Physical Theatre piece devised for Fieldwork
Anything with Mass was the the result of a six month research project about art, science and the process of making. Fieldwork placed artists and scientists side by side, creating unusual pairings and unlikely encounters in the field of arts and science. Robyn was partnered with CERN Particle Physicist, Alexander Lenz, and over the six months we came together in an enquiry about process and practice. Through conversations and my own research I explored his world of quantum mechanics. At the same time we investigated new perspectives and critical discourse into each other’s disciplines.
I shared my creative response to this research with strangers on the tables of Edinburgh's Forest Cafe. With the resulting accumulated material, I spent three days in a rehearsal space with performers, devising and exploring, using chorus, butoh, contact improvisation, text and clown. Anything with Mass was shown in March at ARC in Stockton as part of the project's scratch night.
I was excited and delighted with the result and the response from audiences.
“Very clever and surprising! Very witty”
Research project teaming artists with scientists
Would you like to get entangled in my quest to understand the quantum world? Let me introduce myself, I’m an artist and theatre maker working in street arts, circus, physical theatre, large scale outdoor events, film, installations and visual art.
I am currently participating in a project called Fieldwork, in which artists and scientists come together in an enquiry about process and practice. I have been partnered with a particle physicist!
On the table tops of the Forest I am sharing some creative responses, part of processing my explorations into the world of quantum mechanics, and while understanding the tiniest, most elementary building blocks of matter I am learning about my practice.
May they provoke thoughts, pictures, ideas that you can in turn share with me. I look forward to hearing from you,
Unique meandering street theatre
The Potheads are a street theatre concept I developed out of a commissioning process for STILL, the Festival of Human Sculpture for Alnwick Garden in 2012. A reflection of the hedges and sculptural elements of the garden, The Potheads are an interactive street theatre ensemble of poised picnic-goers fitting of the Mad Hatter.
In the last year, the Potheads have captured the hearts of audiences across the North East, as well as Cumbria and Birmingham. There is something enigmatic about them that demands a photo. Playing with this concept The Potheads have turned this back on the audiences, getting them to pose for photos and play in silly ways.
I have been promoting them this year, certain that there’s a life in this concept. We visited Mintfest, a street theatre showcase festival, and have received subsequent booking in Birmingham. Fingers crossed there’ll be more Pothead roadtrips!
Participating & documenting a European Street Arts training programme
The Circonnection Street Arts project is a professional development programme run by street arts professionals for street arts professionals. There are five European partners participating in the project, Let’s Circus (UK), Fidget Feet (Ireland), Hungarian Juggling Assoc (Hungary), EX VOTO (France) and APCCV (Spain) and Circus Central (UK) is the administrative partner. Over two years each partner will host two trainings for street arts professionals, exploring work as diverse as circus arts, busking circle shows, interventions, aerial performance and site specific outdoor theatre.
I have been given the role of the project documenter, in charge of recording the project, trainings and experience for participants. To this end I have built a website, www.circonnection.org as a space to collated and visually store the information as a blog and photographs. The aim of the website is to become a shared treasure after the event.
I find myself in a very privileged position to participate in the workshops with world class tutors as well as delve deeper into street arts in a European context. This experience and development is a huge boost to my professional practice. I am currently exploring ideas and ways take these learnings forward to create more work in the future, with a deeper understanding. Perhaps a Masters in Street Arts, a big project next year or even tutoring on the Physical Theatre Diploma…watch this space!
In July 2013 I was invited to go to South Africa as part of the Swallows Foundation Remix Project at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown to teach Social Circus alongside Let's Circus and Bright Night International. The project worked with over 30 'change makers' from across South Africa and our element was to introduce them to circus skills and work towards the National Arts Festival Parade.
Six bags, nine pairs of stilts and twelve costumes; four circus professionals from Scotland and the North East of England, with roots in Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Kenya; thirty six ‘change-makers’ from all over South Africa and the UK; a hall with a very slippery floor and just one week. Now to make the Remix Circus Parade!
Thursday, day one in Grahamstown and we start to get an idea of what we have to do. It’s the first time Steve & Helen from Let’s Circus, JL from Bright Night International and me, a freelance physical theatre and circus practitioner have managed to all be in a room together prior to the project (although we know each other through youth and social circus in the UK).
We quickly build up a list of requirements:
Lots of Poi – fabric and tennis balls
Shoes for the Stilts
Mats to train acrobalance and acrobatics
Tools and screws to put together the stilts
More costumes and props
More contacts in the community here, we’ve heard about a stilt group who are local
We meet the parade organisers, Gareth and Shiloh, who prove passionate and an invaluable fountain of knowledge; Hillary, a local seamstress can help us sew the poi, PEP is the place to buy cheap tackies (trainers), a school or gym may be able to provide mats, we’ve pinpointed where to find the cheap, local shops to buy bits n pieces, and we have the name of the guy who began the local stilt group a couple of years ago.
Friday, day two. By midday we’ve left fabric and designs with Hillary, we’ve a stack of screws, tennis balls and giant wooden spoons…just in case!! We rush back to our accommodation to meet and welcome the participants. A phone call and we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to have any mats. We arrive at the Recreation Centre where we’ll be working and the floor has been polished within an inch of its life and is a veritable slippery death trap!
Helen and I leave the boys to assemble the stilts as we head to town to seek a solution. Six 2l bottles of South African Iron Brew mopped onto the floor should make it sticky. Eighteen pairs of poi are ready, just 5 hours after we left Hillary’s… what a legend! We meet Richard Antropist, a local theatre maker who started the stilt group ‘Phezulu’ a few years ago. Not only is he delighted about sharing skills and learning new techniques of acro-stilts with JL, he’s offered to lend us his full circus and juggling kit, including juggling balls, fire poi and staff. Another Grahamstown legend in our books! PEP provides the stock of shoes we need for stilts and when we get back to the centre and the mats have arrived!
Helen mops the floor with the liquid sugar. We speculate whether it’ll be covered in ants by morning. JL, Steve and I assemble the stilts. Local kids wonder in and rifle through the costume bag and slide around the hall.
By 8.30pm we’re done, ready for a full day of circus the next day!
Interactive and participatory, immersive theatre experience
At the Kelburn Garden Party 2011, the creatures and characters of the Secret Forest came to life!
Fairyland had gone awry with news that the woodcutter was missing!? Why are properties going so cheaply in the Secret Forest? And who killed the King and why? These are the questions that have been posed to audiences by creatures and characters of the Secret Forest at the Kelburn Garden Party.
Since 2011 I have directed the Secret Forest, a concept developed in association with the festival organiser, David Boyle, bringing to life their magical maze with interactive street theatre. The labyrinth was built over 20 years ago on the grounds of the family’s 13th Century castle, the setting for a unique experience for festival-goers.
Over two days of the summer festival, audiences entering the forest were invited to help solve the mystery within, taking part in game involving observation, deduction & wit. With aspects of a treasure hunt, riddle quests & cluedo, they walked around the Secret Forest, gathering information and clues from the characters within. The participatory and immersive street theatre experience has proved a successful format and grown year on year.
In 2012 I brought co-director Cameron Hall on to help develop the project further. I wanted the project to have an element of professional development and so brokered a relationship with the Diploma of Physical Theatre Practice. For two years we have led workshops in this unique style of street theatre with the students and offered a performance for participants.
The key to making this style of collaboration work is in the devising, enabling participants to create stories, back stories and relationships for their characters. They put together their own costumes and have a sense of ownership. Their rewards come in the fantastic response from audiences, who are always up for playing.
The project has developed to include a Dark Cabaret where tour guides leading small groups into the darkened forest for unique, curious and chilling look of the Forest at the witching hour. The intimate performances are not for the feint-hearted, offering a great outlet for darker storytelling.
The project continues to be supported by the festival allowing Cam and I to develop the format. We’ve been invited to create some more scary experiences for Halloween 2013.
“Club Mud absolutely made my festival. Thank you so much!” has been the universal feedback from anyone involved in Club Mud; where flash mobs meet mass game play meet extreme silliness.
Club Mud (a play on Club Med) is a project that was developed for Knockengorroch in 2010. The idea was to engage festival goers in mass game playing, flash mobs and general silliness…and turning strangers into friends with absurd shared experiences.
Since then, the crazy creative development team of Club Mud has included a dancer, a visual artist, a street performer, a puppeteer, a film-maker and a teacher.
Each year, a different group has come together to come up with extremely silly ideas, workshops and of course festival ‘happenings’ including; a giant balloon stomp, slow motion races and dancing, a Wild West carrot eating show down, Chinese whispers, the Knock-on Effect and Cold War spies.
Every festival concludes with our masterpiece flash mob dance finale which has included ‘Swan Lake’, Dirty Dancing’s ‘I’ve had the Time of my Life’ and ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ from Rocky.
Our success comes down to the format, starting with daily workshops, where we build a creative, complicit community out of a group of strangers. Participants have returned year on year, a testament to the success of this effective concept and our need to play!
Watch this space as the collaborators look for more opportunities to spread the Club Mud love!
Immersive theatre and game play
Creative partner in crime, Cam Hall and I have been commissioned by the Edinburgh International Science Festival to create a Immersive Theatre experience for their festival this Easter. Part game play, part treasure hunt, with a few elements of a murder mystery, this interactive street theatre experience will be mapped onto the streets of Edinburgh.Players of the game will be able to interact with the story, using their powers of deduction to solve puzzles and find clues, they’ll meet characters, need to work together and journey to some of Edinburgh’s fascinating academic environments and locations in pursuit of the truth.
Here is the blurb from the programme:
Dr Alberta Bravo Tychae is on the brink of
Science communication in the Middle East
With just over a week until departure, I answered a call out from the Edinburgh International Science Festival for Science Communicators to join them in Abu Dhabi. That's right, in the middle east. A phone interview, documents exchanged over email and a few days later I was meeting fellow recruits at the airport in Amsterdam.
We arrived en masse inn Abu Dhabi, taking over a most of a newly built hotel near the conference centre. A quick induction and we found ourselves working afternoons at ADNEC, an absolutely enormous conference centre where the Abu Dhabi Science Festival was set up. In the evenings we bused to the Corniche, the evening beach site for more scienc-y action.
Highlights of this unique experience were working with Millenium FX's animatronic t-rex, learning about Hydrogen Powered Fuel cells, learning how to do scarring and bruising make up effects with Dogbox from Oz, an incredible overnigh trip to the desert and organising an epic game of Assassins.
Robyn - new to the whole blog thing