Tell us about Lemon House Theatre, what did inspire you to start it?
It’s a new theatre company rooted in the idea in collaboration. We decided to start it as we wanted to create a community hub where artists felt supported in taking risks and experimenting, pushing the boundaries of the form of theatre.
Our aim as a company is to make vibrant theatre that creates conversations between artists and audiences, with us seeing both of these groups as our collaborators. This means involving audiences in the early stages of work, so they can help develop the artist, but also encouraging the artist to look at how to involve the audience in their performance in unique and exciting ways.Collaboration & conversation are pretty much our main focus as a company, and we know that a range of voices have been missing from the conversation around theatre for far too long. We have an understanding of some of these stories that we’re not hearing, with Lemon House Theatre being a female-led company with one Artistic Director being from a mixed-raced, working class background, and the other being a disabled, queer woman. We also have lots to learn and Lemon House Theatre will work to give a platform to the stories of others.
There are so many art projects these days, how do you find your edge? Where do you look for inspiration and how do you know when you find a good idea?
It’s incredible that there’s so many brilliant projects going on! We didn’t go into creating Lemon House Theatre looking at us as a competitor to other theatre companies where we needed to scramble to the top. Actually our company is about bringing a wider range of voices into the arts, so we want it to create more art projects!
We also like to celebrate what makes theatre unique, including the live nature of it, and the audience performer relationship. We want to make theatre that only really works as theatre. So it makes sense we look for inspiration from other shows, and particularly experimental theatre that questions what we actually define as theatre. Also getting to work with cool artists just always leaves you inspired.
We’ve found that getting a good idea is never like a Eureka moment where we’ve got an idea and know 100% that it’s amazing. You get a vague idea, start planning, immediately think it’s awful, re-draft, think it could be good, hate it again and then keep going. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster of a process, but being critical usually makes it into a better idea.What 3 pieces of advice would you give to creatives looking to make it in the art world?
1) Other artists are your collaborators not competitors – you’ll make much better art viewing it this way.
2) Trust your gut. You might get offered something cool but don’t think it’s the right opportunity for you at this moment, and it’s completely fine to not go for it.
3) Boundaries!! When you’re a creative, you’re in this amazing but weird place of your work also being the thing you love to do, which means sometimes it can bleed into every aspect of your life. Just because you love doing what you do doesn’t mean you need to be on 24/7. Take a breath when you need it and don’t feel guilty for doing so.
‘Mixed Tape // Volume One’ is your first show, what is unique about this production? What do you want to tell the audience with this show?
This show is a night of four short plays that are being staged through script-in-hand performances. Often writers don’t get given the space and time to develop a show, they’re expected to have an idea and then immediately the finished product is ready to go. At Lemon House Theatre, we don’t think the first time an audience sees your show needs be the final production – it’s really helpful to invite them in earlier on, which is what Mixed Tape is doing. These four pieces will be followed by a Q&A with the writers, so the writers and audience can chat about the shows. This means the audience gets to work with the writers in developing their practice and their pieces, and the audience also gets to be creatively involved in the shows.The writers of the pieces (Marcus Bernard, Susan Momoko Hingley, Cheryl May Ndione and Shaadi Rad) are also incredible and we’re excited for the audience to see the shows they’re working on. The night’s called ‘Mixed Tape’ both because it’s a mix of amazing work, but also because the writers are all mixed race/dual heritage – we want celebrate these artists that are too often underrepresented on our stages.
What are your favourite projects that you have seen recently and who are you favourite artists?
We both went to see The Amber Trap by Damsel Productions at Theatre503, which was amazing. We had to leave quickly afterwards but needed to still talk about the show so just rang each other immediately after saying goodbye – that’s the sign of a good show. So Damsel Productions are definitely some of our favourite theatre-makers, and we just saw The Upsetters first scratch night, which was brilliant.
Another great show we saw was Does My Bomb Look Big in This by Nyla Levy. The show was so smart and did not pull its punches. Nyla is a brilliant writer whose voice should definitely be heard!
What are your future plans?
We’re currently working on our first two full-length productions, which will be staged later this year. We’ll be announcing more on Twitter soon, so please go follow us there! We want Lemon House Theatre to be a company producing full-length shows, but also working with artists and emphasising artist development, so we’re hoping to be running some workshops for writers and do another Mixed Tape scratch night!
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