Yep, folks, the guys at Bubble Theatre are at it again, creating something as-yet-a-mystery but without doubt truly exciting for us to enjoy while wandering round sundry parks across South London this summer.
They’re based over at Rotherhithe and despite having their grants cut to virtually nothing (they committed the cardinal sin of producing theatre people might actually enjoy…) they’re still creating really incredible, innovative stuff.
If you’ve never seen a Bubble show, then it’s hard to fully describe the magic created by a promenade performance that uses the very landscape it’s set in as both constraint and opportunity.
Beginning in the last of the day’s sun, the performance glides through the dusk and plunges into darkness, using a combination of whatever landscape the venue provides, some really quirky props, the actors skills, the audience’s imagination and quite a lot of torches to make something unique to each space. Last year’s Odyssey was absolutely wonderful – I still can’t walk through a certain part of Oxleas Wood without thinking of the trees and their haunting mementos of sailors lost at sea.
Losing their cash made Bubble return to the drawing board and think of new ways that they could involve their audience, and they came up with Fan made Theatre . People buy ‘stakes’ in the production (which in reality amounts to buying a ticket in advance and giving Bubble a fiver) which means that they actually have a hands-on say in what show goes on.
Stakeholders are invited to submit ideas for shows they’d like to see. It can be a story, a title or even just an idea – the only things they ask you to bear in mind are that the show needs to be quite robust for English weather in July/August (I’ve trudged round sundry parks in pouring rain, which sometimes actually made the shows even more magical) and be something that would enchant people of all ages.
When all the ideas are in (the deadline’s 19th April, so get your skates on) they’ll be discussed by a panel of ‘glittering intellectuals’ (Yours Truly was invited to join it, but sadly the paper bag really gets in the way of play reading…) and whittled down to a pithy five.
Everyone gets to vote on the shortlist. This year a team of actors will work on each of the 5 shortlisted proposals during the week of 3rd-7th May. Stakeholders are invited to drop into the workshop and/or come along on Saturday 8th May.
There’s a Stakeholders Special Preview on 22nd or 23rd of July in Sydenham Wells Park. Jonathan Petherbridge, Bubble’s artistic director, tells me “the feedback given after last year’s preview was really helpful – many comments resulted in changes, some bits were even cut – it all helped us develop a better show. “
Whichever show is chosen will be on tour from the 24th July to 14th August – visiting Sydenham, Southwark Park, Oxleas Woods and – drumroll – a mystery venue. Personally I’d like to see Greenwich Park being given the Bubble treatment, but I suspect I’ll be whistling for that one.
There’s one last joy for the stakeholders – a last night party, hosted by cabaret sensation Underbling and Vow, on Saturday 14th August.
Not bad for a fiver, eh…
If you’re gagging to sign up and see your idea made into wonderful, exciting challenging theatre (Have you worked out that I like this company yet?) join up here or, if you really can’t wait, call them on 020 7237 4434. I promise you it is fantastic. It’s one of the highlights of my summer.