1st Aug 2018 - 27th Aug 2018
King Dome - Pleasance Dome
Suitable for ages 12 and above
A spectacular extravaganza of live music, close harmony, puppetry, film and gramophone records exploring the inextricable link between nature and mankind.
'Terrific... Magical... Engrossing...' (New York Times).
'Endlessly inventive' (Evening Standard).
'Stylish direction' (HuffingtonPost.co.uk).
'A theatrical delight which rewrites the possibilities of literary adaptation' (WhatsOnStage.com).
Open/closeReviews and Quotations
In conversation with Heather Winstanley, Company Director of Pants on Fire
Q: When did you and the company form together as Pants on Fire? Have people come and gone or have you always stayed together as you are now?
A: Peter Bramley formed Pants on Fire in 2004, a few years after studying at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. Peter is pretty much the only constant company member but the amount of artists and collaborators who have worked with Pants on Fire over the years is now into triple figures! I have been a part of the company for over seven years, I joined the company as a performer in 2011 and became Company Director two years ago.
Q: Where did the idea for the company name come from? (I love it!)
A: We wanted something which sounded irreverent, but at the same time sort of epic. We also wanted something which people would remember…hey presto, Pants on Fire!
Q: What inspired you to create a show around Ovid's Metamorphoses?
A: Peter has always loved Greek and Roman Mythology. The first production he ever directed was The Love of the Nightingale by Timberlake Wertenbaker, which is based on a myth taken from Ovid. At the time Shakespeare was writing, Ovid was the best-selling book, second only to the Bible, and almost all of Shakespeare's plays either refer to myths, or borrow plot lines taken from Ovid.
Q: The show and it's a magical spectacle to watch, with surreal touches and moments that seem almost like optical illusions. What inspired your style? How do you come up with the visually spectacular moments?
A: Peter’s training with Jacques Lecoq was about theatre-making, instead of putting the actors and acting first, he always put the audience first. When we make theatre, it is his instinct to always focus on what the audience see and experience. Within the company we have explored a lot puppetry and visual tricks mostly through trial and error. It is great when you are in a rehearsal room and something happens (usually by accident) and everyone says "we need to keep that". The process is always collaborative and playful and we never take ourselves too seriously.
Q: The show isn't new. How often do you tour it and what keeps you coming back to it?
A: The very first preview of the show was at Greenwich Theatre in 2010. I watched that performance and said to myself “this is a company I want to work with” The show then went on to win the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award which saw the company perform in New York for a month followed by a UK regional tour. After that, it went into storage and Pants on Fire moved on to other things but Peter never felt finished with the show at all. In 2015 we revived it once more by building our own theatre space in a sight specific venue, re-working the original show and adding new stories. Every time we re-visit Ovid it seems to change in some way so we are incredibly excited to bring the show back to Greenwich, where it all started, bigger and better than ever!
Q: Has the show changed at all over the years? If so, in what way?
A: There is a real advantage to returning to a show, because it gives us an opportunity to develop ideas further, perhaps adding things we didn't have time to develop previously. The show changes with every new company of actors because it draws from their talents as actors, musicians and creative collaborators.
Q: Do you work on other projects together between runs of Ovid's Metamorphoses?
A: Yes! When I joined the company we performed a month’s run of The Fumidor written by Peter Bramley at the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon. The show was a huge success however in spite of this the theatre went into liquidation and we were never paid our ticket sales. This was, understandably, a big blow to us financially which set us back a couple of years. We were last in Edinburgh in 2013 with our adaptation of Pinocchio, reimagined as a 1950’s B movie. As well as our productions, we also run annual Lecoq and puppetry workshops and live events.
Q: What's the creative process like? Do you collaborate together or do certain people in the company lead this side of things?
A: Pants on Fire always work collaboratively. The play is conceived, written and directed by Peter Bramley, and the technical shape of the production is established. It is a very complex show and takes a long time for the actors to learn. However, each member of the company contributes not only to changing the scenes, stories or ideas, but to finding alternative details and moments whilst problem solving in the room. We work together to make things smoother and more effective whilst enjoying the creative work we do. Our whole ethos is play.
Q: Which other companies or theatre practitioners inspire your work?
A: Complicite, a company who came out of the Lecoq training, in the early 1990s inspired Peter to study with Jacques Lecoq. He also takes inspiration from the theatrical style of theatre director Julie Taymor (Lion King), who also studied with Lecoq. For me, working with Peter has been such an inspiration over the years. From my days as a performer to my work now as Company Director.
Q: What do you hope your audience will take away from watching the show?
A: Through the telling of different myths the show explores how human beings and nature are all connected. “We are all made of the same living stuff” – Ovid
Man’s disregard for his connection to nature is causing the earth to suffer and if he continues destroying nature he will ultimately destroy himself. This is the main theme and underpins the light hearted, joyful show. Ultimately we hope the audience will feel they have seen something magical and beautiful that they will remember. I still remember the feeling I got watching the show over eight years ago and if we can ignite that in someone else then it will make all of the hard work worth it.