Sarah Davey-Hull on What They Forgot to Tell Us (and other stories) and launching BOLD Elephant
Tell us a bit about What They Forgot to Tell Us (and other stories)
What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories) is an immersive theatre show about the power of stories. Witty, profound, intimate and surprising What They Forgot To Tell Us is an immersive promenade production, spread across 3 floors of a disused office building revealing the truths that hide in the stories we tell and reminding us that everything connects.
How did you make the show?
I was lying in bed one night with a bout of insomnia and I switched on the radio to hear a writer tell an incredible story about Chopin’s sister. I can’t say too much more because we tell the story in the play but I was struck by how we seldom hear about the people behind the famous people, the sisters, wives, friends who also have incredible stories. So I knew this was where I wanted to start and we built from there. Five incredible actor devisers came on board as did our designer and Associate director. Across the 3 week rehearsal period, the actors each created a character and we created the storyline around them. We told each other lots of stories and rehearsing in the building itself allowed us to explore all the different spaces, perspectives and streetscape and to respond to that architecture. We all wrote bits and slowly through sweat, tears and a lot of laughter we pieced it all together. Devising is a wonderful and terrifying beast.
Why did you decide to launch your new venue BOLD Elephant with this project in particular?
This is a new venue, one that has turned a disused office into a surprising and intriguing performance space and so we wanted to make a new theatre piece that would reflect that. The BOLD Elephant space is about creating new things, to innovation and discovery. It was important that the work was site-specific, we made the piece completely in response to this building and the stories we felt were important to tell at this time in this place. The project is made by an eclectic group of people, drawn from different everything, each unique and the project had to absolutely align with the values of the building.
How has it been opening a new venue during this time?
Exhilarating, tough and life-affirming. We got our lease to the building 16 days before the first lockdown, which meant completely changing our initial plans, which was tough. So instead I spent the first 6 months pulling together a brilliant group of Associates, finding our values and planning the work we would do when the spaces could open and preparing for that moment. It has been life-affirming because it was clear from the moment we opened that theatre makers wanted it, they needed a place to come, meet and make work. There has been a real buzz about the space and it is great that a rather dreary office can become a cool and brilliant arts space.
Why is meanwhile use space so important for the arts and creative sector?
Many people talk about this moment in time as an opportunity for change, to reinvent, to do things in better ways, shake up the theatre industry and offer an alternative to what already exists. New venues in repurposed spaces allow for arts spaces to be embedded in their communities, more local, more sustainable and responsive. BOLD Elephant exists to try out new and innovative work, to support and nurture theatre makers and companies, who need a place to be and create.
What do you hope audiences take away from their first experience of BOLD Elephant?
To feel uplifted. Hopeful. Galvanised. To see the world through fresh eyes, to look for the story that isn’t always visible, to reconnect with the world.
What is next for you and for the venue?
BOLD will be presenting a new play Scenes From The End by playwright Chris Bush in the Spring 2022. A darkly funny and irreverent play about the climate emergency – how we might behave if the end of the world was coming. BOLD Elephant is a space to create so we will be continuing with our Pay What You Can programme for theatre makers – masterclasses, self tape room, writers rooms, and new play readings as well as hire of the rehearsal spaces.
What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories) runs 20th Oct – 14 Nov 2021 at BOLD Elephant. For more information and to book please see the website www.boldtheatre.com