Ahead of premiering their new physical theatre piece Origins in The Studio at The Lowry (Thu 28 & Fri 29 April), Animikii Theatre talk through their ‘Developed With’ journey so far.
For any emerging independent theatre company, the words; funding, space, and exposure mean an awful lot.
Our ‘Developed with…’ journey began with an idea, or in our case, not just an idea, but a way of training that will long inform our audiences of our signature style on stage. The idea was of a man long forgotten, and committed to the perennial label of ‘evil’ through the ages of literature; a dark fable of overriding emotions, a literary figure in need of an artistic recourse. So, we had the idea, and the physical philosophy to make it happen, but how to reach an audience? Heck! Through what platform and on what stage do we put it on? The ‘Developed with…’ journey has given Animikii Theatre that platform.
In the summer of 2014 we were recommended to The Lowry Studio membership scheme by one, Jodie Gibson of the Axis Arts Centre, Crewe. In search of a chance to meet more theatres and introduce ourselves as ‘emerging artists with ideas’, we signed up, and after what seemed like 5 seconds we found ourselves having coffee with Matthew Eames (The Lowry Studio Programmer).
This coffee involved a lot of listening! Honestly, we did a lot of listening and then listened some more to the stream of advice that Matthew offered up for free, as what can only be seen as a true act of care for an emerging young theatre company, and not a sense of obligation. I guess the reason why I’ve included this story is because I feel that our ‘Developed with…’ relationship started with that coffee (paid for by Matthew, by the way. Thanks Matt!). So much so, that within weeks we were sent a host of opportunities through the membership scheme.
Click, read, apply!
There were lots of commissions on offer, but in the end we decided to apply for the joint commission between The Lowry Studio and two rural touring schemes, Cheshire Rural Touring Arts & Spot On Lancashire Touring. Don’t ask me why! We had a very limited idea of what rural touring was, having only seen a handful of shows between us. The only reason I can proffer is that it gave us the opportunity to not only tour to studio audiences but to also tour to a more isolated audience in church and villages halls that could connect to the story of Cain & Abel.
We made the shortlist! Practice, practice, PRACTICE filled the days leading up to our pitch to a panel of judges, including Claire Symonds (The Lowry Studio Programer), Claire Smith (Cheshire rural) and Sue Robinson (Spot on). I have never felt as scared in my life delivering that pitch, and I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable standing up and speaking about a piece at any event! Let me perform it any day of the week, but please, just not speaking about it! The nerves were quickly assayed through Matthew’s calming note before we entered the room, “Catch your breath, take your time.” (Thanks again Matt!)
Once the pitch was over it was left with the Gods, and like anyone will tell you, “log it, file it, move on!” And we did! I’ll take you back to those words from the beginning of this blog; funding, space, exposure. Those first words that I associated with, ‘success’ or “you’re doing well aren’t you?”
Well, those words sprang to mind and were replaced with pure joy as we received the call that we had been chosen to become the latest component of team, ‘Developed With The Lowry’. Joy led to numbness, and then led to fear… “Oh my god, we actually have to make it!” and… “Oh my god, we have to learn about how to make a rural touring show!”
We needn’t have worried! All of the team involved in this commission have thrown help at us from every angle. Every question that we needed answering has been, and then some. We came into this process expecting to be given space, funding, exposure but we were given more. We were given attention, expertise and an unwavering boat-load of good will! Without the ‘Developed With The Lowry’ support, would we have been able to travel to Bratislava to train with Rootlessroot (one of the world’s leading theatre companies in movement research)? Would we have been able to train with an elite group of parkour artists at Elite Manchester? Would we have been able to travel to the rural touring convention in Norfolk to soak ourselves in all the knowledge and wisdom that that world holds? Would we have even dreamed of performing at the Southbank Centre as part of our 2016 tour? The answer, pure and simply, is no!
If in the future you find yourself in the position of being a part of the ‘Developed With…’ team, then you won’t just get space, funding, exposure; you will be given the tools to move your company to levels you hadn’t dreamed of. To the entire team at The Lowry, thank you from all of us at Animikii Theatre; Thank you for believing in us and we hope to make you proud.
Written by Adam Davies, Animikii Theatre.