Myself and the delectable director Melissa Dunne have been scurrying away on all sorts of projects over at Papercut Theatre. But our most prominent baby is that of “Intimate“. It had its first outing in its entirety at the ICA Lab last Sunday.
“It’s a play, we promise, but it’s just for you, I haven’t thought about you for years…”
The piece is a one-on-one experience where you’re fed one narrative through headphones and trace another on the performer’s body. It was an idea that Melissa had wanted to do for a long while and culminated in her telling me the idea as much as she had and then me pinning some narratives onto the page (and the body). It’s been an interesting piece to work on, because it’s so different. And what’s even more interesting (and perhaps frustrating) is that because it’s a one-on-one experience, everyone who has crafted the piece isn’t in the room for the performance. Which means we’re sitting outside eager to hear what the participant thinks. It’s odd to know that we created it and are willingly handing over to the performer and the audience member, but that’s what we wanted to create. An experience which doesn’t have two-way mirrors or cameras impinging on the atmosphere. But I’d love to be a fly on the wall for sure.
We cajoled some actors that we both like and have worked with before (Natasha James and Nigel Mattison) and nailed the recording thanks to the wonder of Jon McLeod. Then we had our wonderful and brilliant performer Jessica Sian who was essentially in a room alone with the audience member for the entire time. She was the central piece of the puzzle and we’re glad to say it worked.
All three of us at Papercut were looking for feedback in different guises. Melissa wanted to know if we’d created a credible and moving experience where it had a properly rounded pay-off – breaking down that audience/performer barrier. Jon wanted to know if it had been recorded okay and that the levels matched the intimacy of the piece. I wanted to know if I’d written something moving enough to universally capture and sweep up the audience member as the individual whilst talking about something that’s everyday. At only four pages long the piece had to be succinct and hit the right spots.
The responses were brilliant. We had a few technical glitches but that’s the point of Research and Development, to make the mistakes when you can and not when you definitely don’t need them. From the selection of people we had appointed 15min slots to we had the natural divide of gender, but we also incorporated people who don’t often go to the theatre. For me this was important. It seemed pointless to garner feedback just from people who have their foot in the industry already because we want this to be open to a broader audience. We want “Intimate” to appeal to an audience who might not have thought about putting themselves forward for a one-on-one, we want people who want to take part in a multimedia performance and actually get the pay-off they deserve. And we got it.
At Papercut HQ we have a few different thoughts on how we can better this piece or even make it larger. Our aim is to have it shown on different platforms via festivals, art nights and the like. Whilst this was still a work-in-progress on that Sunday (a culmination of all or efforts) it feels very much ready to be shown to an eager and willing audience.