailiff to the Lord of The Manor in Rothwell, whose job it is to collect the rent for the market and the annual Rowell Fair. This involves sitting on horseback at 6am, drinking rum and milk nine times as he reads the charter outside every public house in the town. I know…
Then we head over to Earls Barton where we sit and have a chat with the vicar’s husband and three lovely people from the village as we admire the unique Anglo-Saxon All Saints Church, complete with Henry Bird’s beautiful 15th century rood screen. I know…
Our final site visit of the day is over at Oundle and here we meet the incredibly energetic Reverend Richard Ormston who shows us around St. Peter’s Church, where schoolboys as late as the 1960’s would climb the 210 foot spire. The reverend also kindly pointed out the Tudor toilet which would flow straight onto the ground below. I know…
Just a regular day for the Watch This Space team.
* (Holy Trinity Church, Rothwell; All Saints Church, Earls Barton; St. Peter’s Church, Northampton; St. Peter’s Church, Oundle; and All Saints Church in Brixworth.)
Posted: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 15:45 by Esther
I was last in Singapore in 1994 with a backpack on my back and my only real means of communication being post restante. Basically my family and friends would send letters to the main post office I’d be visiting and I’d pop off to collect the not so new news. I hear the young cries of disbelief what NO smart phones, NO email, NO facebook, NO Twitter. That’s right once a month I’d call home (from a payphone) and the rest was just LETTERS.
My 2011 trip was utterly different I video skyped my daughter and partner every single day and I had constant access to my email, but was it enough? OK I’m a new Mum and my daughter is only 9 months old and this was the first time I had left her ever!!! BUT I demanded that my partner skyped me every day. As I reflect on my two vastly different trips I’m starting to ask why we demand such instant communication and if the vast and varied communication methods on offer actually make us better partners, mothers and friends. Or are we just talking more frequently in bite sized amusing chunks?
People watching is always fascinating, especially in different cities, I spent quite a bit of time watching audience arrive at The Esplnade, and YES it was a regular sight to see a couple texting / tweeting as they walked hand in hand. But “The couple corner” was also alive and kicking where young couples would sit holding hands, heads tilted towards each other and of course the obligatory staring into each other’s eyes. These couples didn’t need to talk, tweet or text they were communicating like all new couples communicate, without words. So even in the high tech Singaporean world, the old fashioned communication of LOVE is still very much alive and kicking, even if they did meet through Facebook….
And here I am today sitting in the office the day after Valentines Day about to start work on Communication Breakdown and I can categorically state that LOVE is well and truly in the air at MBD towers. (Which is not terribly helpful when making Communication Breakdown!!!!). So as I try to ignore the loved up members of MBD I’m reminded of just how quickly things can change. YES Singapore has changed, YES communication has changed but we’ve also changed. One minute we’re making our loved ones home made presents and the next we’re filing for divorce. And on that depressing note I think I’m ready to start writing some text for Communication Breakdown.