The performance at 7:30pm on Friday 1st March will be interpreted in British Sign Language by Jacqui Beckford - more info
Touch Tour Programme Notes
Flight Paths is a new play devised by the collaborative creative team of Extant, Yellow Earth, Vicki Amedume of Upswing and, writer, Glen Neath. It is inspired by the tradition of Goze who were blind female musicians and storytellers that travelled Japan centuries ago.
In this production we tell the story of four contemporary blind performers from different countries through dialogue, music and circus movement. There will be integrated description embedded throughout the production so you will not have to wear traditional audio description head-sets. For those who this might be new to, just to explain that this means that the access for visually impaired audiences is integrated subtly within the dialogue and sounds on stage rather than hearing a separate audio described text. These notes and the touch tour are to support any visual elements of the show that can’t be described within the production.
The set is a simple 7 by 7 metre square and represents several non-specific interpretable spaces. It has a black high gloss reflective dance floor. This floor features silvery grey tatami matting –the traditional form of Japanese indoor flooring in houses not so much used today as it is expensive and takes some upkeep. These strips run in two main strips from the back to the front of the stage like two corridors dividing up the stage creating a central runway. There is also a strip that runs from left to right along the back. There is an 18 inch surround of black carpet outlining the circumference of the dance floor.
Right at the back of the stage is a cyclorama that makes up the full length of the back wall with a textured grey finish to it. In front of these are two white sliding screens, on the left and one on the right. They are 4 metres high and go from the floor up to their full height.They are sometimes used as doors and sometimes as screens onto which images, films or lighting effects like shadows are projected, either as two divided screens or as one when slid together.
A metre or so in front of these and centre stage hang two black aerial silks that the performers, Sarah and Amelia, will use.Each silk is centrally hung over each tatami strip right and left and they are both made up of two swathes of long black material hanging about 6 metres high. At the start the lower half will be tied up in a daisy knot.
To the left and right downstage are grey padded boxes with lids that lift up that the performers use to sit on and keep items in.
Two of these items are large water bottles which they use during the show to mime drinking out of. Although they look like drinking bottles, these props are in fact portable speakers where the voices of two of the other characters in the play, Takashi and Victoria, will come out of. One is bright orange with a silver lid, a moulded handle and a circle of speaker foam in the front - this is Takashi.
The other is bright glittery gold with the same lid, handle and foam circle – this is Victoria.
Amelia and Sarah at times carry these bottles around with both hands or in their arms when interacting with them as Takashi and Victoria, or place them on top of the grey box/seats to listen to them. At other times, Amelia and Sarah treat them as water bottles by carrying them from their handles and mime drinking out of them.
Other props are bright red yoga mats and rosin which is a powdery pack made from pine resin and this rosin powder is bundled up in two white socks which makes it easier for Amelia and Sarah to apply it by slapping the socks onto their hands and feet throughout the show and which gives them a better grip on the silks.
Amelia is a 35 year old white, Italian American woman with a slim, athletic build, strong facial features and a wide smile. She has deep set brown eyes and a brown buzz cut that is flecked with grey.
Sarah is a 37 year old white, Dutch-Australian woman who has a short lithe stature, blue eyes, short blonde fine, wispy hair, and soft lips perched on an angular bird-like face.
When they enter at the start of the play they use white canes and both wear padded jackets, one in yellow, the other in purple, have grey colour trainers on and wear a green and blue rucksack respectively. Sarah is pulling a speaker box on wheels by its handle which is small suitcase size and black and silver in colour.
During the play, Amelia wears bright flowery orange and yellow training leggings with bright mustard top and hoodie. Sarah wears blue flowery leggings with a turquoise top and similar hoodie. At the end, they change into red performance costumes which are bright red body suits with low backs and trimmed with sequins.
During the show, they spend a lot of their time while they are in dialogue, taking off or putting on their hoodie tops,or warming up by doing a series of stretches on the ground either on their yoga mats or standing. These won’t be described but should be heard. They also do highly physical moves on the aerial silks which will be described within their dialogue. At other times they sit on the floor or grey box/seats listening and resting.
During the show a female voice will come from the speaker box announcing various things including a series of numbered lessons in Japanese and English. On the screens, the Japanese characters and English words of the lessons will also appear white on black. Sarah and Amelia don’t seem to hear the voice during these moments or when it is giving general information, busying themselves with their preparations, and only interact with the voice when it is in storytelling mode. However there is one section when the voice talks about the Goze blessing the silk worm harvest that Amelia and Sara execute a series of slow moves on the ground with their aerial silkspulling the fabric out and around them as if in a slow respectful dance, ending up kneeling at the bottomofeach of their silks.
There will be the use of spatialised sound during the production, which means voices and some sound effects will move around the stage and audience and it would be good to hear your feedback afterwards about your experience of this by filling out the evaluation form on the digital programme that you can find online.
Lighting in the show goes from cold airport terminal lighting, to warm amber tones for a training space, to almost blackout at times and a spot on the speaker with stark shadows when the Voice is heard from the speaker box so all you can see is this on stage. During an immersive story-telling section the lighting turns very atmospheric, dim and shadowy with a hazer that is used, and during the big aerial routine the lighting is much brighter with much more coloured lights washing across the backdrop and screens with bright follow spots on the performers. At the end after Amelia and Sarah leave the stage the lights will go out and the inside side edges of the tatami mats will be lit up with a strip of LED lights like a runway.
Finally, at times there will be some abstract projections of images and film onto the screens. The projections are to support the sound in the show rather than the other way. At the start, when the screens are closed there is a circular illuminated image suggestive of a Japanese Shoji door (paper door) projected onto the middle of the screens, it is lit from the back with a warm gold glow. This image will return at the start of an immersive storytelling moment but this time with a silver glow behind it.
When the screens first part,at the start of the play, as the actors enter the image disappears and is slowly replaced on each screen (now on right and left of stage) by the faint outline of parts of planes outside an airport window which disappear shortly into the play, returning again towards the end of the play.
During most of the show, the screens are joined in the middle to show close up, overlaid or slow motion blurred film of Victoria singing or Takashi bowing and plucking viola strings synchronised to the music. This will generally happen when the music is heard and/or when Takashi and Victoria are telling their stories. Takashi is a Japanese man in his late 40’s with black short hair and a sculptured face. Victoria is a dark caramel skinned Nigerian woman with an open face, well defined cheekbones, a welcoming smile and long dark wavy hair extensions.
During an immersive storytelling moment in the play there will be images of swaying bamboo, fire and a smoking stone lantern, but the sounds are foremost. At one point, a photograph of the last Goze in a kimono is projected onto the cyclorama when this is referred to in the play.
The final image at the very end of the show is a sun-ray lighting state that dissolves into an image of a Goze female performer, head back singing, and holding a stringed Japanese shamisen instrument.