Female-led new commissions are at the heart of this year’s Festival of Voice programme. Created by Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff’s biennial international arts festival is back for its second edition, igniting the city with powerful voices from 7 – 17 June. In this series, we meet the voices behind this year’s new creations. Here we speak to Lucy Rivers and Hannah McPake – co-founders of gig-theatre company Gagglebabble, who premiere Double Vision, co-produced by Wales Millennium Centre.
Tell us about your show?
Double Vision is a multi-sensory, dark, musical thriller set on board a luxury cruise liner. It’s a story about perception, obsession, murder and betrayal and there is the usual Gagglebabble dose of original live music, dark comedy and playful storytelling. It’s a big, bold and ambitious show which will hopefully take the audience on an exciting journey across the Atlantic Ocean and be a feast for all the senses. Our aim is to make it accessible by design and so we have integrated audio description, making every show fully accessible to visually impaired and blind audiences.
What inspired you to make this new work?
The inspiration for the show came from an unmade Hitchcock and Lehman film script called The Blind Man. We’ve taken a juicy plot detail from that story and then created a completely new narrative and characters and very much made it our own. Hitchcock and that 60’s film world remains a big influence on the style and tone, as well as other influences including David Lynch, and Roald Dahl. We were also interested in making a show which played with the audience’s perception and is immersive in a sensory way.
Lucy – Musically I was interested in writing songs for a band and lead singer and so it’s been brilliant to be inspired by Lisa Jen Brown’s beautiful, haunting voice and to work with amazing musicians Paul Jones and Mark O’Connor on synths and electronic drums. I’ve also tried to incorporate that filmic orchestral soundtrack with soaring strings and timpani drums, and choral voices also play a big role in the music and narrative.
Tell us about your team.
We are very lucky to have an amazing team of actors, musicians and creatives. The brilliant Matthew Blake will be Directing, who is known for his immersive and playful work with Punchdrunk. We have the wonderful Hayley Grindle designing, who we worked with on Wonderman and she has a unique challenge to create a big, bold set and costumes that don’t follow the normal design brief. Helping with that visual world we have the highly sought-after Josh Pharo who will be creating some magic with lighting and projection/film design. We also have the incredible Elena Pena on sound design with her side kick Dom Elias who have a big job in helping us tell the audio story in surround sound 3D!
We (Hannah and Lucy) have written the script, and we’ve been helped by writer and Dramaturg Matt Hartley. Lucy has written the music. Our brilliant cast and musicians are Francois Pandolfo, Lisa Jen Brown, Mark O’Connor Paul Jones and Mared Jarman.
Tell us about yourself.
Lucy – I’m an actor, writer, composer and musician and since co-founding Gagglebabble in 2013 I’ve written and/or composed on all five of Gagglebabble’s shows. I’ve also written for BBC Radio 4, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Egg Bath, The Other Room, and have composed for numerous productions including shows for Sherman Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Hijinx, Theatr Clwyd, Pins and Needles and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. I have performed nationally and internationally with companies including Kneehigh, The Arcola, Theatr Clwyd, National Theatre Wales and Unicorn Theatre.
I’m originally from Abergavenny but have lived in Cardiff now for 17 years and I enjoy juggling my time between being a mum, playing music and making gig-theatre.
Hannah – I’m a performer, theatre maker and director. I’m from Edinburgh but trained at RWCMD and have been living in Cardiff on and off since 2000. Working locally for Sherman Cymru, Theatr Iolo and National Theatre Wales and as well as further afield with Told by an Idiot, Improbable, National Theatre Scotland, The National, Shakespeare’s Globe. I love work that boldly clashes styles together and playfulness is at the heart of everything I do.
What does Festival of Voice mean to you?
Festival of Voice is an amazing festival because it’s first and foremost a celebration of the voice in all its diverse forms, as well as attracting huge international names to our capital city who would never perform here otherwise. It is still early days for the festival, but we love the fact they commission brand new collaborations from huge stars and is also dedicated to commissioning more local established and upcoming talent. We’re very proud to have Cardiff hosting such an ambitious festival and even more proud to be performing and creating a show alongside such an incredible line-up of artists.
What are you looking forward to from the rest of the Festival programme?
There are tonnes of things we want to see at this year’s festival and so many brilliant Welsh bands and musical theatre shows that we’re looking forward to, but top picks would have to be:
Lucy – Patti Smith and guests. I’m a major fan of her music and writing and it’s a rare treat to have her in the UK never mind Cardiff! I am also looking forward to Cave by the wonderful singer Camille O’Sullivan. I’ve enjoyed watching Camille for years and now she’s doing a whole show dedicated to songs by my all-time favourite song-writer and artist, Nick Cave.
Hannah – That’s a tricky question. Everything! I’m really excited by Processions, celebrating 100 years since the first women won the right to vote. It promises to be an extraordinary powerful gathering of women and girls. We’re very proud to have Lisa-Jen Brown from our cast as one of the Ambassadors for Processions. I’m also really looking forward to finally catching Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance having missed it in Edinburgh last year.
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Wednesday 6 – Sunday 17 June, various times
Wales Millennium Centre (Rehearsal Room 3)