Starting out at halucid_
Updated: Jul 29, 2021
A daunting first step
Proceeding our graduation from Drama and Theatre Studies, myself alongside Philip Ofe and Adam Glen began our residency at the School of Arts under the name, halucid_ Theatre Company. A daunting step, we thought, considering the pandemic and the positive attitude the government has recently expressed towards the arts. Two sentences in and I’ve already mentioned the tireless subject of the pandemic and had a sarcastic dig at the government.
halucid_ is an immersive, collaborative and experimental theatre company. It was founded in 2018 with our first performance called 4am (2018). Following that we premiered What the remnants make [WTRM] in March 2020. Determined not to use the pandemic as an excuse not to create anything, but as an opportunity to create something new, WTRM was a filmic performance that was recorded during lockdown. It explored the prospect of waiting for happiness in a world that was individual and lonesome.
Obstacles, October and Optimism
Optimistic that life would return to ‘normal’ after the lockdown, halucid_ dreamt big and devised an 18 month long business plan in which we toured festivals and performed to large auditoriums of people. We started by applying for the graduate theatre scheme at UKC. The graduate theatre scheme is a mentorship programme based at the School of Arts, which allows companies access to rehearsal spaces and the artists are guided by professionals and academics.
However, despite our optimistic plan in October the PM announced a second lockdown. Festivals and tours now out of the window, halucid_ went back to the drawing board and began to rethink theatre. As I mentioned previously, halucid_ is predominantly an immersive theatre company, which means we aim to place the audience at the centre of the theatrical experience. Quite a tricky feat over Zoom. So our first challenge was to rethink the possibilities of immersive theatre and how we were going to introduce interactivity and immersion to screen.
Confidently speaking complete gibberish
We started by researching art that had achieved an aspect of interactivity through the screen. One example of this is Berghaintrainer (Aubry and Burghardt), an interactive video that trains you to get into a very lucrative club in Berlin, by analysing your body language and speech. A monumental task, which after his 100th try Adam somehow managed to get into the club by confidently speaking complete gibberish.
We also researched Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch (Brooker and Slade), an interactive film that follows a programmer adapting a choose your own adventure book into a video game. Interested in the technology behind these pieces, halucid_ attended a talk hosted by the BBC about Storyformer, a new software they had developed that allowed artists to create interactive films with ease. This was wonderful news; it meant that creating something interactive for film seemed doable.
‘Don’t send the email!’
Our next step was to come up with an idea and to find funding. I had come across Screen South’s New Creatives Scheme which offered young artists funding and mentorship for a new interactive project. It seemed perfect. Feeling ambitious and apprehensive we applied for the funding and, to our surprise, Screen South invited us to an interview. Determined to avoid being ill-prepared we put together a 20-page document and 25-minute presentation, and we gave it our best shot. Three weeks proceeded that interview and we still had heard no news. We were sitting waiting in a limbo where I was refreshing my emails daily and anxiously anticipating good or bad news. On the 9th of November, I prepared an email to send to Screen South politely asking them to put me out of my misery and let us know the decision. Moments away from sending this email I hear the chime of Adam’s iPad notifying him of a new email. With a hint of excitement and slight panic in his voice, I hear Adam shriek, ‘Don’t send the email!’. It was Screen South and our application was successful! As I read through the email for the 5th time that evening I felt excited and tentative. On one hand it was a reassuring sign that our vision works and that's exciting. But on the other hand, we now had a lot of work to do...
Since then halucid_ has been immensely busy writing, rehearsing, filming, and editing. We are hugely proud of how far we have come and how much we have learnt. We are very grateful to the friends and supporters who have encouraged us along the way. We cannot wait to share the next step of our journey with you and share more details about the project! Stay tuned.