The Overall Project
Portsmouth is a deprived and low income area with little access to the variety of culture that is enjoyed by other larger and more affluent cities. Through the development of an immersive performance along with a series of outreach and educational workshops I hope to make some very small steps towards addressing this. Immersive theatre is quite London centric and it is important that work is supported and developed outside of central and greater London. My project Wish Box will use performance to capture the hopes, dreams and wishes of the Portsmouth community but more than this will offer the opportunity for local school children, college students, community groups and other artists to access immersive theatre in both its rehearsal process and performance. I will be opening up my process to FE/HE students, local performance makers and the wider community in the form of open rehearsals to provide access to the ways in which this work is made. I will also be offering a series of masterclasses and workshops for all age ranges and abilities within the Portsmouth and surrounding areas. With the support of the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth University and the Square Tower I will engage new audiences, offer educational and outreach opportunities and access to live immersive performance in Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport and Fareham.
The project will run between October 2016- January 2017.
There will be two public performance of the work: an 8 hour showing in the NTR on the 21st October 2016 and a 9 hour showing on the 23rd November 2016. There will be an after show discussion with Q&A following each of the performances.
There will be an R&D period in the week running up to the first performance and during this period we will open up our rehearsal process to FE/HE students, local performance makers and the wider community. We will also provide 3 workshops for schools, colleges & community groups during this period of R&D. We will offer an artist’s development workshop during this time too. We have in-kind support from the University of Portsmouth and The New Theatre Royal for equipment and studio space.
In the run up to the November performance we will offer two more outreach workshops and 6 of the 9 hours of the 2nd Performance will be entirely reserved for schools and colleges to engage with the performance for free.
Wish Box Immersive Durational Performance
Wish Box is an immersive durational performance, designed to give the audience the opportunity to share their hopes, dreams and wishes. Wish Box uses performance as a way of capturing a cultural moment in time through the neurosis and aspirations of the audience participants. The audience takes on the role of guests attending a wedding reception, watching a newlywed couple delivering those hopes, dreams and wishes. The guests are invited throughout the reception to present the couple with their wishes. The wishes generated in the performance are added to the wishes collected from previous performances and social media. Over the course of 8 hours, the bride and groom work together to build the house out of the collected wishes, working as vessels to deliver the wishes and pin them to the house. The audience participate in the generation of wishes and contribute to the construction of the house, as well as being invited to share the ritualised behaviours of the bride and groom within the liminal space of the performance structure.
Who am I
My name is Dr Joanna Bucknall (I prefer to be called Joe). I am someone who believes that the arts should be accessible to all and someone who is willing to try to do something about that belief in a tangible and material way.
I am a senior lecture at the University of Portsmouth (UoP) and the Course Leader of the drama & performance undergraduate degree which provides me with a prominent and visible position within the arts community in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas. This position gives me direct access to many of my proposed target audiences.
I am an associate artist at the New Theatre Royal (NTR), I am also the co-artistic director of two performance companies, Vertical Exchange Performance Collective (VEX) and KeepHouse Performance both of which employ live art, duration, immersive and on-on-one strategies to provoke, challenge and engage audiences. VEX make work that aims to explore the contemporary experience and all the intricate moments that our lives present. We are committed to exercising difficult questions through art in provocative ways, pushing the boundaries of performance both aesthetically and culturally. Our aim is to produce performance work that involves its audiences at a fundamental level. By employing experimental and compelling performance devices we offer audiences a truly participative experience. KeepHouse Performance was founded in February 2011, we seek to interrogate autobiography and heritage; particularly in relation to female representation and domesticity. KeepHouse Performance is a company that explores contemporary issues through interdisciplinary approaches. We make performance work that engages audience in the reflection of self and identity in innovative and interactive ways. Since 2006 I have produced a range of projects with both of my companies in collaboration with venues such as The Barbican in Plymouth (With You in Mind), Camden People’s Theatre (Siren Song), The Basement in Brighton (Play With Me), Performing Arts Centre Lincoln (Her Hats My Shoes) and the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth (You, Hope Her and Me). I have also been involved in various programmes with the Live Art Development Agency (DIY) and Fierce (Live Art Speed Date).
Why I need Your Help
I have some very generous in-kind support of some central institutions within the city of Portsmouth, like the New Theatre Royal & the University of Portsmouth. Although they have kindly offered the use of space and equipment for the workshops and performances there are lots of other costs involved in running the workshops and putting on two durational immersive performances. I need to be able to cover the production costs of showing Wish Box twice which involves paying performers (or at least covering their expenses), propos, costumes, moving equipment and technical support. The entire project will cost approximately £6,000 to manage and although I have managed to secure some in-kind support and small amounts of grants from a few different sources we are still looking at being short of just over £3,000.
What Your Support Would Mean
Your support would enable me to deliver the educational engagement activities free of charge and still be in a position to cover expenses for the arts professionals who will run them. Your support would ensure that local audiences have access to a high quality pierce of immersive theatre because we will have had the find to be able to complete our R&D process and present a fully developed piece of work.