'The Shrine of Everyday Things' is an immersive, interactive journey through domestic spaces under transformation and takes place later this month in Manchester. Blending installation and performance, the show is developed with Contact Young Company (CYC) and played-out in an empty row of houses set for demolition and regeneration. It's been described as 'Coronation Street meets David Lynch' and provides a glance behind the net curtains and a look at who we are and how we live.
We talk to Rodolfo Amorim, Lowri Evans and Renato Bolelli Rebouças, the creative team behind the forthcoming site-specific production that brings together Manchester and Brazil.
You've called the production 'The Shrine of Everyday Things'. What does this signify?
We want to show how we as consumers interact with the everyday. What we are making is an everyday shrine - giving attention to the mundane and minute of the way we live. We are looking at small objects of memory. What do we preserve? What do we throw away? At the same time we want to look at how we consume on a larger scale. There is both construction and destruction at the same moment in time. This is reflected in what’s happening in the area with the regeneration of housing.
We also want to answer some fundamental questions. What is a house? What is a home? What do we really need to live?
What can we expect to see?
This piece uses various sites in houses that are set for demolition. It combines installation and performance and considers how each can inform the other. This includes visual elements, intimate storytelling and moments of spectacle. The experience is quite cinematic. As the audience moves through the spaces, the effect is like the panning of a camera from the close and intimate to the far away. We use windows and doorways to frame 'shots' into different areas. It's like you’re inside a movie but you choose your angle and which shots to look at.
Why have you set this on a housing estate in Brunswick?
We're really trying to reflect what's happening in the community. People are still living there, so we started a dialogue with local residents; most of the houses will be refurbished rather than knocked down. We are trying to create a moment of community. It’s not a fictional piece. It’s about trying to be yourself.
We have used a lot of material that's been left behind. One of our themes is not to consume new things, so we have filled rooms with different recycled materials. For example, we collected all the junk mail that had been delivered to the four houses. It builds up over time. We use fragments of stories and moments past.
What has the development process been?
We started in early May, and spent eight weeks with the CYC. We developed ideas and we worked with a researcher. The final making process is four weeks. The production is made in the moment and influenced by our experiences in the houses and in the community. It’s a dynamic process. We have also worked with local participants from the M13 Youth Project, who have worked specifically on the design.
It's a devised show and we have worked with CYC to take them through the process of making site specific work. We've worked with the actors and artists to explore how to work with visual art and performance. They have all been out to record stories from people in the local communities of Brunswick and Ardwick, to understand what it's like to live in the area during this period of transition. It can be a challenge for the actors to design and develop the show, and then to be in it. But it's about having a dual thought process. It is important to enjoy the process and own the final product.
What has been the most memorable aspect of this production?
Bolelli: On our first day with CYC we asked them to bring in a personal object. One actress brought a ceramic object which broke when she took it out. She left the pieces to preserve the moment. As it was broken we talked about the object and its memory, and how important the object was. In the same way we see broken things in the houses that evoke strong memories. It is sad but important.
Lowri: We were rehearsing outside and a little girl came up to us and joined in. In the end she was leading the movement. This is what it's about - no words, a space to come together, not afraid to take part, just joining in.
Rodolfo: For me, it was the change from the first moment that the actors arrived in the house. Like a penguin in a desert, making tentative steps; feeling that they didn’t fit in. Quickly they started to inhabit the spaces, to sit and move around. The empty houses were taking on a character and being transformed back from a house to a home.
The Shrine of Everyday Things, July 22-25 12pm, 3pm and 7pm, audiences to meet at Contact, Oxford Road. Tickets £10/£6 concessions.
See more things to do in Manchester from Time Out.