Ever wondered how a performance at Chrysalis comes to life? We talked to Eleanor and Kirsty from Firefly Arts about their production Dark Mechanics and what inspired the work:
“It all started with the title. We used the words ‘Dark Mechanics’ as a provocation for our young company. We asked who or what is the ‘Dark Mechanics’? What drives the ‘Dark Mechanics’ and how are they fuelled?”
And where did those two words take you?
“Our research forced us to look at ourselves and the wider world we live in. Are Dark Mechanics thrust upon us? Are we willing participants? Through vigorous collective exploration and creative discoveries we understood the ‘Dark Mechanics’ to be a strong complex force ingrained into the very fabric of our society and characterized by the neo-liberalistic attitudes of the West, worshipped by millions of followers.
Looking to the future was bleak. We felt trapped, pressured and pissed off. Can we change any of this even if we wanted to? Do we want to? We found that we hated just how competitive, hypersexual and unfair the world seems and how complicit we are to the injustice, how we oil the machine. We could succumb to it, beg for mercy or seek to make change”
Challenging themes! So how do you take those ideas and begin to turn them into a performance?
“Our devising process began with ourselves – our bodies, minds, behaviours, attitudes and habits. Through this we found our own personal connections to the Dark Mechanics. We wholeheartedly believe that the personal is political but how much are we in control? How much are we made to believe we are in control by participating in a system that upholds hard work and competition as a central driving force? Just try a little bit harder and you will be rewarded. We suggest that this perpetual race is distraction from what is really happening, the dark forces at work hidden beneath a tirade of media, celebrity culture and promises of a more perfect life. These thoughts made us question what is real and what is not”
And what exercises and processes do you use to bring those ideas to life?
“Experiment and play is at the forefront of our practice. In the rehearsal room we split into winners and losers, we created competition, friction and inequalities to react to and work from. We subjected each other to physical and mental challenges as part of the exploration”
That sounds very demanding. How long did that take?
“We spent months generating a bank of physical compositions, vocal work and written material from which we could construct our piece. This required bravery and whole lot of trust. We discovered an unbreakable faith in each other and a belief that however small or bruised we are, we can take control of our destiny and map the future we want”