This month Accidental started rehearsing our new project, The Lost Martini. A new adventure for Accidental in our continued drive to explore new stories and different ways of telling them. With this new show we've aimed to create something special, that embraces lots of ideas and inspirations to make a multi-layered performance. In immersive theatre the central narrative story can often get lost, overpowered by the exploration elements of the performance. We always want the story to be at the centre of our work, it grabs you and draws you into a new world. With The Lost Martini we've combined our new writing and story making skills with this exciting immersive theatre format to create a new experience for audiences and a different type of immersive theatre.
The ideas behind the show have been in development over the past year but the show's origin really came out of an amicable argument I had with my partner during Christmas 2013. We had gotten engaged that year whilst visiting Paris for the first time, and it'd left a longing in both of us for that city and a way of life that seemed to be part of France but absent from our world at home in Belfast. Our Christmas debate revolved around what had been lost in the UK, what makes it unique and what makes a society great. It was in this vigorous discussion that we agreed that some fun, frivolous, special and intangible elements had disappeared from UK society. And in the unanswerable question, of what's missing, The Lost Martini was born.
"If it doesn't pay, it won't stay"
We started with the working title Aerobleu and the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the UK has become fame and money obsessed. To the point that these are the only elements that make up what society classes as "success". To the exclusion of all other forms of success, be they personal or professional, the little triumphs of helping others, or revelling in time with friends or family. I wanted to find a form of theatre that could capture this idea and a swirling mix of debates that could surround this, whilst placing the audience at the heart of the play. So often theatre is walled off from the audience and a current wave of immersive theatre is aiming to break these theatrical conventions and barriers. Giving an audience an experience that allows them to engage with not just a story in a direct way but with the ideas behind the story as well.
With immersive theatre being our ideal theatrical form for the project it began to grow inside Accidental. Working with our dramaturg Emily and writer Shannon Yee we started to build the ideas of what the show could be. Development halted temporarily as we moved into our spring 2014 show, The Kitchen, the Bedroom and the Grave by Donal O'Hagan, but as one production closed in March 2014, the next began in earnest. And the project had it's second working title: Le Café.
Over the summer of 2014 we researched and debated how to make the play and what it would focus upon. We gathered inspirations, articles, songs and images together to help us form and express our ideas. Until I came across a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
The poem excited us about the idea of protest and how often we let injustices and issues get past us without speaking up. We used the poem as an incitement to challenge us in exploring the ideas behind the play. In the final prep before Christmas it was the final push we needed to focus the project around. As we redefined what the play was about we also wanted the it to have more character than the rather bland Le Café suggested, and final title was needed. Cue weeks of ideas, scrawled in note books and on walls in our office and finally after lots of different "debates" we had a lot of options to choose from, including combinations of: Vagabond, Ballroom, Bad Penny, Bad Penny's, more cafés than you could count, Lost & Found, Martini Diaries and many many more. We settled on: The Lost Martini. Not the last martini, but The Lost Martini.
We hope you can follow along with our rehearsals and come along to the performance itself. We'll try to make it a special night for you.