The first course of its kind in the UK, Mountview’s MA in Site-Specific Theatre is created and led by Geraldine Pilgrim and provided in partnership with Shoreditch Town Hall. We spoke to Mountview Student Natalia to find out more about their experiences while studying.
Can you introduce yourself and the show you created?
Hi! My name is Natalia, and I am a part of the MA Site-Specific Theatre Practice course at Mountview. I am a director, as well as a lighting and sound designer, passionate for theatre and its potential to enact change. In March, we created a 30-minute site-specific theatre show in The Ditch at Shoreditch Town Hall for a small audience. This part of the course is called the London Try Out.
What inspired your London Try Out piece?
Our stimuli for the project were The Arrival by Shaun Tan and The Island by Armin Greder, but we each also brought our own background and experience and shared personal inspirations to create the show. We were particularly drawn in by the immigration issues that both books deal with, and their relevance to our modern context, and were intrigued by the visual arts of The Arrival, which inspired many of the images we created in the show.
What was the biggest challenge you had while working in the Ditch?
I think our biggest challenge, which we created for ourselves, was making the space seem to the audience like it was changing during the show. The intricate shape of the Ditch was helpful in doing this successfully, and additionally we used projection, lighting and sound effects, and a lot of physically moving suitcases with the help of our Stage Managers, to achieve this effect. For the audience, it meant they were transported through a world which developed as they moved through it.
What was your favourite part of working in the Ditch?
The best part of working in the Ditch was its beautiful walls, and that each room had its own atmosphere and personality. It was a slow process trying to envision the design of each room, but their history and architecture informed our designs, and we accomplished some very cool effects. It was also great to have the support of STH staff in making our wildest visions become reality.
You also had a residency in Italy as a part of the course – what was that like, and what did you work on while you were there?
In late May we took a trip to Polverigi, Italy, to learn more about Site-Specific Theatre, and its practical applications. I really enjoyed getting to explore the area, and towards the end of the trip, we were able to create a short theatre piece that spanned the town. Polverigi, with its many interconnected pathways and routes, made for a very exciting short piece that surprised the audience with the appearance of the same characters across the town, almost like in a film!
Thanks Natalie! You can find out more about the MA Site-Specific Theatre Practice course and how to apply here.
Images by Robin Savage.