Do You Mind Where It's Going?
It's 2017 and things have been so far... so (kind of) good. (As long as you don't look at the politics happening over there) We got to take as much of the good as we can!
BearDog started 2017 with a bang taking Do You Mind? to the Space's One Festival 2017. We had a fantastic time as part of Programme C alongside three brilliant monolgues featuring Damian Cooper, Millie Binks and Rabiah Hussain. We were a night of desire, doomed relationships and discovery!
We always enjoy taking Do You Mind? to new audiences.
(Over the last two years we've performed it at 8 different venues and festivals across the country)
It also worries me profusely but that's the nature of the beast
We were lucky enough to perform to an audience who clearly really love theatre and who were ready to be engaged with our story. One of the most rewarding aspects of this show is after it's all done. After almost every show we've ever done, we meet people who are compelled to tell us about their own anxiety (even while we're in the middle of packing up, which is of course okay to do!)
It reminds me and Calum how important Do You Mind? is and that we shouldn't take for granted how (relatively) easy it is for us to speak openly about Anxiety.
Recently, we've thrown around the idea to retire Do You Mind?.
Now, this is mostly to allow for new projects to grow (And we got quite a few in the pipeline) rather than any apathy for the piece. If there's ever a need for it, it'll always be in my muscle memory, the words will always be on the tip of my tongue, I'll be ready let me just grab my puppets and some food colouring.
So, what was most surprising for us was how many suggestions we got for adapting Do You Mind? into a more shareable form. People were keen to share the story with their friends and the wider world beyond them and there's something pretty amazing about that when it's a story based on one moment, on a hill between two people.
It comes neatly at the time that we realised (and it seems daft, considering) that we haven't addressed the problem of how accessible Do You Mind? is to people with Anxiety.
Theatres can, unfortunately, be a trigger for panic attacks or anxious thoughts. It's something I've experienced... it's something I bring up in the bloody show itself. There's no specific trigger either and everyone reacts differently, it could be the structure of the venue, a number of people in the audience, the location of a seat, the way the lights go dark, is it just travelling on the bus beforehand?
And, it's rarely the content of the show that can make people Anxious. Although of course there is always the risk of it, I believe that people with Anxiety (and any mental health issue while we're at it) we still want to be challenged with new thoughts, stories and relationships.
It comes down to the framing of a theatre and theatre itself; the social rules that come into play when the action starts or the lights go down. We're whisked into another world which can be very uncomfortable.
This is something we need to talk about because we can't discount or dismis these people just because they can't physically get to a theatre. They still deserve to engage in art and to have a positive experience from it.
So, upon hearing once again, "I think my friend should see this, but they have anxiety and so they wouldn't come", we've realised it's about time that we do something about that.
And maybe that is by adapting it into a more shareable form.
This is one of those moments when things seem to line up ever so nicely. In the three weeks, we were performing at the Space, we were coming to a decision about the future of Do You Mind? and our company, we are encouraged to look for new artistic avenues to explore, and we recognised the audience that we needed to share the story with.
So, what might that look like?
Well, at the moment we're considering an audio version, something similar to a podcast or something potentially more immersive. We have the opportunity to produce something even closer to the running commentary of worries that Anxiety fuels.
We're also thinking of filming it, but again, we want to be a bit more creative than just recording the show as it is would be in the theatre. Can a filmed version be its own creature, can it breach the theatre and go out into the world?
Here's just two minutes that we filmed before the One Festival to plug the show and even those two minutes have a different feel. It's more intimate, it's like a conversation between friends, it's closer.
I remember a friend of mine sitting me down and telling me, really telling me to watch this film of actor Andrew Scott doing the monologue Sea Wall by Simon Stephens, which I had read before and never had quite... got. It was a big chunk of text. Of course, it's a play not something to read by something to be given a bit of breathe and life and performed. I was blown away by it. This was story telling, this was one person unraveling something inside them and I was inspired to find something like this inside me and get it out.
(Be forewarned though, Sea Wall is behind a pay wall but having only seen it once, it's a piece that has stayed with me)
It's been described as "less of a movie, more of a piece of life" and this is all that we have wanted to do with Do You Mind?
So, do we do a live stream to keep the live element of theatre and to make it an experience that still shared?
We have all these mediums at our fingertips and it's up to us to find what we can do that's unique to that form.
So, lot's of fun basically and debates and storyboard. Do You Mind? is retiring but is becoming one of those active retirees who travels the world and tries skydiving for the first time.
We'd like to thank everyone who came to see Programme C at the Space (and Programmes A, B, D & E), everyone who spoke to us afterwards and to the Space for choosing Do You Mind? to appear at the One Fest 2017 and offered their support and guidance generously. It's one of those times where you can really appreciate that the right people came to see us at the right time and for the right reason.
Have you seen Do You Mind? ? How would you like to see it? Is it something you want to share wit your friends? Let us know!