29 Mar Photos and thoughts from Bench rehearsals
Director Lina Johansson reflects from the rehearsals of Bench:
The idea for Bench started like a small simple frame for a show – a set made as a park bench – allowing us to plant the show in the reality of where it is performed, in a park, street, square and use the reality of our public spaces to inspire us for a series of sketches.
I knew I wanted it to reflect on the way we are among other people, and the way other people view you when in public. What assumptions do you make if you see a woman sitting on a bench on her own – do you assume she is waiting for someone? Do you think she look lonely? Who do we meet if we allow ourselves to be friendly to strangers? What do you see if you allow yourself to sit down on a bench and watch the theatre of the street playing out in front of you?
Next week we are going into final rehearsals of Bench leading up to the premiere on the 11 and 12th April and I am very excited about allowing the show to take on it’s own life and paths. I have brought in two inspiring guest choreographers into the creation process: street-dance choreographer Natasha Khamjani and body percussionist Anna Llombart, to put some fresh and different flavours to our movement and to have a laugh with. The acrobatics is as always a big part and with 2 new Mimbre members Alcina Mendes and Rebecka Nord, our acrobatics coach Adrian Porter has been invaluable in training up the team together with Silvia Fratelli. I am as always enjoying the exploration of the ins and outs of where the physicality meet the theatre, the thrill versus the story, the physical versus the emotive impressions.
Working with physical choreographies and using a devising process means that you don’t know from the start exactly which story it is that will carry through and have a resonance with an audience. The beauty is that stories starts to emerge that I didn’t even know myself that I wanted to tell. Through Alcina Mendes careful exploration of the main character the first rough run-through held a lot of loneliness and sadness. Impressions of how being surrounded by other people can sometimes make you feel more lonely then if just on your own. Which led us to look for a scene of belonging, of happiness and celebration, to compliment without taking away from the atmosphere found. Which led us to discuss what it is that drew us into circus and performance and what that world symbolises for us – the inspiration for our celebratory finale choreography.
Alcina creates a beautifully, warm main character and Rebecka and Silvia switches (i would love to say effortlessly but we are not there yet!) between flowing choreographies, dreamy fantasies and some very silly characters bringing some laughter and lightness. Michalis Kokkoladis have done an amazing job designing and creating the Bench which looks genuinely old and knackered but in reality is super sturdy and can be flatpacked! And Ted Barnes is as always weaving a stunning musical score for us, binding all the different paces and atmospheres together. Last but not least, designer Kasper Hansen is running around trying to source the 20 costumes for the different characters that the performers are changing between….
Do come and see it for yourself and tell us what you think of the result! Bench is premiering on the 11 and 12th of April at our commissioning partners Laban Theatre and Greenwich Dance as part of their joint Crossing The Creek Event. Tickets, £8/£6 for a full day of dance performances and workshops, can be booked on Greenwich Dance website here