Dumbshow theatre ponder the joys of collaboration, and delegation

Oh the sweet joys of collaboration. It has been an interesting few days to say the least, to say the most would include a deluge of unutterable expletives, but do get in touch if you want the director's cut. I suppose the most challenging but also most exciting part of this process has been the ever changing 'idea', which has morphed more times than morph himself (why did he have to die with Tony Hart?).

We opened our net wide and were keen to collaborate not just with other artists, but with real people in our search for the ineffable notion of Utopia, and ironically it is this inclusiveness of a diaspora of differing opinions that have brought us closer to it.

Our process has been one of 'celebration through delegation', which has it's pros and cons like any process - on the plus side if you can trust your team, which we do implicitly, then the product cannot fail because you have the best ingredients - however, then you are faced with the challenge of the method, how do we mix these ingredients to produce the perfect dish. Will it all fit, are we doing our artists justice, will the narrative withstand the rigor of a discerning audience?

The word of the week has been flexibility, allowing ourselves to bend and shift so as not to snap ; we had an idea from the off, but it really hasn't been untill the last 12 hours or so that things have slowly settled into place (I say settled, what I really mean is jammed like a freshly opened ill-fitting puzzle), but I think that is as it should be, and that is what makes it all the more exciting and satisfying to see an experimental, challenging piece come together in such a short space of time.

We have negotiated radio celebrities, illuisive composers, tricky projectionists and terrifying taxidermists, but I think our product will be a best-seller.

"Our business here is to be Utopian, to make vivid and credible, if we can, first this facet and then that, of an imaginary whole and happy world."
H.G. WELLS, A Modern Utopia

Jake Brunger shares his thoughts on utopia, and a picture of his nan.

What is utopia? Ah - a simple question, surely?? Well, no.. er, not really..

If you’re Google, utopia is apparently ‘an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect’. If you’re Wikipedia, utopia is ‘an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-political legal system’. Or if you’re Fiona Skinner, one of the actors in our piece, utopia is ‘that place between heaven and hell, right?’. Hmm..

So what is utopia? This is the question we’ve been manically racking our brains about since this time last Friday, when we were set a challenge to come up with our vision of a ‘Brave New World’ for nabokov. Director Kirsty Patrick Ward and I went off down several different avenues at first – from plastic surgery (my very literal vision of ‘a perfect society’) through to the Full Moon Party in Thailand (a utopian place for everyone from gap yahs to grannies).

But after a muddled few days of false starts and panicked drafts, there was one thing that just wouldn’t seem to go away – the frenzied euphoria of the Queen’s jubilee celebrations. And with trumpets and Tom Jones both blaring in the background, it seemed like the answer was sitting right on top of us. Because we may well be going through a pretty dire time right now; in economic straits, political pandemonium and mass instability in all walks of life, but pass round some sausage rolls and some Pimms and Lemonade and everyone comes together in a massive haze of happiness; a sociological utopia, dare I say.

So boom. There we had it. A great place to start from – where we are now as a country, as a people. 3 fantastic actors later – Nick Blakeley, Ben Stott and Fiona Skinner – and we got down to work. We set them off on a task to talk about different royal events through the ages; hot seating each of them to imagine a character discussing their place in time. Overnight, I went off and pieced together their words into mine, supplemented by hours of YouTube footage of various royal events and a quick stop via a nursing home to ask my Nan her memories of camping overnight to watch the Queen’s Coronation.


I won’t give away too much of what we’ve done, only to say that it’s about how it’s times of national celebrations, or mournings, that we all seem to pull off some kind of collective euphoria. It seems to me to be a great shame that these times only come during Royal events, national celebrations and sporting events. So in this celebrated year of 2012, certainly as far as London goes, we’re giving Pimms-fuelled utopia our very best shot. So come down and check us out this Sunday at 6pm and see what we’ve come up with.. and see if you agree!


Brave New Worlds line up announced!

‘How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.’ 
The Tempest

In response to the Soho and Live Theatre’s visionary Utopia project, nabokov is challenging 4 companies of emerging artists to create their visions of the perfect world in just 7 days!

In a time of global crisis and uncertainty Brave New Worlds asks some of the UK’s hottest emerging talent to offer hope and a vision of a world worth striving for.

Team 1: Valentina Ceschi, Guoda Jaruseviciute, Kate Lane and Thomas Eccleshare
A collaboration between three director-designers and a writer, they are pioneering performance which is predominantly design-led, putting design (instead of text) at the beginning of the process of creation for performance. 

Valentina Ceschi is a theatre and opera director, international performer and movement choreographer based in the UK. Guoda Jaruseviciute is a Lithuanian born interdisciplinary artist, a graduate of Design for Performance course at Central School of Speech and Drama. Kate Lane graduated from the MA Costume Design for Performance at London College of Fashion, where she won the MA Centenary Award for Costume. She has a BA in Sculpture from Camberwell College of Arts and is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins. Thomas Eccleshare is the co-artistic director of Dancing Brick with whom he has toured work nationally and internationally. Last year he won the Verity Bargate Award for his play Pastoral and his first sitcom is in development for BBC3. Thomas is the Pearson writer-in-residence at the Soho Theatre. 

For a day-by-day documentation of their process in creating a performance for Brave New Worlds, please visit http://trinity201.tumblr.com/.

Team 2: Jake Brunger and Kirsty Patrick Ward
Jake Brunger studied Drama at Bristol University and is a graduate of the Royal Court Theatre Supergroup. His credits as writer include Sam’s Game (Nottingham Playhouse, dir. Indhu Rubasingham), Jet Set Go! (Edinburgh Fringe, Theatre 503 & Jermyn Street Theatre, published by Josef Weinberger), The Great British Soap Opera (Edinburgh Fringe & Jermyn Street Theatre), and Pub Quiz (Manchester Royal Exchange, which he also directed). He is currently writing a new stage adaptation of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

Kirsty Patrick Ward
Director: An Education (Chavs/Lyric); Till Its Gone (Live Theatre); People Like Us (Vineyard New York); Life Support (York Theatre Royal); Four Girls & a Gluten Free Cake (OVNV 24 Hour plays), The Baron (Winner Ignite 4/OVNV); Present Tense (Watford Palace); Take Heart (Theatre 503);The Return (Love Bites/Southwark Playhouse); The Sock (nabokov/Watford Palace Theatre).

Team 3: Dumbshow Theatre
Dumbshow is the acclaimed theatre company specialising in storytelling for children and adults alike. Their work has been seen at Manchester's Royal Exchange, London's BAC, Kingston's Rose Theatre and the Warwick Arts Centre, and has enjoyed several sell-out productions at the Edinburgh Festival. They were recently commissioned by the Welcome Trust Kingston to devise and perform a site specific interactive piece of drama funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund. Dumbshow has just received Arts Council funding for an autumn tour of their critically acclaimed show Clockheart Boy.

Team 4: Apple of my eye
Apple of my eye weave beautiful and epic folk tales from snatches of half remembered songs your mother used to sing you, and lyrics scrawled on the backs of unopened bank statements. But who are these fuckwits? Why, they could be your neighbour, friend or lover. But by night, they love to shape shift and transmogrify while singing drunken anthems to the damned. They are an unusual bunch. When one suspects that another member of the seven-strong outfit may be rotten to the core, they are mercilessly fermented and the seeds consumed by the remaining members, who in turn harvest the apples from their inner tree and repopulate the band. Their music sounds as old as the hills themselves, but this deceptive – it is in fact very modern. Progressive as crop rotation, they sow songs of clover, willow, demons and the many tragic faces of love.

Follow developments at http://nabokov.typepad.com/ and follow us @nabokovtheatre #bravenewworlds

Brave New Worlds
Soho Theatre
Sunday June 10th
Tickets £10

020 7478 0100


nabokov presents BRAVE NEW WORLDS at the Soho Theatre Sunday 10 June

“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.”

- The Tempest, William Shakespeare


In response to the Soho and Live Theatre’s visionary Utopia project, nabokov is challenging 4 companies of emerging artists to create their visions of the perfect world in just 7 days!

In a time of global crisis and uncertainty Brave New Worlds asks some of the UK’s hottest emerging talent to offer hope and a vision of a world worth striving for.

Full line up to be announced soon!



Sunday 10 June // Time 6pm

Soho Theatre // Dean Street // London // W1D 3NE // Closest Tube:

Tottenham Ct Rd / Leicester Sq.

Tickets // Price £10 // 020 7478 0100 begin_of_the_skype_highlightinend_of_the_skype_highlighting, www.sohotheatre.com