You may have first heard of this play as the Punchdrunk inspired Garden Show, 6th week. At that point we didn’t have a space, a slot, actors, a story, directors, or a team of writers. Somehow we managed to get 20 actors, eight spaces, four directors, three writers, and one overall storyline.
Inspired by Oxford life, we aim to immerse the audience into the most dramatic Careers event ever to take place in Oxford. We’ve written the story from scratch and each of the actors has five-minute blocks of “activities” throughout the play. On a grid glued to a map of the world, 520 post-it notes were used to organise storylines and individual plots to create over 40 hours of improvised material.
C.A.R.N. immerses you into a world made strange. It brings together the career-driven, hierarchical side of Oxford life that all students here can relate to, and twists it into something simultaneously sinister and releasing – it is up to you to decide which way you see it.
We don’t want to give too much away, but just in case a Careers event with cheap Pimm’s doesn’t quite do it, we’re also going to let you know that it transforms into Carnival as the sun goes down. You’ll find yourself exploring a College in a way you’ve never experienced, from the decadent to the dirty. To create atmosphere, we’re splashed out on fire and ice, deep red and blinding white. The fantastic setting pushes the realism of the piece to its limits – it is up to the audience to immerse themselves in the drama and trust in the actions of the cast.
Creating the play has been a fascinating journey. We began workshopping with the cast before the writing process began, which means that the characters and their relationships are the creation of the actors and the writers. We have explored a lot through improvisation, taking note of any lines that we particularly enjoyed and then giving them to the writers to build the scripts around. The writers and directors have helped to mould what is truly a collaborative piece – the actors are as integral to the creative process as the production team. As a director, you know you are in for something special when you find yourself needing to track down two jugglers and an accordion player whilst taking part in secret research trips to Law Soc events.
C.A.R.N. is a unique blend of influences and the play is the product of almost 30 peoples’ ideas. Its scope runs from the weird and wonderful to the frightening and subversive, and much more in between.
— Chris Adams