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NATHAN ELLIS ON HIS LIVE DRAFT

02 October 2019

Nathan talks to us ahead of his upcoming Live Draft about capitalism, financial instability and letting the audience be the performers. 


Describe your Live Draft in 3 words. 

Text seeks audience.

Tell us a bit more about your idea and what led you to make it.

I get really weirded out by immersive theatre and wanted to try to pick away at its processes by making a show that is entirely performed by the audience (as in, completely, there will be no actor popping up to perform a monologue half an hour in) and I wanted to tie this to contemporary labour practices.

The central idea is that the rise of a kind of “work-creep”, where leisure and work are becoming blurred, feels linked to the rise of the experience economy: escape-rooms, large-scale immersive theatre, a boom in festival attendance. We are desperate to feel some sort of connection, however confected, and late-capitalism (this is a bit heavy) has constructed machinic processes for satisfying this cheap momentary bliss through confected intimacy that we’re willing to pay for.

Which sounds really bleak, but basically we’re trying to experiment with where the labour goes when the actors aren’t present and linking this to the question of where the labour goes in a supermarket, when there’s no-one working on the tills. (And it should be quite fun).

Tell us a bit about yourselves as artists.

I’m a playwright by practice and I suppose I’m interested in complicating text-based forms. My name is all over the copy and I’m who to blame if it all goes wrong but there are actually four of us involved in the process: I’m writing the text and Emily, Ben, and Sam are dramaturgical collaborators (which is an extremely fancy way of saying they come up with good ideas and shout down my bad ones).

Me and Emily Davis worked together on a play called No One Is Coming to Save You which I wrote for a company I co-run called This Noise. Emily works with Ben Kulvichit as part of the company Emergency Chorus, which make work that sits between theatre and live art, and Sam is an artist with YESYESNONO, who make work exploring democratic theatre. It’s the first time we’re all working together as a gang, which is cool.

What about Live Drafts are you most excited about and what other shows are you most looking forward to?

For this project it’s really exciting to be trying out an idea that needs an audience. It can’t happen without people and the audiences at Live Drafts in our experience are really generous and open to new ideas, so it’s a great place to be doing the first expression of a thing that is a proper experiment and really might go completely wrong.

We’ll definitely be around for other shows during the week. Obviously it’s exciting that Sam and Ben are also doing their new work for YESYESNONO’s Code Silver Code Silver. But we’re also really looking forward to Ben Target’s show How To Build A Lighthouse, Jane Chan’s Void in double-bill with us and Luisa Amorim’s Husky Voices.

 

Check out Nathan’s exploration into work, automation and financial instability on October 8, 9pm.