The briefest of returns to this blog for the moment (for more recent updates on artistic endeavour of the moment, please visit agathatheplay) following the kindest of invitations…
Last week, I was honoured enough to be invited to watch a technical rehearsal of Gecko’s upcoming production, Missing. Including a work-in-progress showing at the Warwick Arts Centre last year, the company’s development of the piece has now been continuing for a total of two years, and has now culminated in a national tour – including performances at the WAC from the 14th-17th March.
Nothing is quite as it first appears in Lily’s world. She seems to have everything… but now and then her pain becomes unbearable.
‘Lily, I have some rather bad news, your soul is decaying.’
Missing is a journey into the depths of a persons psyche. As Lily unearths her forgotten past the truth changes everything. Her pristine life explodes around her in this incredibly inventive new show.
How do you rescue a dying soul?
I stayed in the theatre as an observer for 90 minutes, during which time we witnessed part of the actors’ warm-ups, the setting of the travelators, microphone checks and heard soundscapes and deafening music on repeat, as the enigmatic Enzo tested and re-tested some cue or another. Although the company got a mere 18 seconds into their technical run, it was wonderful to see how such a collaborative and innovative company functioned, and to pick up little hints on how to collaborate, how to work with a technical team, how to get something just right at the last moment and how to say ridiculously complex tongue-twisters…
Naturally, having a few questions to ask, I was lucky enough to get a few insightful thoughts from Amit Lahav, Artistic Director…
EJD The Arts Council consider Gecko as dance, rather than dance theatre or physical theatre. Do you think this classification is too arbitrary?
AL In some ways. We have always thought of ourselves as a visual theatre company. I don’t think we work with one particular genre in mind but what is suitable for achieving the artistic vision.
EJD Where did the original idea come from – is there an element of truth in the narrative or is it all fictional?
AL We have been working on this piece for nearly 2 years (all Gecko shows take this long to create). The idea started during a residency with a dance company in the USA and specifically from a lecture given around the idea of a human soul and the science behind it. From there themes and ideas have developed. It is impossible to know what a show is without an audience seeing it and reacting to it. There are some elements of truth to the narrative but as with all Gecko shows it is open to interpretation.
EJD Do you all live together on tour, is the overall feel of the piece created through collaboration?
AL We don’t live together on tour but we all spend a lot of time together so become very close. This enables everyone to develop a deep sense of trust with one another. Which ultimately enables the company to take risks creatively.
EJD Do you think company theatre is the future?
AL If you mean ensemble working then it seems there are more companies doing this. It’s a great way of bringing a range of expertise and ideas together and there is a huge amount of potential in this.
Gecko’s devising process and their reliance on audience feedback – as well as their ensemble work and their collaborative force – have made them as a company, now in their tenth anniversary year, internationally recognised. It gives me great encouragement that a company that began amongst friends and that strives to achieve a similar working ethos has been so successful and well-received in the industry, particularly when looking at projects of my own and those of my contemporary Warwick alumni: “Agatha”, The Ensemble Project, FatGit Theatre, Fellswoop and curious directive all have legs to stand on if Gecko’s example is anything to go by. We are not at that level, and it has clearly taken years of graft and discipline for Gecko to reach the heights at which they now comfortably sit – but there could be hope for us all.
Tickets to see Gecko’s Missing are now on sale here.