Olivia Furber: My Routes North journey so far.

Routes North is a partnership initiative between ARC, The Lowry, and Theatre in the Mill. In 2016, ivo Theatre will be working with the three venues to produce a new piece of theatre In The Vice Like Grip of It in the North of England. Olivia Furber, Co-Director of ivo Theatre talks about her Routes North journey so far.


Two weeks ago we settled in to start our first rehearsals for In The Vice Like Grip of It (to be known as ITVLGOI from here on in) at The Lowry.


Combining theatre, new writing, projection mapping and sound design ITVLGOI watches a romantic relationship unfold in a domestic setting. With nothing to fear and nothing to hide, it makes sense to share everything with the person you love most. Or does it? What happens if you suddenly realise the person you live with is watching you?


Unearthing the scale of mass surveillance, ITVLGOI looks at how many ways we can be ‘watched,’ and the paranoia that ensues. Web cam, medical records, google sharing, 3rd party, consumer history; the scope for surveillance is so large. We want to ask whether this is a problem? If it’s for our safety, why do we feel so nervous? And since when did private become a pejorative word?



After two rounds of Research & Development during the summer of 201,5 we were eager and excited to get down to the nitty gritty of making the piece. We kicked off week one by spending time with our sound designer, Tom Slater and video & set designer Cate Blanchard. As we are devising the piece we have a number of mysteries to be unlocked and discoveries to be made, so we spent a day running through our knowns and known unknowns, setting each other tasks and making narrative decisions.


Tom, who is the co-founder of Call & Response (a great sonic arts collective based in London, check them out) introduced the idea of building micro rhythms for each character that indicate their differing mental states and levels of fear. Cate (who, by the way, teaches music production on the UK’s premiere drag course) shared ideas around using images of medical data from each character in her projections, at a point when one of the characters invasion into the privacy of the other has reached an extreme.


Jo Tyabi (co-founder of ivo Theatre) and I spend the rest of the week setting each other writing tasks. We use text generation to explode the bigger themes we are exploring in the piece; trust, love, betrayal, forgiveness. Through this exploration we start to make important decisions about the world we are creating. Most of the text will not make it on stage but the process of generating it opens narrative possibilities and gets our minds in motion.


In week two the lovely Leigh Campbell, who will be performing alongside Jo, joins us. His spritely energy is a delight to work with and through improvisations we start to get an idea of how his character can be an analogy for the British state. Through games, tasks and further improvisations Jo and Leigh have been generating narrative possibilities which we compile and discuss as we go along. Fuelled by coffee and trail mix we end the week with a bunch of scenes, concrete dramatic discoveries and a story board that will guide our rehearsal process over the coming month.


Our next stop is ARC Stockton where we will be re-joined by Cate to introduce live video feeds and projection mapping and by Tom who will start to work his sonic wizardry into the domestic world of the two characters we meet on stage.

We’ll be back at The Lowry with the finished product on the Fri 26 & Sat 27 Feb. Do come and see the show and join us for a drink after for a chat about civil liberties, consent and questions about how and in what ways are own lives are being monitored.

Written by Olivia Furber, Theatre Maker & Co-Founder of ivo Theatre.

In The Vice Like Grip of It previews in The Lowry Studio on Fri 26 & Sat 27 February 2016. For more info click here.