Post written by: Erin Walcon
On Sat 23 March, Doorstep Youth Theatre were invited to stage a Curious Takeover in Paignton Town Centre. The invitation came from the wonderful team in charge of the Eyeview Programme, as part of their ‘Conversations’ series, which is taking place at The Shop in Winner Street. This space is a former furniture shop and temporary pop-up home of all things imaginative and creative, during the Eyeview period.
So… take it over, we did.
Working with 10 members of our DYT company on the Takeover day, we created two split performance troupes: one group created a site-based installation at The Shop, and the other group became a roving band of street performers in Paignton Town Centre.
The team of performers at The Shop turned the space into a temporary Story Cafe – where customers could come and listen to a story, chosen off a menu. Accompanied by live music from the fab Josh Lucas (of Running Dog Theatre), the waiters and chefs simultaneously staged both 1:1 immersive storytelling at round tables, as well as a comedic slapstick routine by 3 chefs, as stories were cooked up in the kitchen. The menu gave options for themed stories, hand-delivered by waiters.
A band of four Dream Catchers took to Paignton Town Centre, pushing their Dream Catching Machine. (On loan from our friends at Encounters Arts, on a continuing journey from its original origins with the wonderful Theatre Rush.) The Dream Catchers: Old Man Beetle, Spider, Mozzie and Quito, all wandered down the pedestrianised high street of Paignton, asking people if they would be willing to donate a dream… due to a global shortage. They captured the caught dreams in an enormous fishing net, weaving them in with different coloured wool. Ultimately, the dreams were then preserved in jars and taken to the Story Cafe to be cooked up into stories by the chefs.
Note about the process: The Curious Takeover marked the end of our Spring Term, where DYT have been experimenting with street theatre and immersive practice. We’ve learned so much this term from Josh and by trying it out in real life situations (including at the Devising Discovery platform at the Exeter Northcott back in February).
It was a real treat to be able to take over the Shop and turn it into our own imaginative playspace – many thanks to Clare Parker and the Eyeview team for so generously turning it over to us for the day! We loved taking the Dream Catching Machine (also known as Geraldine!) into the streets and would love to try it again… we are already plotting for some Summer Term gigs where we might be able to bring our Dream Catchers back out for more fishing in Torbay.