If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, I’m sure you’re aware that we have been creating a new show called Suitcases this year. This show has an indoor AND outdoor component, both of which will stand individually but by seeing both you will get the whole story from every angle. The show looks at technology in our modern world and what happens if a single moment or mistake is captured and released onto the Internet? What will this do to your life and those you love? We use our trademark style to explore this sentiment, to really make our audience’s think as well as laugh!
We have been rehearsing Suitcases since January 2015. This started with a week at the lovely Theatre Royal Winchester whose in-house festival, Hat Fair, have co-commissioned the piece. This was the perfect place to start thinking through some ideas and work out a rough structure for both shows. These structures have altered and differed through the creation period but were a great stepping stone to make the shows that you see now.
From there, we had alternating weeks on and off rehearsals until July in various locations around London. This show has required more attention than a typical Wet Picnic show due to the two separate elements- that have to be connected but different enough to ensure you’re not seeing the same show twice. Decisions and directions were made by our illustrious director, Matt, to steer the fabulous performers towards the ultimate goal for the shows.
In what seemed like no time, the first weekend in July came around, which could mean only one thing. It was time for Suitcases’ first outdoor premiere at Hat Fair, our home festival. Since Wet Picnic’s inception, we have been a permanent fixture of Hat Fair’s programme. We wanted to do not only ourselves and the festival proud, but also our dedicated audience. Without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today and do the jobs that we love every day! You definitely didn’t fail to be supportive. We were overwhelmed with the support and praise for our new show. Including wonderful quotes such as: “It almost doesn’t matter what they are doing, because they do it so well”, “The highlight of my Hat Fair is always Wet Picnic” and “It was ingenious, and has definitely made me think about the dangers of the Internet”. With three days of Hat Fair under our belt we felt confident going into the next stage of development for the two shows. We bid farewell for the summer full of inspiration and ideas to play around with in the room for when we met again in September.
Before we knew it, it was September and we were back in 101 Creation Space at New Greenham Arts, Newbury. 101 is a brilliant space where you can work, eat and sleep on the same site – which is perfect for us! After a busy day rehearsing- nothing is better than bonding over some home cooking just seconds away from the space and then crawling into a cosy and comfortable caravan just a minutes walk down the road on a secure site. We began to work out the kinks with the outdoor show that Hat Fair had highlighted and reworked bits and pieces. Happy with the result we travelled to Poole Lighthouse (also a co-commissioner of the show) to spend our first week of autumn rehearsals on the indoor show. Being in the space, which is our indoor premiere space on the 29th-30th October, was incredibly beneficial and really helped us to shape the piece- to know what we are working with in advance was perfect. From there, armed with knowledge and motivation we returned to London and devised the indoor show for the following 4 weeks.
In this time, we had a second premiere of the reworked outdoor show at Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival (another of our co-commissioners). We were both nervous and excited to be taking the show out again after such a long gap, but as soon as we started the first show our nerves subsided and we really began to enjoy and play with each other and the audience. We had 6 brilliant shows in such lovely weather too! We were again so appreciative of all the comments we had over the weekend stating how much you enjoyed it- including; “The show kept my two year old enthralled for a full 45 minutes- if that doesn’t tell you how good it is- nothing will!” It was also a bonus to be so well looked after by the festival themselves- so thank you very much!
Buzzing from this energy, we were eager to get back into the room for the final two and a half weeks rehearsal. Having devised a full structure, all that’s left for us to do is rehearse rehearse rehearse ahead of the indoor premiere at Poole Lighthouse at the end of the month.
We have put so much hard work into this show and have created something that we are all truly proud of. We have to say a massive thank you and congratulations to the cast and crew who have expertly dealt with any curveball we have thrown at them and concentrated so hard and shown true dedication. Without you, we wouldn’t have a show- and each and every one of you has done a superb job. The production team and core company who have kept the wheels turning with the remainder of our touring and education projects are also in need of congratulating. I have never before seen a company who come together and get all hands on deck when the time is needed; it is a beautiful thing to be a part of. Every cog in this machine is valued and fully appreciated. The festivals and theatre venues who have had a hand in commissioning Suitcases, are owed such a huge thank you- we have so enjoyed this process and making a piece of theatre which makes you think and lets you have a good time. And last but not least- Thank you to our lovely audiences who come to watch our shows and in turn follow our story and help us grow.
Now, if you’ve read all of this post and feel like you’ve missed out on seeing Suitcases. Then do not fear- we are yet to perform the indoor show at Poole Lighthouse. The indoor installment is ready to be downloaded on the 29th-30th October at 8pm. Including a post show Q&A on the Thursday night. Please do come along, and ask us some questions. We love meeting our audiences and talking about the processes we use to make our work. We hope to see you there to share Suitcases with you.