Getting to know Third Angel...

Thu 9 February 2012
What inspired ‘What I Heard About the World’?

The whole project was born during a conversation in Jorge Andrade’s flat in Lisbon in 2007. Since we had met in 2004 we’d been talking about our two companies, Third Angel and mala voadora, collaborating on a project. As is often the way, we had had a moment of realisation that this collaboration wasn’t going to happen unless we actually, you know, started it. So Jorge and I met and he told me about several newspaper stories that had caught his attention recently. It was immediately noticeable to me that the thing these stories had in common was that they were of fakes: replacements, stand-ins, substitutions. Our conversation moved on to maps and mapping, and how a map is a replica, or a stand-in. We began discussing a project that located these stories of the inauthentic on a giant map of the world. By the end of the conversation we understood what we thought the project was about, and we had the title, What I Heard About The World.

How do you go about making your productions accessible to a wider audience?

Our work is based very clearly on a desire to communicate directly and openly with the audience – which is most apparent in the way we talk directly to them. Often the work feels that it has as much in common with stand-up as it does with plays. And those more experimental practices are often designed in part to help break down the fourth-wall, which actually makes the work more accessible to a lot of people. The collision of stories and modes of telling in What I Heard About The World reflects the many ways we encounter stories in everyday life here in the west – they come at us in fragments, from TV, newspapers, magazines, the internet, conversations… So audiences – particularly young audiences – tell us that the show reflects their own experience of the world, whilst also telling them new stories.

Third Angel has shown work in some bizarre spaces (such as a public toilet in Bristol)- what’s been the most unique experience you’ve ever had as a company so far?

We made a one-on-one show back in 2002 called Where Have They Hidden All the Answers?, which was partly inspired by the market researchers (or “clipboarders” as I think of them) you see on the pedestrianised bit of a lot of town centres. Usually the show was performed indoors, in a gallery, or workroom, in a venue. When we remade the piece in Portuguese in Coimbra, the gallery we were meant to be working in fell through at the last minute. So our hosts, the SITE Festival, hired us a portacabin, painted it bright yellow (their festival colour), and put it in the town centre for us. As audiences were not able to book in advance, the performers had to actually stop people in the street and invite them to “help us with our research.” It was brilliant.

What other theatre companies do you most admire?

This is always a difficult question, because I always end up missing someone out… My current personal favourite companies and artists include Stan’s Cafe, Lone Twin, Bill Drummond, Action Hero, Reckless Sleepers, Unlimited, Bobby Baker, Tim Crouch, Chris Goode – people making really distinctive performance work. I’ve really enjoyed recent work by Bryony Kimmings, Andy Field, Little Bulb, Keiran Hurley and Daniel Bye, too…. and though it’s predictable of me to say this, I’m excited that we’ve made this show with mala voadora as their work is really beautiful.

Do you believe theatre which includes several different art forms such as live art and photography speak louder than traditional theatre in our world today?

The work that I find resonates with me is work that really explores and exploits the possibilities of its own form – work that couldn’t exist in another medium. So I like live performance work that talks to its audience, that is present in the room with them in that moment – and of course that doesn’t exclude plays at all. It probably sounds obvious but I like good plays – and good live art, good installation, good photography… But also of course – looking at the work we’ve made over the years – as a maker and audience member, I think of photography, film, video and so on, as part of the theatre-maker’s tool box; I love work that combines media well – and for a reason.

How would you describe your show in a short sentence to someone who had no clue of what it was about?

It’s an opportunity to travel around the world from the comfort of your theatre seat: a journey of true stories that are funny, shocking, brutal, strange, sometimes unbelievable. With a couple of songs.

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