I’m setting out on the path of a new collaboration and relationship with National Theatre Wales (NTW), that we hope might allow us to more openly explore some of the needs and possibilities of future work. Over the coming few years, as NTW imagines and then steps into its second decade of production, I’ll be working as one of the company’s associate artist – developing a new long-term project, hopefully shaped by an unfolding series of ideas and exploratory public moments, called The Storm Cycle.
The works that Mike Pearson and I have made together with NTW since the company’s inception in 2010, and that have led to this point and conversation, have tried to find forms for a range of intentions and questions that arose from our on-going conversations with NTW specifically – The Persians (2010) staged in a replica village, on the otherwise publicly inaccessible an unmapped landscape of an MOD range; Coriolan/us (2012) acted out across the vast interior and open public space offered by a decommissioned aircraft hangar, both for and with the public of its audience; Iliad (2015) staged as a verbatim rendering of an extraordinary epic British poem in its entirety, realised as an eleven-hour overnight marathon… These are all works that were only possible for us within the wider ambitions and developing questions of NTW itself.
For me, these works all began with a commitment to make something imagined happen. And were then developed through questions about what that something might really be and do, both artistically and socially.
Invited to reconsider and build on the possibilities and achievements of these past works, in ways that look forward, my own initial questions again seem to revolve around what that imagined future might actually aspire to be, or not be. And amongst those questions are concerns about how the journey of such new work might choose to position or root itself within the current social and environmental climate of its time. In moments, for example, where truth and empirical facts themselves can often seem to be put under pressure, in perhaps increasingly accepted and unchallenged ways.
As I’m sure I have acknowledged in the past, I have never had much interest in process for its own sake, even when that process is my own. But the proposal is to begin to unfold an intentionally open progression of ideas, across a periodic series of imagined and performed public ‘storms’ – each of which could offer and test some potential aspect or possibility of work to come. Perhaps, for me, this is less the proposal of a process than an assertion of the importance of prototyping. And a scale of prototyping, importantly, that would again only be possible within the context and history of this long-term collaboration with NTW. A process of proposition itself, rather than of speculation – that might step up onto the achievements of our shared past, challenge them, and try to open up some options and possibilities for the coming decade, as aspects of our earlier works together seemed to for the last.
Where The Storm Cycle will ultimately carry us, into a very different decade than that of my first collaboration with NTW, only time and coming events will tell…
[ Image: Mike Brookes ]