Flickering but never fading: Everything Flickers Q&A

How do we imagine a better world, especially through the perspective of our greatest dreamers and artists who continually grapple with challenges that stifle their creative expressions? The Stop Drop+ Roll team is preparing to explore every nook and cranny of The Blue Room Theatre, delving into the resilience of artists in the face of adversity through a range of installations and multimedia experiences. Everything Flickers has been an ongoing project for the team for several years, and now they’re ready to share their hilarious and heartfelt creation with their audience. Magazine 6000 sent some questions to the rehearsal room (or, more accurately, rooms), and here’s what they had to say:

Everything Flickers is the result of three years of development. What can you tell us about this time, your processes and how the performance has evolved? 

Everything Flickers has evolved in a myriad of complicated, exciting, and innovative ways since its original presentation in 2021. Since then, the work has expanded from strictly blackbox theatre, to an immersive and encompassing performance-art work that has mirrored the company’s development as individual artists. In this time, Everything Flickers has seen multiple creative developments and showings, punctuated by periods of rest and rumination. Importantly, every time the company starts a new development, we start again. In doing so, each company member brings in the things that have inspired them over the break. This may include new books, music, poetry, visual art, and other ideas and inspirations that have struck them over this time. We grow the ideas already planted into new and exciting creations. It is through long periods of chatting, researching, scrapbooking, and playing that we start exploring these ideas in performance. Through the time spent growing as individual artists, each company member brings an evolved perspective and interest into each iteration of the work. Because of this, the work has evolved quite personally, but without losing its dissection of the importance of art within a sector suffering through funding cuts and restricted opportunities.

Everything Flickers, rehearsals. Photography by Mitch Aldridge.

Has the intent of the show and its key messaging changed over this time or has it remained the same? 

The urgency of Everything Flickers remains the same. We are composing a work that cries out for a richer and more supported arts sector that has been severely undervalued. Whilst the recent change of government has marked the end of the past nine years of liberal conservatism and consequent cultural crisis, it does not mean that the fight is over. Our community continues to take devastating losses, such as the recent closure of the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. This urgency of Everything Flickers remains. Today, however, Everything Flickers exists in a slightly more hopeful context. Whereas original iterations of the work were developed within the trenches of deep liberal conservatism, Everything Flickers has today been made with momentum brought on by hope and change. Our messaging has naturally evolved into something a little bit more positive too, and a little bit more personal. In this final iteration of Everything Flickers, we have interrogated our personal relationships with art, with our careers, with our family, government, and beyond, to bring you a work with one hand firmly on the art that came before us, and one hand reaching into a hopeful future.

Everything Flickers, rehearsals. Photography by Mitch Aldridge.

You’ll be taking over The Blue Room Theatre in this promenade performance. How has this space influenced the show? 

As a company, we have always been interested in exploring how we can activate The Blue Room Theatre’s spaces in ways previously unseen. It has allowed the work to evolve from a conventional theatre set-up into a hybrid theatre space somewhere between a theatre and an art gallery. This has been a joyous and challenging process. Using these different spaces, we have curated moments that audiences are invited to wander through during the performance. They will witness flickering hopes and dreams through live music, performance, installation art, and audio-visual design landscapes. This promenade form has shaped the work into a very exciting journey for audience members, who will have different experiences of the work as a whole. Also, the space has allowed the company to really interrogate different artistic mediums, such as installation art, audio-visual design, and live music. In testament to the complex legacy of art that has fundamentally made Everything Flickers, it has been important to explore these many forms in creating this work.

Everything Flickers, rehearsals. Photography by Mitch Aldridge.

How have you brought together all the different elements from sculptural installations to multi-media worlds and paper stages? Were/are there any challenges in coordinating these different mediums? 

When we (stop drop + roll) work, rather than using a traditional process of writing, staging, and then adding design, all three of those elements are created at the same time. Installation moments will be created, and as that is happening we will also be considering what text could match that moment, and vice versa. It’s a process of consistent experimentation with multiple elements, which asks all of us to adopt different roles every day. Someone could be cutting together a video, while someone else is writing a monologue, then we try them together and go from there. 

In terms of challenges, the biggest hurdle is usually money and access to resources, such as lights, projectors and spaces that are large enough to accommodate our visions. In saying this, we have taken on this challenge and made it part of our making process. If we don’t have the “perfect” equipment or situation, we work with that rather than against it, asking us to be even more creative. It also feeds into Everything Flickers thematically in that it is literally about creating in crisis. 

Everything Flickers, rehearsals. Photography by Mitch Aldridge.

You say the show is a “love letter to the spaces, places, people and stories which persist.” What do you think makes artists, and the places/spaces they occupy, so resilient? 

We think that there are a lot of different ways that a person can be an “artist” but every artist shares this collective sense of doing something simply for the hope of it. Creating an art piece, whether that’s a theatre show, a song, dance, or poetry is not technically a “productive” act, in the capitalist sense that is. In the industries surrounding these art works, people are employed, but in its pure form, creating art is simply to create something to make us think or feel. It is innately human; in creating art we make a wish for a kinder world. 

Our current and former governments have been slashing arts funding for our (stop drop + roll) lifetimes and on a larger scale, we are living in a world that is continuously becoming more uncertain. To continue to create and make gestures of joy takes a particularly hopeful kind of person. Alongside this, many theatres, galleries, and music venues have survived the same funding cuts that independent artists have over the years, and still continue to operate. The people behind these organizations have worked against the odds to keep going. The places artists occupy keep going because the minds behind them do.

Everything Flickers opens at The Blue Room Theatre on October 31 and runs through to November 16.