We caught up with two of Encompass Theatre for a chat about their latest show- Lovers Anonymous.
Tell us a bit about you as a company and this show?
Ok so we’ll start with the company, we’re called Encompass Theatre Collective and we started to get together when we were in drama school we are at Guilford School of Acting together. While we were there I had completed a script and I asked 7 or so of my mates to come and help me put it on, so we then put that on at the end of the year when we finished the course and we did that for a week at the Bread and Roses. From that, we had the core group of the company. We discussed what we wanted to do, what we were similarly interested in. We decided on and themes of inclusivity, using international theatre styles, especially European theatre styles. Lovers Anonymous is only the second show we’ve put on and the first as a proper company.
Lovers Anonymous is a show that was first conceived at drama school in our devised project. It came together very last minute, there were all these ideas going around and it came from one last improvised rehearsal based on a counselling session on the themes of love. We have two ‘experts’ who run it and a variety of different people who are sharing their own problems through different forms. In the show, we have a lot of physical pieces, Frantic Assembly style stuff, a lot of music as well and I think a lot of it is on that idea of inclusivity. it’s breaking down any kind of audience-performer barrier.
Love is a common theme and has been for centuries. Knowing this projects began in Shakespeare’s sonnets, what makes your show unique?
I think what makes it unique is probably the form that it takes. The group counselling form, with everyone, sat in a circle and doing it in a community centre. We really try to make it feel like more of a shared space, rather than a performance space in the hopes that the audience members will get involved and sharing their stories, if they can, and in any way they want. Our show, and especially the ending, completely depends on what the audience do pretty much. I think we’ve developed ideas on types of love that we know, and that we’ve experienced, but really I think the show is going to be really open-ended and provides a lot of space for people to come in with their own views, and really make the show their own.
What have you enjoyed the most about this project?
I’ve enjoyed the format because it means that every time we do it it’s completely different, and there’s room for a bit of controlled chaos so it should be great.
We both find the most relaxing thing when you’re performing is knowing that there’s no way it can go wrong!
What do you think people will like most about the show?
We’ve got some physical Frantic Assembly style sections in the show, I think people will appreciate that because it contrasts with the format a little bit. I know that that’s my favourite stuff to see and to be involved with, it’s a bit funky and odd and I like that.
I hope people like the environment. Pretty much straight away when you come in it’s not a traditional theatre environment, and I think people could really buy into that and settle into that and that could set up the show really well.
As you’ve mentioned, you’ve not chosen a traditional theatre space, what has been the challenges and rewards of doing this so far?
There have been some promotional challenges! Our show poster isn’t particularly racy, but there is some sexual images (nothing too overt!) I’ve given the venue the posters, and I’m not sure if they’ve put them up.
What could be really cool when I went there last, they asked me what kind of age is appropriate and I said ‘with some of the themes and language Maybe it’s not appropriate for audiences 12 and under’ and they said that they have a massive community of older people in their 80s and 90s- and we were like get them in! Bring them along!
Are you hoping to develop the piece? If so, how?
We love the idea of the format, and I know that we’d all like to see what we could do with that. For me we discussed early on about making it with Shakespeare characters, and bringing in a bit more of a heavy Shakespeare element because that was something we were interested in. I guess it would be that- what could we throw in into a circle where everyone participates and talks about stuff?
And it’s so flexible for so many different spaces, even just green rooms or community halls it can be done in any room!
I always talk about what the £300 budget version is compared to the £10,000 version. It would great to just be able to do everything bigger, with massive movement sequences, disco lights and stuff like that.
Favourite line from the play?
“Sometimes I get sweat under my arms is that normal”
“Your sexy sexy I’ve got things I want to do to you.”
Three words to describe the play?
Open for anyone!
Chaotic, Funny, Different.
Tell us a funny story from rehearsals?
There’s a lot of biscuits in the show- for everyone, not just the cast, and there was one time during the show where biscuits were being handed out, but I think we didn’t realise that a movement sequence was coming up. So then a lot of people were doing the movement sequence while they were trying to swallow digestives, and a lot of stuff came flying out over the floor.
Anything else people should know before coming to the show?
We may ask you to do things.
And you’re welcome to do things
Lovers Anonymous is running at the St Pancras Community Association on the 4th, 11th and 18th August at 20:30 (8.30pm!) As part of the Camden Fringe.