The Work Of An Animateur

Feature in Issue 1-3 | Autumn 1989

After having been in Luton as Mime and Theatre Skills Animateur for eighteen months, I feel it an appropriate point to evaluate and rethink the work I have been and will be doing. Animateur posts are there to be made the most of; a magnificent springboard for new initiatives and development in the field of physical theatre.

As a practitioner, I have found it of immense value to have that constant practical and facilitative relationship with the community. How many performers understand their art form sufficiently as a major commitment to encourage others to take it on board? Going through the basic elements of such work and being witness to the exciting effect it has on groups – seeing those groups through to performance, which thus informs one’s own work, enjoyed and watched by user groups.

All this gives a practitioner a unique playground and research lab. However, there is a limit to how much one person can do in a region, and also a limit on what funds are available for ‘buying-in’.

Thus in my case, I took the step (albeit some time ago) to attempt to solidify yet further physical theatre in Luton. So I created the notion of a professional touring company with a strong identity with the town – drawing on its resources and talents – working in the communities where drama work can have genuine value; while at the same time producing performance material of the highest calibre, pushing physical theatre and Luton onward!

Autumn 1989 will see Taktyle Theatre’s first production Mother of Millions, to be premiered in Luton on 3rd November and to subsequently tour in the Eastern Arts Region and beyond. The show takes a westerner’s look at Russia via Kandinsky, folk tales, social structures and rituals, using varied physical, vocal and musical techniques. The entire piece is being created to come together and to stimulate in many ways – through set, original score, costumes, theatrical techniques etc – an immensely exciting project.

I have worked with the vast majority of the people involved in one way or another, and in turn, they have created their own relationships with Luton and with the task of motivating others about theatre, design, music, etc. Taktyle Theatre’s policy statement looks to the future of physical theatre, and to where we can implant the interest and commitment in others.

In addition to performance work, the company has a profound belief in residency work, where we can draw on the rich and varied experience of the company. Taktyle has come from the grassroots level and celebrates the immense impact and potential to be found at all levels. I hope this will encourage other companies to work like this, and to see the value of breaking new ground as enablers. The companies that I can draw on to come and do exciting yet valid work in Luton are pitifully small – people seem timid of such challenges, in addition to being unaware of the need for versatility, and a down-to-earth approach to theatre work.

Referenced Artists

This article in the magazine

Issue 1-3
p. 7