This weekend, actor, playwright and Theatrician, Louise White brings her one woman environmental show to Derby Theatre as part of a nationwide tour. What should we expect? In her website, Louise explains a little bit more about herself:
I make devised theatre with participation at its heart. Passionate about theatre without a forth-wall, I look to immerse my audiences in my work and create a sense of community. With a mix of autobiography, social and environmental messages, and repeated references to David Attenborough, I conjure up fun experiences that are all about breaking down social boundaries and inclusivity.
What I’m up to now…
I am an associate artist with the In Good Company artist development (Derby Theatre), and the Leicester Curve Breakthrough Artist programmes. Being a part of In Good Company has been invaluable. I’ve learnt a ridiculous amount and have been offered opportunities that have led to so many wonderful things!
I started 2017 year working towards my arts council grant for The Dead Sea and I’m very pleased to say that I was awarded the funding to develop it. Since then I’ve been beavering away in the rehearsal room with a great team around me. I presented works-in-progress at both Departure Lounge festival and at the Attenborough Arts Centre in July, as well as taking the show to Camden People’s Theatre in November. 2018 see the start of my Preview Tour for the show, taking it across the East Midlands. For more information on tour dates please click here.
I am also very excited to announce my new job working with Hubbub Theatre, co-facilitating drama sessions with their adult and youth learning disabilities groups. This has quickly become the best part of my working week and I can’t put into words how much I’m learning, but am also benefitting massively as a practitioner and a person from being a part of what Hubbub are doing to improve access to the arts.
Training and what got me here…
I graduated from Dartington College of Arts with a degree in devised theatre. The focus of which was to create contemporary performances through democratic collaboration with peers and performance makers. Much of this work was interdisciplinary, working with fine artists, musicians, choreographers and writers as well as theatre makers. The work produced was varied, in the form of theatre shows, site-specific performances, performance art, and installation art. In my professional practice since then I have continued this approach to my work and have actively championed making work through the ethos of skill sharing through collaboration.
Upon graduating I was awarded a grant from Falmouth University to develop my own theatre company. The grant support-period lasted a year, within which myself, and the others in my company, further developed our performances and arranged a regional tour of this work. We also worked closely with the Curriculum Outreach Programme at Falmouth University to deliver workshops in schools and sixth forms throughout Cornwall, focusing on team building skills and performance making through autobiographical material and collaboration. I now work on a solo basis in much the same way.
Since returning to the east-midlands, I have developed my professional practice by working with several Nottingham-based arts organisations, such as the Lakeside Arts Centre, the Nottingham Contemporary, New Perspectives, The Malt Cross, Notts TV, the Actors’ Workshop Nottingham, The Actors Studio and the National Student Drama Festival.
Work is always ongoing! There are always new shows to make, new people to teach, new places and people with whom to share my knowledge and expertise!
But what of the show itself? What is it about? Louise describes it on her website thus:
Louise has lost her sense of adventure. Her days consist of observing sponges… which is pretty boring. She would love to journey to the deep ocean, if only she wasn’t so afraid of the water!
As a child she wanted to be a great ocean explorer and liked nothing more than to play her toy turtle and inflatable killer whale!
Louise embarks on a mission to the deep ocean, but on the way tragedy strikes and her life and childhood dreams hang in the balance. Will she make her way back to the surface? Will she conquer her fear of the sea? Join Louise on her journey as she explores the ocean depths. With a mix of light humour, adventure and tragedy; Louise faces plenty of challenges as she pursues her dreams below the waves.
The Dead Sea is a performance suitable for all, looking to get all ages excited about saving our planet and looking towards the future. It is made with support from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
Camden People’s Theatre have an excellent website and invite guest bloggers. In this blog, Louise White talks about The Dead Sea:
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 disillusioned? 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: http://www.louisewhitetheatrician.com
And so there you have it. Before you started this preview you knoew nothing about Louise and the Dead Sea, now there is little you do not know!
Come down and see the show on Saturday. Behind the Arras will have a review up on Sunday.