Rehearsing and touring with Tangle Company is both challenging and rewarding. Each year we commission a new piece with acapella song for touring, performed by the full company of eight artists, as well as in quartets. Rehearsals involve a rigorous mix of singing, rhetorical performance, choreography and, like all our projects, teamwork – with many of the artists involved feeling their skills have been stretched to the limit as a result of taking part. Here we speak to Sabina Cameron, Alanna Leslie and Michael Offei about their experiences working with Tangle Company this year.
Tell us about being on tour with Tangle.
Michael: Because it’s not traditional theatre we are in amongst the people, getting truer reactions, truthful responses. We are in amongst the audience for each performance. It makes it incredibly genuine….there’s no fourth wall.
Sabina: For any artist it’s a challenge. You’re working as part of a tight knit ensemble with a mix of dense poetic language, acapella song and precise movement. Each venue is different, which requires a lot of technical preparation. But it’s worth it!
What is the best / most fulfilling experience you have had on tour, and why?
Michael: The very first tour that I ever did, a piece called JUNIOR’S STORY, I had to play a closet gay man. We were in Manchester, and in a performance I gave five people walked out. They wouldn’t speak to me after. I got pretty upset about it, but then I found out that they couldn’t actually distinguish whether I was the character himself, or not! So I took it as more of a complement than a criticism!
Sabina: Benjamin Zephaniah wrote a play for a prostate cancer charity and we toured nationally. It was really satisfying knowing that we were spreading an important message about cancer to African Caribbean men and possibly saving lives in the process.
Alanna: As a performer in THE HARDER THEY COME, the musical – it was the first time I had performed Reggae and Ska songs to a European audience. It was great seeing how they responded to it, and I was thrilled that they knew the music so well. It showed me how well my own culture has travelled beyond Jamaica.
What do you enjoy most about touring with Tangle?
Alanna: It’s amazing being able to bring stories from around the world into classrooms and see how the students respond – it’s very fulfilling. You feel like you’ve made a difference and impacted on their learning landscapes.
Michael: The Company! I enjoy the company, the people, and all the pieces that we do….and the generosity of spirit.
Sabina: Seeing parts of the country that I might not otherwise see, or work in.
What are the challenges?
Sabina: the challenges of the rehearsal process. Rehearsing a poetic piece with five acapella songs and in three languages! Once the piece is tight, it’s hugely enjoyable.
Michael: Every piece I’ve done with Tangle has bene a challenge…in this township style. The way we mix our lines as an ensemble, and having to listen more, and work intuitively with other actors.
Alanna: For me it was challenging in a good way. Having to get used to changing the blocking and movement in each environment made me have to think on my feet even more, in comparison to how it would be if I were just in a regular theatre space on a traditional stage. I feel I’ve left the process stronger as a performer.