Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Zero Hour Bus Tours - Kim Noble and Hannah Nicklin

So as only some of you probably know, for the last little while Forest Fringe have been planning The Zero Hour Bus Tours, theatre pieces that take place on the N11 night bus between Chelsea and Liverpool Street Station. We commissioned Kim Noble, Hannah Nicklin, Abigail Conway and Greg McLaren to each create a tour that imagined London as a post-apocalyptic landscape. I'll admit that the post-apocalyptic thing was not my idea, and actually I had felt a little apprehensive that the experiences might get a bit "samey" - but one of many things I've learned from producing on this project is that the more specific you get with commissions, the more diverse pieces can turn out to be.

Maybe every human alive has a completely different and totally unique take on the apocalypse. Certainly the four artists who have been commissioned have created remarkably unique experiences - each different from the last, and each tinged with that artist's own preoccupations and fears. It's quite amazing, really.

Tonight was the last outing with Hannah Nicklin's and Kim Noble's respective dystopias - and there was something very satisfying about watching two people in party hats run breathless and beaming across the road from one bus stop to the next, knowing that after wearing a mask and cleaning in public, becoming sexually aroused by a computerized voice, being stalked by a series of mysterious horses and affixing a sign to the front window of the top deck, on the next bus they would be spoken to softly, still frames of memories creeping up on them which their heart would desperately continue to hunt for long after they'd disappeared.

What has been strange, sad and invigorating about the pieces is the number of no-shows. As the pieces were quite limited capacity tickets sold out quickly, but the tickets were free and so of course the real commitment or investment in the show is not in booking your ticket but in showing up for a piece of theatre that takes place on a bus after midnight. I say this is invigorating because the people who have come are remarkably dedicated and open minded audiences. And there is something wonderful about all of the trouble that's been gone to for two people in headphones to marvel out the window of a bus and experience in safety what we all hope/fear will happen on night buses anyway - something heightened, bizarre and possibly random.

I hope we get a good turn out tomorrow night for Abigail Conway and Greg McLaren's respective pieces. Those with the dedication to come have, as one passenger and writer put it, "tuned into a different frequency". But check in with me tomorrow night (the 1 month challenge!) and let's see how 3am Debbie feels then. This particular 3am Debbie is pretty happy with the whole thing, unbelievably proud of the artists, and grateful for Intransit's forward thinking programming. Like many late night adventures, these night bus tours are unbelievably impractical and laced with an elicit magic. I'm so grateful that we were given the chance to let such brilliant artists loose on a bus route. The N11 will never be the same.

1 comment:

Ollie said...

Thank you Debbie for a wonderful post and summary of the Zero Hour Bus Tours. x Ollie