by Grace Sellwood
At the end of January, I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity to shadow Gecko Theatre whilst they were performing at Hall For Cornwall.
I began by attending the Gecko Masterclass and was immediately drawn to the root of Gecko’s work: emotion, physicality and imagination. We were given tasks that challenged us mentally and physically, pushing us to reach a genuine emotion in a given situation. We worked with adding muttering in movement (actually very effective way to make sure you were still breathing!), and responded to tasks by accessing our personal memories about particular topics.
What interested me a lot was the pushing of every day conventions that society has accepted as the norm, for example, playing with eye contact –how long you can stay connected with someone’s gaze, why do we perceive this as uncomfortable or not socially acceptable? Or pushing an emotion further physically; some emotions were harder to access which made me question whether we are used to controlling and suppressing these in society?
On the Friday I met Rich Rusk, the Associate Director of Gecko Theatre who warmly welcomed me and openly explained everything that was happening, as well as answering all of my questions (and I had many!). It was interesting to learn that it is rare that a Gecko show stays the same throughout the tour; they usually rework sections of the piece in each venue. It sounds like a massive challenge, but in fact the strong technical team they have makes it a lot easier to happen.
Artistic Director, Amit was very present throughout the shadowing opportunity, he made time to come and greet me in the theatre like an old friend (after only meeting me at the masterclass!) and was very interested in what I thought about the piece that I was witnessing unfold in the tech run. He gave more of his time to meet with myself and Emily to talk about Freefall and our work as a company. He was happy to offer advice and talk about the development and interesting journey of Gecko Theatre.
I watched the show Institute, on both the Friday and Saturday and glad I did. I very much wanted to see it a second time, I saw more things I had missed the previous night. What is fascinating about Institute is that I believe everyone can connect and interpret the show in a different way (depending on their life experience), and generally it hits people hard. The visual impact was immense, with the dancers creating striking images that portray certain poignant moments in life which we have all experienced at some point. But the main thing that shone for me was the emotion it held in every movement; audience members could relate to these emotions on many different levels, and felt connected to the performers and to the stories which unfolded on stage.
Amit and his very talented team, always made the effort to seek out and talk to the audience after each show. They are all very approachable, so you could easily start talking to them about a very strong emotional memory and not realise, especially after a couple of glasses of wine! They were all genuinely interested in each audience member’s connection to the performance. After they left I felt like something was missing as I felt like I had been part of a family for the past three days; they have had a huge impact on my development as a dancer, as a company director and as a person.
Thank you to Hall For Cornwall for giving me this invaluable opportunity.
Unfortunately on Friday 13th March Battersea Arts Centre, where Gecko Theatre were performing their show Missing, caught fire and burnt down with all their set inside. If you are interested in supporting Gecko rebuild their set they have set up a kickstarter page where you can donate here:
If you are interesting in helping Battersea Arts Centre rebuild it’s theatre, please visit here