Distillery Takeover Week at Taunton Brewhouse 20 – 25 September

This is the last in our series of interviews with visiting artists who are at the Brewhouse as part of the Distillery Takeover week between Mon 20 – Sat 25 September. They are receiving seed funding and organisational support to help develop their ideas, which will be presented as a ‘scratch’ performance to a live audience at the end of the week.

This is an incredibly exciting initiative to encourage and support artists and companies, made possible by funding from the Weston Culture Fund, specifically for a programme of activity to develop and support regional artists under Taunton Brewhouse’s Distillery strand.

We thought it would be great to get to know the artists a bit better, so we have asked them some questions – some serious – some less so.

Next up is playwright Jack Hart who has joined Finlay, Bee and Josie on THERE’S NO TIME (THE WORLD IS DYING) as a “radical performance project exploring and challenging the potential of theatre as a means of responding to the climate emergency”.

  1. How are you feeling about putting on a performance in five days?

It’s a really exciting challenge to put our piece together in such a short amount of time. We started with only a title and the idea that we would devise a musical, so it really is a speedy process of generating material and then trying to fit that into an overarching structure that feels urgent, provocative as honest.

  1. What are the challenges?

It’s been really fun working with the team, I’m a total newbie who was brought on board after the application had been done, so we’ve been developing a shared language to devise with. It’s also exciting because we all share certain skills, like acting and singing, but we have other skill sets which are quite different- I’m a playwright, Finlay has a background in producing, Josie has an applied theatre and professional musical theatre background and Bee can get a good sound out of pretty much any instrument. It makes for an exhilarating room, but no process is without challenges.

  1. What do you hope to get out of the experience?

It’s great to get the devising muscles working again after the past year, I want to make something exciting and hopefully build some lasting relationships.

  1. What was your inspiration for the piece?

We’re using climate change as a starting point. I’m really keen to keep it focussed on people and human nature as I think that’s a way we can get through to people and actually ask important questions whilst keeping it engaging.

  1. What’s the best part for you about working in the theatre?

The whole team at the venue have been incredibly welcoming! It’s a really lovely atmosphere knowing there are two other companies also developing new musical theatre in the building.

  1. Artists often have other jobs on the side or to keep them going between work. What sorts of things have you done? Highlights? Worse jobs?

I’ve worked for call centres from home, ushering, bar work, sound engineering, all sorts really. I do like the ushering as you get to watch all sorts of plays that come through and it helps me to stay sharp as a writer by analysing what I watch. A low point I would say is call centre work which was terrible for my mental health.

  1. And a last one because I’m nosey and love to know what people like– what’s the last book you read or film you watched?

A book I enjoyed recently was The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk which goes into lots of different aspects of trauma and PTSD, looking at various studies and research. It contains the most powerful argument for the existence of theatre that I have ever heard- I won’t butcher it here- I’d recommend giving it a read