We are three weeks into rehearsal for Into The Light, Hijinx’s first European collaborative production, featuring performers from Italy, Spain and Wales. Directed by Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham and Krista Vuori, the vision has been to explore what it means to be in the light, our need for connection, both on a personal level and also with an audience.
As Artistic Director at Hijinx I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room observing the process (I know….. what a great job!). During rehearsals it has been impossible to see this group of Europeans, making work together, without also thinking of the implications of Brexit, in whatever form it may take, on theatre co-productions.
Put simply, without freedom of movement within the EU, which being a member has allowed us, Into The Light would not have occurred. Our partnership (and the seed that became Into the Light ) began with Hijinx Unity, our international inclusive arts festival. It was through the festival that we met so many European organisations, all who shared a passion for creating performance with artists with learning disability and/or autism. Seeing these companies work, and learning from them, both inspired and improved the quality of our own work. We were able to quickly create a network of friends within organisations throughout Europe. Two of those organisations, Teatro La Ribalta (Italy) and Danza Mobile (Spain) are involved in Into The Light. In fact, it was through EU funding that I was able to spend a three-month sabbatical with Danza Mobile observing and learning about their ground-breaking training, that led to the establishment of our own Hijinx Academies in 2012.
Without this freedom of movement it would be impossible to conceive what Hijinx would be today. Only a week ago we were picking up The Stage International Theatre Award.
Over 80% of our touring income now comes from taking our shows into Europe, an income that is then put back into sustaining the company. As a small organisation, this has only been possible because of the European agreements on things like workers’ tax and health insurance that freedom of movement allows. If, for example, we have a hard Brexit, or a no deal, the inevitable bureaucracy will make it impossible for us to tour to the extent we have having the knock on effect of vastly reducing our income.
So what of Into The Light? What always amazes me is that when you bring people together to make art the politics goes out the window. Yes, we are from Italy, Spain and Wales. Clearly, we have differences, culturally and linguistically, but essentially we are all human beings with the same needs, desires and capacity for love. Maybe there is some hope in that. There is hope in the people. There is hope in making those special connections that only people can make with other people. I guess whatever happens we will always continue to find a way to make those connections, it’s just the politics that makes it more difficult. But we love a challenge.
Into The Light will be performed at the Sherman Theatre 14-16 February at 7.30pm. Tickets viawww.shermantheatre.co.uk
- Directed by BAFTA nominated director/co-founder of Frantic Assembly, Scott Graham and Krista Vuori.
- The international cast includes neurotypical and learning disabled actors from Wales, Italy and Spain.
- Hijinx are Wales’ leading inclusive theatre company. Their mission is to create provocative, challenging contemporary theatre with brilliant collaborators – always including those who have a learning disability or are neurodivergent.
Into The Light is a powerful piece of Physical Theatre that has been devised by the company over the last three years. It explores the bittersweet attraction of the spotlight, and our constant desire for interaction and connection through social media. What does it mean to be in the light? Why do we strive for a presence and a need to be understood?
Featuring an inclusive cast of nine performers from three European countries, this show seeks to bring exposure to unique capabilities of neurodivergent and Down’s Syndrome performers.