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  • INTERVIEW | RashDash’s Abbi Greenland Talks Blending Theatre and Science in Future Bodies
Abbi from Rash Dash Theatre

INTERVIEW | RashDash’s Abbi Greenland Talks Blending Theatre and Science in Future Bodies

RashDance Theatre Company are exploring human enhancement technologies in a new innovative and thought-provoking production with Unlimited Theatre. Working with leading scientists and researches, they delve into the world of brain implants, smart drugs and artificial intelligence.

Doing what they do best, they are using text, music and physical theatre to explore what our bodies are now and that they will become. I spoke to Abbi Greenland, one third of RashDash theatre company and original creator of the company alongside Helen Goalen. “It’s a show that asks some pretty big questions,” Abbi said. “As technology develops and becomes more and more apart of our bodies, at what point do we stop being human?”

As the first big collaboration between RashDash and Unlimited Theatre, it all started when Artistic Director Jon Spooner and Abi were working together on a project about human enhancement technology. “When we were working on it I had so many questions and so many things I really didn’t understand. Jon suggested we developed it further and so this production was a response to the two of us having a conversation,” Abi said. “Jon is very excited about technology and I am a physical theatre maker. We thought we were coming from two very different places and it felt really interesting to blend those two together.”

Instead of there being one long arc of a story, this show focuses on lots of little snapshots of stories set in the future, displaying how technology might affect our lives and the conversations we might have around them. Written by Abbi alongside Unlimited Theatre’s Clare Duffy and directed by Abbi and RashDash’s Helen Goalen, this is the first time Helen and Abbi aren’t staring in a RashDash production. “We are really enjoying being able to step outside of the piece and look at the whole thing,” Abi said. “We realised when making this that the three of us all look and feel like we represent a similar perspective and we didn’t needs lots of us on stage, we needed lots of different people that represent more of what the world is like.”

Despite being a show about science, Abbi hopes that the theatricality of it makes the scientific stuff really digestible. “It goes quite deep at points but we’ve tried to make the language and story very accessible,” Abbi said. “The story hopefully means everyone can identify with that very human thing which is bodies moving together on stage and I hope it’s going to be really fun as well.”

  

Future Bodies - Photo by Jonathan Keenan
Future Bodies – Photo by Jonathan Keenan

   

Abbi describes the process of approaching all of their shows very research-heavy but this particularly was a challenge because of the scientific research. “We are usually focused on more social and cultural things and this is different because we are collaborating with another company. That brings new voices and a new agenda, also this is the first time we are working with a deaf actor so learning to direct in BSL has been a new challenge,” she explained. “However, at the end of the day we are still exploring an idea through music and physical practice which is what we do.”

RashDash are renowned for being a bold, experimental company that produce incredibly provocative pieces of work. The company first formed in 2009 when Abbi met Helen at the University of Hull and they’d been making shows since they graduated. “We have been slowly developing our practice of how we combine text, music and movement all along that time,” Abbi explained. “I guess sometimes we have and will continue to work with writers but part of the journey of the last few years has been embracing the writing and not being scared to call myself a writer and that is part of the thing we do aside from just performing and making movement and music.”

When RashDash first formed it was important to them that they were women telling stories from a female’s perspective. “I realise we only really represent a certain kind of woman, so instead of trying to represent all women, we are speaking as women and that is important in the work we make,” Abbi said. “We were making big parts for ourselves and parts that we wanted to do that embrace texts, improvisation, live music and physicality. We have always in that personal, political and feminist way we have always been interested in the role of autobiography in our work.”

Future Bodies is a show made by people who are sceptical and afraid and people who are thrilled and excited by this technology. “It is kind of an overwhelming experience because part of the way we assemble the show together which is lots and lots of ideas coming at you very quickly is there to mirror the feeling we’ve had whilst researching this,” Abbi explained. “I want people to have a really good time, whilst understanding the implications all these technologies may have on our lives.”

On at HOME in Manchester until October 13th before continuing on tour, all information can be found online here.

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