Beth Powlesland & Eithne Kane are co-artistic directors of Kapow – Dance Circus Theatre, whose mission is to spread the joy of imagination, physical storytelling and the moving body to their audiences. Their work is inspired by timely issues and political themes such as our environmental impact, as well as dealing with issues like personal wellbeing and the importance of finding community.
We have supported Kapow a few times in the past, including co-commissioning “The Boulderers”, an outdoor production that told the story of three Rock Climbers pushing their limits, forming firm friendships and boldly reimagining the city as the crag.
Kapow applied for support via CARP so they could work on their new piece MayFly, having a desire to dedicate solid time to R&D (Research & Development) and utilise a creative space so they could practice together.
The R&D is particularly important to them, as it is for a lot of creatives, but funding for artists to research their practice is unfortunately few and far between. This is one of the things that initially drew them to applying to CARP as we recognise the importance of this part of the creative process, and the funding exists to support artists in this way. They also explain that they like its flexibility; artists can choose how they show their work at the end of their residency, rather than being expected to do it in a formal way, such as a performance at the end of the week.
Much of this research was supported by us in the form of “scratch nights”, where audience members are invited in to watch a production, or part of it, and give their feedback to the artists after the show. What could seem a little daunting to many of us, they explain is really useful, as they say this “informal feedback helped us understand what we needed in order to succeed.”
CARP has always prided itself on offering a supportive arts environment, which both Beth and Eithne say is true, saying “we have always felt really welcomed by The Civic” and explain that it’s all the “stuff around the edges” that really makes the difference, from help with technical equipment, to local knowledge (specifically getting permission for Kapow to climb up public buildings and dance in the fountains in the town centre!)
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and the closure of The Civic, the time they wanted to dedicate to together to spending quality time in a studio space unfortunately hasn’t happened yet. Kapow have managed so far during the pandemic with some support from the Emergency Government Grant from Arts Council England, which has carried them through the summer. They explain that this support has given them some “valuable thinking time” and they explain that they have adapted well, becoming experts on Zoom and dancing in their tiny at-home offices.
The team have also been busy with a plethora of digital output including Yoga and Coffee on Monday’s an online support series for artists, and Bubble Up Levy, a project working with their local community which offered Dance, Circus and Drama workshops to year 7 students.
Although their time at The Civic was put on pause, they are currently waiting to hear back about some funding to continue to develop MayFly; we have all our fingers crossed.
All images used in this blog are credited to: Joe Armitage