This week we had the pleasure of speaking to Out of Chaos founder Paul O’Mahony after his time rehearsing in our Hayloft Studio. In this blog we discuss how they reimagine ancient stories and adapt their theatre to reach an audience in times of lockdown.
Who are Out of Chaos?
We’re a theatre company originally from Birmingham but we’ve been based in Hove for the last 4 years. Our work is physical, musical, experimental and often involves lots of multi-rolling. We’re interested in how to involve audiences in our work and run a lot of workshops and outreach projects. Our early work was mainly devised: our first show was called Out of Chaos and won awards at festivals in Bilbao and Berlin. Our work has toured extensively in the UK, Europe, New Zealand and the US. We receive no core funding but have periodically been successful with ACE project grants. Our devised show Unmythable won Best Newcomer at the Brighton Fringe 2019.
What kind of work do you make?
A lot of our work is inspired by ancient stories and how we can reimagine them for today. We’re also really interested in finding new ways of bringing shows to people. Like so many others last year, in response to the pandemic we started creating work online. We staged 40 live performances every Wednesday from April to December last year, staging every extant Greek tragedy in collaboration with the Center for Hellenic Studies. We racked up 125,000 views online. We also created a telephone play called Is Now A Good Time? which successfully ‘toured’ to 11 UK venues in 2011, with 300 performances delivered to audiences who never had to leave their homes. Some of the devising sessions for this project happened at Copperdollar in August/September 2020.
What is your favourite thing about being a theatre company?
It’s joyful to meet new artists and to discover new perspectives. Previously that would have included travelling to new places – for now that’s on hold but the last 2 years have shown how international collaboration is possible without travel. In addition to the online series I’ve been working with someone in Idaho who has translated a 17th Century Spanish play which we’re hoping to rework for a production in the next couple of years.
What project are you currently working on?
We’re working on a two-person A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is a follow-up to our two-person Macbeth which has toured a lot over the last few years. We opened an initial version of Midsummer at The Tobacco Factory in Bristol this September – we’re now in the process of refining and improving, and we also want to film a few sections to share as online workshops. We hope to tour the show again later next year. Other plans for 2022 include a new telephone-based play which will culminate in an in-person event, more online work, and other script projects.
How did you use the studio for your work, did it complement your project well?
The studio was perfect for our rehearsals – it’s got so much natural light and it feels very inspiring.
What is your favourite project you’ve done up until now?
That’s a tough one! Is Now A Good Time? was special for reaching people when we were all isolated, our touring shows have been wonderful for meeting new people and experiences, and our online work has allowed us to work with artists around the world. We want to develop all these strands as we continue in the coming years. We are most excited in the future to bring our new projects to light. We’ve been constantly arranging and rearranging so we’re hoping that we’ll be able to share a lot in the coming few years.
Thanks Paul! It’s so brilliant to get an insight into your work. Check out their website to see the brilliant projects that are going on now. If you are a theatre company looking for a rehearsal space, we can offer a substantial discount as we have a commitment to facilitating affordable rehearsal spaces. Be sure to contact us to hire out our studio for your next project. On our website you can see our availability and rates card.