Three perspectives on 2020: Andrew Quick
Andrew Quick, Co-Artistic Director, ITD
“It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a testing year. Many of us have been touched by grief, by illness and the loneliness of isolation. Theatre activity has had to retreat from its multiple stages and find new homes in the digital, and, when possible, in the relative safety of the outdoors. Looking at how fellow theatre practitioners have adapted to the situation has been one of the inspiring aspects of the pandemic – seeing extraordinary work on-line has revealed the resilience and creativity that theatre is built on, although we need to acknowledge that these attributes won’t in themselves be enough. As the pandemic seems to rage on and on, funding bodies and institutions are going to have to dig deep to ensure that there is a creative industry to return to. These are deeply worrying times.
Like many other organisations the pandemic has also led imitating the dog to reflect on what kind of company it is and what it wants to be. One of the drivers of our activity over the last nine months is to be as active as possible, to keep making and keep people in work. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve been able to complete a number of educational projects, in Utrecht and Salford, working with young people who have given us much pleasure as they have tested the creative parameters offered to them to the limit, always pushing us to think through new approaches and new techniques. Similarly, we were successful in our application for a Culture in Quarantine project and managed, at very short notice, to complete three original pieces made via Isadora and Skype. Perhaps the highlight of our year was the tour of Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show in September, made in collaboration with Leeds Playhouse. Completed with two weeks rehearsal this rough and riotous show toured to outdoor venues, organisations that we had worked with regularly over recent years. It was a gift, given in recognition of their support, a gesture made in the hope that they too might survive the current crisis, in the hope that we will be able to work together again when eventually we can return to something resembling normality.
Dr Blood was a homage to a theatrical and musical heritage that has haunted both Pete and I – the years we spent in Leeds between 1976-84, the agit prop theatre that ghosted alongside this brash and often political era in popular music. Moments of crisis often see a return to the political, into thinking how we can collectively imagine better, fairer and more sustainable futures. Haunted by the divisions of Brexit, affected by the ravages of the Pandemic, the vital issues brought into light by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is undoubtedly such a moment, one which demands rigorous reflection and creative fortitude as we think through our plans for 2021 and beyond.
We started 2020 with our curtailed tour of Night of the Living Dead – Remix, a story of devastation caused by contagion, where people seemed to fail to collectively respond to the huge challenges thrown at them. The story in Night of the Living Dead presents a kind of warning to society, but within the making of the movie lay the solution as how we should respond to such a crisis, which was always staring us in the face, and which become so alive when we recreated the movie shot for shot on the stage. Night of the Living Dead would not have happened without the creative ingenuity, the collective endeavour, the small but vital sacrifices etc. made by the original creative team. This is something we came to know and also to embody in our re-staging. Theatre is always a collective endeavour and working together is surely our way out of many of our present difficulties in the wider community and society.
This may sound naïve, but such an acknowledgement presents hope for 2021. It’s what we do together that becomes important, it’s through what we can achieve by harnessing collective endeavour that we can find solutions.
We have many plans for the next twelve months and we look forward to talking about them and presenting the fruits of our endeavours as the year unfolds. Thanks so much for your support and we look forward to meeting you via digital screens and in auditoriums very soon. Please take care and stay safe.”