Archive for August, 2007

Our Theatre Piece

Week one at contact theatre.Our reseach and development week here at Contact Theatre in sunny Manchester has proved incredibly fruitful.From small beginnings, focussing on the humble earthworm, to scientific chats with Chris at the Interdisciplinary Biocentre at Manchester University, we’ve lurched between greenhouses and train crashes, LCD screens to tracing paper, and everything inbetween, in an attempt to seek out a visual asthetic for our production.

Darwins Worms

2009 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. There are many things planned to mark it and many of them are beginning later in 2008. The keenest brains in the land tell us that the man’s life, legacy and work are more important now than ever and we believe this project to be of utterly vital current importance and necessary relevance to the issues confronting us now, both in terms of the environmental problems and also the philosophical questions as regards evolution and the ongoing assault on reason that some aspects of religion seeks to make.One of the many statements that abound on the subject of Charles Darwin is that his ideas and view of the world touches and shapes our daily lives in every degree, it is in many ways through his eyes that we see the world.Darwin was fascinated by worms. He used to lay them out on his billiard table and ask his children to play the bassoon and the piano to them and then study their reactions! Any man who could do this clearly has a sense of humour, but his interest in them was more to do with the way in which the worm in it’s own miniscule fashion, affects and shapes the very earth we live and walk upon. For the earth itself has passed through and been fed by the worms.It seems to us that there is an important truth here in fact several. That the smallest of God’s creatures ( geddit? ) is as important in the grand scheme of things, and that it is as vital to look at the micro in order to gain some understanding of the macro.We have in mind the beginnings of a story about a young boy and an old man whose allotment the boy consistently vandalizes. It is too glib and easy and not relevant at this stage to say that these two characters in anyway represent Darwin and the worms! They might, but they might not. It is our intention to work hand in hand in terms of both exploring and deepening our understanding of Darwinian evolutionary theory, of his broader philosophical implications, especially in relation to man’s relationship with this earth, this clearly relates to our understanding of climate change too, at the same time as developing characters, narratives and stories in relation to the above two characters that have a sharply contemporary feel. At this point we can perhaps go no further on these subjects as we simply don’t know at this stage. It is also why we feel it is imperative to have some genuine scientific input to the process from one whose primary speciality is Darwinian science and philosophy.It is not our aim to get hung up on dry science. We are about creating lively, irreverent visually exciting and very funny theatre!In an age of increasing religious fervour, of faith schools and creationist theory seizing the agenda ( where no less a person than the President of the United States can say of the creationism versus evolution debate that he believes both points of view should be taught and we are allowing state funded schools to be privately run by creationists! ) the importance of asserting not just the secular principle is also on our agenda, but of asserting the value of science over religious fundamentalism. The idea of Intelligent Design is basically creationism by another name.That is perhaps as far as we can go on the ideas and initial themes of the fortnight. We will be developing them as time goes by right up to the beginning of the fortnight and then obviously throughout.Our eye is on the entertaining and intelligent at all times. We do not want to spout scientific theory just to prove how intelligent we are, we believe this is a vital and extremely prescient subject matter and we want to tell a story that engages an audience on a deep and very thoughtful level about the world we all live in today, about how our individual lives are all interlinked and can make a difference if we choose to make them do so.