Stage set for the­atre lovers to glimpse Fur­nace’s met­tle

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE - Amy Let­man

“My live shows, I used to say, were 100 per cent fact and 100 per cent fic­tion. What was al­ways true was the emo­tional state I was in that I was de­scrib­ing on stage. It was just the facts that needed to be taken with a pinch of salt.”

Ah yes, the emo­tional state. Even in his live shows that are packed with mo­ments of odd whimsy and sur­real tall tales, the Gil­bert anger is never far from the sur­face. Whether he’s rag­ing against the sys­tem that rates quilts on their “tog­ness” or be­cause he wants to know ex­actly what award

Rhod Gil­bert’s Work Ex­pe­ri­ence, which sees him do a va­ri­ety of jobs. In­clud­ing tat­too artist.

“The pro­duc­ers and the tat­too artist I was do­ing the work ex­pe­ri­ence with said I should get one,” says Gil­bert.

“I was say­ing that I wasn’t go­ing to get one for lots of rea­sons, but mainly be­cause they are to­tally point­less.

“The ar­gu­ment kept on go­ing and so fi­nally I said ‘fine, I’ll have one done’. But, be­cause I’m so con­trary and ar­gu­men­ta­tive, and in or­der to prove a point, I de­cided to get the most point­less thing I could think of tat­tooed.

“Which is why I’ve got a Bat­ten­berg tat­too on my back.”

And once again, he’s found a rich seam of com­edy. A YEAR and a half ago I joined West York­shire Play­house as their new as­so­ciate pro­ducer.

Last year we ini­ti­ated Fur­nace, our on­go­ing project for de­vel­op­ing new work with am­bi­tious and ad­ven­tur­ous the­atre mak­ers from West York­shire and be­yond. Since then we’ve been us­ing the pro­gramme to ex­plore a range of dif­fer­ent ways to bring artists and com­pa­nies into the the­atre to de­velop their ideas and cre­ate in­spir­ing new projects.

To launch the de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme a year ago, we joined forces with two ex­cit­ing Leeds-based com­pa­nies. Slung Low used Fur­nace to de­velop Orig­i­nal Bear­ings, which took au­di­ences from the Play­house out on a coach trip to Hol­beck to un­cover a se­ries of myths and sto­ries. Mean­while, Un­lim­ited The­atre be­gan de­vel­op­ing The Gi­ant and the Bear which went on to be pre­sented as a cir­cus ad­ven­ture on Quarry Hill this sum­mer.

One year on, and whether through de­vel­op­ment pe­ri­ods or seed com­mis­sions, artist res­i­den­cies, or the Sum­mer Sub­lets scheme (where our re­hearsal rooms are put to use by lo­cal com­pa­nies in the sum­mer months), Fur­nace is pro­vid­ing a range of op­por­tu­ni­ties which en­cour­age and fa­cil­i­tate the de­vel­op­ment of new the­atre work. West York­shire Play­house is start­ing to de­velop as one of the key na­tional hubs around which the next wave of the­atre mak­ers can meet, col­lab­o­rate and ex­per­i­ment.

This week­end we open the doors on some of the work cur­rently be­ing cre­ated un­der the Fur­nace ban­ner, invit­ing our au­di­ences to see the cre­ative process at an early stage. Whether you’re an artist your­self, or some­one who likes the­atre and wants a sneaky in­sight into how new projects are de­vel­oped, there are a range of things to see and par­tic­i­pate in dur­ing the week­end. To­day catch a work-in-progress pre­sented by Leeds-based phys­i­cal the­atre com­pany RashDash and play­wright Alice Birch, who will show ex­cerpts of a cur­rently un­ti­tled new work.

Then to­mor­row we’re team­ing up with the Play­house’s res­i­dent com­pany, Un­lim­ited The­atre, to of­fer an af­ter­noon of Un­lim­ited In­spi­ra­tion for lo­cal artists and au­di­ences. Come along to share ideas, meet new peo­ple and col­lab­o­rate.

The work­shop will be led by Un­lim­ited’s artis­tic di­rec­tor, Jon Spooner, and founder mem­ber and play­wright Clare Duffy, and will in­clude four short work-in-progress show­ings by lo­cal com­pa­nies the Flan­na­gan Col­lec­tive, Un­canny The­atre, DugOut The­atre and Manic Chord The­atre.

Also on Satur­day, Leeds­based in­ter­ac­tive com­pany In­vis­i­ble Flock will present ideas for a new pub­lic art­work for our front-of-house ar­eas, fol­low­ing a res­i­dency at the Play­house ear­lier this month.

Fi­nally, sto­ry­teller Matthew Bell­wood, The­atre State, the Fool­ish Men project and play­wright Sarah Wal­lis will all fea­ture in our Sum­mer Sub­lets Show­case. Each evening there will be an op­por­tu­nity to meet the artists in the Play­house bar.

Be­yond Oc­to­ber and in part­ner­ship with the Play­house’s new artis­tic di­rec­tor, James Brin­ing, we’re go­ing to be look­ing at how Fur­nace can de­velop and continue to feed into the flour­ish­ing the­atre ecol­ogy in the city.

We would love to hear your thoughts on how Fur­nace and the Play­house can best de­velop artis­tic tal­ent and new work. Come along and see what Fur­nace has to of­fer.

PIC­TURE: ANDY WOOD

NEW WORK: Un­lim­ited The­atre’s pro­duc­tion of TheGiantandthe Bear was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped through Fur­nace.

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