To begin our research of the Arcola we first looked in to the history and environment of the theatre. From looking at different sources the main element of the Arcola that came up was the importance they take to create a sustainable and ecological environment. Their aim is to become the worlds first carbon neutral theatre. In 2010 Arcola Energy Ltd was set up, specialising in hydrogen and fuel cells as well as using renewable and sustainable sources throughout the theatre. Since 2012 the theatre has reduced its carbon footprint by 25.4% (from 110.1 tonnes in 2011-12 to 83.1 tonnes in 2013-14).
We conducted a survey (found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NQPTDXY) for the community in Dalston Junction and took a few interviews from some people in the local community, mainly from the market place and shopping centre. The stories and situations some of the people told us about both shocked us and made us laugh and were definitely used as inspiration to create characters for our puppet theatre.
We then went on to look at all the productions ever performed at the theatre since they’ve been open and split the (very extensive) list between us as a group. From researching the plot and main characters of each productions as individuals we made a short summation and picked out our favourite ones to share with the rest of the group. After doing so we met up and discussed which ones were most prominent and exciting to include in our puppet theatre. An inspirational piece we found was an Indian Shadow Puppet video by Gul Ramani.
Our final list is below:
- The Crocodile (2007)
Guy gets swallowed by crocodile, contemplates life inside.
- Nosferatu (2007)
An adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Flood (2007)
Climate change through the eyes of ancient greek gods. Tale of Noah in the modern world.
- Torn (2007)
About judgemental family relationships, racial differences, immigration problems in the UK
- The Telephone (2009)
Man tries to propose to a girl but she’s on the phone, calls her from payphone and proposes over the phone.
A one-act telephonic opera for one woman, with music by Francis Poulenc to a libretto by Jean Cocteau, based on his 1930 play. A woman speaks on the telephone with her (invisible and inaudible) departing lover, who is leaving her to marry someone else the following day. This is their last telephone call. During the conversation, we learn that the woman has tried to kill herself. Poulenc’s music takes us into ‘cellars, tunnels’… dark and luminous musicscapes of the woman’s inner world of haunting memories and dreams…
- The Dog, the Night and the Knife (2014)
A hot August night. M finds himself at the dead end of a dark and deserted street, where everything has decayed and time has stopped. Hurled into a nightmare world, where wolves prowl, hunger is everywhere, and nothing is quite what it seems, M does the only logical thing: he runs. His flight through this land of blood and dust, flesh-eating seductresses and talking dogs forces him to confront his very existence, and as dawn approaches M realises this is one nightmare he may never awake from. (Information found from Arcola website description)
- Clarion (2015)
Clarion newspaper, about free speech, state of the media, nationalism. “Britain’s worst newspaper”, very suit and tie, props and set include a brick wall and a briefcase. Everyone hates a journalist – except, of course, for journalists themselves, who harbour for their reptilian trade the inexplicable devotion of a mother for her changeling infant. Mark Jagasia’s black comedy, set in the offices of the Clarion newspaper, captures the distinctive journalistic flavour of bile, hysteria and sentimentality with savage precision – as well it might, for Jagasia is a former showbusiness editor of the Daily Express. Even by the eccentric standards of tabloid papers, the Clarion is an exceptionally dysfunctional organ.
Journey’s Beyond (2014)
The House of Mirrors and Hearts (2015)
Chamber musical about love, lies and the ghosts of our past.
A Midsummers Night’s Dream (Shakesqueered Jan ‘15/Original)
Arcola Queer Collective’s sell-out, critically-acclaimed production returns to Arcola for one week only. Welcome to the forest. A surreal world of fairies, spells, incantations, magic – disorder made right by the mischief of the night.
The Turn of the Screw (2011)
Madama Butterfly (looking at set design and paper cranes to involve in set design?)
A young governess finds out that the two children in her charge are possessed by the previous inhabitants of the mansion. Inspired by Japanese folkloric ghost stories, premiered at Grimeborn.
Inspiration we used in thinking towards the set, to use a tree in the central part of the stage, mainly originating from A Midsummers Night’s Dream and Waiting for Godot as they are key elements of the set:
Some of the productions above didn’t make the final cut and others were added on (Waiting for Godot) towards our puppet and set curation but here is our final character list, which we split between us as a group to create each puppet – made with only reused or found materials.
Journalist whom everyone hates – Evil giant newspaper head
- Ivan (who gets eaten by crocodile)
- Crocodile (as a frame to the theatre, with the teeth/stomach around the set) 2
- Talking dog with a knife
- A very ugly werewolf
- Estragon (Waiting for Godot)
- Vladamir (Waiting for Godot)
- Guy who sells hats (from interviews)
- Criminal Barrister who bought cowboy hat
- Woman who is stalked by Nosferatu (Greta Schroder)
- Two possessed twins
- Son who stole money for mother (story from Dalston)
- Mother whose son stole money for her (story from Dalston)
- Ancient Greek god cutouts on cardboard (with added clouds)
- Tiny angel and demon cut outs (for the shoulders of Ivan)
We then went to look at types of sets and designs for the actual theatre plan, some of our ideas were brainstormed through a Pinterest page: https://uk.pinterest.com/yogidmt/arcola-project-puppets/
From this point we went on to the physical element of the task and began building the structure, which has been talked about as a separate element of this project.