We spoke to Sam, Artistic Director of Manic Chord, about their show The Economy of Ecology, yet another adventure into tech and communication at this year Incoming Festival. It was great to hear all about the piece, even if I did have to google what 'haptic' means (it means 'touch' communication, apparently), and really nice to hear a theatre company talk about making work slowly, and that being a-ok.
What drove you to make The Economy of Ecology?
It started with an interest in haptic communication and a statement suggesting that the west, specifically the US and the UK had become ‘touch deprived cultures’. The more we delved into these subjects we quickly learnt the incredible impact of touch upon humans both physically and physiologically, essentially we need it! This developed further into a discussion about the engagement and interaction of society both small and large, and the impact humans have upon each other and the natural environments round us.
Humans are fast becoming a destructive force upon the world with live in, especially amongst ourselves.
Tell us a bit about Manic Chord
Much like any new company we spent a handful of years figuring out how to be a ‘theatre company’, what it was we needed to do and our process of producing work.
As company we tend to be fairly slow at making new work, but this is something we are really happy with. It gives us the time and space to assess the best way of telling a story and also allows us to collaborate with some incredible people along the way.
The work we produce tends to be highly visual in its presentation with music is becoming more and more important in the work we make.
I love that stories allow us to go anywhere and believe in anything, because its a story and I think this is the reason its important that how work take or places and audience somewhere new entirely. Of course this is easier said than done.
There are so many ways to tell stories, tackle issues, explore ideas - why theatre?
Theatre steals from everything! We are the magpies of the art world. So we’re intrigued to be able to tell a story and make sense of a topic using every possible tool in the workshop. Having said that we are so dependant upon a multitude of people. There is nothing better than seeing an idea take hold of a group, seeing that idea being made sense of, thrown again the wall, dressed in a multitude of outfits and then final be presented in front of others. That’s the daunting bit though…
What was the last show you saw that you think everyone should see?
It was some time ago, but Complicite, Beware of Pity with the Schaubühne’s ensemble was just a masterclass in story telling. The piece moved seamlessly, it almost felt like one big game of musical chairs, introducing props, characters and a variety of narratives. It was entirely in German which at times was a little tiring but you could have quite easily left the subtitles and enjoyed the physicality of the ensemble, they were on point! It was toured again this year, but unless you could get to Taiwan you will have missed it.
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?
That would be telling!... But there's a show that involves an orchestra and exploring time over 100 years. Send us a blank check and the show can be yours ;)
What else in the Incoming Festival line-up are you excited to see?
A Heart at Sea - Half a String - “A young boy who bottles up his heart and throws it into the sea” - I’m sold on that sentence alone and I love a bit of puppetry. There seems a bit of a theme around our interaction with tech and love so be interested to see LOVE+ - Malaprop and Sex With Robots and Other Devices - Cloakroom Theatre and haven’t had the chance to see Barrel Organ’s, Anyone’s Guess How We Got Here yet so hopefully that too.
The Economy of Ecology is on at New Diorama 4 July and Home 5 July!