Our journey to Sardinia started back in April. George knew that some graduates from the East 15 BA World Performance course were setting up this festival in Sardinia and asked me if I would like to produce a piece of new theatre for the occasion. This sounded exciting and was something that would really put our skills in inter-cultural theatre to the test. We spent many an hour on Skype, trying to come up with a piece of theatre that was physical and contained little or no use of the English language. Throughout this period of uncertainty, I had a strange storyline at the back of my mind, a storyline involving a corridor of portraits and a missing picture. I told George this very vague storyline and together we came up with ‘Portrait’- the idea was born.
The next step was trying to collaborate on this project with miles of the country between us, George being in Lowestoft and me being in Devon. We did most of the marketing through the fabulous internet, starting a Kickstarter campaign in May. Every day was nerve-racking, we watched the campaign and tried to spread the word as best as possible. At last, after 28 days and many generous donations, we did it, over £600 raised- we were going to Sardinia! We booked our flights and accommodation immediately and then all that was left was to create the show.
First, George came to Devon and we rehearsed where and when we could, mainly focusing on the prop and set creation. I moulded and created the pirate mask on George and he created the shadow puppets. We also in this first week managed to perform a previous show ‘Traveller’s Tales’ in a school in Devon- let’s just say it was a busy time for us both!
Week two was spent at The Seagull in Lowestoft, a fabulous community arts centre. We were so grateful to have one space to ourselves for a week and we managed to achieve so much in this time. Although we still had tonnes of props and puppets to make, we created the physical backbone behind the piece and managed to finalise most of our soundtrack. In amongst the preparation for Sardinia came an opportunity to perform at The Yard theatre in Hackney as part of Theatre Full Stop’s evening ‘Destination Eclectic’. This was the perfect opportunity for us to push ourselves and create something to show to the audience that we could get feedback on before Sardinia. Two days of rehearsal was spent prior to this evening and we were so grateful for all the support we were given by the other artists and audience on the night. One thing we took away from this evening was to re-work the ending of the piece, something we spent time on before Sardinia.
And then….we were off! On the 6th August we boarded the plane at Gatwick and flew to Sardinia where we were greeted by the lovely John-James Chandler and Char Brockes. We were taken to our apartment and the festival began! It was scorching weather, certainly not the easiest to rehearse in but luckily the festival was at night and so it was much cooler. We were so overwhelmed by the response of the audience on the first night. Although we had some parts of the piece that needed to be re-done for the purpose of performing outside and on grass, we were generally very pleased with the response and felt exciting for the next two days.
The next two days whizzed by as we spent the days developing the piece and the nights watching other artists and performing ‘Portrait’. Although we had our ups and downs, we have learnt so much about performing in a country where the audience don’t speak the same language as you. By the third evening, we decided to perform short snippets of ‘Portrait’, almost like little Commedia dell’arte lazzi. Due to the performance taking place outside and the audience walking around the park freely, this style of performance was much more successful and we managed to keep a large crowd of both adults and children for the majority of our performance. We have managed to simplify the piece, getting rid of the unnecessary and keeping the quality. Hopefully, this is something we can continue to do now we are back in the UK.
We have some more performances of ‘Portrait’ lined up over the next few weeks and we shall announce the dates shortly. George and I can only thank you all for your support during our development and we look forward to seeing you at one of our performances soon!