In this issue of Sunday Reads, our Co-Artistic Director Kevin, looks back on Gameshow, made in 2011.
Exploring the ideas of desire, seduction and manipulation, Gameshow mixed dance, spoken work and film, pushing Chameleon creatively at that time.
Here, Kevin talks about the intensity of the piece, the journey it went on and why the show supported a step change for Chameleon and an ambition to grow more, do more and be more.
“When I think of Gameshow, I always smile and think of playing J.O.Z, my character in the piece. Looking back in relation to the making and production, wow, my thoughts are that it was hard and challenging but hugely rewarding!
We had never produced or created anything like Gameshow before so there were lots of firsts. First time writing a script, building a set, working with a videographer and the first time we had worked with a bigger team of creatives to produce and present a show.
It was challenging because of the sheer intensity of the piece. Singing, miming, talking and dancing, the show had it all! Flipping from one mode to another in order to best express what we were trying to say. We did comedy, straight out text theatrical dialogue, set and prop interaction, and intricate and physical choreograph. We even learned Argentina tango in Cadiz for two weeks specifically for the piece!
We pushed ourselves, well out of our comfort zone and it was tough.
We had so many ideas, which involved some heavy research. We wanted to say so much. There were many long and intense conversations between Anthony and I as part of the collaboration and the creation of the work. How could we say what we wanted to say without it becoming one dimensional or too farcical or cartoony and pantomime?
I feel proud of what we achieved, I think we did a good job and the journey the piece went on from the first show to the last was amazing. When you perform a show, the production takes on a new life as it responds to the evolution and responsive relationship with the audience. For Gameshow, the work got better with each show, as Ant and I were able to play with and go deeper into the work to create a more solid performance each time.
Gameshow was an important step change for Chameleon. Along with the scale of the work and all the different elements involved (projection, film, set, props and costumes), the production was our first significant commission.
We were resident company at The Lowry at the time and they commissioned the work having supported us in a multitude of ways up until that point. With investment behind it, we really wanted Gameshow to be the best thing it could possibly be, so the pressure was on.
Gameshow was the first piece that made us realise how expensive productions can quickly become. This reality guided us and provided another parameter to work around, helping us to be more imaginative in finding solutions – an important lesson to learn and one that we took forward.
Gameshow’s choreography reflects the experimental and anarchic spirit of the time, and it embodies part of Chameleon’s essence, which still stands today. This is that we always try to find the best mode to fully explore what we are trying to express, communicate or comment upon. The mode might be movement or a certain style of movement, text, physical comedy, a joke, a game, projection or song. Whatever the mode, we will use it and integrate it into the tapestry of meaning that we are trying to weave.
The work also explores the human condition and experience, which has since become an identifier for our work. Gameshow commented on and explored the idea of the seductive nature of consumption and the vacuous nature of celebrity culture. A Gameshow seemed the best frame or format to explore those ideas.
Gameshows were originally created by marketing companies in the 1950s to sell consumer products. A gameshow is not what it claims to be, it is something much more malevolent, it is false, it is perception management incarnate and is about greed, power and manipulation! We explored these themes and more in the work and then subverted it, hopefully in an interesting, engaging, layered and funny way.
Gameshow says a lot about Chameleon in terms of our ambition to tackle such huge themes and projects. Back then, it was just me and Ant, but I think this spirit has persisted in the Company. We are always serving to grow more, do more and be more, and I think the whole team would support me here, when I say this is an approach that we all fully embrace.”
Kevin Edward Turner, June 2020
Watch and experience Gameshow below.
To go behind the scenes of the production with Anthony, visit last week’s Sunday Read here.
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Thank you to everyone who comes to watch us perform and for all your wonderful comments and feedback!