Plays and Parties

Recently in Theatre Management we were asked to design our own theatre companies. The easiest way to do this is obviously to combine a whole slew of things you’re passionate about, so I tried to compile that list:
-Physical Theatre
-Participation with the artist community
I didn’t aim to choose a list of things starting with the letter P, but it happened. I wanted to create something that looked like this. A lot of fun exploration that was allowed the time to fully explore an idea, and got to share it in fun exciting ways with the community that it was benefiting. I thought about models that were similar, Oberon maybe? No. Not really what I meant. Punchdrunk? Possibly… that did fit with the ‘P’ theme! But then it hit me! There was an element I had forgotten: Place. And that place was London, and the company was Shunt.
When I spent my semester abroad in London last spring, my favorite place to go on a weekend was the night club/ lounge Shunt ( I was always able to see some exciting performance art, it was in an interesting place (A Bermondsey Street money processing warehouse that had a large structure built in the center with three plexi glass floors you could see through, all set up for performances, and all forming a large machine). I hadn’t realized it was the home of a theatre company. Shunt was founded in 1998 by a group of artists who met at the Central School of Speech and Drama. They chose the name, because like the spaces they worked in, it did not immediately suggest a theatrical experience. They started in Bethnal Green Arches where they created Twist, The Tennis Show, and Dance Bear Dance. After gaining recognition from the National Theatre, they moved to a new London Bridge location where they performed Tropicana. The experience for Tropicana began the moment the audience got off the tube. Despite being what would be called ‘site specific’ they did not associate with that because the spaces they worked in  we imagined into what they became.
The group’s goal is to challenge the idea of a singular author by working with a large idea the group decides to explore. While the group is working on devising, they host bi- monthly cabaret nights, & weekly lounge nights (which is what I attended think it was just a ‘fun arty club’ experience). Both are tools used for sharing their process, and gaining inspiration. I missed being able to see their most recent piece, Money (based around ideas in Emile Zola’s L’argent) by a few weeks. The whole performance was about the mindless machine that is today’s economy and where we find ourselves in it.
This makes me feel better about my own crazy dreams of having my 5P’s (partying must be included no matter how old I get, even if it has to change in forms). I can have a company that does all of this, because one already exists that works great.

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