‘…a totally enclosed window for us to explore, experiment, and create exactly what we wanted…’

Ryan Leder of Theatre in Black reflects on their recent Nest Residency:

‘Loop’ was conceived between myself (Ryan Leder, playwright) and Helen Crevel (performer) on a week-long residency in ARC Stockton. At the time, we didn’t know what we wanted to make – we arrived with only ourselves, a loop station, and a copy of Duncan MacMillan’s ‘Every Brilliant Thing’. Originally, we thought we were exploring legacy, but by the middle of the week – we were talking about a subject we both felt much more personal about: loneliness.

This meant we were making a show for people who felt lonely. This meant we couldn’t expect audiences to come to us. We needed to make a show that reached our audience physically and with resonance. Walk in: Talking Birds.

Our introduction to Talking Birds was one of those wonderful accidents – I was taking part in China Plates’ Optimists scheme where Talking Birds were a guest speaker. As they spoke about non-conventional spaces and reaching audiences, I felt like the stars had aligned. I only approached them to ask for some advice, but was instead encouraged to apply for the Nest Residency. We did, it was successful, and suddenly the whole project seemed considerably more achievable.

Our residency took the form of: a week-long research and development in Theatre Absolute’s Shop Front Theatre in Coventry: a financial contribution to help with the costs of that week: access to the difference engine for ‘Loop’s tour this November/December.

For those of you unaware, Shop Front Theatre is exactly as it says – a converted shopfront in a shopping centre, now one of the most exciting and unique theatre spaces in the Midlands. The team and I personally dubbed it “the perfect place for research and development, the worst place for rehearsals” – because being there didn’t feel like work.

There was no pressure, no outside eye asking us to justify our time – we were in a safe and supportive space that we were allowed to temporarily make our own. We were literally given a key – and thus offered absolutely flexibility to work exactly how we felt necessary for the process. It was a joy to travel to that space each day – and some of the best work of my career so far took place with the city centre right outside the theatres window walls.

The financial contribution was the addition that made it feel as though the whole thing was too good to be true. So often at these emerging stages space and support can feel like all you deserve, but Talking Birds recognised the time and risk involved – and offered to take it off our hands. Suddenly the space they’d provided became not only a physical one, but one in time – a totally enclosed window for us to explore, experiment, and create exactly what we wanted for the betterment of our audience.

At time of writing, we are a few weeks away from rehearsals for ‘Loop’, and Talking Birds’ support has been integral. The show has grown and evolved in ways that we couldn’t have anticipated 2 months ago, yet alone one year, and we now feel like we have something that can truly achieve our aim of reaching audiences, physically and with resonance.

Thank you to Talking Birds.

If you’re interested seeing our show, we’ll be performing at:
The Core at Corby Cube, Nov 22nd
ARC Stockton, Nov 27th
Mansfield Old Library, Nov 28th
Arena Theatre, Nov 29th
Forest Arts Centre, Dec 3rd
Attenborough Arts Centre, Dec 5th

Ryan Leder, Theatre in Black

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