© Matt Jamie, Letting in Air, Old Red Lion Theatre
This summer they are embarking on their first tour with a double bill of short plays, Head/Heart. This inaugural tour takes in our lovely city where they will be stopping for ONE NIGHT ONLY at The Brewery on THURSDAY 7th JULY, 8pm.
If you can’t make it for their Bristol stop they’ll be just down the road at The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter from Thursday 14th – 16th July.
Box of Tricks: On the nature of collaboration
“I think it is in collaboration that the true nature of art is revealed” – Steve Lacy (Jazz Artist)
'Collaboration’ is a well-worn buzz-word in the world of theatre. No surprises there. By its very nature, theatre is collaborative: always has been, always will be. It’s impossible to create a piece of theatre on your own. Sure, there are many self-penned, self-directed one man/woman shows out there, but every piece of theatre requires an audience, and with an audience comes an artistic dialogue, a collaboration.
© Ludovic Des Cognets, Word:Play 4, Arcola Theatre
Box of Tricks has always embraced the collaborative nature of theatre – with two artistic directors, it has been at the heart of our work from the outset. Our flagship initiative Word:Play (‘one word, six new plays’), which saw its fourth incarnation at the Arcola Theatre back in March, is a model of collaboration in action. We come up with a word of inspiration, relay this word to six writers who, duly inspired, each craft a 15-minute play. An ensemble of actors is then assembled, the scripts taken from page to stage, whilst a designer, lighting designer and sound designer beaver away to create a playground within which the six stories will be told. Finally, an audience arrives to watch six brand new plays unfold upon the stage; they react and respond, the curtain falls, and the circle completes.
Seeking a new challenge, we decided to ratchet up the collaborative aspect with our latest project, Head/Heart. Late last year, we commissioned two writers – Elinor Cook and Daniel Kanaber, alumni of Word:Play cycles – to write short new plays for a summer tour. They are brilliant writers who are just beginning to get a name for themselves: Elinor is currently under commission with the prestigious Bush Theatre, and Danny is writing his first feature-length film.
Collectively, we were really interested in the idea of opposites and wanted to explore opposing forces. Taking dichotomy as a starting point, we had many chats over many coffees at the Young Vic café before Elinor and Dan lighted upon the concept of ‘head’ and ‘heart’; simple, yet dramatically fertile territory. When we read the initial drafts of what were to later become Head Music and Heart in Mouth, we were struck by their theatricality and decided to introduce other creative disciplines into the mix: step forward Carolina Vasquez, a video artist, and Isobel Waller-Bridge, a musician and composer. So began a voyage of discovery for everyone at Box of Tricks as we started developing our first piece of total theatre: a multimedia production using bespoke video art and an original musical score.
Back in April, we had a brief research and development period, exploring the plays at the Bush Theatre. The rehearsal room was buzzing with creativity as writers, actors, directors, composer and video artist converged to lift the plays off the page. We had inspirational chats about images and music that informed the writers’ stories, as the words in turn inspired the creative collaborators. It was a genuinely exciting process in which the possibilities seemed infinite.
©Clare Banks, Whispering Happiness, Tristan Bates Theatre
Multidisciplinary collaboration has been an eye opener for all involved – revealing new processes, approaches and inspiration while also helping to crystallize and strengthen existing ideas. Without a doubt, by introducing additional creative disciplines, the stories have been enriched.
Whilst collaboration has long been key to Box of Tricks, and essential to the process of development for Head/Heart, the journey is just beginning as we tour the production and invite an audience. This is our first tour of this scale, as we hope to forge new audiences and make new connections in new places, see you on the road!
Adam and Hannah
Box of Tricks Theatre Company
Head/Heart will be coming to the Brewery Theatre, Tobacco Factory Bristol, on 7th July at 8:15pm. Visit www.boxoftrickstheatre.co.uk to watch the video trailer and check out all the details.