This_Is_Tomorrow is a three year Arts Council ‘seed funded’ programme led by Warwick Arts Centre, setting out to generate new artistic ideas through artist and academic collaborations.
Warwick Arts Centre is in the unique position of being located in one of the world’s leading academic research intensive universities on the one hand (the University of Warwick), and at the heart of a network of UK and international artists on the other. The aim is to explore and illuminate contemporary thinking and research about the human condition and key issues that face humanity and society across a range of science, social science and humanities subjects.
Now in its second year, residencies for This_Is_Tomorrow have consisted of retreats with the departments of Physics, Maths, Economics, Law, Warwick Business School, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Sociology. Artists participating have included playwrights Alecky Blythe and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, performance artists Chris Goode and Michelle Brown, choreographer Charlotte Vincent, composer Dan Jones, musician Robin Rimbaud and children’s theatre specialist Sue Buckmaster.
Bank On It
In 2012 Sue Buckmaster took part in our pilot residency, from this her company produced Bank On It, drawing inspiration from economics to create site-specific theatre for young people about value. Co-commissioned by Theatre-Rites, the Barbican and CREATE, in association with Warwick Arts Centre and the Economics Department of the University of Warwick, Bank On It was presented in London in June/July and then in Coventry in October/November 2013.
Audiences were invited to explore the secrets of a very unusual bank in this exciting site-specific, promenade experience for children aged 5+ and their accompanying adults. Fun, beautiful and thought provoking; the piece explored the resources that money can and cannot buy.
“Theatre-Rites, a company of genuine originality and flair” The Guardian
“Rich in humour and humanity” The Telegraph
“A delightful, stunningly visually inventive show. Worth every penny” Time Out
“Engagingly performed by the cast, this is an astute, and often beautiful show” The Financial Times
Matt Trueman (The Guardian) wrote a wonderful article about the production, read it here.
Kingscliffe Waste Watchers
Alecky Blythe is a playwright who, with her company Recorded Delivery has pioneered an innovative verbatim technique, originally created by Anna Deavere Smith. Deavere Smith was the first to combine the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance.
Blythe was inspired by a conversation with Prof. George Rowlands to write a play contrasting the more “objective” view of nuclear power that a scientist might hold with the “subjective” view of a community who were facing the arrival of a low level nuclear waste dump near their homes.
There is still a great deal of interest in this project but (as is the nature of verbatim work) we are currently at the mercy of current affairs – watch this space…
Confirmation is an exciting new solo piece from award-winning writer / performer Chris Thorpe working in collaboration with Rachel Chavkin of acclaimed New York theatre company, The TEAM.
Working with research into the phenomenon of confirmation bias, and a conversation with political extremism, Confirmation is an attempt to have an honorable dialogue, real and imagined, across that gulf. Not to debate the viewpoints, but to find out how we come to believe what we believe, and how, from a common starting point, we can end up so far apart.
As well as an ongoing conversation with various individuals on the far right, Chris spent a week at Warwick meeting a range of academics from Sociology, Psychology, PAIS, WMS, Law, WBS, Economics, and History – all of which proved invaluable.
Along the way we have submitted 2 successful Arts Council England funding bids and the show is currently co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre and Northern Stage. It premiered at Warwick Arts Centre in May before a 3-week run at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2014.
The Paradise Project
The Paradise Project seeks to respond to the very idea of Paradise, and the human need to invent such a concept. It explores the differences between heavenly paradise and earthly utopia and asks what would be paradise to us as people now.
Following the internationally successful theatre piece What I Heard About the World, and the durational performance and online research project StoryMap, Third Angel (UK) and Mala Voadora (Lisbon) are collaborating for a second time and spent a week at Warwick working with academics from Psychology, Maths, CIM, Sociology and History.
Joe Cutler/The Coull Quartet
Commissioned by the University to compose a piece for the Coull Quartet (in residence at Warwick for many years) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary, Joe Cutler was in residence at Warwick for a week in Feb 2014. Joe took the question ‘What is a University?’ as the starting point for a series of fascination conversations with academics from Physics, Sociology, Economics, WMG, WMS, Maths and Social Sciences as well as staff from Estates and University House. Joe also spent some time with the World@Warwick group to reflect on the Universities increasingly international profile.
The piece is due to premiere in 2015 and we look forward to seeing what Joe makes of the whole experience…
From the Start until The End (working title)
Dan Jones is currently working with Warwick Arts Centre to develop a music/sound installation for Cathedrals that grew out of his time on campus.
Seven Small Airships float in a cathedral Nave producing recorded voices which converse with each other between musical interludes. The voices will form an ever changing conversation about the beginning and the end of things, the limits of the time or space in which something exists. It is a reflection on start and end points, of beginnings and endings.
The voices in the conversation will emanate from different autonomously controlled balloons which move slowly through the central space (nave) of a Cathedral, opening up an airborne acoustic landscape around the listeners below, different points of the conversation echoing across the space.
This project is very much ongoing, to date Dan has been working with academics from WMS, Physics and WMG and through WMS Dan spent a few days working with staff in hospices in Stratford and Birmingham. We hope to premier the piece in Coventry Cathedral before exploring it’s potential to tour the international festival circuit.
In autumn 2013 Warwick Arts Centre began work on a project by the wonderful Victoria Melody – a kind of live-art/theatre* Louis Theroux* who makes really interesting work about her time embedded in various groups/tribes around the UK.
The show will explore an interest Vic has developed in the global trade in human hair. In her own words:
“_I make one-woman theatrical shows, performance interventions and films about England’s pastimes, passions and tribes. I immerse myself into communities and become a participant. In the past I have become a pigeon racer, a northern soul dancer and more recently a championship dog handler and a beauty queen.
During my reign as Mrs Brighton a hairdresser gave me real human hair extensions. This prompted me to ask where the hair had come from, the hairdresser didn’t know. Last year HM Revenue and Customs recorded more than £38m worth of human hair entering the country. Right now obtaining that high maintenance preened and pruned and big haired “The Only Way is Essex look” is big business in the UK. But then why is there little or no information about where and who the hair comes from and if it is ethical?
I plan to trace the hair on my head back to the person who grew it and to start a cross-cultural conversation_.”
Vic’s initial week at Warwick saw her spending time with academics in PAIS, History, Biology, Sociology, Physics and Key Forensic Services over on the Science Park.
Early Days (of a better nation)
This new show from theatre mavericks Coney is a response to the political turbulence of recent years where new forms of citizenship, protest and participation have taken centre stage in broadcast and social media. With a dynamic combination of theatre and a playing audience, Early Days (of a better nation) explores the possibilities of nationhood and democracy in a political game of unintended consequences.
Following an exciting period of research and development with academics from Warwick University (PAIS, History, WBS, Maths, Centre for Studies in Democratization) Coney have been working together to understand the variety of world-views that inform the world we live in, weaving these ideas in the narrative and structure of an interactive show.
The show is co-commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, National Theatre Wales and Battersea Arts Centre with production development supported from University of Warwick and the Cultural Institute at King’s College London.
It is not yet known what other outcomes of this initiative there might be. One thing is for certain, this is an exciting time for the artists involved, the academic community and Warwick Arts Centre as it embarks on a brand new phase of igniting ideas and commissioning works that will resonate with the world today. Watch this space!