The initial inspiration behind the making of Splash! came from the connected waterways of the East Midlands, which link the 5 venues for the show’s 2019 summer tour, from Northampton in the south, to Gainsborough in the north. We wanted to create a new type of outdoor show, with a story that is suitable for all the family and accessible to diverse audiences.
The unique creative team
We have brought together a unique creative team in the world of outdoor arts to make our new show. This talented group are bringing together their skills to combine storytelling, circus, music and set design in many different ways. We’re going to captivate crowds with an exhilarating blend of BSL poetry and visual vernacular by Donna Williams, puppetry by Nikki Charlesworth, sound design and music from Michael Fergie and Shirley Pegna, plus circus by Rebecca Soloman and Milton Lopes. We are also exploring a new territory with this show and learning from each other. We’re enjoying new creative challenges to try and combine all of these art-forms, but ensuring the simple story we want to tell is still understood by all.
Creating an immersive world
The show is outdoors, so we can’t rely on lighting or a theatre space protected from outside sounds. Instead we are creating a rich and immersive world that combines spatial sound design that surrounds the audience. The interactive sets and new and exciting circus equipment bring creative ways to tell the story of our main character, Flo.
Flo’s journey takes us from the canal bank to an underwater river world, to the wide oceans and back again. She faces many challenges on the way but learns to overcome them by taking risks and becoming independent and confident in her abilities. We’re busy creating captivating puppets and props to bring Flo’s adventures to life.
Making the show
The initial development of the show took place at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, one of the 5 partner venues of the Splash! Consortium. We played with movement, acrobalance, acrobatics and puppetry, and we made some fantastic discoveries. One of the most important is that the technique used to animate Nikki’s puppets can also be applied to ‘flying’ an artist acrobatically. When the two are used together, something poetic and beautiful happens. A story emerges between the puppets and the acrobats that become magical, especially when placed in the watery world of the canal and sea.
The next phase of development takes place in Bristol, where we will test the set, circus equipment and sound design. Then we move onto rehearsals at the fantastic 101 Creation Space in Newbury, before a final production week in Leicester for the opening show on 31st May.
As Directors, Jamie and I will be hoping to weave all of this creative energy and expertise into an original and exciting outdoor show that has a simple message at its heart… We can all challenge ourselves, we can take new risks and journeys, and we can gain new insights about ourselves at whatever stage of life we are at.
Billy Alwen & Jamie Beddard, Co-Artistic Directors & Writers of Splash!
Early character sketches by Costume Designer Laura Guthrie.
Splash! is directed by Billy Alwen and Jamie Beddard.
Written by the directors in collaboration with Richard Headon and Donna Williams.