In December we announced that we had commissioned Fizz&Chips to create Never Mind The Weather, with the support of a commission award by The Arts Council. Never Mind The Weather is an outdoor performance for schools on the themes of adaptivity and resilience. This new theatre work will be performed as an in-progress showing through the classroom windows of primary schools in Kildare. Although the schedule has been interrupted by Covid restrictions, the company is busy creating the work. Here’s a bit more about the company and the new show:
Firstly can you tell us a little bit about Fizz & Chips – who are the individual members and what brought you together as a company?
Orlaith Ní Chearra, Martha Fitzgerald, Lindsey Woods and Ruadhán Mew, are co-founders of Fizz & Chips: a production company that aims to create interdisciplinary and socially engaged art with an emphasis on humour and play. We met in 2017 as performers touring across France and Belgium together. We began singing, dancing, and writing together, and we haven’t stopped ever since!
What type of theatre/performance interests you as makers?
At Fizz & Chips we strive to make work for audiences of all ages blending great stories with music, movement, and a strong sense of fun.
We believe that great art should be accessible to all: both thematically and structurally. We take an approach to creating work that is collaborative and without hierarchy.
Through our productions, we aim to show the world as we see it: sometimes strange, sometimes hard, but never without curiosity or excitement!
When did you start work on this new show, Never Mind the Weather? What is the main idea/ideas behind the piece?
Martha and Orlaith began working on the concept for the show in November 2020. The plan was to start a three week R & D at the Riverbank in January 2021, working closely with local schools. With changing restrictions, the process was put back and new dates were arranged for March, but again, it was not to be. We had a tough decision to make; Would we postpone the project again and hope that things might open up in the Summer or would we change tack and adapt the process to an online environment. Always up for the challenge, we decided to move the process to Zoom and it has been going really well so far.
We’re still in the research and development phase but the weather has a big part to play! Weather is a huge part of our culture. We smile when it’s sunny; complain when it’s wet – there’s so much in it. We wanted to explore all the drama of the weather through two contrasting characters: Cyrus and Drip. Through a day in their life, we see what kind of antics they get up to, but also what lessons they learn from each other.
Can you tell us a bit about the practical side of the devising/creation process? Have you been working via Zoom?
Our entire creative process thus far has taken place online, which has been a brand new experience for us. We have been devising movement and exploring characters using Zoom, and sharing visual and sound design materials via apps such as Padlet and Google Docs.
There have, of course, been many challenges. The performers have never been in the same space together; the design team haven’t been able to meet in person; many team members have never met offline. But ultimately, we’ve been so grateful to be able to create during this universally difficult time, and we’re really excited to share some of our work with audiences as soon as we can.
What do you think is important to keep in mind when creating work for young audiences?
For us, getting our work in front of young audiences early on in the creative process is important. Having this research and development time is an opportunity for us to try out new ideas, but also to test out our material through work in-progress sharings with schools. We believe that workshopping the show in front of young audiences as we develop it is essential, as their feedback is an invaluable tool in shaping the overall work.
Has the fact that it is planned as an outdoor performance influenced how you work or the creative elements of the piece?
Absolutely. Orlaith has worked with Macnas in Galway as a performer and puppeteer which has influenced her work and provided us with great insight into outdoor performance.
It was important to us that right from the beginning we would have a designer involved as part of the creative process, so that any costumes and props would be resistant to the changeable Irish weather.
As part of our research and development, we also reached out internationally to speak to performers in Norway who toured shows outdoors for young audiences in extreme temperatures.
Lastly, are you looking forward to bringing the show to life in front of an audience – when is this likely to be?
We can’t wait to bring this show to life in front of a live audience! We are working very closely with schools across Kildare as part of our research and development through discussions and sharings with teachers, principals and most importantly our young audience; the students. We would hope that restrictions might ease over the summer for us to bring a full production to life and that we can tour outside the windows of more primary schools come Autumn 2021.
Never Mind the Weather – the creative team so far:
Performers: LA Feeney & Orlaith Ní Chearra
Director: Martha Fitzgerald
AD & Dramaturg: Lindsey Woods
Sound Designer: Niall Clarke
Production Designer: Ellen Finnerty
Movement Director: Niamh McGowan
Assistant Designer & Movement Director: Catherine Walsh
Producer: Orla Tubridy
Never Mind The Weather is supported by a Commission Award from The Arts Council