Sharon is also the writer of Ice Road and The Stick House, and here she gives an little bit of insight into the evolution of this compelling new show.
Don’t forget to book your tickets to see this much anticipated show…
Claire Skelcey: Why Ice Road? What made you want to write and create a play based on the siege of Leningrad?
Sharon Clark: After The Stick House and its magical realism I wanted to see if we could make work that had a more naturalistic edge to it. I have long been fascinated by history, even though I never really studied it at school, and became a little obsessive about Russia and China. Through looking at the Stalin years I read more and more about the Siege of Leningrad and discovered that during the blockade a great many concert halls and theatres stayed open, even though the actors and musicians were starving to death. For the city, culture was their battle cry; they used music and performance as an act of defiance. I thought this was extraordinary, especially at a time when in this country people see the arts as elitist, which I have never found to be the case. There was also all the young people left behind and orphaned by the bombing; it felt really contemporary, somehow necessary, with what has been going on in Syria and the migrant camps.
Claire: What can audiences expect from Ice Road and how will it differ from The Stick House?
Sharon: The ideas behind the work are the same – taking the audience on a journey in an unusual space, and using other tools such as projection mapping (a storytelling technique that projects visuals onto a 3D structure), film, animation (by Aardman Animations no less), music, aroma and creative technology. We still want to be playful with our audience, to make something compelling and beautiful, tell a great story and immerse them fully in the experience. We have listened to what our audiences liked about The Stick House, and what we found exciting to work with, and tried to push that a little harder. But at the end of the day it is all about the story, the characters and their journey.
Claire: What made you choose Jacob's Wells Baths as a venue?
Sharon: Because it was totally different from the tunnels in Bristol Temple Meads.
Because it is huge, epic and high ceilinged which suits our story beautifully.
Because not many people have been in it so it is a hidden architectural marvel.
Because it gave us a bigger canvas to draw on.
Because we just loved the idea of making a show in an Edwardian bathhouse.
Because, unlike the tunnels, it has electricity, toilets, running water and a floor!
Claire: If you could give five words that describe Ice Road what would they be?
Sharon: Oh this is difficult so let’s try – relevant, playful, compelling, inventive, collaborative.
(Claire adds: epic, moving, playful, original, necessary.)
Claire: As Creative Director of Raucous, why do you think it's important to make your work in Bristol?
Sharon: Because it’s where I live, and it’s where I have developed valued collaborations with some of this city’s finest filmmakers, designers, composers, actors, producers, mappers and marketing folk. I make the work here because this city, and Watershed in particular, gave me permission to step outside my comfort zone and make something that still feels incredibly risky for me as a playwright – it gave me a firm push to make my own work my own way. It was being awarded a residency at the Pervasive Media Studio that provided me with an opportunity to learn how to make theatre in a different way, and then having so many people leap to support it such as Aardman Animations and Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director Tom Morris. I couldn’t have made this work in any other city – Bristol encourages new ways of working, is proud of its artistic community, has the most exciting people making the most extraordinary work and the most wonderfully adventurous audiences. Why would we work anywhere else?
Ice Road opens on Mon 2 Oct and takes place at Jacob’s Wells Baths, Jacob’s Wells Road, Bristol, BS8 1DZ
You can book your tickets now.
Running time: approx. 70 mins
Please note that this performance is promenade (the audience walks through the performance) so will not be seated. If you require a seat, or have any specific access requirements, please advise box office when booking. The venue is wheelchair accessible, please let us know any specific access requirements in advance.