By Nathan Curry
GDIF Associate Director and Tangled Feet Artistic Director
Last year, Tangled Feet created our first ever large-scale outdoor performance, One Million, which was the finale of GDIF in Woolwich. It was an incredible journey of risk and creativity –we had no idea how an audience would respond and whether our narrative arc would land. We were thrilled (and mightily relived) by the experience that not only the audience, but also the young participants had.
Making a piece of theatre at scale can be a testing process- there aren’t many spaces that are big enough to test and shape the work in (last year our set was in two sections side by side due to the lack of height in rehearsal space!) there is also a ramp up in pressure from producers, funders and audience members to deliver something truly spectacular.
We got through the making experience but in some ways it was hard to savour and enjoy. Therefore we were thrilled when Brighton Festival asked us to re-create One Million for their audiences as the finale of Brighton Festival 2014. One Million is about the number of young people under the age of 26 who are unemployed (and not in training) in the UK. The number peaked at 1,000,000 in 2013 but is still perilously close to the horrific figure (as of today it stands at 941,000).
We were inspired to make the show because of the huge amount of talented young people we’d worked with over the years that were now locked out of the job market. In the creation of One Million we discovered that the story we wanted to tell was not purely negative – it was not all doom and gloom. The real story (and one which shines through in the show) is that there is huge potential in the young people of our next generation – huge creativity and huge energy. We ignore it out peril.
As I write this we are starting to build the scaffolding set on site and this Friday and Saturday it will come alive (insert web link). It’s a huge endorsement of the work we had done with GDIF that Brighton will present the show as their finale. We have been working with various local partner organisations to recruit 60 local young people to be in the performance and have been preparing some new members of our team for the One Million experience. We can’t wait!
The site is hugely different which has some challenges and some benefits. The audience area includes a grass bank that will make sightlines easier but cuts down the amount of audience interaction we achieved in Woolwich. The backdrop is the sea, which is wonderfully dramatic but adds a considerable wind factor and we have much more width than depth so are working on expanding images sideways while shrinking their depth a little!
Its all worth it though and helps us re-imagine the show a new. We have re-worked the opening for the better I feel. We are really looking forward to sharing the show in Brighton and with a crowd who are known for their political activism and creativity. We are hugely proud to be making large-scale political work. Without the support of GDIF it would not be possible.