Stage set for theatre lovers to glimpse Furnace’s mettle
“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.
NEW WORK: Unlimited Theatre’s production of TheGiantandthe Bear was originally developed through Furnace.