Celebrating Concerto in Cologne
Guest blog post by Ryan O’Shea, Deviser and Performer, in Concerto.
Very recently we took Concerto to StudioBühne in Cologne. After the two performances and a workshop over a weekend, we all agreed that something magical happened on the trip. Michael, Katt, Nicholas and I had time to relax, had space to refine, play and explore the performance and crucially, I think, we all felt valued as makers, performers and artists. When we take the show to a UK venue, the day of the performance is always an intense one – we usually travel to the venue, set up the staging and seating, sort out the technical aspects of the show, teach the show to a venue technician, squeeze in a rehearsal before performing the show and packing everything away and leaving the venue. This is a tight but always achievable schedule.
However, for Cologne the schedule was a bit more relaxed, giving us time and space around the performances. I arrived a day and a half before everyone else and I feel this time allowed me to feel settled in the city, to take a bit more care with the lighting of the show, to get to know the staff at the venue. By the time the rest of the team arrived in Cologne the technical set up was done giving us more time to rehearse and crucially play with the performance. Michael, Katt and I felt more relaxed and because of this we were able to feel each other’s rhythms, we could feel the show itself echoing the piece of music, we were able to add our own nuances to the score, as if our bodies themselves were instruments playing in harmony with one another.. We received flowers and beer at the end of the first show and the venue also supplied soup and a keg of beer for the audience too. Meaning that when we finished the show we could interact with the audience in a laid-back, informal atmosphere; fermenting insightful conversations about the work.
Now being back in the UK for a week, I have had time to reflect on what made the showing of our work so special and what UK venues and theatre makers can learn from our contemporaries across the channel. The time we had in Cologne to feel the two performances and invest in a workshop gave everyone a palpable energy. The space around each performance and the literal space of the studio and outside courtyard made everyone relaxed and destroyed the boundary between work and socialising. The welcome and generosity of the venue meant that we felt valued as theatre makers. Michael, Katt, Nicholas and I really bonded as a quartet and I am incredibly thankful to Michael and everyone at StudioBühne for opening my eyes to the benefit of space, time and value. This is an experience that will stay in my mind for a long time to come and an experience we can draw upon to benefit our practice when touring to venues in the UK.