Artistic Director of Gecko Theatre, Amit Lahav speaks to Theatrefullstop about performing new production, Institute at the London International Mime Festival 2015!

Amit LahavAmit Lahav is the Artistic Director of Gecko, one of the UK’s leading companies in Physical Theatre. The company was founded in 2001 and since then have performed worldwide and in 2012 gained Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation status, receiving regular funding until 2015. ‘Institute’ their latest production is being performed as part of the London International Mime Festival, at the Royal Opera House.

Hi Amit, you’re performing ‘Institute’ at the Royal Opera House as Part of the London International Mime Festival, are you excited to return to the festival and the venue?

I am extremely excited to be returning.  This is a unique and well respected festival, known for it’s bold international programming and the Royal Opera House is a world renowned, prestigious building.  Gecko has been involved with the mime festival on a number of occasions so it’s also a bit of a home for the company.

Where did the inspiration for “Institute” come from?
A burning need and desire to care and a growing terrifying feeling that we are loosing and forgetting how to care, and at a point when we need it most!
Do you think this production has anything different or unique in comparison to your other shows?
It is completely unique in that it uncovers feelings and associations as yet unmined in a Gecko show.  But it is distinctly a Gecko show which uses very particular Gecko tools and skills to create worlds and journeys.
From visiting ‘Gecko’s’ Facebook page,  it seems you have a tremendous amount of fun as well as working very hard, how would you describe a typical rehearsal day?
Mentally, physically and emotionally shattering and totally life affirming.  We have a lot of fun and we work to the limits of our stamina.  We push ourselves very hard often repeating sequences again and again over many weeks.  Here’s a list for the day;
Personal stretching
Catch (the extreme version)
A series of physical focus/preparation games
Group clapping meditation
Choreography session 1
Choreography session 2
Scene exploration with props
Pairs and smaller group work
Group scene with props, music and any set available.
You founded Gecko in 2001, in the last 14 years how do you feel you have progressed as a company and as an Artistic Director?
I don’t really stop to quantify the past too much or put too much pressure on the future.  However everything we do is in a constant state of evolution, I mean this very genuinely and I’m referring to relationships and the art which of course inter-relate.  No show, for example, is ever finished, there is always work to be done.  I believe that if your natural focus is on making the best art possible and if your efforts are on sustaining and making the most meaningful relationships you can, there will inevitably be organic growth and development in all aspects of the company.
Gecko has performed all over the world, do you feel your production changes in response to the country you are in or the audience response is drastically different?
It’s difficult to know how much international touring effects the shows, this is partly because the shows are always in a state of change.  Where-ever we perform I find the thoughts of audience members fascinating and exotic and that’s because people everywhere are such a wonderful cocktail of experiences and cultural influences.  But there have been times over the last 14 years where there has been a powerful over-riding feeling from the audience which really takes us by surprise.  Just a few days ago, where the company were performing ‘Missing in Shanghai’, a discussion broke out about the sex of Lily’s soul – the gender of her soul is a first for us and will make the performers handle the soul moments of the show in a more particular or specific way.
What else are you excited to see at the Mime Festival?
Peeping Tom “32 rue Vandenbranden”
Theatre Ad Infinitum
Nofit state
Questions by Lucy Bishop.
Institute will be showing at the London International Mime Festival 2015 in January. For more information on the production and the Festival, visit here…
Written by Theatrefullstop