LAStheatre are proud to announce that our new show The Rascally Diner is part of the Without Walls 2020 programme.

Without Walls is a consortium of festivals and organisations dedicated to raising the profile of the UK outdoor arts sector, promoting artistic excellence and supporting innovative new work for the benefit of artists and audiences.

The Without Walls 2020 Programme features a diverse range of projects, from internationally renowned artists to young upcoming companies. The works span many art forms and genres, pushing the boundary of what outdoor arts can be and reflecting the times we live in. Many of the projects have been adapted thematically and practically to the context of Covid-19 and are designed to thrill, provoke and entertain audiences across the country.

The programme was finalised before the Covid-19 lockdown, with the intention that the projects would be presented at Without Walls partner festivals from May to September 2020. The lockdown has interrupted the plans of all the artists, and Without Walls has prioritised supporting them to complete their rehearsal plans wherever possible. Each artist will be given a platform to showcase their ambitious projects, either in 2020 or 2021, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Without Walls 2020 programme includes:

Arrivals + Departures by Yara and Davina: A public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between. The public is invited to share the names of those who have arrived and departed, on live boards, to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate.

Community Chest by Matthew Harrison: Venture into this giant, mysterious wooden chest for a treasure hunting, puzzle-solving, interactive and immersive escape game experience for people of all ages and abilities to play together.

FeelPlay by Christopher Green: An interactive experience that explores our relationship with modern ‘wellness’ initiatives though inventive participation and ironic dark humour.

Future Cargo by Requardt & Rosenberg: A truck arrives from a distant planet loaded with a mystery shipment. AT LAST! What all those movies promised. A contemporary sci-fi dance show from the makers of Electric Hotel and Motor Show. A strange outdoor spectacle for a headphone-wearing audience.

In Memoriam by Luke Jerram: A new installation created as a temporary memorial to those we have lost during the Covid19 pandemic and also in tribute to NHS staff and key workers.

IRMÃ-sister by DAMAEDANCE: An exhilarating dance duet that is a cutting-edge exploration of the beauty and challenges of women’s relationships, looking at how they affect and shape the way we perceive ourselves and our environment.

MEarth Mothers by Beady Eye: A trio of climate clowns that dance, sing and perform shamanic rituals in astounding costumes. They dare to ask the big questions: why are we wrecking the world and what are we going to do about it?

Roll Play by Simple Cypher: A Hip-Hop and Circus show that combines explosive tricks and artful dexterity on a cyr wheel with thought-provoking storytelling.

The Rascally Diner by LAStheatre: A fun-filled, messy performance about food and our enjoyment of it. Take part in a ridiculous masterclass in how to transform nutritious ingredients into diabolical creations and hear this tale of dastardly desserts.

There Should be Unicorns by Middle Child Theatre: A gig-theatre family show about a young girl who sets out to change the world, armed only with a BMX and an unshakeable belief in unicorns.

TOAST by Pif Paf: An ambitious beautiful, growing, communal celebration of food, song, story, dance and fire. It happens on and around an ever-moving mobile kitchen cart, hosted by three cooking, storytelling musicians.

Up My Street by The Cultural Assembly: an immersive augmented reality performance trail, experienced through a smartphone and headphones that transports you into a world surrounded by giant graffiti all accompanied by the music of world champion beatboxer, Bellatrix.

What Happened to You? By Nikki Charlesworth: A show for the whole family that explores our preconceptions about disability in a playful and humorous way. Laugh and cry as you follow three raggedy puppets, and their puppeteers, overcome a mountain of challenges trying to get through the day.

WHY? by Gravity and Levity: A re-imagining of a 2005 vertical dance duet, this thrilling performance explores themes of mortality, set to a haunting score of spoken word from award-winning writer Ed Harris. The show is performed by the original cast, exploring conversations around ageing and athleticism.

The Rascally Diner is supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Just So Festival. Further support from artsdepot and Arts Council England.

"While there’s plenty of talk, at the moment, about bridging the gap between arts and science, this is a show that actually does it; and provides a good, exhausting, thought-provoking night out, into the bargain." **** Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman (Deadinburgh)

A video message plays. A voice emerges through the static: “Time is running out.”

ZOI gives voice to real individuals on the front line of the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Across the planet, passionate individuals are transforming their communities. What can we learn from them and how can we create our own stories of change?

Through this production we put storytelling at the heart of communicating the climate and ecological emergency by using material from interviews with real activists, scenarios from the UN’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the mechanics of the Independent Futures Forum’s World Game. These elements combine to create a dynamic space for audiences to discuss their collective responsibility for the future of our planet.

For some time, ZOI have been receiving a message from a Climate Witness in India. Not unusual in itself, everyday ZOI receives thousands of messages from Climate Witnesses across the planet. What is different here, is that it is coming from India, in the year 2050. For years the broadcast has remained the same: a grim but believable foreshadowing of things to come. However, as awareness of the Climate and Ecological Emergency has grown, interference has begun to interrupt the broadcast: three new messages, from the same woman, in three parallel futures.

ZOI have worked to analyse these futures and the worlds that they portray. It has modelled them to understand the changes that we will need to make to navigate humanity toward one of these new potential futures. Some of the changes are institutional but many require individual or community action.

Against the backdrop of a live electronic score, ZOI introduces the audience to the stories of four real women from Chad, Uganda, Vietnam and the USA: powerful, affecting stories of what can be achieved through individual and community action. With their words hanging in the air, the audience collaborates with local experts to explore simple and achievable goals to take back to their communities. Ideas that could transform our future.

They begin to create their own stories of change.

Welcome to ZΩH.

The Cast:

The Experts:

Stuart Capstick, Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, Cardiff University
Jess Fisher, The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent
Paul Hetherington, BugLife
Ilan Kelman, University College London
Maria Longely, Greenspace Information for Greater London
Mimmi Martensson, Francis Crick Institute
Tom Micklewright, Greenpeace
Sumit Paul-Choudhury, Alternity
Neil Pearson, Protiviti
Chloe Smith, Greenspace Information for Greater London
Tim Webb, National Park City Foundation

Creative Team:

Writer/Director: Barra Collins
Producer: Liz Bate
Set & Costume Designer: Sean Turner
Installation Artist: Christopher Jenkins
Sound Designer: Eleanor Isherwood
Video Design: Potion Pictures
Workshop Facilitator: Toby Peach
Education Pack: Anne Langford

This R&D is made possible by support from:

In January 2020, LAStheatre will be resident at artsdepot in Finchley.  During our time there we will be R&Ding The Rascally Diner, a new family show inspired by Jeanne Willis and Korky Paul's book The Rascally Cake. This production will look at healthy eating, nutrition and its impact on the environment in a creative, messy and joy-filled participatory performance that celebrates food and our enjoyment of it.

LAStheatre has joined over 190 other cultural organisations to declare a climate and ecological emergency.

We're part of the Culture Declares Emergency movement, alongside organisations like Battersea Arts Centre, the Royal Court, Manchester’s Home and the Lyric Hammersmith. The movement aims to draw attention to the decreasing time we have left to arrest man-made climate change, the mass extinction of biodiversity, and the degradation of the planet's ecosystems.

 

WHY HAVE WE MADE THIS DECISION?

In October 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change reported that we only have 12 years to change how we live, globally.

Climate breakdown:

Since then, new tipping points are still being reached. In December 2018 it was reported that the rate of Greenland’s ice melt has quadrupled. Soon after, NASA discovered a huge cavern has opened up under Antarctica, and that a polar vortex destabilised sending freezing Arctic weather over the American mid-west whilst January was the warmest month in Australia, ever.

Ecological breakdown:

60% of wildlife is already extinct and at least three species are lost to eternity each hour. In February, there were reports of a catastrophic decline in insect populations which will soon affect our food supplies. There is a debilitating loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species.

Human rights and justice:

The environmental crisis is worsening injustices faced by people in the Global South, indigenous land defenders in particular, and over time it will intensify inequalities experienced in every country. Climate breakdown is the leading generational justice issue.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

If speedy and drastic action is taken, if we apply the solutions within our reach, we can meet our climate goals. The need to take action on climate is more urgent and more immediate than ever. Failure to act is a failure of responsibility.

There is growing recognition of the contribution of arts, heritage and civic organisations to prompt shifts in the ways we relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours. Climate change and ecocide is a deeply systemic problem that can only be tackled by imagining and forging better ways of relating to each other and the world.

 

WE DEMAND TRUTH

We will communicate with artists, audiences and our communities to support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed. Through our actions and productions, we seek to give a platform to the current research linked to the climate emergency and create awareness, understanding and a positive approach to environmental sustainability.

 

WE DEMAND ACTION

We pledge to work towards reducing our emissions to net zero by 2025. We will challenge policies and actions that do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels. We will actively work to imagine and model ways that LAStheatre can lean towards regenerating the planet’s resources while providing sustainably for people’s needs.

 

WE DEMAND JUSTICE

We will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression amidst our global community of artists and creatives about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed. Our work will always look to recognise and discuss the social justice implications of addressing climate change. We will support demands for more democracy within our civic institutions and government. We believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice based on intersectional principles.

 

#CultureDeclaresEmergency

For information on #CultureDeclaresEmergency see here.

This Christmas, LAStheatre are back at the Folkestone Quarterhouse with a new, quick-paced, three-hand version of 'A Christmas Carol' for families. Featuring songs, silliness and a singing oyster, this new adaptation of the classic will include puppetry and live music whilst holding true to the politics of the piece.  Tickets are available from the Quarterhouse Website. Some dates are already sold out - so get in there quick!

The cast includes: puppeteer/maker Jess Mabel Jones, multi-instrumentalist Joseph Hardy and writer/director Barra Collins.

Designed by Cherry Truluck and Alberta Jones

Lighting Design by Josh How

Produced by Liz Bate

A short video about our new production 'Lovewright'. The R&D for this project, which took place at the Folkestone Quarterhouse, was made possible by Arts Council England, the Creative Foundation and Folkestone Town Council. We are currently seeking partners for the next stage of its development, including a UK tour in 2019.

 

 

Set design is really just a process of making one decision after another and then responding to the fall-out and happy accidents that come from those decisions.

 

 It was pretty clear for LOVEWRIGHT that the chair was the thing.   It was the first thing we bought, from a lady called Bim in Dover - she had a pair of identical Parker Knoll armchairs in perfect condition and upholstered in pink velour and there was no doubt in my mind that this was a good decision.  The presence of two chairs was a happy accident that led us to thing about the idea of two spaces existing simultaneously - a 'real' space and a dream/memory space.

 

We used scaffolding to sketch out the space - almost like a full scale 3D diagram, thinking that it was a useful and transformable tool for R&D, but it has ended up becoming pretty integral to the aesthetic of the piece and led us to explore the idea of bigger and more intricate structures for the next stage of the process.  I'm no minimalist, but I enjoy creating space around familiar objects so the audience can do a bit of  'colouring in' with the own imaginations. For the next stage we'll be taking this further, creating a multi-level structure like a cats play tower that will give loads more opportunity for circus and narrative exploration.

 

Quarterhouse is a wonderfully flexible space for this kind of process, with a floor that can be configured in almost any way you can think of.  The whole process has been supported brilliantly by the Folkestone community too, with gym mats on loan from Folkestone Fringe and Brockhill School, accommodation with local artists, feedback and input from children, teachers and parents at 4 local schools, a HE group and a community group (through Block 67)... not to mention copious supplies of coffee and food from Steep Street, Beanos, Sister Seitan, Folkestone Wholefoods and Lubens!

 
#welovefolkestone

 

This project is supported by:

Creative access is a way to make your work accessible to as many people as possible while still maintaining creative integrity.  For me this means that access is one of the first things I think about, often it steers the creative vision of a piece. Access opens up a world of possibilities for me in the creative journey of a show, it’s so strange to think of working without it.  I’ve not invented this concept, companies like Graeae have been using creative access and exploring the aesthetics of access for years. At Taking Flight we are still the relatively new kids on the block ( we’ve just had our 10th Birthday), but what really excites me is that now it seems like a lot more people are interested in making accessible theatre and are coming to us for advice.   Last week I was privileged for work in Folkestone with LAStheatre, director Barra Collins and the creatives involved in the R&D process for ‘Lovewright’. What a team, such talented individuals. Musicians, actors, aerialists, circus performers, puppeteers, vocalists to name a few of the skills I witnessed during the few days I was there.


The piece is largely non verbal and in this respect accessible for D/deaf audiences however Barra wanted to explore how using stylised gesture, mime and some basic (iconic) signs might enhance the experience for all.  Let’s be clear on this – I’m not a BSL interpreter. I am a theatre director who can run a bilingual rehearsal space and I have worked with a lot of Deaf performers and the shows I make for Taking Flight integrate BSL, VV, captions and audio description.   As a company we have done a lot of research among deaf audiences about different forms of access.


During this particular process we were exploring different ways to approach access in order to work out what suited this production and these performers best.   The next stage is to work with D/deaf audiences to get feedback about any gaps in provision, anything that was confusing and anything that worked so it can be integrated into the next stage.  


With ‘Lovewright’ the focus is on the visual, the characters are highly visual and the aerial elements are breath taking, the music is already taking shape and sounding great and the puppet cat will melt some hearts.  I just picked up on places where access could be improved, suitable of the target audience and suggested some creative ways to do this. The performers were so receptive and after 2 days were already starting to notice the gaps in access for themselves and suggesting solutions…and that is the really exciting moment for me. The more people engage there ‘access heads’ when making work in the early stages the closer we are to moving away from the culture of access as an ‘add on’.

 

For this R and D we focused on access for D/deaf audiences, but as a highly visual piece there needs to be considerations for blind and partially sighted audiences as well and I know Barra is keen to explore creative ways to work with this as well.

 

I’m really looking forward to the next stage of development.

 

This project is supported by:

Ruby Gaskell

Ruby Gaskell is a circus artist, she graduated from the National Centre for Circus Arts, London in 2017. Her main disciplines are Dance Trapeze, and combining movement with the art of contortion. She also has a background in designing for theatre and live performance, where she discovered a love for devising.

 

Tell us a little about yourself?

 

“I enjoy the meeting of different art forms, and I tend to use my circus skills out of the ordinary context of the 'circus' genre. I love being involved in a collaborative creative process where anything can happen. Which is what makes me most excited about the creation of Lovewright - Combining theatre, live music, puppetry and circus, is creating something truly unique and multi faceted.“

 

What are you most looking forward to about the second week of R&D?

 

“I am looking forward to seeing how the show takes shape, and the feedback from children - hearing what speaks to them and the reactions to the way we tell the story. We perform the story without text really; instead we are using visuals, our bodies and music, and I love the playful quality that is forming.”

 

Loren O’Dair

Loren trained at a theatre school in Paris called Ecole Jacques Lecoq, which focuses on physical theatre and creating new work. She comes from a family of musicians, so she plays lots of instruments!  Alongside performing in the show, she is devising the music for Lovewright.

 

How do you go about writing Music for a show like Lovewright?


“I write music in a way that comes directly from the story, and from images or themes in the show. In Lovewright, there are three (or possibly four!) characters, so I was thinking about a different musical theme for each person, each on a different instrument. We have also been playing with sounds that we can make, either with the instruments or using everyday objects, to accompany some of the action that the characters do.”

 

What are you most looking forward to about the second week of R&D?

 

“Last week Ruby created a piece of movement as the cat, which I then accompanied with a live improvisation on the violin. I started by playing with my bow, but the second time round I put my bow down and plucked the strings, which seemed to suit the playful, bendy, small cat that arrives in a new place and starts to explore.  I am really excited to try ideas like this out for the first time in front of people, some things are impossible to know if they work or not until you have got them in front of a live audience.”

 

 

Joseph Richardson

Joseph is originally from Lincolnshire and trained at the Guildford School of Acting.  Since then, he has performed all over the country in various productions including War Horse and Sunny Afternoon.  He works in Universities and Drama Schools and also for the National Theatre teaching puppetry and running workshops.

 

How has the process been so far?

 

“The process has involved throwing lots of ideas into the mix to discover the most interesting way to tell the story, so that it's clear, accessible and fun to watch.  It's a room filled with different skills from all involved; music, singing, puppetry, juggling and trapeze work to name but a few!”

 

What are you most looking forward to about the second week of R&D?

 

“I'm really looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts to the piece in the R&D sharings and hearing the feedback to see what they like and what they'd like to see more of.”

 

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith is a recent graduate from the National Centre for Circus Arts. During his time at the National Centre he specialised in juggling and trained in dance trapeze. Lovewright is his first professional credit as a circus artist.

 

What made you want to work on Lovewright?

 

“I was excited when I saw the call out for Lovewright because of the possibility to collaborate with artists from different specialisms. Through this collaboration, I have had the opportunity to observe the differences in how theatre practitioners and circus artists create work.  Within the process, we have found things that feel dense and tricky to navigate and have cooperated to find solutions as we continue to explore how our different specialisms can work in harmony and be supported on each other.”

 

What are you most looking forward to about the second week of R&D?

 

“The opportunity to throw myself into the unknown, a little - such as operating as a puppeteer and playing music on stage  for the first time.”

 

This project is supported by:

In September 2015, I discovered ‘The Story of Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless her Cat’ by Lore Segal.  On the cusp of 30, it seemed to me to be about how we sabotage our deepest longing for connection by demanding that those close to us love us in exactly the way we expect. In the following years, as I read and re-read the book, and discussed it with others, it became clear that Lore Segal had, to paraphrase Carol Ann Duffy, gifted me an onion. Not a red rose or a satin heart. An onion. A moon wrapped in brown paper. Promising light.

 

The book follows Lovewright, a widow, who realises that there is something missing from her life. She is convinced that a cat is just the thing to fill the void but her preconceived idea of love and what the voiceless creature can offer don't quite match. And so, they must find a love, (w)right for both.  

 

In summer 2018, Cherry Truluck (Designer) and I ran a series of workshops in primary schools and at Block 67 for local community groups in Folkestone. What was truly remarkable was how this tale had the ability to shed light on a multitude of human conditions. To new parents, it resonated with their experience of learning to live with a new child. To those in the autumn of married life, it often spoke of their initial hopes of life together and the imperfect compromises struck along the way. To children it seems to be a tale that discusses how love and happiness are crafted and cannot be forced.  

 

A visual show seems the perfect vehicle for a story that speaks so profoundly to different audiences in different ways. Through storytelling, circus, music and puppetry we hope to create a show that provides our audience with an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences and discover, alongside Mrs. Lovewright, that every true love writes its own rules of rightness.

 

Blog by Barra Collins, Artistic Director of LAStheatre. Images by Bartle Halpin Photography. 

 

This project is supported by:

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LAStheatre is a Social Enterprise Company incorporated in England & Wales under the name LAS THEATRE C.I.C., Company No 08052556.
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