Last year I teamed up with experimental theatre group, the Rat Pit, to create a new multi-sensory theatre piece for the If Only festival that I was part of the curating team for at the Bluecoat in Liverpool. The end result was a new 15-minute work, Candy Cigarettes.
Working together through a series of jams, exercises and improvisations, the Rat Pit (Carly Lindon-Forrester and Georgia Tillery) created an intense non-linear drama that explored adulthood through the prism of children's play, while I devised sonic and olfactory content to accompany and enhance the drama.
Designing smells to fit the piece was a particularly fascinating process. I wanted to keep most of the smells quite abstract, in the same way that the accompanying music was abstract, without an overly literal and simplistic interpretation of the unfolding drama. Instead, I wanted something that could bring a new emotional light to the action going on onstage.
Because we had to create a very concise piece to fit in with the nature of the night, a lot of the original material developed had to be cut... somewhat of a double-edged sword. The work became tighter and more focused, but some of the scenes didn't quite have the time to breathe they really needed. We got great feedback from the performance, and decided to create a full-length version with a view to touring it.
Georgia had started working at Creed Street Arts Centre in Milton Keynes, and they were very keen on the idea. So we all trekked down south for a week of rehearsals, development and, finally, two shows that expanded the work to a full hour. Reviews were great, and we are now planning to take the show to the Edinburgh Festival next year. There is a video of the full-length performance, but, while it's in the editing suite, here's the original from the If Only festival. Enjoy!