We Need To Talk About The Future embarks on a journey of reimagining the future by questioning what it means to be human, or rather posthuman in this ever-changing world. Psychopomp! Theatre Collective is an international collective formed by theatre artists Anne Pajunen (FI/BE), Paul McAleer (FR/IRL), Scott Middleton (AU), Eli Schoenfeld (US/ISR) and Tom Tokley (UK). Anne Pajunen answered some questions on behalf of the collective.
How did you get the idea for this project?
We were talking about how to keep working as actors during the lockdown and Scott proposed we could get together during this time to do some work by all choosing a character we’d always wanted to play and develop the role even if we hadn’t been given the chance to play them yet. This happened to coincide with the Together Alone call for projects and that really propelled us into action! We started exploring the idea further and a short science fiction scene we developed during our training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art called We need to talk about the future entered the discussion. So it really all started from us wanting to support each other as artists and to find a way to come together again.
How has the communication of your collective been impacted by the pandemic?
Ironically this situation has rather enabled us to reconnect and to begin working on a new project. We’re used to being in the same space together for a concentrated, intense period of time during which our communication is very holistic. We work very physically and normally do lots of movement research as well. Sometimes we just feel the atmosphere in the room and don’t have to say much. Now we’re faced with a new type of communication but it’s exciting to discover how this will feed into the work! Our online meetings have to happen at strategic moments of the day as we are juggling several time zones; Brussels, London, New York and Melbourne so someone is always having their morning coffee when someone else is having a pyjama party.
How did you choose your characters for the project? What makes one suitable for what you have to tell?
We each chose our character intuitively and then discussed the combination together. For some of us it was characters we’d been thinking about or were somehow intrigued by already so it felt natural to continue exploring them. All of them resonate with the themes of the project and we were able to imagine how they could come together. The way we develop and where we take these characters is more the focus than who they are.
How has the fanfiction genre inspired your creative process?
The fanfiction genre has mainly been an idea to use as a springboard for the way we’re working with these five characters and bringing them together. It is more of a starting point rather than a form we’re fulfilling.
As the identities of the five characters are constantly evolving, each artist working independently during the weeks with a theme set in the beginning of each week, how much of We need to talk about the future is improvised and how much is planned?
We have an initial plan in mind with some images, thoughts, themes and ideas but this project is really about discovering what the piece is through the journey of making it. In fact this is how we’ve always worked, we make creative choices together organically so there is no script beforehand. Our creative process is something that unfolds differently with every project and not knowing is key; we don’t know, we don’t know, we don’t know and then suddenly we know something and go further from there. It’s a cycle of exploration and discovery.
With this project the online-platform also poses a degree of unpredictability as we don’t have a digital media specialist or a coder in our team. This is an entirely new context for us and we just can’t know, and that’s very exciting.
What is the best thing about working on this project?
The best thing is definitely that it has enabled us to come together again to create as a collective even though we are physically far apart.
What can we expect from the final sharing of your project?
Whole project will be shared via our blog throughout the month of June so the final sharing is more of a wrapping up, and perhaps a drawing of conclusions. As we are discovering this new process, we might end up bringing this project even further. We might ask, at the end of it, for people to share the way they experienced the journey. We invite everyone to follow our process on the blog for more details to come as we progress.
What would you like for people to remember about We need to talk about the future?
That it touched their heart one way or another.
Text: Estelle Leroux, Image: We Need To Talk About The Future
Find out more about We Need To Talk About The Future here: https://psychopomptheatrec.wixsite.com/home