I think it’s fair to say that I approached the creation of The Green House from many different angles. It started with an initial idea borne from the theme of pruning – how we can find ourselves at a period in our lives where we either actively cut things away that no longer feed us (people, circumstances, emotions), or where we simply allow the natural migration of unnecessary weight. I was interested in the fact that this pruning process is ideally something which enables us to flourish, blossom and grow but that often it can be a process which leaves us feeling exposed, empty and lost as opposed to light or free. It was the process that intrigued me – the frustration and the patience that is required to complete it as well as the ongoing sense of trust that the result will be a journey into a more beautiful and fulfilling place than that where you came from.
I was also intrigued by the fact that processes such as this can lead us to feel like observers of our own lives – often somewhat detached and separated from events as they happen and with a strange sense of helplessness and an inability to control what is going on in and around us.
I brought all these initial thoughts to the table with my lighting and set designer, Joe Fletcher. Naturally, he wanted to dig deeper and he asked me wonderful questions which shook up my ideas and provoked me to really try to hone in on the kind of world I wanted to create in order to best express this theme. After many discussions we settled on the creation of a surreal 1960’s sitcom set where the characters could clearly be either ‘on set’ or very much ‘off set’ and therefore cut off from the action. Amongst other things I was hugely inspired by the surrealist films of David Lynch and wanted to develop a universe where the inhabitants, intrinsically incorporated into their surroundings, are almost stuck in a loop which becomes more and more distorted as their process unravels and they work to escape the routines that have become so habitual to them. The exquisite costume designs of Gabriella Slade support this idea enormously and really evoke a feeling of becoming so ingrained in a certain pattern or lifestyle that all sense of self becomes hidden.
In working with the dancers, I initially presented them with many things that had inspired me such as paintings, photographs, texts from Friedrich Nietzsche and Samuel Beckett and of course, some films from David Lynch. Along with the overarching idea of pruning, the dancers used these to begin developing their own individual characters and journeys. As their identities started to become clearer I then went in and started to sculpt their characters and physicalities; developing details and idiosyncrasies which would enrich their journeys through the piece. I also created a very simple set of stage directions which would come to form the back-bone of the piece – the loop which we would then play with, embellish and distort. And the music, an eclectic mix of tracks, gives the sense of a soundtrack to a person’s life – ever-changing depending on the moment and their emotional state.
I think audiences can find many different entry points and interpretations in The Green House. Some see very specific moments or journeys in their own lives reflected in the characters, some see the piece as a microcosm of the current geo-political climate and others have allowed themselves simply to be transported into fantasy world which is at once nightmarish, cathartic and hugely entertaining!
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff
28 April 7.30pm
29 April 2pm. Discover Dance.
29 April 7.30pm
029 2064 6900
Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, Pembs
3 May 7.30pm
Dundee Rep, Dundee
13 May 8pm
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