Might & Main

Feature in Issue 6-1 | Spring 1994

I believe you can create your own good luck. Focus on your beliefs, hopes and desires and fortune may turn things to your advantage.

Might & Main Productions Limited (as they are officially known) consists of three artistic directors: Chris Oades, Katherine Ratcliff and Gail Ghislaine Sixsmith. They met at a series of workshops which led to the desire to continue to work for a kind of physically based theatre that they believed in. They marked the occasion by signing a contract of commitment to each other on a dirty British Rail napkin in a café. The heart and soul of this napkin, back in March 1989, formed the Might & Main company.

They began by touring the UK and Eastern Europe with Man of Straw, based on the English Peasants Revolt of 1381. Coinciding with the furore of the Poll Tax riots, the piece was well-received everywhere. One audience of note cheered ecstatically when the tax collector character was sent packing. Another audience became so involved that one man couldn’t contain his euphoria and joined the cast in bowing at the end!

Aghast at the responses they were receiving, the company moved onto Sin in 1991. Continuing the aim of creating quality theatre for everyone, by using many theatrical forms and mixing them. Sin once again proved a success for Might & Main.

Might & Main’s theatre is based on emotion, where the actors themselves vocally and physically remove the need for sound and set. The content being food for the heart and the brain of the audience. They aim to be original, to challenge and to inspire; not to preach, but to share moments by exploring themes that are true to us all. They describe their style as ‘Vital! Alive! Now!’.

At the beginning of 1992, a commission by the Wirral Youth Theatre, led to The Betrayed, a short symbolic piece on the conquest of Mexico in 1519. This concept grew into the 1992/93 touring show The Promise, which, by their own admission, was epic. In between the two came The Visitation, based on rural communities’ superstitions. It was commissioned for the Hazelwood Project and the St. Magnus Festival in the Orkney Isles.

1994 began with Touched, the company’s fifth full-length production. This is about mental and emotional instability. The kinds of everyday madness that we all hide underneath the surface.

As for the future, Might & Main would love to tour abroad, their hindrance being lack of public and private funding. As they grow they mean to add live music, more performers, and better costumes. The latter of note, as Chris has a fond memory of The Promise and the use of tights. Always aware of underwear showing, he decided to wear nothing beneath his tights. All was fine until an unnoticed tear high up one thigh allowed ‘extra characters’ to appear in the scene.

At the mention of ‘thighs’ Chris is induced to spontaneously re-enact his entrance from Man of Straw. In the blackout, he entered backwards, and accidentally got caught in the cloth hanging in the wings. Disoriented, he groped around and touched a knee and, assuming he was in position, began. Lights came up and there he was, staring at the thighs of the front row of the audience!

‘Fun’ is what strikes one when talking to Might & Main. They have a great deal of it in doing what they do. Touched has a cast of five, Sin peaked at six, the whole company has a large amount of energy and playfulness that clearly drives them on. They create through improvisation and exploration, devising structures within chosen themes. Touched collaborates with the award-winning writer Richard Cameron and choreographer Kerry Ribchester.

There is strength in their commitment still. They hope their enthusiasm and originality will keep fortune smiling on them…

Referenced Artists

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-1
p. 16