Hope all is well on good ship Baz, we've certainly had a good week - full of Shakespeare of all kinds: RSC and All Female - and it did not disappoint on any level, forsooth. It got us all fired up for the future though and many an idea has been thrown around while drinking wine (and sometimes those verbs got mixed up, but hey, that's PASSION. And we got a lot of it.)
But as London is literally lit up like a Christmas tree and the air is filled with cinnamon and whatever makes Subway smell so damn delicious, it got us thinking about our bumper year, and like our American cousins, what we are thankful for.
Well, you lot, of course, the lifeblood of the thing, who we write, direct and perform for, and who have loyally stayed by our side up to an including this year with our dream play project, the scale of which we'd never tried. Our casts, old and new that have dug our ideas and manifesto, and with fearlessness always gave it some welly - without their talent, support and continued loyalty we'd be nowhere fast. Our excellent Trio of Cath, Sarah and Emma who gave this thing life, gave it 100% commitment and shared their incredible array of talents and practices so uniquely them to make Baz not something able to be ignored.
And of course, our crew: Stage Manager Libby who you met in our previous blog, our fab producing duo George and Liz and of course our Stage and Set designers Josh and Naoimi who between them on a limited time, budget and just the obstacle of dressing and lighting a concrete tube, a pros arch theatre and a former office, three jobs in one, delivered more than we could possibly ask for: with dedication to the themes and ideas, amazing detail and most importantly a smile and a joke. It was an unmitigated pleasure to work with them, so how better to celebrate Bazgiving with the last of our Look Back Blogs, here's Josh and Naomi JUST as dream play's run ended.
Joshua Gadsby on the visual world of dreamplay.
dreamplay, was a departure for us. A co-design between Naomi Kuyck-Cohen (who specialises in set and costume design) and me, Joshua Gadsby (who specialises in lighting design). We both have a professional background in devised theatre works, movement works and performance art. We were keen to see the impact of removing boundaries in the design process, could the visual language become more visceral and playful?
Naomi and I were really drawn to BAZ's mission to bring theatre that holds a playful core. Theatre that coerces the audience to have a direct relationship with the action unfolding. It’s a delightful provocation for design.
Our work on dreamplay begun around 4 months ago, the journey from page to stage was somewhat unique, a classic text used as a framework for a contemporary response which formed a script, which was then used as a basis for play and exploration in the rehearsal room. We are both very process driven designers that thrive on interrogation and response to the source material (the play, the movement, the image) and this production offered a fantastic opportunity to go on a journey of interrogation with director Sarah Bedi. Strindberg’s A dream pay is a mammoth of a text, almost endless in it’s vivid and changing imagery. Sarah’s interpretation was no different, spanning the vast width and breadth of human suffering. We set about interrogating every image of human suffering within the play, picking apart and looking for common and universal images that could provide a visual language. Being sure not to give too much, as this is not a production seeking to give answers.
After many a site visit it was clear that the the Vaults architecture would become a very looming presence within the play. Trains rumble above, as each new room is architecturally more obscure than the last. Drowning the space in design was the last thing we wanted, we needed a language of simplicity and directness that allowed the audiences to connect with performers, not just watch them. Ultimately, the cavernous, characterful and sometimes absurd Vaults became the springboard for what our dreamscape looked like. We embraced it, it became the floored context that often inhabits our dreams. A bedroom appears in what is almost certainly not a domestic space, a plastic greasy spoon table and chair set sit in on a bare theatre stage and a mystical cellist appears high up in a frame, It’s the unexplainable stuff of dreams. Spacial forms are broken, remade and broken again. dreamplay really does inhabit the vaults.
There is nothing quite as terrifying as entering the first day of rehearsals with only a a white card model box (usually the design is completed and locked down at this point) and a notion of what some of the spacial dynamics will be, but this led to a flexibility and playfulness that meant that we could keep focus on the energy and boldness of the company. Often fleeting and exciting creative discoveries in the rehearsal room are also enabled as a result, a vast and decaying mirror... possibly the most absurd and unexpected image that has come of dreamplay came late in the process, something magical was captured in the rehearsal room and so it became part of our world in the Vaults.
No good ever comes of committing too early. Trust in the process, trust in the playfulness and stay open.
Impressive aren't they? And they did so everyday - a new issue, a new obstacle, managing a budget, still managing to be creative and ingenious - we really lucked out, and we see big things on the horizon. Thanks Josh and Naomi! Happy Bazgiving :)
And alas, there endeth the Baz blogs for the dream play era - but never fear, like an overactive child on too much hot chocolate we could rattle on about not much for days, so expect a new blog post soon.
Have a good monday, y'all (we've come over all American) and drink wine and be merry.
….We know it's 1pm, your point? Loads of places do mulled wine, c'mon now...