Over the next couple of weeks we will be be catching up with the participants of FUSE Festival and finding out a bit more about them and their work! We caught up with Significant Other - who will be performing their new work-in-progress 'Castles Palaces Castles'...
Q1. In 3 words describe your theatre company:
Cinematic, discordant, intricate
Q2. How did you meet?
We met on the MA Advanced Theatre Practice at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and built our collaborative practice in workshops, rehearsal rooms and the pub.
Q3. What was your inspiration for creating this piece of theatre?
‘In a dream I had built a palace… I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself.’ Ferdinand Cheval
In the 19th Century a French postman stumbled upon a stone of such unusual shape it inspired a dream. For the next 33 years Ferdinand Cheval dedicated his life to building a grand palace in his back garden.
We started thinking about individuals who decide to take on improbable, grand, solo projects, just for the love of it. We searched for others; the man in Whitley Bay who tried to build a castle in 24 hours, the woman who spent 30 years painting the Sistine Chapel on the walls of her council flat with her fingertips, the man in Atlanta who built 46,000 pieces of art in his back garden.
We wanted to explore this compulsion, this passion, this love of doing something just because you want to do it.
Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process
We’re not very good at following the rules of a traditional rehearsal room: We talk A LOT, often over each other. We digress, go off on tangents and get distracted. We often violently oppose what other people suggest. We’re loud and excitable. We’re not very serious. We swap books and pieces of music and art we like. We write a lot; text but also movement scores and ideas for images we’d like to see on stage. We bring projectors and sound kit into the rehearsal room from very early on as these are intrinsic to our practice. We let things stew for a long time, and dive deep into the ideas we already have, unpicking them multiple times. At the end we hopefully have something we like.
Q5. What is your show about?
We are interested in the human desire to build something simply for the sake of it; the way an impulse can be manifested in physical form. Individuals who struggle for years, creating outlandish follies, tunnels and sculptures; sitting in the space between ornament and infrastructure, folk art and whimsy. Where do these compulsions come from?
From the American couple who have spent decades attempting to build their own Versailles in Florida, to the 19th Century French postman who, inspired by a dream, built a surreal palace from stones he found in the forest. These individuals reach for an intangible goal lying far beyond the physical forms they are creating.
If an Englishman’s home is his castle, why can’t his council flat be the Sistine Chapel?
Through the smashing together of the epic and mundane, the surreal into real, we explore the tension between the ‘love of the task’ and the ‘labour and toil’ involved in this work. It’s anti-monument, anti-ownership, anti-finishing, anti-permanence.
Q6. Who should come see your show and why?
We don’t try to target our work to a specific demographic, we make it so it can be accessed by anyone. Our work tries to push the boundaries of what theatre can be; we’re interested in how we can use text as part of our work without making pieces of linear narrative where all meaning is communicated through the text. So anyone who wants to be challenged and surprised by the work they see.
Our work is heavily inspired by visual art, music and literature as well as theatre, and audiences in the past have described it as meditative and dreamy.
Q7. What was it about FUSE that made you want to take part?
We were excited about the opportunity to be apart of a community of emerging artists who are pushing the boundaries of the theatrical landscape in all directions. It’s doubly exciting for the opportunity to be housed in a nurturing environment which doesn’t cost the artists anything (always a huge difficulty for artists in the early stages of their careers) and with ample advice & feedback available. We also loved that it’s an opportunity outside of London; we have our roots in the South West and want to celebrate that.
Q8. Any words of wisdom for those considering creating their own theatre.
Firstly, it’s about finding the right group of people to work with. You can’t be afraid to voice what you really think when you’re rehearsing, and developing a shorthand and shared language is in some ways the hardest thing about collaborating. Be open to other peoples’ ideas, but also don’t be scared to say why something doesn’t work, just always try to articulate why it doesn’t work. Be aware of your own biases, prejudices and privileges.
When you’re making work, follow the idea for what it actually is, not what you think it is. Let it take new direction and new form, out of the areas that feel comfortable. Fully interrogate these ideas: ask not just what the work is saying, but what it is doingto an audience. Seek inspiration from sources outside of theatre; literature, visual art, non-fiction, architecture, comedy, children’s books, your lunch. And finally, Ask for as much feedback and help and advice as you possibly can. You’re never done learning.
Q9. What do you hope to do next?
The very next thing we’re doing is taking the piece of work to a theatre festival in Finland (we’re very excited), so we’ll be taking the feedback we get from Fuse and developing the work further, for this show and beyond. We’ll hopefully continue to develop the piece, and start to make new work. We all have separate practices outside of this company so we’ll continue to work together and apart.
Q10. Where can people find out more about your work?
www.significantothertheatre.com, or follow us on instagram: @sigothertheatre
'Castles Palaces Castles' will be performed at the Shoebox Theatre as part of FUSE Festival on Friday 6th July at 7pm. Find out more at www.fusefestival.co.uk