What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Well like most of our work it starts with an idea, A String Section came out of a series of projects that Leen was creating by destroying things, from walls to handkerchiefs cups and saucers, tables and chairs.
I can’t remember exactly when it was but in 2010 Leen asked a few of her friends (who are also dancers) to arrive in a gallery with a black dress and a saw, I was asked to arrive with a video camera…
What I saw was incredible and I said to Leen that we (Reckless Sleepers) need to invest some more time and energy in this project…
5 years later we’re presenting the project in different places around the world, in the past few months this will have included Porto, Melbourne, Sweden, and Edinburgh.
Reckless Sleepers haven’t ever started a project with a script, the work is often a response to something quite small and often simple, and sounds simple but often very layered and multi layered, complicated but simple in form.
Thats how a lot of people have described the work,
I’d say that this stems from a number of things but often its becasue of the conviction of the artists that we work with and the skills that all of them have in performing our (Reckless Sleepers) way of being on stage…
There are a number of things that inspired the work, but we could never point to one thing, if we do that we kill the project, its like going to an art gallery and the label telling you what the art is about…as if a simple sentence can sum up a work, that's impossible.
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Well we’re bringing our work to Edinburgh as an invitation to be part of the British Council Showcase, plus Summerhall wanted to present this work.
The opportunity to present in Edinburgh like this makes it possible for us to meet new people who might be interested in presenting the work, which then makes it possible for more people to experience the project.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
I can’t ever imagine the multitude of readings of the performance, I've sat through it maybe 100 times, and each time I've had a completely different experience,
What I like about our work is that it allows an audience room to think…to look and reflect on what they have seen. One of our jobs is to make this possible.
Its probably worth reading the reviews that we have had about A String Section…
But also what other prople have said on our blog.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
To be honest I've never really understood what dramaturgy is really like I don’t really understand director and designer too.
In our work all of those things are what we do, we make theatre,
and I compose pieces of work with a group of people, like Leen has composed the structure of A String Section with Rachel, Lisa, Orla and Caroline…
Our pieces are crafted, simple in structure and form, but crafted over years, but that's as much about the whole team that puts a piece of work together than a single figure.
We all have our part to play in the project and its creation and development, for A String Section my role has been outside of the piece, often coming into a process and evaluating what I see the performers do, reading an audiences response as an audience member, but also creating lighting, some scenic elements and direction, buying chairs and organising travel and logistics and marketing for the piece.
This week I’ll be busy designing the print for Edinburgh, the week after something else…you know, all of these things have to be composed, created and it's great that we are able to do them.
What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work - have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
For myself I can say that I’m mostly inspired by what visual artists make, then music, then film, TV, theatre…
Its a mixed bag of stuff - I cant speak for Leen, but I know that she has a very different source of references.
I have a lot of popular cultural references in the work that I make, its often hidden, but its there, there is a bit of a joke that there is a scooby doo moment, and a reference to The Wizard of Oz in every Reckless Sleepers project.
We were making a new piece last summer called Negative Space and we watched a scene from Laurel and Hardy standing in two bowls filled with cement at the side of a pier, we just couldn't stop laughing, I think we use half a second of that moment in Negative Space...
Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
Not really that's standard - in that this is a magic fix for us. Every project is different and all have a different time-scale.
Generally we allow for a couple of weeks to experiment with an idea, and from that mover on to develop something, then after about 18 months were ready to show it to other people, and then after about 4 weeks of rehearsing we feel that we have something that is worthy to take to other places.
Every project is different, and it really does depend on the team that we have around at the time, the place where the work is made and the time in which it is made.
All of these things effect what it is that we make.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Quite early on in the development of a new theatre piece we determine what our physical relationship is to an audience, whether that we in close proximity sitting around a table (The Last Supper) or a large scale end on project like Negative Space…
But always we talk about sharing a room…
Our work isn’t art unless it is shared with other people.
We cannot make art without an audience,
I can write reams and reams about meaning, but we often say that we want our pieces to ignite an imagination.
And the role of an audience is to fill in gaps that we can’t possibly fill.
So we leave gaps.
If I said that this project is about the death penalty - then that's all its about - but we never do talk about the Last Supper like that because it isn't.
And because of this we get a multitude of reactions and responses, some of which are similar, but then sometimes we get something completely out of the blue.
Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Its a complicated thing, and I’ve always said that its better to have a chat, that process can start of whole series of chain reactions of thoughts and ideas, suddenly dramaturgy isn’t what it was 30 minutes before that chat.
So if you’d like a chat I’m back in Europe next week.