INTERVIEW: Rosa Postlethwaite | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Dawn Felicia Knox

We caught up with artist Rosa Postlethwaite ahead of PUG at Tyneside Irish Centre, Newcastle on Thursday 26th April and her show Composed at Caedmon Hall, Gateshead Central Library on Saturday 5th May as part of GIFT Festival.

Can you tell us a bit about up coming show Composed?
Composed is a show that follows a master of ceremonies (me) through an evening of performance, basically cutting out of the “proper” acts and looking at the bits in-between. Moments like, a thank you to the sponsors, an in-house announcement or a run through of the house rules. Focusing on what the MC does during a show has been a way for me to think more broadly about the relationship between a spokesman (sic) and their institution.

What influenced it?
A few years ago, when I was studying in Cape Town I made a show called The Security Hut with George Musumb. They were working as a security officer and I was interested in this industry. When we started making the show, which was about security, control and exclusion it made me think about the theatre we were in. And how theatres feel safe or unsafe at different times for different people. So for a while I’ve been thinking about theatres and what goes on in them.  

How did you go about pulling it all together?
Since 2016 I’ve been co-hosting and producing a performance club night called PUG. Finding myself in this new position, as a sort of spokesperson, I thought about the pressure to behave in particular ways, the perpetuation of particular power dynamics and the feeling belonging. The rituals that MCs use are so familiar to me that I find them easy to fall into. Making Composed has been a way of checking myself.
I created three short performances, Without Whom We Would Not Be Here Tonight, Warm Up Act and The Announcement and performed these a different events, nationally. I got support from Arts Council England and Dance City to do some initial research into the role of the master of ceremonies. I worked with dance artist, Lizzie J Klotz, performance artist Lois Weaver and filmmaker Dawn Felicia Knox, they supported me to see what the show as a whole might be about.
It still in many ways exists as a series of actions, like interruptions in an evening. The performance is threaded together through a voice over.

How’ve performances of it been so far?
Great. I enjoy performing it – so that’s good.
I also like how few things I need to carry around for this show.
This spring I’ve performed short work in progress sharings at Live Theatre, Tron Theatre and ARC Stockton and I did a longer work in progress sharing as part of Sprint Festival at Camden People’s Theatre.

What does it mean to be performing it as part of GIFT festival?
GIFT supported me to work with a bigger team! Lighting designer, Michael Morgan, sound designer Jamie Cook and artist, Nicola Singh.
It’s led to me get funding to work with a palantypist (caption writer) meaning that the work is accessible to people who are D/deaf.
It’s pushed me to actually make a 45 minute show. And being based in Gateshead meant that I could perform in Caedmon Hall, a Gateshead Council space which is a venue I’ve wanted to perform in for a while. Also Gateshead Council have supported the development of Composed, so I’ve been able to develop the show there and get to know it.
The GIFT 2018 programme is brilliant and so I’m really excited to be at the festival as an audience member. I love performing at festivals because you can see how your work sits alongside other peoples and things start to stick out as patterns or overlapping points or differences.

How have you found it different to producing and performing at your night PUG?
I have to perform for longer!
Although I do give myself breaks. Actually I think that producing and performing at PUG has given me the opportunity to think about how I like to work and I’m approached making Composed in a pretty similar way.

What would you like to do with this show/where would you like to take it next?
I’d like to tour it next year Summer/Autumn 2019. And I’d like to take it to other international festivals!

What’s next for PUG?
PUG is going to get bigger! In lots of ways… nothing set in stone. Things we’re currently thinking about are: ways of supporting local artists to see more work outside the North East and to draw a larger audience from outside the region, being more flexible… in terms of the layout of events and becoming a larger team one that includes a BSL interpreter. We’ve started conversations with some incredibly exciting artists who we’d love to present as part of PUG next year.

What’s next for you in the rest of 2018?
I’m performing at Anatomy Cabaret’s Finest Cuts night at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh the week after GIFT and at Pulse Festival on 1st June.
I’ve been working as a dramaturg with Lizzie J Klotz on her project Fawn which is part of a triple bill that she’s doing at Dance City, 26th May. I’m very excited to see these three pieces together. It’s going to be a really incredible evening.
The next PUG (number 6!) will be 27th July and there’s an open call for anyone interested in performing (see www.pugnight.co.uk, open call starts from 26th April).
This year I’m producing a new show, Five Years written and performed by Neal Pike and directed by Matt Miller with Newcastle and Durham dates in Autumn 2018.

PUG takes place at Tyneside Irish Centre, Newcastle on Thursday 26th April and her show Composed is at Caedmon Hall, Gateshead Central Library on Saturday 5th May.

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