Creating 'The Philosophy Shop'
In March 2019, students from across our Theatre Production departments collaborated with King's College on our first ever full-scale immersive performance installation, The Philosophy Shop. This ran as part of our spring season in the Gielgud Theatre from 13-23 March.
The 20-minute performance installation was inspired by a set of miniature plays written by artist and philosopher Ali Hossaini, and directed by artist and composer Catherine Kontz. The piece was curated by the King’s College Cultural Institute and Informatics Department and the Video and Digital Design Department of RADA’s Technical Theatre and Stage Management training.
RADA students were part of the devising process to develop the original plays into an installation, with the help of a 'philosophical boot camp' run by King's College London's Sacha Golob, in which students honed their understanding of the material. They gave audiences the opportunity to step between the pages of the work to immerse themselves in a realm of intellect and pure thought, guided by the Shopkeeper.
Students also experimented with the ZD Soundscape spatial audio system invented at King's College London, as part of this multi-dimensional performance.
In the making
Jake Steele, current student on the FdA in Technical Theatre and Stage Management and production manager and assistant director on The Philosophy Shop, explained the process of creating the video projections:
"As part of this production we needed to record content for our projection walls. We turned the Gielgud Theatre into a film studio for two days, set up a green screen and set to work. Stage management, lighting, sound, technical management, video and wardrobe departments all worked tirelessly to achieve difficult and creative shots that the team the edited to prepare for projection."
Designing The Philosophy Shop
Designer and second year RADA student Anna Cierpial explains how the the design was realised, from model box to fit-up:
"The main design idea behind The Philosophy Shop is to take the audience through a journey from a well-known, comfortable world of object to a more abstract world of pure thought. By working closely with the video and digital design department, the set and costume are now an integral part of telling the story in a creative and immersive way.
We didn’t want to turn it into a cinema screening, but propose something completely different from other RADA shows."
Audiences were invited to enter the shop and were led through the journey by our 'Shopkeeper', performed by MA Theatre Lab graduate Hannah Wilder. The narrative was accompanied by Catherine Kontz's score, with elements performed by mezzo-sopranos Rosie Middleton and Clara Kanter.
Cast and creatives
Shopkeeper Hannah Wilder
Mezzo-sopranos: Clara Kanter and Rosie Middleton
Creative and production team
Written and artworks by: Ali Hossaini
Music and direction by: Catherine Kontz