We got to chat to Barrel Organ about their newest show, Anyones Guess How We Got Here, about the EU Referendum and what it will cost the UK. At Silent Faces we love talking to other companies that make politically charged work. It's great to see the passion behind work that has a social or political angle. It's also great to see that so much theatre like this from exciting emerging companies deals with these topics with a sense of humour. We're well on board with that. So we spoke to Joe about the referendum, the liveness of theatre and his dream show; "Jaws the Musical, in Space". Here's what Joe had to say about the Anyones Guess How We Got Here.
What drove you to make Anyones Guess How We Got Here?
We'd been spending a couple of weeks together around the time of the EU referendum, the day after the result we were working together and had a long long conversation about the aftermath of that.
Jack had been writing these pieces of text for a while and we'd scratched them once or twice and suddenly something really resonated in them. There were lots of conversations about our generation happening at the time; the result of the referendum and what it meant, what work would look like for many, what jobs would be effected, the rise of private debt as a result of cuts to public spending. He wanted to write something about credit, about getting by on credit, how it affects you and limits you, haunts you, dehumanises and devalues you. And so the conversations began, our experiences with debt, the debt we were all in. And then wider forms of debt, or indebtedness; what you owe- your friends, family, community. It all spiralled from there really. That and watching horror films.
Tell us a about Barrel Organ
We're a group of 11 (which is sort of mad) and make theatre that is politically engaged and self-consciously theatrically (so draws attention/acknowledges the fact this is performance/artifice/theatre). We're fascinated by the live quality of theatre, audiences and the work audiences do in shows and making and breaking performance "rules" or traditions. We see ourselves as a touring company, not making work in any one fixed location and we're based all over the UK. We are really interested in films, music videos, pop music, cheesey chips and the dismantling of capital. We're making some new shows and can't wait to get back in a room together and throw lots of ideas about!
There are so many ways to tell stories, tackle issues, explore ideas - why theatre?
I think because it's there and it's real and it's happening in front of you. Theatre is perhaps one of the only mediums where, in a live and tangible context, you are asking the audience to help make a piece of art with you. Without the audience our work can't happen. Arguably there's a lot of really dry shit that doesn't depend on an audience so much, but poor poor them. We try and make work where the audience are being invited to fill in gaps, to join in, to unpick, to undermine, to contribute, to helps us make a complete picture - and doing so live, as it's all happening. Yes, there are lots of mediums that really care about the audience (film, visual art, scultpure etc.) but performance is the only medium where it's happening LIVE and IN-FRONT OF YOU and STUFF GOES WRONG and I guess in lots of ways it feels sort of democratic; the audience can chip in, they can shout back- it's reciprocal. It's the one space we can be together for a period of time, and both performer and audience can share something, make something together, explore something. It should be about leaving having had a visceral experience and having to TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT afterwards, and disagree and agree.
What was the last show you saw that you think everyone should see?
So we all live in different places, so fuck knows what the others have been seeing, but I saw Rash Dash's Three Sister's and it was class. So was Effigies of Wickedness at The Gate. Both were really brilliant. Last week we were in Manchester and caught Chris Thorpe and Mala Voadora's Your Best Guess which was gorgeous. We also watch a lot of other stuff and talk about that a lot in our work, like TV and films- everyone's a huge This Country fan.
Theatre making is hard and, although we try our best to work around them, it has it’s limits. If you had an unlimited budget, a unquestioningly devoted audience and all the time in the world, what show would you make?
"Warhorse in Space, in Space" or "Jaws the musical, in Space" - those are my votes anyway. I'm sure the others would say something more useful!
What else in the Incoming Festival line-up are you excited to see?
So much! We're double-billing with the lovely Kopfkino, so come catch that everybody! But there's loads of good stuff on. And for a fiver? I'd see it all personally...
Anyones Guess How We Got Here is on at New Diorama on 27 June.