Friday, 19 August 2011

Ducie House

Today we were shown our new base of operations. We've got ourselves a lovely new office just along the road from Picadilly Station, sharing with and at the leisure of our good friends and mentors over at Proto-Type Theater. This morning, Leo and I headed down from our sleepy northern town of Lancaster, and (after a quick wander round the streets of Levenshulme) headed down for a lovely cup of coffee/wine with the Proto-Type guys.

If you've missed it, a few months ago, the company secured a place on an Arts Council supported mentorship scheme which Proto-Type are running, where one lucky aspiring company would be taken under their wing and shown the ins, outs, ups and downs of getting stuff on the road when you're a new company. It's a great opportunity, and we're immensely lucky/grateful to given the chance to go through it with them.

After a quick chat in the office, we headed down to a nice (and immensely hipster) coffee shop where I'd be afraid to pull out anything that wasn't made by Apple, and discussed the ins and outs of the scheme. What we wanted, what we needed, what we expected etc. And what Proto-Type had planned for us. It's going to be an exciting year, and we can't wait to get started. It's due to kick of in October, just after we've finished our R&D phase of our upcoming show. We've been calling it My Canary's Name Is Daniel, but the real title is something we've still not decided on. The first performance is on the 12th September, 7.00pm at the Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster as part of the Process At Play Festival. It's free admission, so and should be a great night, so feel free to come along, one and all.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Daniel is Evolving! (Press B To Cancel)

After another day in the studio, the show is coming on. And it's really exciting. I'd like to say that today was when we put together a lot of the separate elements which we'd been working on - but in truth, they fell together. The result, though, was organic and interesting.  

Finally, the animations, the performance and the technology all came together properly for the first time, and the relationships between the characters and the media bubbled to the surface for us to see. A bit of a link which will run as a through line. Just for times sake, we're all working on our separate fields quite often at the moment. Last weekend, Jon spent a day with local choreographer Lowri Jones to work on his sculpted performance style, whilst I stayed in a darkened room working on the animations. It's a bit strange to know that the show is progressing when you're not there, but when it comes together again the pay off seems to be worth it.

Daniel took quite a big step forward today, and as usual, it came from an immensely simple suggestion. It's odd that we've got this far without clarifying certain things in our minds - especially who the characters are. It sounds fairly basic theatre 101, but every now and then you do have to come back to the old cliche of 'What's My Motivation?'. I shudder a bit to actually write that, but it's true. The only downside being that the descriptions of the show on the website and press releases needs to be re-written again. It's describing a show that barely exists any more in that form. Which is great - it's evolving and getting better every day.

We're also working on integrating the work in to the Process at Play festival too. We just got back from a meeting with the publicity officer, and are working on some copy for the local press and newspapers etc. Trying to push the premiere as far as possible. It's been set for the 12th September. As always, I'm a bit excited. But that may be because someone sat near me in this bar smells of sun cream. It's a nice smell.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Rehearsal Pictures of the Third Kind...

Well, as I said, we're back in the rehearsal space working on My Canary's Name is Daniel, and I thought we'd upload a few pictures from the day to convince you we're getting on with it. It's looking up, and we're starting to get to grips with it. We know where it's going and what needs to be done. So here you all are...

Long shot of the rehearsal space.

Estoban - Currently Daniel's Stand-in.

Leo and Estoban

The Playbook

Jon, with the Animations Running In The Background.

Jon with Estoban

Estoban and The Animations


The Nerve Centre

Boy Interrupted

Friday, 3 June 2011

A State of Perpertuation... An excerpt...

Here's an excerpt from the Process at Play blog, for the festival we're showcasing My Canary's Name is Daniel at in September. It's just a little interview giving a brief description of who we are, what we do and what we're wearing.

How would you best describe your work? For example is it narrative?
In the past our work has been predominantly concept based, looking at themes such as fear, mortality and time without having a narrative foregrounded in the work. That said My Canary’s Name is Daniel is our first narrative based piece, although it still deals with concepts like time and mortality, it’s focus is on the story.
What are your roles within the company?
We all work together as devisors and writers, but also have more specific roles within the company.
Tom is our wizard. He creates animations and videos for performance as well as being responsible for the majority of our lighting and sound designs. Tom also acts as a director/outside eye, ensuring that the work is as beautiful and engaging as it can be.
Leo works predominantly as a performer within the company, but also gets involved with animation and sound, as well as playing devils advocate to make ensure the concepts and plot points within the work are solid.
Jon is chiefly a performer. He also works as a researcher, looking into performance styles and forms with the aim of ensuring the work is cohesive. As well as this Jon handles a lot of the admin work for the company.
What would you say are Sticky-Tape’s influences within theatre?
Well, having been mentored by Andrew Westerside (Proto-Type) and Andrew Quick (Imitating the Dog) it’s fair to say that the two companies are reasonably heavy influences for us both aesthetically and conceptually.
On a wider scale there are companies such as 1927Gob Squad and Precarious (who are sadly no longer together)and among several practitioners Jacques Le Coq is currently a major influence for our current show. We each have personal influences that vary somewhat but these, it is fair to say, are influences that we share as a company.
Who are your influences in the wider world I.e in film/art/music?
Film is a big one for us. The influences vary from practitioners such as Goddard toChristopher Nolan and genres including, but not limited to, Film Noir, Science-Fiction, Psychological Thriller and Surrealism.
In terms of music, we all love a lot of different types but the extent to which it influences is not too obvious. It is likely that it does influence us but it is not something we are hugely aware of, maybe we should think about that a bit more as we work.
Art is a similar sort of thing to music. We all like art but it is not a massive influence. If we see something we like or something that is relevant to our work we will engage with it, but we don’t really think of it as a massive influence… again, maybe we should.
Is there a venue/festival you would particularly like to perform at?
The Edinburgh Fringe is a big one, we would love to put on a show (preferably a successful one) at the Fringe.
In general though anywhere that we can get an audience and be paid enough to by food is somewhere we would like to perform.
How would you best describe your company’s aesthetic?
Sculpted and precise. We like to create moments as close to perfection and beauty as we can get them. A great deal of effort goes into precisely moulding moments that can really take your breathe away.
Our aesthetic is the key to our work, we always try to make it look elegant and beautiful.
Do you have a particular method of working? If so, what is it?
We don’t really have method of working that we use consistently. Mostly we bring ideas into the rehearsal and talk about them, sometimes too much, and then try them. If we like the result then we keep it, if we’re not sure we hold onto but not too tightly and if we don’t like it at all, we bin it. Whatever sticks we keep.
Is there any aspect of your work you would like to explore in greater detail? Or an aspect of theatre/art that you would like to explore within your own work?
We’re a fledgling company, so no door is closed. Anything that excites or intrigues us is worth pursuing. We have a lot of things still to try and learn, so it’d be foolish to say no to anything.
Individually there are aspects of performance that we all wish to explore, Leo for example is very much interested in the circus performance styles of Ockham’s Razor and Le Navete Bete. Tom wants to delve further into the technology side of theatre, exploring what can be done with projection and animation among many other things. Jon is very much interested in attempting to combine more naturalistic performance with the sculpted performance styles of Theatre de Complicite and Jacques Le Coq.
When did you first decide that you wanted to form a theatre company? (give us a little history of your company)
Well, Tom and Jon worked together, along with several other artists, in their second year of university. After that performance was finished the idea of starting a theatre company was raised. We talked to Andrew Quick about it and he supported the idea and suggested that we take piece of work to the Emergency ’09 Platform festival in the Greenroom, Manchester. The next year Leo joined in during the development of Moments/Details, completing Sticky-Tape in its current form.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
Well saying where we think we will actually be in 5 years is quite depressing, so we’ll tell you where we’d like to be.
We would like to be touring the country at least, maybe even Europe, hell if we do really well, the world. Making at least enough money to continue making shows and touring them. A state of perpetuation would be nice.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Six Degrees Above Busy.

Once again, it's been a horribly long time since the last blog update. The update process wasn't accessible last week, and until then it's just been hectic. So what we've been busy with...

For the past week, we've been in with Imitating The Dog Theatre Company working on their new show Six Degrees Below The Horizon, which is to be shown, featuring ourselves, at the Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster, on the 10th June, and then The West Yorkshire Playhouse on the 15th/16th, which is going to be a brilliant show, which anybody should get down to if they can. It's all about sailors, pimps, barflies, chorus girls and nightclub singers, and is the 'story' of a dying man, told through ITD's innovative stage design (by Laura Hopkins) and captivating visuals. As a company, we've just been helping out with the devising, throwing our two pence in here and there, learning what we can from them. They've been around for much longer than we have, and it's great to see how they work. In other other-company related news, we should be meeting up with Proto-Type theatre again soon to finish up the details of the scheme - September onwards. Our main query being where to base the company, Manchester or Lancaster, whilst we tour My Canary's Name is Daniel, and sort out our place in the world. We'll also be looking in to our next show then. No details, really, but we've been talking about possibly re-visiting an old piece of work, and reshaping it in to a touring piece.

Daniel  is coming along as a show. We had a bit of a break, due to personal reasons, but we seem to be making some good progress in our heads as to how we want the piece to come out, and what we want it to be. We'll be back in to the rehearsal space tomorrow morning, bright and early, to begin the final stages of making the show. We performed a twenty-five minute version of the show to a small, select audience as a work-in-progress feedback session, just before our 'break', and we'll be taking the feedback from that in to consideration as we go through our last two month stretch of creation. 

Just as a note, be sure to keep an eye out for the Process at Play festival which is taking place in September, and it's where we'll be premièring the show. It'll also feature works from Lowri Jones, a contemporary dance artist, Joanna Wood, an abstract painter, and Marcus Lilley, a trans-media artist. There's a facebook group here. Also, if you haven't already, go find our Facebook group too.

I'll keep you updated with any new news.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Well, it's been hectic lately. Genuinely. We have a work-in-progress session coming up on the 5th of April, we're currently dipping in to rehearsals with Imitating the Dog Theatre Company, and we've been lucky enough to be given a great opportunity for next year.

The piece we're working on is coming along nicely. We've finally settled on the world that the performance takes place in - the rules, the ideas and its inhabitants. It seems simple really, but we're trying to be as accurate as possible with it. From an early stage in the process, we decided that we didn't want to create an event on stage if we're not totally sure of the rules of the world it takes place in. So with that done, we moved on to the content. The working title of the show has changed quite a few times since its inception, but currently, it's going by the name of My Canary's Name is Daniel. Seeing as we've been working on it for a while, we feel fairly comfortable in giving out some basic information as to what the piece is based upon fairly soon, and some early promotional press will appear quite soon. (A few early photographs can be found at our facebook group).

The show revolves around a man living in an abandoned, scorched town, who is coping with his survival whilst the normal world carries on miles away from him. Though he's been here for a while, the piece starts as he's about to throw himself a party to cope with the boredom; even though he knows no-one will come, he still sends out his invites. The only entertainment which he seems to have being what he makes for himself - and his canary. Daniel.

Once we've cobbled together some official press and copy for the show and the Process at Play festival at the end of September, which we're thinking will include the piece's first showing, we'll be able to give a much more detailed description.

On the 5th April, we'll be inviting a small audience in to view the work in progress, with a discussion afterwards focusing on feedback and analysis. We've been working out how to work well as a company with all three members on the stage working without an outside eye to keep tabs on the composition and general aesthetic. The first go-to solution is to, as we've done before, film our work and watch it back together giving it a bit of a critique, but it will be nice to have an up-to-date, on the spot and fresh pair of eyes seeing the work.

In other news, we're currently spending a lot of time with Imitating the Dog Theatre company, dipping in to their rehearsals, helping out as extra sets of hands and just generally observing how they work. It's been useful to say the least so far, and we've got another couple of weeks to go. We fully accept that we're just starting out in the grand scheme of things, so to work with an established company who've just got back from their tour of the middle east (genuinely) is endlessly helpful. We'll be learning everything we can from them.

On a very similar note, Sticky-Tape are immensely happy to announce that we've been selected to work underneath Proto-Type Theater for a year, starting in September, in their company mentorship scheme. After form filling and an interview stage, and what was described as a exceptionally difficult descision for them, they've accepted us as a graduate company they'd like to work with - providing us with rehearsal space, office space and a lot of useful guidance in the world of theatre. On top of this, it means there's a possibility that Sticky-Tape will be relocating to Manchester from our base at The Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts. It's an exciting opportunity that we're more than happy to accept.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

No Excuses

Well, it's February now, so there aren't many excuses that we can make for not having gotten back in to the swing of things after new year. The good news is - we don't need them, as a month seems to be a good amount of time in which to shake off the hangovers, get some fresh ones, and power through them in turn.

Last week, we got our narrative caps on and tried to decide what our research had led us to. We have, for a while, been fairly agreed on the idea that as a company we're not trying to teach anyone anything in particular. Who are we to say that what our shows consist of is right or wrong? What matters is that it is. And the audience can take something away from that. During a piece, we want to say many things and at the same time nothing. Our work isn't didactic, but our views, opinions and personalities naturally affect it. As long as there is an experience or reaction, varying from person to person, we provided it and did our job. As Barker said - 'There is no message'.


Without giving too much away, we're focusing on a man. A man, his life and his experiences - or more his lack of them. We have realised that at some point in our lives, all of us have just snapped awake for a split second and thought 'What have I done with these past few weeks?'. That sort of feeling of life skimming you by without actually realising what's going on in it. We've decided to have a look at this feeling, the self justification that comes with it and the personality(ies) he creates to cope when his only access to the outside world is his tv. A man who refuses to move on in his life and just sticks with the simple, the known, and the easiest routine. Based upon the exploration we did late last year on film and relationships, I'm quite excited.  It's bound to evolve, but we've got some solid ideas on how to stage it and how to create the right world.

We just started by creating our world - a man's house. He's stuck here, this is his world. We added his connections to the 'real' world. His possessions. His communications with others. His past. We've tried to add detail to make it vivid. But not real. There's nothing easier to make boring (in my oh so humble opinion) than naturalism. The stage has so much more to offer than a window in to someone's home. Now, we're planning out his events. And what can happen to and for him. Strangely, I don't want to say too much, but there are details which I'm dying to talk of....

Anyway, on top of this, on Friday Me, Jon and Leo are getting a visit from our other [Sticky-Tape] member, Jon Armstrong, who acted as director for our last two shows. He's had about as much contact with the piece as anyone else who skims this blog, so it'll be nice to see what an outside eye can give us. Between him and Andrew Quick, who is talking everything through with us tomorrow, we should avoid becoming too stagnant. Here's to hoping. We're assembling our props and jotting down our ideas. It should all start to form now. We've been playing and experimenting for a good few months now, and we're ready to start creating.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Here We Go.

Time to go. And I'm glad of it.

We've spent the past few months exploring ideas, testing practices and cutting out shapes in our arts and crafts sessions - and here we are. Ready to start forming the story which we want to tell. Themes and ideas are all well and good but eventually you need to start forming a cohesive piece - maybe not for the audience but at the very least for yourself. And that's where we're at.

We've loved our study of film and romance, it's yielded some great stuff and it's time to genuinely start creating our own. Currently, we've created a 30 minute or so piece of theatre filled with dialogues and animation following various themes and thoughts. As a company we 'get it'. But it's not theatre yet. If we performed it now, all we'd receive is a lot of curious grunts and confused faces. It's our work, and now we need to take our ideas and make them accessible, challenging and entertaining (So far, all we've got down is the challenging bit - and that's far from formed).

Tomorrow, Me, Leo and Jon C are locking ourselves away in the Sticky-Tape office and getting all of this down.

One of the toughest points when creating any new piece of theatre has to be asked where we are now. 'Do we give it a narrative?'. In the past, we've generally focused on theatre which focuses around a loose coalition of scenes - tied together by a faint background story but a strong theme. So, for the first time, we're going to give it a go. And I don't know how it's going to turn out. We're hoping that our 3 months of research will pay off in not letting a horribly weak plot-line come through.

This has been the second of two relatively short posts here, but I'm hoping the next one will have a lot to say.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Intermission 2011

I'd like to think that as 'artists' never stop making art in our own little way, but it's hard to spin this in any way other than we have had a brief break towards the end of 2010 from our Sticky-Tape pursuits. We slowed down greatly a few weeks ago when faced with piles of G4A Arts Council England forms which needed filling in. Budgets needed planning, proposals needed writing and ideas needed forming - on paper anyway. Genuinely, it's a hypothetical exercise. We're planning out how to best create these applications for later in the year, when we will be scouring the country for grants, bursarys and other ways of affording a way to make the dream that is Sticky-Tape flourish without us having to commint 95% of our time to Bar jobs and 'flipping burgers'... In a way.

Then, before we knew it, Christmas was here, the country shuts down to give presents and everyone eats too much, drinks too much and generally sits around doing as little as possible. But that's all behind us now, it's a new year and we'll be back to the rehearsal spaces very soon with new ideas. I can't wait. Frankly, the last three weeks of doing very little in the way of our work has killed me and I'm glad to know that we'll all be in the same city in no time. Ready to get back to it.

Thanks to everyone who has stuck with us so far - we couldn't have done anything without the help of others. It's 2011 and there's plenty of time left to go.