Guest Blog: Barrel Organ

Allow It

You know when you’re having an argument but you realise a bit too late that you might actually be wrong and there’s just no point arguing anymore except to somehow prove the other person wrong and then your best mate turns to you and whispers: “Allow it”? I’m thinking that’s been a common theme with us.

Making Some People Talk About Violence has been like a really long fight. Well, not entirely… at the start we were frustrated, and the show (or pieces of it) was a mess, all eleven of us were pitching in trying to devise, to get our voices heard, going from being completely free, open and honest to suddenly self-policing any creativity through panic mode, wtf-does-this-even-mean-anymore mode, and over analysing all of the fun till we just thought: RIGHT, let’s get some daylight, watch “You want see state of our Wes” on YouTube and keep whatever we have for now anyway. I think we trusted that somehow it felt honest to keep working on those instinctual ideas and we actually just made more *mess* because there was always heart to it. We stopped when we ran out of time, we picked our favourite bits, negotiated a structure and showed it to some people at a scratch at New Diorama; it was more important to try it out than to be precious about the process. We then got to a point where we were like: “Right, maybe that worked?” And we went with *that* (still not really knowing entirely what *that* was).

barrel organ vests

(At one stage Jack thought it might be right to wear these sparkly vests from a cupboard at Warwick Arts Centre)

It took sharing it to own what we’d come up with at that stage, for us to be like: yeah, allow it. There were people in that audience that had got *something* out of us being present, and a lot of the ‘magic’ of the show actually happened during the moments we made decisions for the first time with and for this particular audience.

Since then, we’ve attempted to hold on to that honesty but draw a lot of it from driving the story home. As well as being more decisive, we kept reminding ourselves that whatever happens it can’t all be prescribed, it has to feel like a new show each time, otherwise, we will get bored and we will be giving the audience recycled boredom. It stayed so open that the structure was actually up for debate up until around the third preview we had in Edinburgh. We eventually found it was actually quite liberating finding the spontaneity in how we performed it so we decided on a rigid structure in the end.

barrel organ room

(Not entirely sure this is gonna work guys…)

Each of us have brought our opinions into this show, which keeps it exciting for us to do over and over and is one of the main reasons we’ve had a rotating cast. The eleven of us have talked so much about this family, about ‘some people’ and what we’re wanting to ask, say, make – but essentially we do reach our limit of absolutes, and leave the rest up to performance. What I love about working on this show is that we performers have trusted each other to go with our own interpretations of the story, and there isn’t much that’s more thrilling than not knowing how people are going to behave from start to end. Every show has had a different vibe, we’ve had angry shows, hopeless shows, a show that’s full of love, resentment, desire and a show that manages to mix all of those. All the while, it’s been important we don’t *stick* to everything that works and that we keep chasing the danger – this was what we said to ourselves for Nothing, and that’s the one thing we thought: let’s stick to that.

barrel organ joe

(I just dunno)

It’s a little different this Autumn run as there are now only four of us that make up the four people for each show. We’ve had to re-negotiate the ‘absolutes’ – for time and consistency, and more excitingly, mess with the ‘changeables’ to fit a new gang of four. We asked performers Ellice and Craig to get on board after Edinburgh, and again, a new cast (new people) have made a new show that we are all making and performing as a collective. Craig hadn’t seen the show, Ellice had a few times, Joe and I had done it a lot, and so we all came into rehearsal with a different relationship to the thing we were re-making. It’s been so necessary re-understanding the show, realising some ideas feel not-so-precious anymore, some things just are, and it’s just fun having the chance to create new material based on the new group. And, we now we have the next ‘instalment’ of SPTAV.

The show will change again, I hope. Maybe just a little. But ultimately we want to hold on to the honesty and spontaneity, to allow the instinctual ideas to be tried, for mistakes to happen, and to also accept there are some things that just feel right to keep.

Bryony x

Catch Some People Talk About Violence from Tue 1 – Sat 12 Dec at 9pm, plus Nothing and new scratch performances as part of the Barrel Organ Takeover Weekend, Sat 5- Sun 6 Dec.