ED2011 COLUMN: The Lecoq-trained members of Rhum And Clay Theatre Company headed Fringe-ward for the very first time this year with their intriguing-sounding production ‘Shutterland’.
It sounded so intriguing, in fact, that we tipped it in our preview issue. Now we have seen it too, and rather liked it. So we thought we’d ask the group to tell us something about their Festival journey.
“From empty conference rooms in Paris to vacant bars and garages in Oxford: such unlikely places have been the breeding ground for Rhum And Clay Theatre Company’s first Edinburgh Fringe show, ‘Shutterland’. Ever since we got here, it’s been a vibrant blur of faces and colours, a heady mixture of flyering, performing and stapling.
After arriving in Edinburgh it was a case of last minute rehearsals, a hurried tech in the venue, and before we knew it we were performing our first preview show. After a quiet first night, word of mouth spread and by the end of the first week we were picking up steam and a buzz started to build around ‘Shutterland’. This helped with audiences and then, when our first reviews came in, our audience numbers increased even more. What has pleased us the most has been the positive response from both young and old; only today we had a giggling six year old girl on the front row.
Certainly one of the most challenging elements of the fringe is convincing strangers that your show is worthy of their attention and hard-earned money. This is especially difficult when your company is only four guys doing everything from publicity to production and, of course, performing. However, a constant diet of coffee, bacon rolls and Vitamin C is keeping us on course.
We have all been consistently and pleasantly surprised at the warmth and receptiveness of the public, who have listened generously to us on the Mile and at various places around the city. We always aim to be accessible and open and this extends to what we do on stage. ‘Shutterland’ appears to be connecting with people in a way that has exceeded our expectations, and this is tremendously encouraging to a young company like us. We trust in the goodwill of the audiences at Edinburgh and so far, they haven’t disappointed us.
The show is in a highly physical, cinematic style and inevitably, this takes its toll on our bodies. Aching muscles, bruised knees and copious perspiration are all part and parcel of the theatre Rhum and Clay makes, but it’s all worth it. We’re having an amazing time and our audience seem to be too.
We believe in a progressive independent theatre, opportunities that are there to be made and taken. Through participation in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival we wish to develop and grow both within the company and as practitioners. Preparation for the Fringe has been tough and at times relentless, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Waking up in the morning to receive news of not a single sale for your show but then working hard to fill your venue is a satisfying, if not exhausting experience. The pressure of performing for an expectant public is what drives us, and the positive response of the audience is humbling and makes it all worthwhile. After all, of the 2,500 shows at the fringe, we are all artists who want to entertain, and it’s that shared connection that makes the festival such a great place to be”.
Rhum And Clay Theatre Company’s show ‘Shutterland’ was performed at the Zoo Venue during Fringe 2011.