Pants on Fire are a theatre company based in London who create original, dynamic, visually brilliant and widely accessible theatre. With a focus on ensemble, visual storytelling, energetic play and theatricality, Pants on Fire have devised some incredible shows. Their latest production, Ovid’s Metamorphoses will be performed this October, and is set to be a fantastic piece. I caught up with producer Daisy Hale to find out more about the company and their latest work.
Who are Pants on Fire?
PANTS ON FIRE is a London based ensemble, which celebrates visual theatricality, style and the language of theatre. Ovid’s Metamorphoses premiered at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. The show ran for a month Off Broadway at The Flea Theater, in January 2011, and went on to tour the UK. The show was given the Whats On Stage Editors Award, an award especially created for the show. Peter Bramley is our Artistic Director and founder of Pants on Fire and has directed all of the company’s shows to date. He is head of movement at Rose Bruford College. He was in the last final-year group to have ever trained with the late Jacques Lecoq in Paris.
What is your latest production?
We’ve been working on our critically acclaimed 5* show Ovid’s Metamorphoses to return to London this October. Ovid’s epic tales of love, gods, heroes and monsters, are set in WWII Britain and retold through an exciting and imaginative blend of gas masks, gramophones, live original songs, puppetry, film and darkly comic, dynamic storytelling. This show tells of man’s inextricable connection to the universe, cupid is an evacuee with a catapult, Narcissus – an iconic Hollywood heartthrob drooling over his own cinematic image and The Chorus are Andrews-like sisters finding close harmony amid cosmic Chaos.
Where did the inspiration for the production come from?
This is not the first time that the show has been performed, but we have the unique chance in this opportunity to explore and create stories and theatrical ideas we never could before within the Edinburgh space and time constraints. The aesthetic of Second World War Britain offers many more exciting, creative opportunities that were discarded very early on only to stay within the show length restrictions of our initial 2010 fringe run. Through many performances, we have developed a vivid sense of where and how the play really needed to grow into a more complete, fully realised whole, which is what we have now done. Specifically, we’ve developed a much more integrated musical score, which draws from actor-musicians playing instruments live within the storytelling action. We have more stories and songs to add to create a ‘second half’. The physical aspects of movement and interaction with projected film all require experimentation, invention, creative collaboration and devising. It’s all extremely exciting to work on.
What do you hope audiences will get from it?
We want to visually astound people and let them realise how stunning theatre can really be. We’re hoping that we unlock a new way of storytelling to an audience and show that such a classic piece as Metamorphoses doesn’t have to be told in ancient Greek poetry, but can be fun, engaging and hilarious.
What makes the show unique?
Presented this time in our glorious ‘Pop-Up Palais’, a sight specific venue created out of an unused space attached to 1940s war memorial hall, Earl Haig Hall, the show could not be more apt to its surroundings. With live bands, art exhibitions and the possibility of being invited to join in a swing dance before taking a seat (or sofa!) this is a truly immersive event where the theatrical world begins from the moment you walk through the door.
What are your hopes for Pants on Fire in the future?
To keep doing what we do! We’d love to work in a variety of venues throughout London, specifically places like Earl Haig, where the setting matches our aesthetic to create a partnership. We also hope to keep working with emerging artists and giving them a chance to shine, our bright cast impress me everyday with their professionalism, ideas and energy – despite devising for long hours on end doing hugely straining physical work. I urge everyone to come and see the show just to see how incredible they all are. Everytime I go into rehearsal I leave with a smile on my face.
Interview by Charlotte Claydon.
Metamorphoses is playing at The Pop-Up Palais, Earl Haig Hall from 8th October until 30th October. For more information, visit here…