Archive of European Projects

Carroll Berserk
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 01 Feb 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Before receiving the support of Evropa Unga Folksins, “Carroll: Berserk” was in development as Spindrift Theatre’s UK debut of a full-­length theatre performance. The performance was staged at Drayton Arms Theatre in London and the process was supported by Theatre Delicatessen, Chamenos Collective, the Finnish Church and the Norwegian Church in London. The ongoing support and development of the project from the abovementioned has been crucial for the company’s early stage establishment within the creative industry. After this initial production the project managers applied for venues in the Nordic region, which led to an invitation to further develop the production at Tjarnarbio theatre in Iceland. Evropa Unga Folksins funding made that journey possible. “Carroll: Berserk” became an 18 month long project involving the numerous creative fields within theatre-making (new writing, devising, costume design, set design, composing etc.), creation of Spindrift Theatre’s educational programme and its pedagogy, and establishing the company as an active asset in creating innovative, transnational performance art. It was an ongoing development of viscerally exciting theatre practice in the Nordic countries, Ireland and the UK, through the creation of a large-­scale immersive performance in a non-traditional venue, and a series of educational workshops. The production itself recontextualised the work of author Lewis Carroll for its contemporary Icelandic audiences. Lewis Carroll's playful writing was used in conjunction with Icelandic poetry, rituals and visual language, combining the participant’s reality with Alice's fictional ‘Wonderland’. We incorporated Nordic dance, folk music and Icelandic thulur (informal form of poetry often regarded as feminine) as a suitable replacement for Carroll’s “nonsense poetry” and play on Victorian morals. The aim was to highlight the notion of the ever-changing individual’s identity within Carroll’s narrative, and question the ever-changing rules of acceptable social behaviour and its oppressive nature. We wanted to capture and investigate these changes within society, and the individual choices and circumstances that shape our identity. We confronted the audiences with these themes through highly visual theatre incorporating participatory and sensory elements. Audience participation focused on inclusion and ways of activating different physical senses (smell, taste, touch etc). The audiences were invited to participate in script writing by submitting anonymous confessions through the Spindrift Theatre website, some of which were later also playfully illustrated and posted on social media. We invited industry professionals to performances for the purpose of future programming and gaining work opportunities for our participants, and had an open Q&A after each showing to encourage open feedback and discussion, integral to our development and for the audiences to reflect on their joint experience. Spindrift Theatre’s project managers were the facilitators, as well as performers, and were in charge of the composition and design of the production. A large network of young and talented local artists were recruited to best reach goals of artistic quality, professionalism and creation of a networking platform. This offered employment to 32 young artists, simultaneously creating a showcase for local talent. To further develop the performance techniques, questions of identity and artistic style of the performance “Carroll: Berserkur” (in its Icelandic translation), numerous exercises for a workshop series called “The Performer and the Self” were devised. The workshops would play an integral part in our development, enabling us to share our theatre training methods and evolve our performance techniques. The workshops were held for diverse groups of artists in terms of training, work experience and background. The workshop participants helped shape our style and method through their work, showing and feedback. The workshops were a free training opportunity for artists, and were organised in collaboration with actor training institutions in three different countries. They also served as a networking platform for local artists. The 18-month project incorporated 79 participants in six venues (Tjarnarbio in Iceland, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Gaiety School of Acting in Ireland, Bull Alley in Ireland, Inchicore College in Ireland, and Norsk Skuespillersenter in Norway). Spindrift Theatre’s collaborators have since then carried on their artistic collaboration through numerous projects and expressed interest in continuing to collaborate on future assignments with Spindrift. The project received publicity in numerous Icelandic radio programs, newspapers and magazines, which strengthened our marketing and portfolio in line with our goals. It has also gained interest from Finnish media and the network of British theatre research academia.
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