Mimbre Joint Artistic Director Lina Johansson on ‘Bench’

Lina Johansson – joint Artistic Director for Mimbre, shares a little window into the process of creating Mimbre’s new performance Bench, coming to Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London on 21-22 and 24th of June.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

 

The idea for Bench started like a small simple idea – a set made as a park bench – allowing us to plant the show in the reality of where it is performed; in a park, a street or a square and use the theatre of our public spaces to inspire us for a series of sketches.

Photo by Marco Berardi

Photo by Marco Berardi

I knew I wanted it to reflect on the way we are among other people, and the way other people view you when in public. What assumptions do you make if you see a woman sitting on a bench on her own – do you assume she is waiting for someone? Do you think she is lonely? Who do we meet if we allow ourselves to be friendly to strangers? What do you see if you allow yourself to sit down on a bench and watch the spectacle of the street playing out in front of you?

Photo by Marco Berardi

Photo by Marco Berardi

Working with physical choreographies and using a devising process means that you don’t know from the start exactly which story it is that will carry through and have a resonance with an audience. The beauty is that stories starts to emerge that I didn’t even know myself that I wanted to tell.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Alcina Mendes created a beautifully, warm main character and Rebecka and Silvia explored a charade of different personae; flowing choreographies, dreamy fantasies and some very silly characters bringing some laughter and lightness.

Photo by Mimbre

Alcina Mendes; Photo by Mimbre

 

The acrobatic training is as of course always a big part of Mimbre’s rehearsals, with an hour long warm-up and strengthening session each morning and time for practising the acrobatics tricks both in the rehearsals and in the weeks in-between rehearsals; to find new tricks and to keep existing ones safe. For Bench our acrobatics coach Adrian Porter and my joint Artistic Director Silvia Fratelli trained up our 2 new Mimbre members; Alcina Mendes and Rebecka Nord. Finding trust, safety and confidence with the new tricks is time-consuming but is part of the physical language we use for our shows and I am as always enjoying the exploration of the ins and outs of where the physicality meet the theatre, the thrill versus the story, the physical versus the emotive impressions.

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Through Alcina’s careful exploration of the main character the first rough run-through held a lot of loneliness and sadness. Impressions of how being surrounded by other people can sometimes make you feel more lonely then if you’re just on your own. Which led us to look for scenes of belonging, of happiness and celebration, to compliment without taking away from the atmosphere found. This led us to discuss friendships and belongings, what it is that drew us into circus and performance and what that world symbolises for us, and we used some of these conversations as inspiration for our celebratory and warmer finale choreography. As part of the rehearsal process we did several informal sharings where we invited friends and colleagues to see the material we had created so far and we also did a preview/premiere of the shows at the Crossing the Creek event at Laban Theatre and Greenwich Dance – who commissioned the show – in April.

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis

Everything changes as soon as you put it in front of an audience and it helps me as a director to see it through other eyes (I normally watch the audience more than the performers at these occasions). Seeing the audiences reaction, hearing people’s feedback and get a little bit of distance to the rehearsal room gives a clearer view of what work is still needed or any structural changes to how the show hangs together.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

From this we have decided on some dramatical changes and Bench is now getting ready to go off on a tour in it’s appropriate setting – around various outdoor theatre festivals around UK and Europe and of course coming to Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London in June. I am very excited about allowing the show to take on it’s own life and paths, for me a show only really exists once audiences have had their chance to start to influence the shape of the performance and the energy of the performers and I am looking forward to see how it will be further influenced by the lovely audience at GDIF.

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Last but not least a big thank you to the great artistic team who helped to make Bench; guest choreographers Natasha Khamjani and Anna Llombart who brought some fresh and different flavours to our movement. Michalis Kokkoladis for designing a genuinely old and knackered looking Bench that in reality is super sturdy and can be flatpacked! Ted Barnes who as always have woven a stunning musical score for us, binding all the different paces and atmospheres together. Last but not least, designer Kasper Hansen and maker Sophie Bellin who sourced 20 costumes for the different characters that the performers are changing between through the show….

Photo by Mimbre

Photo by Mimbre

Tombs Creatius at GDIF2014

tombscreatius_logoby Peppe Cannata
International Manager of Tombs Creatius Company
Facebook: Companyia-Tombs-Creatius
Twitter: @tombscreatius
Colors de Monstre at GDIF2014

I met Toni from Tombs Creatius company,a few years ago and really liked his installations and his work. Since 2010, I have had the pleasure of being part of this great team

5990717884_667a82623b_oThis year at GDIF we will show our first project called “Monster Colours”, several participatory installations for audiences of all ages. The idea for this project came about in 2008 when Tombs Creatius was commissioned to build a collection of games for the “Festival Internacional de las Artes” (FIA) in Costa Rica.

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“Colors de Monstre” is a collection of 25 games built in wood and designed for all ages. With colorful illustrations, we create an expressive and exciting atmosphere in the streets and plazas.

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We challenge the public to play, using their mind, body, wit and immagination, with a bit of strategy as they figure out how to play each game. The public touch, interact whilst playing with our installations.The public is our protagonist, our games are the “atrezzo”,the tools, for the people playing.

A shed load of ideas: behind the scenes with Haywood Hix

WORKS
A blog post from Haywood Hix (established 2013)

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A shed load of ideas

Earnest companions, overalls, invention, a pet cat, everyday objects, ramshackle engineering, precise timing, deadpan comedy and a catapult of faith, in this chain reaction of a show.

A collaboration between performer Jon Hicks and artist Mark Haywood.

Created last year,  and performed at Out There Festival in Great Yarmouth.

Lot of stuff

Lot of stuff

This year we received Arts Council funding to further develop the show and make it able to tour, we have half a dozen gigs this summer and are looking further ahead to a the possibility of a full tour next year.

It’s a complicated show, with this domino effect chain reaction machine.

Ball run balance

Ball run balance

We’ve  looked at a lot of different reference, Fischli and Weiss, Mouse Trap, Rube Goldberg inspired machines…

Goldberg is the sort of US Heath Robinson, all about these “home made”, complex, chain reaction machines made to execute relatively simple tasks.

Not funny plank

Not funny plank

Both of us art college trained, with Fine Art degrees, we built the props, customised the shed and created the machine with a lot of head scratching, debating and failure before  success

Mark and I have known each other a long time and have a shared history of propmaking.

The shed and props remain based in Norfolk.

Shed on trailer

Shed on trailer

Since April:

Mark  found a fantastic local trailer maker who is interested in the show, enthusiastic and aside from attaching our shed to a custom built trailer, he made a new roof opening system with gas filled pistons, which I don’t quite understand.

Set for a show

Set for a show

The machine we made last year has been consolidated, new in places and improved.

We’ve really tried to make sure we can control the machine more, have more choice about when it will work or not, but it’s a complex and temperamental thing.

Wheel barrow delivery

Wheel barrow delivery

We had 4 days of rehearsals, last week which was exciting, we have Matt Rudkin of Inconvenient Spoof back with us directing. we’ve kept a lot of last years show, added some new stuff, tried out new things, thrown some out, kept some in.

Matt Rudking trying it out

Matt Rudking trying it out

In rehearsals we’ve focused on nailing down a very choreographed routine and making sure the visual gags pay off.

Watering can

Watering can

We also have a new crew member on board,  Joe Mulcrone, who is there as roadie, stage hand, technician and understudy performer. Recommended by Matt Rudkin, he has been great.

He tried a run off the show in rehearsals with Matt and will definitely do a day of shows on tour.

Joe (new recruit) trying it out

We are off on a short tour this summer, Norfolk and Norwich festival was in mid May, shows went well, it was great to get it out there live again.

Lot’s of issues came up of course, but we felt it went well., we’re excited about the tour.

Can this be funny?

Things will inevitably change in the machine and the show as we tour around, but I think they will be small and gradual, the domino effect seems to not only be integral when setting off the machine but in the tweaking and engineering of it and the show too.

Last tweaks before a set off

Last tweaks before a set off

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