KEVIN Finnan is known for creating thrilling outdoor events and spectacles featuring the likes of JCBs, aerial performers and giant ships, but 2012 saw him clock up another credit – that of choreographer and director of movement for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.
The co-founder of theatre company Motionhouse answers questions on his latest show Broken, a stirring and gripping show which combines athletic dance with intricate digital imagery.
Is it important to you to turn dance into an adrenalin-fuelled spectacle?
I really am very interested in weaving spectacle into performance – it makes for a very interesting experience, I think! For me, the impact of multimedia, cinema, and the internet on the way people receive images is fascinating and I'm interested to bring that quality of experience and almost ally it with the undoubted power of the theatre experience – making an event which resonates on many levels.
What do you hope audience members take away from the experience?
I hope they take away the memory of having been really transported somewhere. Of being taken out of your theatre seat into a world of imagination, where the extraordinary happens. The show is beautiful, thrilling, exciting and, I also hope, thought-provoking about the idea of how we live on the earth and are a part of it. I think that there are some really poetic moments in the show and I hope that they stay with people long after they leave their seats; we really want people to take away the excitement of the experience but also memories that will linger with them for a long time.
Do you like audiences to have an emotional response to your work?
Oh yes. I feel that Broken is probably one of the more emotional shows we've made; it's very tender, engaging and we hope it will move audiences as well as thrill them. What the dancers are capable of is extraordinary and it is really showcased in Broken and coupled with the whole visual/lighting experience the show is quite intense – but ultimately the content is created to speak to you emotionally and intellectually.
So you are also out to make people think?
Absolutely! Every one of my shows is a provocation to think. It's important to realise though that I am not telling people WHAT to think – I just hope that when they watch a Motionhouse show they are provoked into thinking something about the content they have seen and that includes the content I have placed there as well as what they interpret within it for themselves.
Is the film a backdrop or does it play a more intrinsic role in the show?
The film is definitely NOT a backdrop! What we try to do by using film in the way we do, is explore the idea of making a living film. The film is three dimensional – not in an optical illusion way – but in the sense that the audience see interaction between a real environment, living people and a film image, which makes for a truly three dimensional performance that includes the digital film image. We feel that it is a really exciting area of development in theatre and dance, and we're really proud that people see us as being so innovative in this area.
What do you look for in your dancers?
I look for dancers who are strongly individual, talented movers. All our dancers are, and always will be, brave and dynamic and have a wish to experiment and go beyond traditional expectations. I look for dancers who are playful in creation and dedicated to being the best they can be so that we can forge together a strong unit, to make the work that we do.
How did the premiere go?
Better than anyone could have imagined. Broken was a really complex show to make and we were working right up till the 11th hour to make sure it worked, as we wanted it to. At Warwick Arts Centre on opening night (and in fact all three that we were there) we got a stunning and overwhelming response from the audience, which has meant we have great heart to head on with the rest of the tour. It was just fantastic – a great start to the tour.
Why should folk come along?
People should come because the dancers are amazing and what they do will take your breath away. Broken is stunning, and I think it has something for everyone – it's really quite delightful. The combination of all these things is potent and makes for a great experience; so many audience members are telling us they loved it and that they have never seen anything like it before. So essentially, come because it's a damn good night out.