Before the Blue Cloud appeared / News from Ignite Festival

DSCN0958“I’m going to ease you in gently” was the reassuring introduction from our director Bertrand during our first Rehearsal for Current Location back in cold mid-February, the six of us huddled a circle, eagerly anticipating a few rounds of zip-zap-boing, maybe a gentle read-through with a cup of tea. Half an hour later he was conducting an unusual experiment; selecting us in secret we took turns to try and escape the room, the chosen participant always rugby tackled to the ground and physically forced back into their seat. To recuperate us, he then followed this by a discussion on our greatest fears, recurring nightmares and worst case scenarios. I should have known better. Having read the translation of Toshiki Okada’s piece, and done research on the 2011 Japanese tsunami nuclear disaster, I knew this wasn’t going to be an ordinary adapting process. It was going to require a lot of delving into uncomfortable places; places which I might have found gratuitous were it not for the non-fictional aspect of the work.
To begin with, many of us were baffled by the script. Featuring several science fiction aspects and purposefully jarring language, it seemed like a cryptic puzzle and one that wasn’t offering any solutions any time soon. It wasn’t until our research led us towards ‘A2-B-C’, a documentary by Ian Thomas Ash about the residents of Fukushima that we realised it wasn’t a science fiction at all. Interviewees almost directly quoted lines from the play and the idea of repression in the face of impossibility was all too clear.
Amongst other things, Current Location is an exploration into survival; the stories we choose to believe and the fictions we have to create in order to withstand situations beyond our control. This week, rehearsing in the Devonshire countryside, we’ve been playing with the idea of dreams affecting realities, considering the ways in which we re-analyse the familiar after witnessing the familiar-strange. We’re anticipating this will bring out new power dynamics, and are looking forward to bringing ideas to the fore which were overlooked in previous runs.
Throughout the process our challenge has been to make the specific cultural context of an ecological disaster accessible for audience members and we hope that our revised version of the play for The Ignite Festival chimes with some of these ideas. We’re looking forward to being a part of this incredibly eclectic festival, of savouring some exciting new work and meeting Exeter audiences. Please hang around after the play as we’d love to hear your thoughts. We’re eager to continue developing ideas on the piece for upcoming tours so heartily welcome feedback. And we promise we won’t rugby tackle you. Honest.
Caitlin Ince, actress in Current Location.