Associate Director Fiona Buffini loves big ideas and bringing them to life. Next month she brings HOME, her latest bold project to the Neville Studio. We had a chat about what you can expect…
What is HOME?
HOME is a brilliant community inspired project, it’s a performance piece based on real people’s experiences in Nottingham. I’ve been doing recordings with people of all ages and from all backgrounds with many different experiences of the home, around the city.
I’ve been interviewing people who live in care homes, people who have recently arrived to the city as refugees and asylum seekers, people who’ve lived here all their lives, people who have experienced homelessness, teenagers, ‘ordinary’ families and even really little people. Asking questions and talking to them about what their home means to them.
Can you tell us a bit about the interview process?
Home is a subject that everybody can talk about in some way. The interviews aren’t fact gathering exercises. It’s an intimate subject that people instantly start thinking deeply about. I love the way people stop and think and there’s lots of “errs”. It says a lot about someone as a person, and you can gain a tremendous insight into their life and personality just by asking simple questions about their home.
Even if you get someone to simply describe their house, sometimes their eyes light up as they’re talking about something that has meaning to them. The responses have been full of feeling and intimate details about family history and emotional lives. A lot of people will of course say similar things but then there are these wonderful exceptions as well.
I have been lucky enough that people have been very open and very frank and have told me all kinds of things about how they feel about their homes. Unfortunately it’s not a place of safety for everyone, for some it’s quite a chaotic and dangerous space. We’re going to explore all different kinds of relationships with the home through theatre and dance.
Left: Director Fiona Buffini, right: Next Door Dance – images taken from early in the development and devising process.
How will the show work as a piece of theatre?
The community members won’t be in the show only their voices. We will hear them but we won’t see them, as extracts from the interviews are played. Drew, our brilliant sound designer will be editing the interviews together with music.
Then what we’ll be seeing is a piece of theatre that has been entirely inspired by those interview responses. We don’t need actors as the words that form the ‘script’ are coming from the participants. So I’m working with 3 dancers who will be bringing those words to life.
In case that sounds really worthy, don’t worry it’s not, they’re not dancers from the ballet Rambert and it’s not a piece of contemporary dance. The company we are working with is called Next Door Dance. They produced The Beautiful Game, which was about football and you may have seen that here last year. What they do so fantastically well is make dance accessible to a general audience. And this show is really accessible as it’s about real people’s experience and something that we all generally have in common.
So it’s not really just a dance piece, it’s a performance. It’s not like a play, it’s more like a poem – a series of verses, a series of truths and insights about people’s experiences of home.
How does HOME differ from your previous productions at the Playhouse?
I’m going back to my roots with this show. The devised style is something that as a director I’ve not actually done much of at the Playhouse yet. Since working here I’ve worked on some fantastic plays and great big texts like The Duchess of Malfi, really wordy plays which I love. But I also love things that have non- linear narratives, and things that capture an audience in a different way, like through music, sound and movement – all of which HOME does.
Similar to The Revenger’s Tragedy, has music formed a key part of the creative process?
Yes, a great starting point is the music – there’s so many fantastic tracks about home in every genre. The opening piece will be the Tom Jones version of Green, Green Grass of Home and we go from there. So you’ll be hearing lots of music and we’ll be editing the tracks together to make a unique soundtrack where each piece is used in an interesting way. There’ll be something for everyone to recognise.
What do you hope people take away from the project?
The aim is to create a piece of theatre that celebrates the diversity of experience in this city and captures experiences from all walks of life and the different relationships people have with their home. Some people have been in the city all their lives and are now in their 80s and some of them have been here for 8 or 9 weeks and struggling to make sense of it all. But the idea of home is something that unites us all. Whether you come to the theatre much or not, this show will reflect you in some way.
Don’t miss HOME during its limited run at Nottingham Playhouse from Thu 20 – Sat 22 Jul 2017.