10 questions about caravan with Gobbledegook Theatre

In the lead up to the caravan showcase we asked Lorna Rees, Artistic Director and artist of participating company Gobbledegook Theatre to answer some of our questions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you attended caravan before in any capacity? 

No – I’ve not, though I’ve certainly aspired to be part of it.

I have performed at Brighton Festival before with another of my shows (Ear Trumpet) and I loved the audiences, so it’s great to be part of it through Caravan.

Why did you decide to apply for the 2018 caravan showcase?

Caravan is really well known in the industry and is a very highly regarded showcase so I was keen to apply. I also felt that Cloudscapes is very much the right piece. Caravan is about new contemporary performance and with Cloudscapes, I’m trying something different – asking the audience to lie back and gaze at the sky with me. I think that Caravan likes to champion work which is built on bold ideas and artists doing something a bit different.

I often take my initial inspiration from landscape (usually my own Dorset landscape and coastline) and I’m very interested finding the human scale in talking about the Earth’s processes. Cloudscapes is about just how international our skies are – how clouds cycle the planet, so the theme of the piece feels appropriate for the Caravan showcase.

3How was the process of applying to caravan?

Thankfully really, really straightforward. I think that the questions asked were clear and helped me to think about why an International audience might be interested in the work.

What do you hope to gain from being part of the 3 day caravan showcase?

Basically – I’d love to make some new friends.

I’m really keen to meet new people who might be interested in my work and to create new International relationships for Gobbledegook Theatre. I see every place we tour to as a collaboration of sorts and I really like building creative relationships with programmers.

We brought Ear Trumpet to South Korea for the Seoul Street Arts Festival late last year (supported by the Platform 4: UK programme run by Xtrax) and it gave me a wonderful taste of working with audiences beyond the UK. That programme has helped us to start building a network of International festival contacts, which we’re keen to keep expanding. In South Korea we worked with the presenting festival to rehearse two locally-based performers into the work – which was a hugely rewarding experience for all of us.

It’s also worth saying that simply being part of Caravan is really exciting in itself – that we’ve been selected to perform at the showcase feels like a huge vote of confidence in our work.

What are you most excited about?

I genuinely love meeting new people and new audiences. Gobbledegook make work which really values the intimacy between performer and audience member and I try to meet every member of the audience at the end of this show. I’m excited about this in every location I work in.4

What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

Cloudscapes is mainly a monologue – so much of it rests on my shoulders, but as the visual are supplied by the changing sky above us I hope that the clouds put on a good show!

Will you try and attend other performances while at caravan? If so what would you like to see?

I’d love to see brilliant Vic Melody’s piece, Ugly Chief, which has had rave reviews, as well as Palmyra. Vic Llewellyn and Kid Carpet will definitely be brilliant as they are both ace performers. I love Stopgap’s work, it’s always inventive and of really high quality and Dave Toole is one of my favourite performers in the world. I used to watch Ursula Martinez at Duckie club nights in the Vauxhall Tavern in the late 90s and she’s a bit of a hero. Sleepdogs are presenting, and I’m a huge fan of theirs…. Oh then there’s Jo Bannon , Milk Presents and Third Angel all of whom make exciting, bold clever work… Actually, can I just say, all of it. Everyone. I’m honestly thrilled to be in such good company.

With not long left till caravan what will you be doing in the run up to prepare?

I’m actually already in preparation. I’m working at the 101 Creation Space in Newbury at the moment, spending the week re-painting the Cloud Trailer, re-rehearsing and making sure that the work is ready for touring. I’ve also got a ‘warm up gig’ on the weekend before I come to Brighton in Dorset (where I live) as Cloudscapes is being performed as part of the BEAF Festival at Boscombe Pier.

I’ve also been talking with Andrew Jones and Gary Hills who are mentoring me through the Caravan process.

5Why should everyone come and watch cloudscapes?

I think Cloudscapes is a very different kind of theatrical experience. It’s a novel thing – to be asked to stop for 45 minutes and lay down and look up and listen. To simply focus on the troposphere and a voice. As adults we’re not often invited to just, well…. stop.

Lots of people have said Cloudscapes has reminded them of being children again, that it’s relaxed them, that they’ve learnt something, or thought about something differently. That’s very powerful to me. Heidi and I (artist Heidi Steller who has been my main collaborator on this project) have made a gentle, careful piece about a subject I find extraordinary, and at times quite scary. It’s a very personal piece too – very heartfelt for both of us.

If you could tour cloudscapes to another country where do you think it would fit nicely?

I’d particularly love to bring it to the land of the long white cloud: New Zealand. Or Australia. Or Canada. I was at the Oerol Festival a few years ago in the Netherlands and still dream about those huge skies. I think Cloudscapes works really well near to water and it was originally performed on a beach, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work well in an urban cityscape on top of a building.

Some of the stories I tell in the show are about my Dad and I driving the Route 66 together, cloudspotting across America – so it’d be grand to take it to Chicago or California or somewhere along the route like Santa Fe….!