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Can't be tamed | Q&A with Sarah Calver

We spoke to theatre maker and Director Sarah Calver from Flight of the Escales about their latest show, TAMED or It’s Hard To Get A Real Horse.


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We sat down with theatre maker and Director Sarah Calver from Flight of the Escales about their latest show, TAMED or It’s Hard To Get A Real Horse, which heads to the Norwich Theatre Beyond stage this week, the creative process and having a company meal each Friday. 

What the audience can expect if they come to see TAMED or It’s Hard To Get A Real Horse? 

A cross-platform show that mixes big visuals, lots of movement, and original text. There are funny bits and profound bits, beautiful bits and emotional bits. It is both epic and ridiculous. It will be a spectacle for sure and maybe something different!  

Can you explain the show in three words?  

Beautiful, funny, unique. 

What inspired you to make the piece? 

I started making the show years ago, not long after Trump had been elected; it was a time when the divide between people seemed to be getting larger, there was a rise in populist governing and policies, fake news was flying around, and the world seemed to be crackling. I was looking into the rise in individualism and what this means, as well as into groups and collectives and how we seemed to be returning to a place of more extreme belief and action. I was intrigued about why this was and how this was happening. 

A lot of my work has a female focus and it seemed natural to look at those subjects through a feminine lens.  

Where do you get your ideas from? 

The idea for this show actually came when I was working on another show – ideas often come like that – an actor did an improvisation based on the character of Kate from The Taming of the Shrew; she was making cupcakes and telling us how she had just buried her husband in the garden! I thought it was dark, funny, and weird and the image of her calmly icing the cakes stayed with me. 

Now, our cast play Kate and rehearse ‘scenes for a new adaptation’ of the classic and our Community Chorus play Kate – that original scene still exists the piece now! 

I tend to start from a visual, physical or character led place – often not knowing what the work is or what it means until later and it has been stitched together.  

What is your process for creating a new piece? 

It takes us a while to make our work – it is developed through a lot of play, research, discussion and collaboration. We usually start with an idea, then we research and experiment thoroughly and then we tend to develop a working script, which is then played with and redeveloped even more. We work across art forms and we make work in collaboration with other artists, creatives, performers and local people. 

Our work is quite conceptual – we draw a lot on the visual, physical, and spatial elements of live performance, so we spend a lot of time dreaming big and then figuring out how we can achieve those almost dreamlike ideas in reality.  

Our team comes from all over and are massively talented and experienced in their fields – it’s such a joy to be surrounded by these creative beings conjuring up various types of magic. We make high-quality theatrical worlds – the behind-the-scenes for this is epic! 

Are you excited to come to St George’s Theatre? 

We are so excited to come to St. George’s. The space is incredibly beautiful and has a unique character of its own.  

We are using the space in a non-traditional way – seating the audience on the balcony upstairs and using the main hall as the playing space. The venue offers so much and we are looking forward to placing this show in it. 

What is it like working with Norwich Theatre’s artistic development programme? 

It’s been a great experience where we have felt supported and encouraged and have started to build a community of creatives with whom to share work and develop practice. We’ve also met and worked with some talented and inspirational local people. 

Why is it important that artists are supported in this way? 

Making work takes time, space, and people and artists need the support of venues in order to do this – having a creative community is also key. 

We are an independent company making ambitious work, having the support from these programmes is vital in order for us to achieve everything we want to. 

Tell us the importance of taking work out into communities. 

A big question for us with this show was why are we making it, and who is it for? This show looks at the systems we belong to and the structures that surround us, including local communities and societies. It felt necessary to take this project outside of the usual performance venues and areas and into the heart of a community. 

The community has been directly involved in the making of this show, with a collective wedding dress made by local women, which will be featured in the piece, fascinators made by women at Future Feathers, and a horse mural painted in the town square. Then, we have our amazing community chorus of local women who will perform in the show. 

We want to continue to make our genre of theatre but in a way that is responsive to and reflective of local people. By taking this work out into communities, we are offering access to those who may not usually have it and opportunities for people to get together and experience a live performance. 

This season, we are exploring kindness through creativity. How do you use your craft to exercise kindness to yourself and others? 

Theatre making is a collaborative process; it requires an openness and an acceptance. A few things we do to nurture kindness is having a full company collective meal on every Friday lunchtime – everyone brings a dish and we sit, discuss, and share.  

We are holding a post-show community meal on Fri 12 Jul, after the show and are inviting all audiences and participants to join! 

TAMED or It’s Hard To Get A Real Horse is on at the St George’s Theatre, Great Yarmouth between 10 – 13 Jul for more information or to book visit, or call the Box Office on 01603 630 000. 

Book now!

TAMED or It's Hard To Get A Real Horse