Voices: Rachel Clare

Feature in Issue 20-4 | Winter 2008

Creative producer Rachel Clare in her own words.

Crying Out Loud is a company led by artists and informed by the artist’s ethos.

Talking about ideas – that’s what it’s about! Our work is driven by the creative urge, not a response from a brief.

Crying Out Loud’s work combines so many different artforms: circus, theatre, dance, site specific, installation, and much that can’t be easily defined – from the epic work of James Thiérrée to the intimate and delicate work of Sophia Clist.

To be fleet of foot is crucial – to be able to respond to ideas from artists and venues.

I don’t want to run a sausage factory! I don’t want to be an ‘employer’ weighed down with the burden of organisational structure.

My work has been informed by my years spent in Africa and the Caribbean.

I was taught to embrace all cultures. I was brought up in a liberal, socialist family – my parents worked for the British Council teaching homeless children, in Addis Ababa and elsewhere – and that sense of social responsibility has stayed with me.

I became a producer by default – I was supposed to be Ra Ra Zoo’s designer, but I ended up organising a round-the-world tour (in the late 80s) and acquired all this amazing knowledge. There were no ’creative producers’ then– or at least it wasn’t called that. I just followed my nose, programming and producing anything I was interested in – alternative theatre, circus, music… from Bow Gamelan to Alain Platel to Station House Opera.

You go to the theatre to find your place in the world, to make sense of the world.

My parents sang to me, and I sing to my children. Music is important to me and to my work. I learnt a great deal about jazz and world music from my uncle [the legendary Honest Jon, whose Portobello Road shop was, and is, a mecca for music lovers into alternative sounds].

I’m a secret artist. I trained as a visual artist – initially as a theatre designer but in my mid-30s returned to do a degree in Contemporary Fine Art Practice. I enjoy creating installation work, and I like the quietness of it, in contrast to my work in theatre.

The aesthetic of my visual art crosses over with my theatre work. I made an installation using an enormous swathe of ripped and torn red velvet curtaining thrown out by the Purcell Room at South Bank. I held onto to it for fifteen years and eventually used it: I made a secret chamber where you could enter to have a personal theatrical ‘moment’.

Crying Out Loud’s work challenges the idea that work for ‘all ages’ is not good theatre. So much of what I am interested in – physical, visual work – has universal appeal. I like work that is joyful and uplifting but which has darker shadows too – work like James Thiérrée’s.

I worked with Jean Baptiste and Victoria Chaplin (James and Aurélia Thiérrée’s parents) when they brought Cirque Imaginaire to the Riverside in London in the early 90s. We had the circus ducks, geese, and rabbits outside the venue.

Aurelia was a teenage rebel – so she ran away from the circus. She went off to New York to go to school, but she came back! I worked with her when she developed the three short pieces that she made for the Tiger Lillies Circus, and so I put her into The Catch at the Lyric. This eventually formed the core of her full-length show Aurélia’s Oratorio.

I also produced tours for James Thiérrée’s shows La Veillée des Abysses, Au Revoir Parapluie and The Junebug Symphony. James’s new show will be a solo piece. Very different, retaining the homemade find-it-on-a-skip aesthetic – creating a visual environment through body and object manipulation.

Everyone loves a story – but I believe there can be narrative without words.

Crying Out Loud (established by Rachel Clare in 2002) produces, programmes, commissions, and curates exceptional performance and theatre events.

Crying Out Loud’s current projects include Collectif Acrobatique de Tangier‘s Taoub which is directed by Aurélien Bory, founder of the acclaimed contemporary circus ensemble Compagnie 111. The show is currently available for touring.

Other current projects: shunt artist Layla Rosa’s What If…? and Sensazione, a ‘theatrical fairground’ by Laika from Belgium.

Autumn 2008 sees two Crying Out Loud events at the Newcastle Gateshead Children and Young People’s Season - Sophia Clist’s Stretch and Italian company TPO’s Butterflies.

In 2009, James Thiérrée’s new show, co-commissioned by barbicanbite09, will be playing at the Barbican Theatre in October, and the first mid-scale show by puppeteers Blind Summit, a stage version of Call of the Wild, will be appearing at a major London venue then touring.

Crying Out Loud is commissioning Matilda Leyser to create a new aerial play called Bridges as part of its PIPs (Performance in Progress) programme. Bridges will be made in collaboration with acclaimed children’s author David Almond and an ensemble of artists to be confirmed in 2009.

For further information on any of the above, see www.cryingoutloud.org

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Issue 20-4
p. 14