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Desperado... LaPelle's Factory Residency

Gearing up for Derby Theatre's Departure Lounge Festival from 21st to 24th July 2016, The HopBarn has been delighted to host LaPalle's Factory as they prepare their new work Desperado.

Read what they have been up to and how they have spent their time!

Week 1: Its about pain, it's about exhaustion, it's about pushing yourself and being pushed. Here we are, in a beautiful converted barn surrounded by beautiful countryside contemplating the end of the world. It seems to be keeping us sane.

Our routine has formed naturally and the scene is set for our fifth night in The HopBarn. We have had intense days so far, but because of the idyllic country setting and ease of having our sleeping quarters in the rehearsal space we have had a natural flow to our working days. We came up with rules which include: working at least eight hours each day; having a morning briefing and a closing briefing to help us remain focused on daily targets; trying not to get too distracted by the three wild kittens that play outside the window. We have stuck to these so far and have not been tempted by the rolling fields or soft sunshine. Although I can’t say that the adorable ginger kittens haven’t distracted us.

The HopBarn itself has been ideal in terms of space. We have all the technical requirements needed for a project in development. The rehearsal room is well equipped, with a kitchen and common room attached. Outside of the large window, we can see the horses graze.

We have explored ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ and the role of the MC; and 'Lullaby' by The Cure and the nature of the Spiderman. We have pushed our bodies and not stretched in appropriate ways. We can now say that a Jane Fonda workout is included in our material and that Dante flows though the piece like a ghost player in our marathon of cheeky rebellion.

The sleeping quarters are luxurious. We are very grateful to friends that let us kip on their sofas, it is always great to catch up and they help a sometimes turbulent working life be more sustainable. Here we have all that you could need. The beds are soft and comfortable and the facilities are just like being at home. I have even been able to wash my sweaty rehearsal clothes (which, believe me, are not pleasant after doing a few dance numbers). I am sure this has contributed to the current lack of arguments in rehearsal. It is also lovely to be with each other at the end of the day, to cook dinner and to chat. It is building a camaraderie that is proving valuable in making Desperado.

It has been easy to settle in, however we are aware of being completely consumed by the increasingly current themes of the project. In the next few days we have set our selves a few simple tasks to make sure we have some down time. We want to take a walk outside by the river and to play a board game. Sounds simple, but it's hard to tear yourself away from work when it's on your doorstep, but we are thankful that we can spend this much time together creating the show. Desperado has come on leaps and bounds since being here, and while it is not yet complete, we hope to have a completed first draft by the end of this residency, even if it’s scrappy.

It has been a tough few days. It is hard to be away from home while life as we know it is changing. Despite current events we have continued to make this show. We have supported each other in keeping the project going, in keeping each other present. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be in such a beautiful place, with such beautiful people making a show that we want to be explosive. It’s a good job looking at kittens can warm anyone’s heart.

Olwen Davies

LaPelle’s Factory

Week 2:

We've come to the end of our residency at the HopBarn.

We've had two weeks out in the countryside away from the distractions of everyday life.

Desperado came together here.

The process has been more direct and focussed, our surroundings a thousand times more inspiring, and unquestionably we've worked faster, more intensely and more effectively than we would've been able to otherwise.

And we've made a show. A show that reflects the times we live in.

It's silly and strange, at times it's unsettling. It drives forward and refuses to stop.

It's satirical, historical, it verges on hysterical.

It moves in the purgatorial loops of dance marathons and pushes harder than it should.

It's about desperation, exhaustion, pain as entertainment.

It hopes that from dark times something good will always emerge.

We've been inspired by the Sydney Pollack film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

We've been inspired by what we think we know about Dante.

We've been inspired by The Cure, by Sweet Charity, and by Jane Fonda's workout videos.

We've learnt words in Italian that nobody ever says.

We've sung karaoke, got strategically angry, and danced on the tables late into the night.

Our calves have filled with lactic acid and we've struggled to move the morning after.

We've laughed at things which under other circumstances would make us cry.

We've pushed and pulled our bodies, we've thought about energy and connection, we've fought like hombres and mujeres, we've fallen down and got back up again. And again. And again.

We'll keep going. On and on. When will it stop, when will it end?

Stuart and Mary, our hosts at the HopBarn, have offered terrifically supportive and constructive feedback on what we've created, as did our friends and other guests from In Good Company.

Objective thoughts and feedback are gold-dust.

We're in reflective position now, a strong place to be before diving into our final week of rehearsals, the lead up to our preview performance at Derby Theatre's DEparture Lounge festival.

When beginning this residency we had no idea we'd end in the strong position in which we find ourselves now. On reflection, we realise how important this opportunity has been, how much we needed it as artists, to get away from everything. We're sure the show is stronger as a result.

LaPelle's Factory isn't keen to go home, however it's now someone else's turn to create and play here.

Thank you for giving us this chance, thank you for helping us make this show.

We're looking forward to unleashing Desperado on the world.

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