Guest Blog: Louise White on The Dead Sea

In our latest Guest Blog, Louise White gives an insight into The Dead Seatheir upcoming show as part of Shoot the Breeze; two weeks of work addressing climate change and the environment, here Sun 5 Nov. Click here for tickets.

What do you do when you lose your sense of adventure? When you lose your passion? That’s where we find Louise at the start of the show, painstakingly measuring an unapologetically budget-shop-bought sponge every hour in the hope that it grows. She finds herself trapped in her situation – both hating the sponge and the monotony it represents, but also treating the sponge as a safety blanket – a convenient excuse to hide away from her fear.

As she stares vacantly into space while waiting for the next hour to tick round, Louise daydreams of being a child in the bath tub. As a child, Louise wanted nothing more to be the world’s greatest deep sea explorer and go on all sorts of adventures with her friend Reggie, a dare-devil turtle!

We also find Louise on occasion dreaming of gliding through the ocean, free and powerful as an orca, going wherever her curiosity takes her. But these dreams have a sinister undertone and her fear of the ocean is never too far away, battling against her longing to adventure again.

Now, as a marine biologist you may think that a fear of the ocean would be quite problematic… and it is. She is constantly having to make excuses as to why she can’t join the team on field missions out in the open ocean and her anxiety starts to rear it’s head in the form of plastics spilling out from cupboards, pockets, and any other places in her lab that they can hide! As the story unfolds we find out the reason for Louise’s fear of the ocean and what she tries to do to overcome it.

Of course, as you might have guess by now, this show is about Louise conquering her fear of the ocean and rekindling her sense of adventure. It also has an important conservation message. I wanted to specifically deal with plastics as that is the most pressing problem facing our oceans. The conservation elements are craftily included in dream sequences, flashbacks, in the materials used to create the set and props, as well as the slightly absurd moments in Louise’s lab where plastics start to bulge out of the woodwork. I’ve been working alongside the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust to inform the show and, if it proves to be a success, the LWT will roll out the show as part of their Living Seas programme to raise awareness of conservation aims on our local shores.

I enjoy making autobiographical shows, some more loosely based than others! The Dead Sea is a bit of fun looking at what life might have been like in an alternate reality had I pursued wanting to be a marine biologist when I was 13. As it happens when I was 14 I fell in love with theatre and the rest, as they say, is history. There are also a lot of my own experiences that go into my work, particularly surrounding mental health. I previously created a show called Debris that dealt with my experience of depression. The Dead Sea deals with the ideas of anxiety, and loss of purpose and passion. What is it to become disolutioned? In the making of the show, mindfulness has played a big part, and meditation music has been integral to the making process and getting that feeling of ‘under the sea’. This calming and gentle atmosphere the show creates has been praised by parents looking for something different to the usual family show, which tends to be very excitable.

A few things I’ve been playing around with while creating The Dead Sea as I develop my practice have been object play and puppetry. This is something that I’m developing a real taste for and would love to keep working with puppetry to make it a staple of my practice. This will also be the first time I’ve worked with animation and projection mapping as part of my work, and what I’ve learned has been incredible! I plan to build more on this next year as I experiment with creating a more immersive environment and develop the set so it doubles as an interactive sensory installation tailored for people with learning disabilities. Watch this space!

I’m so pleased to be bringing The Dead Sea to Camden People’s Theatre, and show what I have been working on during my time as an In Good Company associate artist. IGC is an artist development scheme based in the east midlands, which helps to progress artists in their practice and enhance their artistic profile within and beyond the east-midlands, forming new working relationships and getting the work out to new audiences. I’m really excited to show my work to the lovely CPT audiences!

If you would like to know more about myself, and the show, please visit my website: www.louisewhitetheatrician.com