Making a piece of physical theatre is a complicated, lengthy process; Culture editors Amy Pay and Sum Sze Tam spoke to Tracy Gentles, the producer of upcoming physical theatre production An Anatomie in Four Quarters, to find out how such a complex work of art comes into being
An Anatomie in Four Quarters is showing soon in the WMC. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
An Anatomie was originally commissioned by Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London as a site-specific piece for their main house. The piece leads an audience to draw parallels between the anatomy of the human body and the anatomical make-up (architecture) of a theatre.
This time round we are reimagining the piece for the Donald Gordon Theatre, and joining up with the Sinfonia Cymru.
It’s been branded as a really different kind of show. What can the audience expect?
Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s quite a ride! It is unique in the sense that each member of the small audience is central to the piece. With the show split into four quarters, the audience alter their viewing positions within each. During each quarter parts of the theatre’s inner workings are exposed, its guts, its mechanisms revealed, many of which an audience may not have seen before. The theatre is turned inside out as they move closer to the bodies of the performers.
Tell us a bit about Clod Ensemble. What does your job as producer involve?
Clod Ensemble is led by Artistic Directors Suzy Willson, and composer Paul Clark who writes all of Clod Ensemble’s music. They’ve been making work for almost eighteen years now and I’ve been with them for the last five.
My role as Producer at Clod Ensemble is concerned with supporting our Artistic Directors, distilling ideas and putting together the elements in order to make things possible. This can be anything from building relationships with venues, finding financial support or artists to work with.
How does the creative process in physical theatre differ from straight theatre?
I would think every process differs dependent on the approach of the director and the cast. With Clod Ensemble the process is very collaborative, although the structure and concepts are given and shaped by our Artistic Directors. We work with a range of physical performers who each bring their own experience and movement vocabulary to the table to create the piece in collaboration.
What qualities do you think are the most important for an actor looking to go into physical theatre?
I think it’s important to be open. The best physical performers I have worked with possess an openness and willingness to learn and explore. Every performer working on An Anatomie, be they from a dance background or trained in physical theatre, has a sense of exploration and a willingness to share, practice and develop, to find new ways to explore ideas non-verbally.
What’s in the pipeline for Clod Ensemble’s future projects?
We are currently working with Sarah Cameron, who appears in An Anatomie, to adapt a novel she has written for the stage, The Red Chair. Also we’re working to remount an old piece, Red Ladies, which is a piece for 18 identically dressed women who descend upon a city or town to perform a series of outdoor interventions before congregating indoors to present a one-hour theatrical demonstration. If you’d like to keep in touch with what we’re doing please do watch this space: www.clodensemble.com