Alan Lane on... They Only Come At Night: ResurrectionDate: 19 August 2009
Alan Lane is the Artistic Director of innovative theatre company, Slung Low. His credits for them include Helium (Barbican/ OSBTT 08); Small Worlds (Liverpool 08); They Only Come at Night; 1139 Miles; Bricks; Time at Moghul Gardens (Bradford Festival); Boxed (Theatre Workshop, Sheffield); Castaway Café (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Counterbalance (NSDF ’00). He has also directed productions at the Almeida and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Contemporary theatre seems to involve the audience more than traditional theatre. Why do you think this style of theatre has become so popular for producers and audiences?
I think there are a lot of things that have become more personalised in recent years- playlists, shopping, websites, even our phones. The sort of immersive installation based theatre that Slung Low strives to make is a part of this cultural discourse. We place audiences at the literal heart of the story, we try to ensure that people can experience our stories from the very centre of them. I think- or at least I hope- that our audiences find this immersive style arresting, more engaging in a world where there are more activities fighting for our attention than ever. I can’t speak to the industry’s experiences only Slung Low’s specific ones- I think it’s increasing in popularity and we’re hearing more about it because the work is good enough, it stands up to scrutiny and it provides a good night out.
What’s been the most interesting aspect of the production for you?
Balancing the sometimes conflicting need of creating an often terrifying experience but making sure that the audience are in a position to be able to hear and take in the story we are telling them- otherwise it becomes a ghost train and we didn’t set out to make one of them. The challenge is to make a space that the audience can recognise and be relatively comfortable with and convince them with the drama and the fiction of it so they are invested enough in the characters and the situation to be scared. That’s a very interesting and very exciting challenge.
They Only Come At Night is described as a horror. How scary has it been putting the production together?
In this economic climate doing anything that is reliant on future sales from an interested public to make back its costs is always a scary undertaking! But we’ve been very luck with the support of the Arts Council that has got us some of the way there. I think as far as the show goes we’re working on it night and day and there’s a degree to which you start seeing it entirely in its component parts rather than the effect of it all which is hopefully what the audience will experience.
Lastly, what can the production offer any sceptics?
Theatre has always relied on a sense of ‘suspension of disbelief’ from the audience. It’s built into the understood contract between the show and the audience. The interesting thing that is being discussed within the context of this type of immersive installation is that the level of disbelief to be suspended is somehow different. It is still inherently a piece of theatre- a live story told to an audience. I suppose that I have faith that the quality of the story- in combination with an immersive environment- is what will perhaps entertain those that come without having packed their suspension of disbelief. As for people sceptical about vampires. Well They Only Come at Night: Resurrection proves beyond any possible scientific or religious doubt that we are in fact currently besieged by night walkers of superhuman strength and insatiable thirst. Fact.
Alan Lane was speaking to Glenn Meads
They Only Come At Night: Resurrection runs at the Lowry from 2 - 12 September. For more details, click here.
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