When we did the initial testing and audience research for the Cursed City – Dark Tide project, way back in July 2018. There was one particular piece of feedback that cropped up a number of times. People wanted to actually see the protagonist of Matt Wingett’s novel The Snow Witch, play the violin.

Clearly Donitza as a character resonates with the novel’s readers and she also resonated with me for other reasons. For many years I have had a personal passion for Balkan Folk Music to the extent that I even tried learning to play the fiddle at one point in time. I also have a bit of a passion for immersive theatre so the opportunity to actually bring Donitza to life, make her real, and stage a Balkan Folk dance was too hard to resist.

Many of the people involved with producing the Cursed City have worked together before and increasingly we have found ourselves experimenting with immersive theatre. Either at other Darkfest events (Cure or be Cured), at DVMISSION (Dusk till Dawn of the Dead, Da Da Land & Pompey Drifter) and more recently Octopus’s and Other Sea Creatures, a commission from the New Theatre Royal as part of their festival of the sea. Having dipped our toe in the water Cursed City – Dark Tide is going to be our first full dive into staging immersive theatre. 

With funding from the Arts Council England, we were keen to up our game and we wanted to bring some experienced people into the project as mentors. This led us to Joe Hufton who agreed to come down and run a one day workshop with us. We were very lucky to have such an experienced practitioner leading the workshop, Joe is an associate director at Les Enfants Terribles and one of the creators of their Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Game’s Afoot and Inside Pussy Riot.

We spent a day exploring immersive theatre and learning how to develop theatrical performances that involve the audience as a character in the story. Joe was an excellent facilitator and I think it is safe to say that we all learnt a lot from him. Our cast was pretty much all in attendance and it was really good too see how they worked together. I came away really excited about what we have planned for the project.

Groundlings Theatre deserves a big thank for letting us use their space but most of all we need to thank the people who took part in the workshop who made the day such a memorable experience.

Cursed City – Dark Tide is funded by Arts Council England to produce a transmedia story experience that will be delivered this autumn as part of Darkfest 2019.

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Published by Reynold Lissitch

Street artist and eminent raconteur with shapeshifting capabilities.

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