1.Hi, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the company (and how you got your fantastic name!)?
Hello there, I am Rosalind Hoy, an associate artist of The Human Zoo Theatre Company and the Company Press Officer. We are quite unique as a company as the majority of us went to secondary school together and so have been working with one another since the age of 11! After we left school we pursued our own forms of training- mainly vocational- and then came back together to form a company. We thought The Human Zoo was apt as we are interested in human kind en masse and looking at individuals within it. The name also points to our playful nature as a group of artists. In this show we are looking at humanity's universal fascination with the sky and five slightly mad individuals within that.
2.We understand last year was your first year as a company at Edinburgh Fringe Festival - what do you think were the most important things you learnt from your festival experience last year?
Last year's Fringe was definitely a learning curve. For many of us it was our first experience of Edinburgh and I don't think we were quite prepared…one member didn't even pack a coat. So I think that is one of the most important lessons- be prepared for any form of weather! Other than that, I think we realised that we could actually accomplish a lot as a company on a shoestring budget in terms of producing and promoting our own show. It took perseverance and a bit of creative thinking but we are returning to the Fringe this year feeling a little more prepared.
3.Have you been to any other festivals this year? How do these compare the Fringe experience?
We were lucky enough to perform another show this year, Monotone Man, at Latitude Festival, Greenwich Docklands International Festival, Imagine Watford and Lyric in the Square. We managed to see a lot of incredible outdoor work, so it was a completely different experience to Edinburgh Fringe as a viewer and a performer. As much as the weather can effect your day whilst flyer-ing on the Royal Mile once you get inside your venue you're safe and sound but when performing outdoors you have to battle the elements no matter what… it is probably the only time I have pleaded for full cloud coverage and a breeze.
4.How and why are festivals such as Latitude and Edinburgh fringe important in engaging young people in the arts?
Both festivals are paramount in engaging young people. They offer such an incredible variety of shows that everyone is bound to find something they like. Edinburgh showcases top quality theatre at an affordable price. It creates access to professional companies and opens up opportunities for conversations that are difficult to access in any other arena. Whilst at Latitude you can see an emerging company alongside theatre from The National and renowned musical acts. The big names get the punters in but once there, they cannot help but see the theatre, art and comedy that is going on around them.
5.You write and devise all your own work - What's the process you go through to develop an original show? How do you decide what the next show will be about?
Our process is very democratic and collaborative. When we are starting a new show we have a meeting where everyone throws around ideas before we find one that hooks us and that we are excited to explore. Then it becomes a case of getting together a few initial ideas before heading into the rehearsal room. For The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon, we went into the rehearsal room with just the title and the idea that we would present our five characters individual stories of their relationship with the skies. We then created who these characters are, what their stories are and completely built the show all together in the rehearsal room. After getting the show on it's feet, we performed a scratch performance to a small audience before having a further two week-long rehearsal period of polishing and tweaking the show to get it to the point it is at now.
6.When you're developing a new show, do you have a clear vision of the production elements such as the lighting, sound, and the set design as you go, or do these ideas come in later in the process?
We normally have a basic set idea before we begin. Such as for our first show, The Hive, we had some wooden flats that represented the walls, and for this show we knew we wanted to use suitcases a lot and have all other props or set pieces emerge from them. So we begin with these basic ideas and then create the scenes around that, but of course these are always subject to change throughout the rehearsal process. Often we will use prototype versions of these props or set pieces just to block the show before we have decided on the specific design and aesthetic. Lighting and sound come much later once we know the needs of each scene and moment of the piece. These will often emerge as we devise the piece, such as a shadow puppet sequence in this piece and our key prop of some light up jars, which dictated the lighting that we would use for those sections.
7.Tell us a bit more about The Girl Who Fell in Love With the Moon?
At it's heart, the show is about peoples relationship with the skies, reflected in each of our characters having a certain pull towards elements above us; stars, clouds, the sun and of course the moon. The entire show unpacks from a bundle of suitcases and erupts into a vast collection of props, costumes and instruments and utilises a similar combination of movement, poetry, puppetry and live music that we explored in our last show, The Hive.
8.What do you enjoy the most about what you do?
Having ownership over our output as a group of young artists and being able to create work about subjects we are interested and intrigued by in styles that excite us. That other people happen to enjoy and support our work is of course an added bonus!
9.What are the biggest challenges of running your own theatre company?
The biggest challenge of running a theatre company is organisation and of course funding! We are fortunate enough that we have had support from both venues and The Arts Council and this is hard won and we do not take it for granted and continue to find new ways to support ourselves as a company. Getting a rehearsal room is always a struggle and making sure everyone can be there at the same time can also be a bit tricky.
10.If you could go back in time and give your 16 year old self some advice what would it be?
No matter what position you are in keep creating your own work. Take every opportunity you can to immerse yourself in theatre be that watching a show, taking a class or joining NYT. You can never see too much!
11.Any exciting future plans the company has that you could let us in on?
We're really excited about our on-going relationship with The Castle Theatre in Northampton, who continues to support our work for our future shows. Also we are looking forward to touring The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon once returning from our Edinburgh run.
12.What are you most looking forward to seeing in Edinburgh this year?
We are so excited to see Institute by Gecko and Blam! both at the Pleasance Grand. We are also looking forward to seeing fellow alumni of our secondary school Les Enfants Terribles and The Eulogy of Toby Peach. The Solid Life of Sugar Water by Graeae Matter is also on our to do list as their work with disabled artists in ground breaking.
Thanks so much for your time. We can't wait to see the show!