When we have an idea, or series of ideas, we have to decide how best to share them with other people. Often this depends on our mood at the time and other things like; what did our last show look like, how much money have we got; and others like “are we feeling like being physical” or do we want to do something a bit less tiring. Sometimes a choice might be made up by someone else, “you’ve only got 15 minutes” or “you’ve got to fill 6 hours!”
We might ask ourselves, “Should we put our ideas in a theatre?”, or “Would these ideas look best in an art gallery?” Maybe the idea would be best suited to a radio station, like our radio programme ‘Pitch’, or on a beach, in a forest or put into a book as a collection of words and pictures.
Whatever, it is important to get the ideas out of our heads (no good in there with all the other clutter of everyday life!) and to talk about them with each other. A notebook is a good place to write them all down. If we don’t use an idea for one project we can revisit it another day when it might be more useful.
Where do the ideas come from? Where to begin? Really, the idea could come from any number of places. Some obvious and some not so. Maybe from looking at a photograph in a book or magazine or in a gallery. Something that catches our eye. Maybe the whole photo or just a bit of it…the position of a figure, what they’re wearing or doing or where they are. It could be any, or a mix, of these. Sometimes you just don’t know why something is interesting. It just is. An idea might come from the radio or going to the cinema. It might come from being really bored when you’re in the theatre, looking up at the lights and cables in the ceiling and thinking of something that’s never been done before with lights and cables! Maybe an idea comes from something someone says to you or overheard on a bus or in a queue at the supermarket. Or, an idea could come from playing about with an object or a piece of clothing. What happens if our clothes are too tight.? Would that be good? Maybe no clothes at all? (apart from socks and boots, that is!) Could we do that? It’s possible, we’ve done it before!
So, a project could start with one of many different ideas. One thing about us is that when one cop has an idea, before we can make a show, we have to persuade the other cop that it is a good enough idea or the best idea. If we can’t convince them that it would be really good to start with this idea…then its thrown away and we start all over again until we can agree on an idea. We both need to want to make the same show or, at least, start from the same point…the idea.
No matter what the idea is when we start work on a new show that idea might be really hard or impossible to see by the time the show is performed. Often the journey from the start of a project to the first performance is a very long and winding one…lots of twists and turns and sometimes going in circles or ending up at dead ends.
Once we have an idea we do a lot of thinking and a lot of talking. We might meet and talk and drink too much tea and coffee. We might think a lot at home alone and then send lots of emails to each other (we don’t really like talking on the phone) Sometimes we send links to interesting things we’ve read or seen, or some inspiring music…
We might ask other people to help us make the work. Once we asked Medi Evans, a trained actor who became a primary school teacher to ask her school class to make a short piece about their school day that became part of a live performance that was broadcast throughout the world on the internet
Nearer the performance time we get together in a room. Hopefully, a nice room with chairs and a table and power points where we can plug stuff in. We often bring video cameras to film us trying out ideas so we can play them back (it’s easy to forget what we did, especially as we get older). Richard might have a record player with him so we can play all sorts of music. Richard has too many records!. It’s good if the room has windows. It’s good to stare out of windows if you run out of ideas or get bored. Things you see out of windows can be quite inspiring. A dog chasing it’s tail. A car bumping into another car. Somebody dropping a tray full of drinks! You never know what might come in handy.
We prefer not to think of ideas as right or wrong, good or bad, rather whether they are useful or not useful.
In the room we’ll talk more, get up, walk about and try things out, suggesting what we might do, then what we could do next and so on. Sometimes it’s really hard to explain to each other what’s on our minds but, because we’ve worked with each other for over 25 years, it can also be very easy. Sometimes it’s like we’re psychic knowing what the other is thinking before they even open their mouth…those moments are just like magic!
We’ll often get big rolls of paper to write all of our ideas on. We’ll try and make a kind of map of all the bits of show that we’ve invented and put them all together in some kind of order to get a beginning, middle an end and all of the bits in between. Sometimes we have to make a lot of these maps until we have one that we are happy with.
A lot of people that make theatre shows spend a lot of time rehearsing before performing their shows. We don’t really like rehearsing. We get bored quite quickly and don’t like to work on the ideas too much because we worry that the ideas will die if we work with them too much. We like keeping our ideas fresh. We often don’t like knowing too much about what might happen in a show. We know enough to make the show work but we allow enough ‘gaps’ in the map to experience things that we don’t know. We like improvising…making things up on the spot, just like you do when you play. We like thinking up new ideas on our feet during a show, in front of an audience. It can be quite scary, and it doesn’t always work but we like it this way. It keeps us excited and playful…meaning our performances always have an element of playful risk involved.