Write because you want to, not because you have to.
World-class theatre company, No Strings Attached, is renowned for creating an inclusive space for performers living with a disability. By channelling their focus on the performers and letting their disabilities take a backseat, each member of this close-knit family is given the opportunity to feel empowered and celebrated for their abilities.
Their newest production I Forgot to Remember to Forget (IFTRTF) made waves at the True Colours Festival in Singapore 2018 and now, they are scheduled to perform in Adelaide for the very first time. A collaboration with performers from No Strings Attached, IFTRTF will explore the themes of resilience, dealing with change, and adjusting to a new lifestyle that living with a disability (whether acquired or congenital) can present with.
In anticipation of their upcoming performance, I was fortunate enough to score an e-interview with Cassie Litchfield and Alirio Zavarce - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell us a bit about the inception of this show? Alirio: "When I became the Artistic Director of No Strings Attached in 2016 there was no artistic program for me to inherit. So, it gave me a great opportunity to do a consultation with all the amazing actors form No Strings and ask them what they wanted to create? What were their creative needs, hopes and ultimately their dreams as artists and performers? That was a really exciting process and the starting point for a whole new vision of the company as everything we do at No Strings is based on "the voice" the Needs, Wants and Dreams of our Performers. At No Strings, our performers are the stars, not just support acts, which makes us one-of-a-kind in Australia. After the Consultation, I created an Artistic Vision that aligned with the desire of our performers. One thing that stuck me was all the performers that identify as themselves having a lived experience of memory loss and wanted to create a theatre piece about it. So, to investigate Memory, how do we Forget and Remember, we started to explore resilience, how we deal with and accept change, how sometimes we have to re-learn everything and how sometimes we forget it all."
Tema: Who are the faces of I Forgot to Remember to Forget? Can you please give us a brief intro to each individual involved? Alirio: Oh, I have an absolutely brilliant cast: Michaela Cantwell, Kathryn Hall, Cassie Litchfield, Kym Mackenzie and Duncan Luke. I love using auto biographical material, it's a style I have been working with since "Sons & Mothers" you could call it "Documentary Theatre" so everything have been co-created and co-design by each of the artist in the piece. All is based on their voices, it is true collaboration and we have created this world of "I Forgot" together. We have brilliant performers in the show like Michaela Cantwell, She has an incredible body of work and as actor and theatre maker with Brink and STCSA and so many other companies across Australia. We started to collaborate and talk about the process of where is she now and how is she has been recovering from the stroke. So, we got really excited about creating a piece that would share with an audience how is it like to re invent yourself and re learn thing all over again. What is it like to forget things or how do you deal with things that you remember but can't do anymore.
Another amazing performer and collaborator is Kathryn Hall. She's brilliant and she shared how there are also moments where she forgets things. She might be on the bus and think "Oh. Am I going to the city or am I coming from the city?".
So, we started the process by examining memory and how do we forget things and how we remember things, which is something we all do but there are things which exacerbate it wither through illness or accidents or medication. It has been great to develop a performing style that allows us to play with forgetting in a world of theatre were everything is about remembering.
I feel super blessed to collaborate with such and amazing team of creative like the super talented Matt Crook, which everybody knows as a brilliant Actor and we have been collaborating for a long time in the projection world of I Forgot. Tyson Olsen is a fantastic composer and has captured the beauty of the piece. I came with an idea about the set and the awesome Shane Pope, he construct beautiful pieces of wood furniture at Pure Furniture but he has never worked in theatre before, Shane just found all the solution in giving us a great canvas to play with in his Set Design. I love the magic touch of emerging Adelaide Designer Ashleigh Boyce in the Costume Design.
And the all rounder, our super technician: Brad Thomson, we have done quite a number of projects together and we continue to collaborate and develop a language in projection world, lights and all technical elements for I Forgot.
Tema: What is the basic premise of your upcoming show, without giving too much away? Cassie: The show sheds light on the concept of memory, something that everyone sub-consciously accesses, all the time. It explores the power of remembering and what it feels like to forget.
Tema: How did you decide on the name of the show? Alirio: I started playing with different combinations of Forgetting and Remembering in the title and then remember the Elvis song, it became a perfect fit.
Tema: What did the creative process of this show involve - how did you decide on the development of the themes, the characters, the messages, and the essence of this show? Cassie: The process of creating the show was an organic collaboration. Each of the cast members brought their own unique experience of memory to the process, and that informed the choices we made. We knew that we wanted each of the actors to tell their own story; so for the majority of the show, the actors are playing a version of themselves; rather than a character. In 2018, we toured the show to the Arts and Disability Festival in Singapore. We received a lot of feedback and have been able to make some changes to the show before our Adelaide run.
Tema: Who is your ideal target audience for your show? Cassie: The show is targeted at anyone who has a memory or has forgotten something. As the show is based on many different experiences, we anticipate that everyone should be able to find something relatable in the show. We are part of the Festival Centre's CentreEd program, which means that the show is suitable for people aged 12 and up. One of the greatest opportunities we have at No Strings Attached is to create work that is fully accessible to audience members living with a disability. We do a lot to ensure our shows will offer a visceral experience to all audience members, including; audio-description, AusLan interpreting and mobility accessibility.
Tema: What do you hope for your audience to experience from attending your show? Cassie: We hope that audiences take the opportunity to reflect on their own memories and experiences. Memories can bring up a lot of different emotions for people. We hope our show will be a cathartic experience, where audiences can celebrate their own happy memories and heal from the painful ones. For those that struggle to remember, we hope that will feel comfort in knowing that they are not alone. We hope that audiences leave feeling inspired.
Tema: How did you score the Adelaide Festival Centre as your venue? Alirio: It has been a great collaboration with the Adelaide Festival Centre - we started talking about possibilities after the world premiere in Singapore. We are really excited to finally bring the show to an Adelaide audience.
Tema: How does the evolution of your show from a concept to a reality make you feel? Cassie: It is very rewarding. It is a very empowering experience to stand in front of an audience and share your own story and experiences. To share so much of yourself with an audience can also be a very vulnerable and confronting feeling. But that is what makes the show so authentic and we are very proud of what we have made.
Tema: What are you anticipating from your upcoming performance? Cassie: We can't wait to share the show with audiences in our home town for the first time. In some cases, audience members will be the people who have made and share these memories with us and we are really looking forward to seeing how the show touches them. There are a lot of references to Adelaide in the show, so we are keen to see how that is received by Adelaide audiences. We anticipate the show will offer a unique experience to each audience member that we think will be very special.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like us to know about you and your show? Alirio: Yes, it is beautiful, it will touch you and it will make people see their own memories and experiences of forgetting a remembering from a new perspective. I hope Adelaide gets behind us and I hope you all get to see "I Forgot to Remember to Forget". I can try to explain it here, but like anything, you have to experience it, to live the stories with us, so that you can really understand what is this theatre that we do and how relevant it is to everyone. This is a theatre piece of our times talking about our lives and proudly made in South Australia.
I Forgot to Remember to Forget will have their performances at the Adelaide Festival Centre from July 3 - 6, 2019. Book your tix here.