Review: The Collective Project
Image: The Pensive Federation
The production is the result of a challenge which asked a collection of actors, writers and directors to closely collaborate to create 8 new 12 minute plays in 12 days; discussing the concepts of team dynamics and group politics.
The resulting plays and writers are:
Destruction - Julie Burrow
Gloryifying - Isabel Dixon
Legion - Jonathan Edhingtom
Lying - Kate Webster
Worm - Conor Carroll
Aroma - Rob Greens
Scoop - Jayne Edwards
Huddle - Andy Curtis
In their 5th anniversary year fringe innovators The Pensive Federation return with their annual festival; The Collective Project.
If you want to give your abilities and skills a thorough workout you have to try something that presents a real challenge for you - something worth achieving, something difficult, something risky.
Of course, the danger is that you might fail, but if you never try you most definitely won't succeed.
The Collective Project from The Pensive Federation represents that kind of nerve-tingling challenge that stretches its participants pushing them way out of their comfort zones.
This production comprises the 8 plays which are the result of the challenge - to conceive and produce 8 plays in 12 days.
Each play here has a running time of around 11 or 12 minutes.
Given that information, you might be tempted to make some instant assumptions, along the lines of: 8 plays in a night is too much to take in; 12 minutes isn't long enough to get your teeth into a play and get anything from it; the plays have been thrown together and the results embarrassingly amateurish - that kind of thing.
You'd be wrong on all counts.
Keeping each play quite short actually forces the writer and the creative team to be economical, succinct and direct.
There's little room for very much scene-setting, background information or flannel.
Time is certainly at a premium here, but it's more than ample to get an idea across and to give it a hearing in enough depth to allow us to consider the merits of the conceptual argument and plant some seeds for later thought.
The overall theme for these plays is collective nouns, like 'a destruction of wildcats', 'a scoop of journalists', and 'a glorifying of liars'.
So, the plays involve situations where a group of people - usually 5 or 6 - interact.
For example, in Kate Webster's Lying, we encounter a group of volunteers who believe they are in space conducting an experiment on travel to Mars.
Isabel Dixon's Glorifying focuses on a group who secretively hold exclusive Friday night parties and devise strategies to keep out unwanted guests.
A group of trainee journalists find there's only a job for one of them at the end of their course in Jayne Edwards's Scoop.
And Andy Curtis gives us a glimpse of those horrendous times on the tube when a crowded train is delayed between stations in his play entitled Huddle.
As one might imagine, the quality of the pieces varies somewhat across this considerable range of writing but, overall, the plays are well thought-through and interesting, and I particularly enjoyed Isabel Dixon's Glorifying which managed to introduce a highly relevant and subversive political flavour to the social context of party-going.
Far from being amateurish, thrown together or rough-hewn, Neil J. Byden's production is both highly polished and professional, offering substance, plentiful and interesting concepts, well-written dialogue and compelling acting.
Put another way, it's an intrigue of plays encompassing a profusion of ideas presented by a talent of actors, providing a blessing of drama.
A risky, fascinating challenge pulled-off with admirable equanimity and considerable artistry!
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