Art & Events Interview Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Phoebe Fairchild: DIRT

By | Published on Friday 15 October 2021

Coming up at The Albany this week is the latest show from youth theatre collective Sounds Like Chaos: thirty six young artists aged twelve to 25 present ‘DIRT’, a piece that explores the climate emergency through stories from the diverse community of Lewisham, drawing on the traditions of oral storytelling to tell their ancestors’ migration stories.

The live show is accompanied by a number of films, and audio and visual commissions from seven different artists, which are all accessible online.

To find out more about the project, I spoke to Phoebe Fairchild, who is one of the commissioned artists, and a co-creator of the show.

CM: Can you start by telling us about ‘DIRT’? What sort of format does it have and what stories does it tell?
PF: ‘DIRT’ is a show created with Sounds Like Chaos. It uses aspects of movement, theatre, dance and song to convey young peoples’ stories of how they got here and the issues they have faced.

The show explores stories of how we ended up where we are now through our global diasporic families. It also explores global issues such as pollution, climate change and politics, and how these will affect us and our generation in different ways.

CM: How did the show come together? How did the company go about creating it?
PF: We’ve been working on the show for the past two years. Over this time, we’ve had various discussions with people directly involved with the climate movement while working with co-directors Roisin Feeny and Gemma Rowan to generate ideas.

Sounds Like Chaos works in an amazing way, allowing the young people to have creative licence by generating ideas within the room through various devising exercises surrounding music, dance, free writing and performance, resulting in a script we all feel responsible for.

It has been an amazing journey and it has educated us all in the process.

CM: What is your role in it?
PF: I am a part of the global squad. These work as transitions for the world as well as providing songs, dance and the overall vibes. I also play the part of Ome, Bea’s grandma, who is directly affected by global issues based in Latvia.

CM: Can you tell us about the films that accompany the show? Why did the company want to add this element?
PF: The films support the show by adding a personal element. They enhance the show and bring real stories into the collective. The films allow the concepts and ideas of the show to reach a wider audience, encouraging not only more interest but also more understanding of the topics.

I believe the films were originally thought of during lockdown, where theatre wasn’t necessarily as accessible as before; the idea of creating films then sparked a conversation about accessibility, as they are an invitation for people to interact with our stories no matter where they are.

CM: The show is also accompanied by a collection of commissions by seven artists, of which you are one – can you explain the different formats those commissions are presented as?
PF: The commissions are centred around audio, zines and installations. They use various art forms to create a response to the stimulus of ‘DIRT’ that was presented to us.

CM: Can you tell us about your own commission?
PF: Olivia Spence and I run a podcast entitled Let Me Hear Your Voice where we focus on issues that affect young people, specifically women. When the opportunity to create a piece of art for ‘DIRT’ arose, we decided to do an episode on climate justice.

We set ourselves each a challenge: I went plastic free for two weeks, and Olivia went vegan. We documented the whole process, while also interviewing various young people, sparking a conversation about activism and young people.

The podcast episode – along with all the other artwork commissions – will be available to explore on Sounds Like Chaos website.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about Sounds Like Chaos? How did you become involved with the group?
PF: Sounds Like Chaos is a professionalising youth group formed of ages twelve to 25. It is an amazing company that allows young people to express their creativity and establish a career for themselves in the arts. I became involved with the group through working with Gemma at a separate youth theatre.

I was fortunate enough to gain a position as a trainee stage manager with the show ‘WOW, Everything Is Amazing!’, where I learnt how to stage manage and help with mixing live sound. This was an amazing opportunity; I then joined the company as a performer and have been here since!

CM: Can you tell us a bit more about your work in general? How would you describe your career path thus far?
PF: Sounds Like Chaos has definitely made my work life so much better. As a podcaster, the show has sparked my interest in activism, so a lot of my work centres around that now.

As well as a performer, I trained as a drama facilitator to work with young people myself, and as a musician, I try as much as possible to incorporate music into my facilitation, something that the SLC team has helped me develop.

CM: Which directions do you hope to go in? What aims do you have for the future?
PF: Thanks to my work with Sounds Like Chaos, my plan is to go on working as a drama and music facilitator for young people. I also would love to continue working on events, spoken word, and just being fully involved in the community.

I would love to make a difference and use art to convey this difference.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after ‘DIRT’?
PF: After ‘DIRT’, I hope to continue working with Sounds Like Chaos and carry on being part of their amazing company. I hope to be heavily involved with the next Sounds Like Chaos project, which is also focused around climate justice and sustainability. The project is currently in development in conjunction with ‘DIRT’ and is due to launch next year – watch this space!

I would love to continue developing my creativity and hope to gain more experience and work opportunities within the art world!

‘DIRT’ is on at The Albany Theatre from 22-30 Oct, see this page here for more information and to book. You can find info about the films and artist commissions on the Sounds Like Chaos website here.

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