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Guest Blog: Sara Cocker On...Putting On A Show

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One of the biggest, most important weeks of my life culminates tomorrow. No, I’m not getting married or graduating, I’m putting on a show. I say ‘I’, I mean ‘we’. ‘We’ being the company I co-founded and perform with, Eggs Collective. I also say ‘show’, but this is not just any old show. This is a real-life professional show, with funding and a marketing strategy and a lighting designer and all that stuff.

Back in February, after three months of filling in application forms, writing proposals and waiting, Eggs Collective was awarded funding to research and develop a new show. Being a company in its infancy (we have been working together for just over two years), this development in our journey felt like both a great achievement and a massive challenge.

The funding would allow us to work for three weeks from scratch devising and rehearsing an idea for a brand new show, before performing it over two nights at our partner company venue, Contact in Manchester. Though this is a relatively short period in which to conceive and create a whole performance, it is more time than Eggs Collective has ever had before: in our earlier days we were often limited to creating our all-female, surreal comedy cabaret-esque shows in as little time as a week. Anneka Rice, eat your heart out.

When we were given the green light for this project, it was all systems go to choose a title for the piece if we were to be included in the relevant brochures, listings and websites in time to promote our show. Over an excited afternoon coffee, we chose The Life and Death of Eggs Collective: a title that felt somehow both epic and individual (something that Marina Abramovic and the folks at MIF clearly agreed with…), that would allow the space for each performer to respond in their own way.   

Naming the show turned out to be the easy part. The next few months passed in a flurry of meetings. Meetings about finance, meetings about scheduling and meetings about marketing became our main activity. Other jobs included writing marketing blurb for our flyers and filming a video trailer without fully knowing the content of the show, posing for photos in a busy Manchester city centre dressed as our ridiculous looking alter-egos and contracting 8 performers, 2 technicians, a set designer and a director, all the while keeping the Arts Council fully up to date with our progress.

In the face of all this business-based activity, we had four short creative meetings to discuss and respond to themes of life and death (see www.contactmcr.com/blog/categories/eggs-collective) before finally beginning full time rehearsals to write, devise and stage our performance. For the first time, we brought in an outside director to cast an objective eye over our work in the hope that this would bring a clear through-line to our usually random cabaret-style shows. As the show gradually began to take shape, our focus shifted from the material itself to more practical elements: moving into the theatre space, technical requirements and performance quality.

The result is something that we feel very proud of: a show that is stamped with our own style, bringing together performers from different corners of the globe, with different artistic styles and different things to say about the world. A show that we hope to be able develop beyond this initial stage, learning from the successes and challenges of the last few months.

From start to almost-finish, the road to the opening of The Life & Death of Eggs Collective has been paved with actual blood, sweat and tears. It has been a totally consuming experience for all involved, but rewardingly so. For me, working alongside and sharing a common goal with such a diverse group of performers has been wonderfully inspiring, as has the support and generosity of the many individuals and organisations that have encouraged us from the start, even when the chips have been down. But I’m harping on, do excuse me. As our director Rachel reminded us whenever we bordered on indulgence, although it feels like life and death, it is, after all, only a show.

The Life and Death of Eggs Collective is at Contact on 6 July.

- Sara Cocker


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