After the success of his first solo show, Adam Scott-Rowley brings People Who Need People to the VAULT Festival 2018. Daniel Perks catches him and director Jan-Willem van den Bosch:

There are no words to People Who Need People and yet, as a production, it is brimming with emotional promise. Because this story is built through Matt Cater’s lightscape; through Josh Anio Grigg’s astonishing soundscape; through the imagery that juxtaposes characters from different time periods within the audience imagination:

“The audience will feel their way through rather than draw precise conclusions”.

Co-producer and performer Adam Scott-Rowley notes that this show won’t be all things to all people. We are consumed with theatrical narrative on the fringe scene at present – People Who Need People veers much more into the performance art category. It’s live and organic; it makes me want to get out of my seat and wander around, examine these six individuals as they stand seemingly in isolation on a train platform.

Vault Festival 2018 People Who Need People

Edward Halsted & Celeste Dodwell (image courtesy of Bessell Photography)

There’s so much that races through my mind as I concoct a backstory for each – the Victorian courtesan; the pregnant woman with shopping; the soldier returning from (or leaving for) his duty. I want them to give me an inkling of their purpose, but equally I revel that the only details they provide are their aesthetic, their silent reactions and the conceptual design wave that washes through my consciousness:

“It moves, and it breathes – we have a base picture that we return to, but if the light is in a different position or you view it from a different angle, you’ll gain a new perspective”.

Director Jan-Willem van den Bosch has worked extensively with Dickie Beau, whose influences can be strongly felt in Scott-Rowley’s previous solo show, This Is Not Culturally Significant. In many ways, People Who Need People is completely opposite. But a keen eye can also note the similarities – Scott-Rowley’s current performance has an essence of the darkly comedic, bouffon caricatures that he invented and portrayed with such conviction in his previous work:

“It’s nice to be doing something where every creative department has as much influence on the piece as the writer – not that we have a writer in the conventional sense. Josh Grigg is building a soundscape that’s 50 minutes long, just as vital as the actors themselves. The lighting is a very intricate affair too.”

Vault Festival 2018 People Who Need People

Michelle Greenidge (image courtesy of Bessell Photography)

Both Grigg and Cater steal the show for People Who Need People – without their design, this production would not have half the impact that it does. As talented as the actors all are, they are in many ways held back, confined by their spotlights and soundless screams. The concept is intricate and somewhat open – it presents flickers of ideas that sit just at the edge of comprehension and invites us all to fill in the blanks. Because there are blanks, unanswered questions and unclear visions that we each interpret differently:

“We’re inviting an audience to make their own stories, imprint them upon the characters. We give them springboards, establish people by costume alone and create scenarios that an audience take pictures from. We need something that they can hang something from but are trying not to be too cliché or hackneyed.”

Jan-Willem’s vision does exactly that – it presents us with inspiration but never explanation. There are those that will feel uncomfortable in the absence of linearity, but there are those of us will who revel in the possibilities. The initial conception for People Who Need People may have come from Scott-Rowley, but it now changes and metamorphoses based on each individual who witnesses it:

“That’s what’s exciting about the eclectic stories that the audience will go away with – hopefully no one will get the same impression of the whole thing.”

 

 

People Who Need People played as part of VAULT Festival 2018. For more information, please visit the festival website.