We’ve a week coming up in the Nuffield Theatre at Lancaster Arts, part of the support we’re getting through the Nuffield Bursary this year. We’re going in with just some ideas.
This is always a risk. It’s a privilege to be able to spend time in a technically supported space before we’ve any clear sense of what our show might be. For the way we work, though, it’s a vital stage: we need to be able to try the visual ideas, feeling what they achieve (or fail to achieve) as we build our sense of the possibilities.
This work has some highly political starting points around otherness, othering and difference. But we don’t want to set out with a story to tell: we want those ideas to come through the theatricalisation of bodies in space, and to offer future audiences the space to interpret these without the frame of spoken words. That’s exciting for us, and it means we’re in a more visually led process than normal.
As we plan our time in the theatre, we’re increasingly aware of questions of scale. If the piece we make is for spaces like the Nuffield Theatre, then many of those large studios are not spaces we’ve worked in before. They’re new venues for us, and that means new audiences. Is that realistic? Will they come?
If we’re to realise our artistic ambition, there’s no choice but to try. We can’t let ourselves be hemmed in by the width of a studio we’ve filled before, or we’re just doing the same stuff again and again. Reliability has its place, of course, but each project has its own path.
And so, even as we look forward to taking those first tentative steps in the dark of a theatre, we’re surrounded by doubts about the practicalities of working on this piece. — the things we don’t know about its eventual life. That’s where it’s clear Lancaster Arts has been thinking about how to support artists: the bursary includes producing advice and support, time to talk through these questions and discover the practical shape of our project’s future.
That help over the coming months will be as important as the space itself in bringing our ideas to fruition, as we map its place in the artistic landscape and light the path ahead.