“Any time you mention a crane, and outdoor work, you automatically see a lot of zeros added to the budget,” says Wendy Ogilvie, artistic director of Wired Aerial Theatre.
But that hasn’t put off arts organisation LeftCoast from bringing to Blackpool what is expected to be one of the most ambitious pieces of theatre ever seen in the resort.
Liverpool-based Wired Aerial Theatre’s production As The World Tipped is described as an environmental ‘disaster movie in the sky’, without wanting to give away too much to anyone attending Saturday and Sunday’s performances.
As the technical team continued rigging up the stage at Blackpool Cricket Club yesterday, Wendy took time out to explain more about what they do.
Wired Aerial Theatre is run by Wendy and her husband, technical director Jamie - an experienced climbing enthusiast, who has combined this with theatrical skills of his own and his wife’s dance training.
Their work is based on a technique, which they developed and call ‘bungee assisted dance’ - where climbers and ‘counter balancers’ hidden from the audience support the work of the ‘on stage’ performers.
“People often say how amazing the performers are,” said Wendy, a performer as well as being artistic director. “And it’s a shame the climbers aren’t seen, but then they get the biggest applause when they are revealed.”
The hidden cast members’ work is almost more crucial to the success of the performance than those who are seen, Wendy added, their precision in ensuring the visible cast hit the correct positions in line with the on-screen animation ensures the magic is created.
“The amount of work we go through for precision is incredible,” she said. “I’m completely taken over with perfection.
“Every single day after a performance I give notes and then we run the piece again as a rehearsal.”
As The World Tipped has been written and directed by celebrated outdoor theatre expert Nigel Jamieson, perhaps most recognised as having created the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony, while Jamie and Wendy then choreographed the show.
It has been performed more than 40 times around the world during the past four years, having been inspired by the lack of resolution at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It’s at that point where the story begins, with performers soon ‘hurtling through terrifying situations’ which leave humanity - literally - ‘dangling by a thread’.
So far, much of LeftCoast’s work has been community arts workshops but this weekend’s performances are a glimpse of the high quality, exciting and innovative works they hope to make a regular feature in Blackpool and Wyre - as well as encouraging new audiences for arts and performance activities.
Wendy said: “Working at the cricket club has been fantastic, and it ties in so well with what LeftCoast does in bringing in new audiences. We are accessing a different kind of person - and you can see that with the number of tickets already booked.”
Saturday night’s 3,000 free tickets have been fully allocated and it’s expected that Sunday’s performance will also be filled - something LeftCoast’s executive director Julie Turpin admits has surprised them.
“It’s our first year of LeftCoast and we want to get people excited about what we can bring to the town,” she said.
Wendy added: “We were slightly worried in the beginning, with being away from the centre of town, but it’s great that so many people are eager to see what we are doing and that the aspirations of LeftCoast are working.”
Their performances often take place in much more public spaces, but with the relative privacy of the cricket club at Stanley Park, the Wired team are taking advantage of the time they have this week to explore the possibilities of their unique stage set up.
And there’s an excitement about the production in the area, as Wendy found to her benefit when lost in Stanley Park, trying to find the club.
“I asked a lady walking her dogs where the cricket club was and, before giving me directions, she started telling me about what was going on, about this stage being rigged up, a show taking place there at the weekend and that she was going to it,” she said.
“I didn’t know at first whether to admit it was ‘my’ show, but I was so excited that in the end I confessed. There’s a real sense of local people owning it.”
For more information and to book the free, but strictly limited tickets, visit www.astheworldtipped.co.uk. Gates open at 6.30pm, with the main performance at 8pm. Cycling is encouraged and there will be secure facilities available. Spectators are advised to dress for the weather.