R&D for Pantomime melodrama

We need to do some R&D – its going to be challenging to be so multi-lingual in rehearsal and performance. Here is a draft about the proposed R&D:

Proposed R&D

  • We’re interested in taking a different approach to ‘impairment’, as well as ensuring a wide audience has access to our theatre:
  • We hypothesise that traditional spoken word / movement theatre can be expanded – for audiences and also performers – by integrating other communication modes or ‘languages’, including BSL, sign-supported English, audio narration, creative captioning, pantomime call-and-response and ‘songs without words’.
  • There is a well established tradition of D/deaf theatre, and increasing amounts of theatre produced by/accessible to visually impaired (VI) people. We hypothesise that using / developing methodologies which facilitate access for both D/deaf and VI performers and audiences will produce exciting and innovative results: expanding mainstream theatre as well as pushing the boundaries of disability theatre. 
  • We want to get communication right, while exploring how much chaos works best:
  • Pantomime is intended to be chaotic, and our pantomime is intended to follow / address the chaotic climate crisis. But we don’t want to get too chaotic. Or too ‘clunky’. 
  • There are likely to be practical problems including access methodologies for both the D/deaf and VI people: with a risk of ‘too much’ going on for the audience to appreciate.
  • There are also inevitable communication challenges in rehearsal / during a performance involving performers with different impairments. 
  • As well as the increased access justice facilitated by our ‘multilingual’ approach, we will ensure there is a primary focus on climate justice. The climate crisis is rooted in inequity. Disadvantaged groups continue to be disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. We are therefore especially interested in involving performers and inviting audiences from disadvantaged groups.
  • This R&D is intended to inform a multi-lingual performance in Wandsworth Arts Fringe (WAF) 2020. See outline summary attached. We will use two sections from the planned WAF performance: see draft scene summary attached:
  • initial multi-lingual ‘song’ focusing on climate justice – showing off the different ‘languages’, with appropriate lighting, in front of a confected video / caption backdrop
  • cane ‘ballet’ – exploring how high quality choreography of multiple VI people can ensure they look smooth and gorgeous. With curated sound; and allowing filming of dancers to make a huge video ‘chorus’ backdrop for the main WAF performance;
  • There will be 5-7 workshops for potential performers, to:
  • choose performers; 
  • explore / refine the material; 
  • address the questions outlined above.
  • There will also be discussions / consultation with specific experts, including in audio narration, choreography, lighting, sound recording/curation, live video close-up projection of hands whilst signing.
  • There will be a short (20 minutes) public-facing performance in front of an audience invited to give specific feedback about the questions discussed above.

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