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WILD | Outdoor Theatre vs Traditional Theatre

Posted by Laura Swain, 9th September 2019, 13:48pm

Motionhouse is a dancecircus company that tours extensively around the world. Their jaw-dropping show BLOCK wowed PopOut Festival audiences in 2018 and so we are really excited to welcome them back this year with their brand new show WILD. Our Artistic Director Craig Morrow spoke to Motionhouse’s Artistic Director Kevin Finnan MBE about this exciting new piece.

CM: Hi Kevin, it’s great to have Motionhouse back – how has the show been going?

KF: It’s been really well received at festivals as diverse as Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Greenwich and Docklands International Festival in London and Stockton Riverside Festival and been performed to audiences of 20,000. The show is still very new so a bit early for reviews but we’ve had great audience feedback with particular praise going to the powerhouse performers.

CM: What’s the inspiration for WILD?

KF: With WILD, I really wanted to talk about our relationship with the environment. I’ve often been struck by the contrast between the wild environment and the urban environment and I’ve been thinking a lot about how humans originally came from the wild but now we have become urbanised we are actually missing out on a deeper connection with that environment and we very often only see it as something that can serve us.

This led me to think about visual parallels between urban and wild spaces and I thought it would be interesting to have a dense forest of poles that could double as both environments allowing the dancers to move quickly in and around. This encouraged me to be quite playful with this show, so I hope there are also some visual surprises for the audience.

CM: So are there any particular moments we should look out for?

KF: Chiefly I want people to be open to the emotional journey that WILD communicates and ultimately to leave thrilled and engaged. I think WILD is exciting but it is also very touching. I hope that people enjoy the physical spectacle but also the tenderness and the engagement between the performers. Those two elements play off against each other in a very moving way. Ultimately, everyone will take something different away from the show but what matters is that everyone has shared in a communal experience.

CM: I often think outdoor performance is a great way of cutting across boundaries and encouraging a more instinctive way of connecting as an audience. Motionhouse make a lot of outdoor work as well as full-length stage pieces, do you have to approach these shows in different ways?

KF: Actually, each requires the same rigorous preparation to work out the concept of the piece, but the type of environment the work will take place in will influence the type of structures we use and the mechanics of how we are going to communicate what we want to say. Earlier in my career I was lucky enough to work with Peter Kiddle (founder of Theatre of Public Works) who created large-scale interactive outdoor theatre with communities, an experience that I have carried with me and still influences me to this day.

In a theatre, people are automatically focussed on the stage, whereas outdoors you are in the everyday; there are lots of other distractions and it is most often daylight. So outdoors you need to create a show that commands the attention of the audience right from the start. In the early days the way we worked in a theatre would influence the making of our outdoor work, but now I’m also finding that what I learn from our outdoor work also feeds in to our theatre work. It’s an interesting evolution.

CM: For those that might have seen BLOCK or other outdoor performances, what makes WILD different to what people might have experienced before?

KF: WILD is different because of the unique chemistry that comes from a fresh mix of people working on the show, a new design and a new way of working physically. We are lucky to be working in the outdoor arts sector where a lot of people are making exciting and innovative work and there is always a trademark physicality, which you will recognise as Motionhouse but ultimately WILD is a step forward in our own movement language and the physical vocabulary.

CM: What are you working on next?

KF: The exciting thing about Motionhouse is that we are always working on the next thing, often several years ahead. Later in the autumn, we will be starting creation for our brand new theatre show – soon to be announced – which will premiere in August 2020. Follow us on social media or sign up to our newsletter via our website to find out more about the show when we announce it.