As a company we have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak to working practitioners within the industry. We have been able to ask them about their companies and experiences in building a company and making art. As a new company this has been very helpful as we have learnt what to do and, in some cases, how to steer away from problematic issues.
Dan Canham from Still House came to speak to us about the process and production of Ours Was The Fen Country . The production focused on verbatim text and he discussed his process of gathering the interviews and sifting through hours of dialogue to pick out the most interesting points. our experience will be very similar to his as we will be interviewing a wide rage of people about their stories of World War 1. Still House’s production was more than just verbatim text and one aspect of creating our show that concerned me was getting from spoken word to a performative state. Canham’s advice was to play and to avoid worrying about the final outcome of the show. ‘It will happen’ he told us.
We have taken this advice in to the rehearsal room and, at this point in the process during our Research and Development phase, we are playing and experimenting with possible ideas that may or may not make it in to the final show. This playful attitude brings a welcoming and energetic energy to the process which allows the company to bond and be creative with no limits. Eventually we will place the experiments in to scenes and place them in to a structure which will become our performance.
We have also spoken to Angharad Jones from Fifth Word Theatre who specialise in new writing. She spoke truthfully about starting a company and where to begin. At the moment we are still finding the foundations of Birds Eye View Theatre. We have a structure and project to work on but we are still learning about how we work together as a company. Jones spoke about each project being different and having different needs; we are still learning what is required from each of the birds on our first project. In regards to starting a company her advice resides strongly at the heart of Birds Eye View Theatre. She said we must believe in the product and this is something we all feel strongly about. We know we have the makings of a timeless and time relevant piece of theatre that has the ability to teach, entertain and inform audiences of all ages about the local women of Lincolnshire during the First World War. We have a basic structure and we are constantly learning on the job.
When Fifth Word started up they took a sporadic approach to find new work they wished to produce. Jones’ advice on this, and something that is extremely relevant to our project, is to hone it down and narrow the vision. Our topic is an enormous field of information which will not all fit in to a 45 minute show. We have therefore agreed that we will focus on letters sent between the women in Lincolnshire and their husbands, sons, fathers and male relatives out at war. Letter writing is a dying form of communication in the 21st century as internet and emails take over.
There is something special about reading letters people have written nearly 100 years ago and we will be using letters as our main text within the performance. (You can read about when some of the Birds went to the Lincoln Archives here).This narrowed down approach give us a much more focused line of research and will help us stay focused on the project in hand.
Speaking to these practicing artists gives us an insight in to the professional world of theatre after university. Whether we carry on Birds Eye View Theatre or move on to new projects, it is from speaking to people that we learn about the theatre world and what awaits us.
Creative Nottingham (2014) Available at http://www.creativenottingham.com/2013/12/09/the-letters-page-issue-2-pen-pals/ [Accessed 26 May 2014]
Fifth Word Theatre (2014) Available at http://fifthword.co.uk/ [Accessed 15th February 2014]
StillHouse Theatre (2014) Awailable at http://www.stillhouse.co.uk/stilhouse/stillhouse_-_home.html [Accessed 26 May 2014]