Nobody Q&A with Motionhouse’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director Kevin Finnan

Nobody Q&A with Motionhouse’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director Kevin Finnan

Nobody is a fast-moving and highly physical dance-circus performance, exploring tension between our inner lives and how we make sense of the world around us. Motionhouse’s renowned dance-circus style combines with mesmerising choreography to tell this emotional and ultimately uplifting story, full of twists and turns. This awe-inspiring performance is coming to the Connaught Theatre on the 30th March at 7:30pm.

Talking to the Motionhouse’s Co-Founder and Artist Director Kevin Finnan, we found out about the inspiration behind Nobody. Read on to find out more.

Co-Founder and Artist Director, Kevin Finnan

Where did the inspiration for the show come from?

I wanted to explore tension between our inner lives and how we make sense of the world around us. While we were in lockdown, I began to realise that there was a synergy between what we were all experiencing being confined to our own homes and what I wanted to express in Nobody.

I became more and more interested in the voices in our heads, and how these were coming to the foreground of many people’s consciousness as we spent time alone. I became very interested in my own experiences and the stories I was hearing about how lockdown was affecting many people mentally – how they were struggling to deal with their inner voice. This approach gained traction when I heard a psychiatrist on a BBC Radio 4 programme explaining that in fact the voices people hear in their heads when suffering from psychosis are their own inner voices – they just don’t recognise them as that. I began to read as much as I could on the subject, and this helped my ideas for the crow characters to develop and grow.

The group of crows in the show represents our inner voices – and our struggle to find ourselves and who we are. All of the cast play two characters – a human and a crow. This is the first ever Motionhouse show with an interval, and this has opened up a whole range of possibilities in terms of the narrative arc of Nobody. In the first act we witness how the crows affect the humans’ behaviour; we follow the journey of their struggle to find themselves as they deal with the voices in their heads, represented by the crows. Then act 2 reflects the great lesson that many of us have learned from this experience about the importance of being together and the strength we all get from that.

What has it been like bringing Nobody to life? Has there been any challenges?

When Covid hit in March 2020 I’d already started work on making Nobody, and our creation period came to an abrupt halt along with the rest of the world. In retrospect, this unexpected hiatus in the show’s  reation has enriched it, completely changing the direction of the production, but at the time it was a daunting situation: how could I create a new production with no access to our dancers or the other collaborators – set designer, composers or filmmakers for the projections? We suddenly had no idea when the show would premiere and when theatres would reopen.

How do you go about building a narrative which is told by dance-circus storytelling?

It’s about extending what the human body can do. Our performers are all trained dancers and we add in circus skills when they begin training and working with us. Tricks are great but if there’s no context then that’s all there is. I always try to find a rationale behind them. You can say, ‘’Circus – wow! Beautiful…’’ But you also have to look at how you arrive at each moment. It’s what poets do with words. The language is always moving, so you have to hold to your intention. For us it’s more of a narrative where tricks are woven into the action.

The show features lots of digital projections and it also involves a shape-shifting set. What’s it been like incorporating that into the show?

When I’m making a new production, I work collaboratively with the dancers to create the choreography and movement vocabulary of the production, setting creative tasks, allocating time for them to ‘play’ on the set, in order to explore the possibilities that this offers in terms of being an ‘apparatus’ for the movement to take place on. When we returned to the studio to resume creation, this way of working allowed us as a group to release everything we had experienced during lockdown. All of the pent-up feelings of not being able to dance or be with others for such an extended period came out in the movement we were creating.

I think this means that in addition to the usual blend of dance and circus that audiences expect from Motionhouse, this show offers something completely new too. I feel like with Nobody we are breaking new ground, and that’s very exciting. We’re really embracing the relationship between dance, digital and circus in new ways; further developing our dance-circus language and taking our exploration of digital projections to new levels. In this show, we’re tracking moving objects with the projections, enabling us to bring the projections into the space.

How does Nobody relate to the present day?

Nobody is a reminder of the value of being with each other, and how that can help put the voices in our heads into a context where we can manage them. It’s about our relationship to who we think we are, and how important it is to take time to stop and assess. Ultimately, it’s about all of us and none of us. But I want it to speak to everybody.

What do you hope audiences will take home after seeing Nobody?

For me, the production means a lot – it represents new beginnings and a renewed sense of purpose as an artist. I want people to have an emotional journey as they watch Nobody and different people will take away different elements of the show and have their own personal responses to it.

Nobody is at the Connaught Studio on Wednesday 30 March at 7:30pm. Book Tickets now at wtm.uk/events/nobody or call the Box Office on 01903 206206.

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