The company was formed in 1999 with the principal aim of telling dark and beautiful stories. In order to take our audiences on adventures into strange, dreamlike landscapes, we wanted to make theatre that focused on the live event, to create an experience that was both visceral and entertaining.
We use the theatre space to create a landscape in which remarkable worlds can exist. We are drawn to stories and places that are otherworldly, magical and atmospheric. We grab stories out of the darkness, play with them, and see where we are led. Often, we don’t know what it is about or where it is going. The work is intuitive, not intellectual.
Usually, we start work in a rehearsal room and everyone in the creative team is involved from day one. There is no Vanishing Point style – our work changes from show to show. What remains constant however, is a commitment to tell remarkable stories and to collaborate with artists from many disciplines and cultures.
We treat our rehearsal room as a playground, but a playground with rules, routines, and where an ethos of hard graft is instilled, combining the discipline of work with the freedom of play in the firm belief that one leads to the other. We work as a team throughout, led by Artistic Director Matthew Lenton. Artistic Associates include performer Sandy Grierson and designer Kai Fischer.
Our first production was an adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck’s play, The Sightless. Tired of seeing plays that could just as easily have been on television, we decided to abandon the visual aspect altogether: to perform the play in complete darkness. The audience were led hand in hand into a completely pitch black space. Around them – in three dimensions – sounds, words, smells and atmosphere were conjured to tell the thrilling story of a group of blind people lost and apparently stranded in a strange wilderness by someone else’s design. It was not like a theatre show. It was like a fairground ride. It was like a ghost train. It was totally immersive.
Since then, not wishing to stick to a formula, our work has developed as we continue on our own adventure. For a period of time, when we first received funding, we forgot how to make theatre. We thought we had to do things the way other people did them, that we had to meet certain standards, that theatre had to be ‘serious’. We forgot what had made our early shows truthful. We made some bad work. But then we realised we only had to do what we wanted to do and so we set out on a new path.