Rachel Kelly
Writer, Mental Health Campaigner, Public Speaker

‘We Had A Black Dog’ by Matthew Holmquist

Matthew Holmquist is an emerging theatre director and sound designer and runs Red Oak Theatre, a newly set up theatre company based in Cardiff.

"At Red Oak Theatre we want to explore the relationship between sound and design, how they can be pushed in combination to immerse audiences in unique theatrical experiences. Our practice uses elements of dance, live music, verbatim and sound design."

Red Oak Theat­re's debut pro­duc­tion is 'We Had A Black Dog'. It has been selec­ted to be part of a theat­re fes­tiv­al in Paris cal­led the 'Dreams Be­fore Dawn Fes­tiv­al', to be per­for­med on the 11th, 12th and 13th of July. It is being hos­ted by Bred In The Bone Theat­re and will con­s­ist of 15 other com­pan­ies from the UK and Europe. This pro­ject was original­ly con­ceived at the Uni­vers­ity of Ex­et­er and this is next step of it's pro­fes­sion­al de­velop­ment.

'We Had A Black Dog' investigates the emotional and psychological impact of being in a relationship of depression.

This pro­ject uses ver­batim in­ter­views, live vocal loop­ing and phys­ical theat­re to ex­plore de­press­ion in a re­lationship bet­ween two peo­ple. Set in the round with a vocal­ist at each end of the cir­cle and two danc­ers in the mid­dle, 'We Had A Black Dog' aims to in­vite audi­ences to ex­peri­ence the worlds of our materi­al with us. Creat­ing looped vocal har­mony soundscapes, we aim to create multi-layered worlds of sound for the audi­ence to ex­peri­ence, ex­plor­ing de­press­ion thematical­ly and musical­ly.

Over the top of the soundscapes we use spok­en ver­batim text, col­lec­ted from in­ter­views with peo­ple who have suf­fered from de­press­ion. In the midst of the vocal soundscapes are two phys­ical per­form­ers. Draw­ing on con­tem­pora­ry, bal­let and mar­ti­al arts based move­ment, the danc­ers de­monstrate the nar­rative of the co­u­ple in a re­lationship of de­press­ion.

De­al­ing with ment­al health is very im­por­tant for us as a com­pany. We want to be able to ex­plore this fully in an in­ter­nation­al sett­ing and raise aware­ness simul­taneous­ly. To ex­peri­ence and work as part of a di­ver­se col­lec­tion of work from ac­ross Europe would be a uni­que op­por­tun­ity for us. Red Oak Theat­re are proud to be shar­ing our work and creat­ing as­socia­tions with like-minded art­ists.

The im­pact on Red Oak Theat­re as a com­pany will be huge­ly positive, nur­tur­ing a re­lationship with Bred In the Bone Theat­re and pro­vid­ing a framework for any furth­er col­labora­tions with com­pan­ies and venues. We are ex­cited to work with a com­pany who focus on "musical­ity, im­pul­se, and emotion-action". We feel a com­mon con­nec­tion in how we de­velop our pro­duc­tions and are re­lish­ing the op­por­tun­ity to hone these skills in Paris this summ­er.

We have drawn on many dif­ferent in­spira­tions when de­velop­ing this pro­duc­tion but Rac­hel Kelly's work in par­ticular has given us all a per­son­al and uni­que in­sight into the world of de­press­ion. 'Black Rain­bow' in­spired us to not only use words as a tool for heal­ing, but com­bine them with music and move­ment to create a bold and im­mer­sive ex­peri­ence for an audi­ence. We are proud to re­ceive sup­port from the Black Dog In­stitute, SANE and Ex­et­er Uni­vers­ity, with­out which none of this would be pos­sible.

If you are interested in supporting us, our kickstarter link is:


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