National Theatre Education Mag. 2004
‘A space Beyond’
Shunt is a group of ten
diverse artists who specialise in creating site – specific performances.
Formed in 1998, they met at the Central School of Speech and Drama on a postgraduate
course in Advanced theatre Practice. ‘Basically it was time and space
to work on different projects’, explains director David Rosenberg. ‘Over
that time we found each other, the people with whom we wanted to work’.
Serena bobowski, a performer and choreographer with the company, adds: “I
think we all wanted to try something new.”
One of Shunt’s main aims is to create theatrical events in unusual spaces, involving the audience as active participants. The work combines theatre with dance, circus and audio-visual art. Previous projects have been performed in locations as varied as Aldwych Undergound Station and several railway arches under London Bridge. In their latest show, Dance Bear Dance - a surreal conspiracy thriller incorporating aerial combat and a kicking soundtrack – theatrical illusions is pushed to the fore to create a truly unique experience.
‘We weren’t necessarily trying to fill a gap’ says David, reflecting on the company’s activities to date. ‘We’re doing the only thing that we know how to do, which is creating events that are live, that are about audiences being present.’ Andrew Rutland, the company’s sound designer, agrees: ‘Although, having said that, I think that there was and still is a place for Shunt’s work – for something more about a total experience, a night out.”
This desire to create a new experience stems from what the company perceive as a stigma associated with theatre, particularly in the mind of young people. Shunt are keen to distance themselves from the mainstream, ‘It’s partly to do with the hierarchical nature of the way theatre is described: The West End, Off- West End, fringe. What kind of classification is that’? asks David ‘it suggests that companies follow through this path until they’re playing in the big theatres. There’s no room for us in that. We’re described as a ‘fringe theatre company’ but what does that mean? Supposedly that we’re not famous enough yet, or that don’t have enough money yet.’
With widespread critical acclaim and growing audiences you can be sure Shunt won’t be on the fringes of anything for long.