You never quite know where things are going to lead

| by Catherine Love

Robbie Synge speaks about his one-man dance show Douglas and the prospect of touring internationally.


The show is called Douglas, it’s a one-man show and I’m on stage performing with a number of very simple objects. Generally they’re objects you’d find in a theatre space, like chairs and a rope and a roll of dance floor and stage weights. There’s live sound and very detailed, responsive lighting as well. 

It set out with a choreographic concern to try and give objects as much importance as bodies on stage. I quickly realised the potential of objects to have a sort of agency upon my body: objects can physically shift me and move me. This lone figure on stage became this character, Douglas, this quite odd, eccentric type who’s occupied with finding these physical connections.

It’s very text-light; there is a song towards the end but it’s not essential to understand the words necessarily, it’s more an atmosphere it creates. I don’t really like to make dance about something. I have a starting point and I think there are lots of hooks for people to latch onto with this work, and lots of meanings to be found. It’s very spacious, it’s very open, and people can find their own stories within it. I describe it as dance that’s very occupied with concerns of time and space and touch and body awareness and contact, but it’s not typically virtuosic. Some people are calling it physical theatre, so maybe it appeals to different people for different reasons.

There are no limits really, for me, in terms of where the work might go. I’ve made some connections in Europe already and I’m really excited to discover the work that comes from elsewhere in the world outside of Europe, because I feel I don’t see very much of that coming into the UK. I’m excited to learn about aesthetics and where they’re taking work. So I’d like to get over to South America or China or Australasia and really see a bit more of what’s going on there. 

I’ve loved the conversations I’ve been able to have at the Showcase. They’ve been quite quick and brief and frequent and that sometimes can make you feel a bit shell-shocked. I’ve got a producer helping me so that’s been nice to share that. But still it’s inspiring, it’s exciting, you never quite know where things are going to lead. You have to try and let go of any particularly strong ambitions and be quite open to what happens. I’m very grateful to be involved in making those connections at least and understanding what people’s interests are.

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