Red Ladder Theatre Company
Residency: January 2022
This residency was configured within the Research and Development phase for Red Ladder Theatre Company’s new production, TAXI. The show was based around the experiences of a taxi driver in Leeds, portraying issues of mental health and the fragility of society. The company intended to combine live stage performances with digital elements, to create a world in which strange and surreal events could happen in a believable way around the physical actors. They used the Telepresence Stage residency to experiment with the technology as a possible way to achieve this.
“We wanted the audience to experience or question what their understanding of reality is, and present to them the feeling that they'd either entered a film or even more fantastically entered a graphic novel … to such a high quality so the audience actually couldn't quite believe their eyes.”
The residency consisted of two afternoons of practical workshopping with the research team, topped and tailed with an introductory session and a debriefing discussion. The Red Ladder group arrived at the workshops with a prepared script and ideas for a series of “shots” or camera angles, in a manner and approach reminiscent of a television or film production. The entire scene took place in a car, involving dialogue and interaction between a taxi driver and their passenger in the back seat of the car. The group experimented with this scene over the two workshops, trying out different techniques and approaches.
Techniques and solutions
The Red Ladder group commenced the residency with a prepared script and a set of virtual camera angles, similar to how they would approach rehearsals for television or film. They wanted the angles to change throughout the scene, as they felt that a single angle would lose the audience’s interest. The prepared angles included views from the front of the driver and passenger, from the passenger side door, into the rear-view mirror and of the rear passenger seat.
Reflections and outcomes
The final outcome of this residency took the form of a 3-minute performance, in which a taxi driver takes a passenger on a journey that ends in a philosophical discussion about the journey of life. The action remains static, with the driver in the front seat behind the steering wheel and the passenger sitting on the rear seat, while the images outside the car give the impression of driving along a road in Leeds. Different arrangements of the digital scenery result in the visual effect of various camera angles and shots in the format and style of a television or film production.