By Ryan O’Shea
I am always inspired by objects when making theatre – I really like physically picking stuff up and having a good ole’ play with it. I R A N started in my mind with a treadmill – there was something about running really fast but being completely still that captured my imagination. I started to think about what I could do with this scrolling fabric that moves at different speeds and can hold my weight and what would happen if I put it on its side or even picked it up. I then saw a scrolling LED text bar in a window of a shop (they usually say something dull like “open” or “Mobile phones for sale” ) and I thought that this was a way of physically picking up text and handling it – interacting with subtitles in a unique way. I then thought about how these two different objects resonated with each other and how they could synergize together theatrically. I kept these thoughts brewing in my mind for a while (I think letting ideas simmer and ferment is an important part of being creative).
Some time went by and I was driving from Manchester to Bristol when a song came on the radio; the song was “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls. I had heard the song many a time before, growing up in a household where 80’s music was constantly played and loved and cherished. Something clicked and I thought I could use the song as a structure for the show. I listened to the song over and over again, I listened to the album the song is on, which I would highly recommend, It’s incredible. There were moments of great imagery in it all, like an apocalyptic alien invasion mixed with moments of genuine human emotion like falling in love that I wanted to investigate further. After working with the materials, I R A N started to take shape. By using the lyrics of the song as a loose, abstract narrative, I had self-imposed rules and a structure but also had great freedom with my ideas. I really ran away with it. My hope is that audiences will run with me. I’m really interested in creating work that’s different for every audience member, where meaning is secondary, where brains are making connections and recognizing references.
A lot of the show is spent running and through using the song and also a film device called the “Meet-Cute” (which is used mostly in Rom-Com films), I have discovered that I R A N tackles being confronted with an overwhelming emotional reaction and subsequently what happens when we try and run away from an unavoidable situation.
It feels the right time to be making the show – although inspired by an 80’s aesthetic, the show is not set there. I’ve kept the setting purposefully ambiguous. I have been thinking what audience might bring to the show, especially this week when the mess of Brexit has been saturating our news feeds. Maybe audiences will see a connection between the government’s actions and the attempt to run away from an unavoidable situation in the show? However, I hope the show will be more of an escape from the doom and gloom of UK politics rather than a reflection of it.
I’m really pleased to be running away to Camden Peoples Theatre this weekend. I wish I could run away there every weekend. I’m looking forward to talking to audiences and seeing what they think too!