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