20 artists 20 questions
1. Please tell me about your piece and the inspiration behind it – what has provoked it, what questions are you asking?
Our piece is called "STUFF" and features one character, Eda, who is a compulsive hoarder. We'd been tinkering around with the idea of a piece on hoarding for a few years now and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do it. Hoarders attach value and significance to items that other people would discard, to the extent that it takes over their lives and changes the way they live and interact with people. You could see hoarders in one of two ways – either they are an extreme example of society’s general over-preoccupation on material things – OR they have an approach to the world that is individual, imaginative, and that values everything, not just the things with obvious monetary value. We'd like to play with both those opinions in the piece.
2. Please give me three words that sum up your piece
Eclectic, imaginative and playful.
3. Who is involved in your piece and what are their roles?
The core team at JIAC comprises of Amanda Castro (director), Hayley Kasperczyk (performer) and Vera Erenbourg (associate producer). Amanda and Hayley are devising the piece together. We're also lucky to have the support of some very talented designers on this particular project - Therese Mullan is designing costume, Rose Walker is helping to design our set, and Adam Loxley is providing us with some lovely illustrations.
4. What is the background to your company? How did you all meet?
Amanda, Hayley and Vera first met and worked together in 2008 on the MA Performance Practices and Research course at the Central School of Speech and Drama. When the time to leave Central came we decided to form a theatre company and carry on making work as Jeremis Iron, and that’s what we have been doing ever since. We have created a lot of work over the years, most of it taking place in unusual settings, such as a Spiral Booths at the V&A, amongst the exhibits in Whitechapel Gallery and at the top of a viewing tower at the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill... and now we have the glamorous location of the men's loos! We love a challenge.
5. What space will you be performing in at the Bush? Do you know what you’re going to do with the space – do you have elaborate set plans?
We are performing in the men's toilet's, which we are completely transforming. We want to create a completely believable and authentic hoarding space, crammed full with all sorts of knick knacks, bits and pieces, this and that, filling almost every available space...
6. How does your rehearsal/devising process work?
Our process begins with a lot of research. We love reading, watching documentaries and learning as much as we can about the topic before we begin devising. We then get into the studio and play about with ideas until things start to fall into place. We don't start the process with a definite end in mind - we just see where the rehearsal process takes us. In the nature of the work we create, which is mostly interactive, playful and improvised- to a certain point- we expect it to evolve through every performance depending on audience reaction.
7. Bush Bazaar has its roots in the idea of value and the price we put on things? What do you value most in your life?
It may be obvious and slightly cheesy but we value our friends and family most in life. Having worked on this piece, though, we've all come to realise that we all have random, useless objects that we can't bear to part with - from recipes for meals you know you're never going to cook but still, you just might; to a pair of shoes that are falling apart but used to look so good when they were new; to sets of keys that don't open anything in your house and have no obvious purpose...because no one can bear to throw away a set of keys, can they?
8. What theatre companies or performance artists inspire you? What have you seen recently that you have raved about to your friends?
We all admire the work of Pina Bausch and Complicite. Amanda loves a bit of Chris Goode. Hayley follows the work of Mike Pearson, Graeme Millar and the writings of Iain Sinclair. If you get chance go and see the film Swandown by Andrew Kötting and Ian Sinclair. They ride a swan pedalo from Hastings to Hackney and meet lots of lovely people along the way. Vera is a circus freak and enjoys the work of No Fit State, and Clod Ensemble.
9. There will be an element of bargaining going on between performers and audience members in Bush Bazaar – what is the best bargain you have ever got? Are you a fierce haggler?
We have had to blag our way into obtaining many of the props and set that you will see on STUFF, so doing this piece has definitely sharpened our bargain hunting skills! We're keen charity shop and flea market shoppers - we love a good bargain.
10. What would you pay for your work?
We thought long and hard about what we should charge for our piece - we think the £1 we're asking for is pretty reasonable but we're also hoping our audience will be able to share something beyond money - a story, a shared experience, or maybe even an item they are carrying in their pockets or bag that they don't mind donating to Eda to add to her collection - even something as small as a receipt would be accepted!
11. What kind of interaction are you expecting to have with your audience?
We're hoping they will be drawn into Eda's world - and that they will grow to care about her. Eda is asking the audience to help her clean up but also to share their own stories of objects they are attached to and collections they have - she's a sweet character and we're hoping the audience will think so too.
12. What do you think audience members gain from immersive theatre? Does it matter if an audience member is a bit shy or nervous? Will they still enjoy it?
You will always have audience members that are shy or nervous and a good theatre company will be ready for that and will have strategies in place to integrate them without bullying them or compromising how they experience the piece. We're hoping to create a warm and interesting atmosphere that our audience members will feel comfortable being a part of. All theatre should be immersive - and that doesn't always mean elaborate sets and 'audience participation', but in creating a shared experience that acknowledges and respects everyone involved - artists and audience.
13. What challenges does Bush Bazaar pose for your company?
There are some practical challenges in working in the men's toilets, particularly as we are predominantly female!
14. What are your company’s plans after Bush Bazaar? What are your long term plans?
We each have individual projects we'll be working on but we'll continue to make work as Jeremis Iron and are planning to take a piece to the Edinburgh Fringe next year - and maybe Eda will return, who knows...
15. What does theatre mean to you in 2012? How do you see the performance world opening itself up to new ideas and possibilities?
As budgets get smaller and opportunities shrink, we hope artists will respond by becoming more imaginative and resourceful - making their own opportunities, collaborating more, creating work in unusual spaces. We hope Bush Bazaar will enable us to connect with the other artists taking part which could lead to something lovely in the future.
16. Do you have any tips or tricks up your sleeve for getting the best price from our audience..? What's your selling strategy?
Come and meet Eda and you’ll find out.
17. Why should I come to see your act? What will I leave your act with? What will I gain?
To help a lady in need. You might leave with a new perspective on the stuff in your life. Or just come and be nosey.
18. If your piece was a well known person or fictional character, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Little Edie from the documentary 'Grey Gardens'. She was an American socialite who, as she grew older, lost her money and lived as a recluse with her mother in a giant mansion that became dilapidated. She had a resourcefulness and a spirit that completely matches with our piece, and our character Eda.
19. Who would be your dream audience member and why?
He has passed away but our dream audience member would have to be Mr Edmund Zygfryd Trebus. He appeared in a TV documentary many years ago that first sparked out interest in compulsive hoarding. He was a bit of a character!
20. What are you most looking forward to with Bush Bazaar?
Performing the piece is always the best bit - getting to interact with audiences, seeing how they will bring their own personalities and stories into it - we can't wait.