Gecko, the acclaimed physical theatre company, returns to Newcastle to perform its newest production Kin, a provocative story of desperation and compassion inspired by the epic journey from Yemen to Palestine that Artistic Director Amit Lahav’s grandmother Leah made with her family in 1932 to escape persecution.
At its heart, it is about human connection and how it feels to be human. At a time when the rebirth of community and acceptance seem vital to our survival, the international devising performers bring their own experiences of migration, racism, empathy and home to this poetically intoxicating performance.
I met up with Amit Rahav, Artistic Director, to ask him a little more about the company, its work and what we might expect when we see Kin.
He said, “Kin is a complicated story in which there are no baddies, and is also a celebration of the human spirit; a story about family, about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, forgotten stories, migration and racism.”
Gecko, formed in 2001, has developed a deep, empathetic creation process over the years: work is artist-led, created through collaboration, experimentation and play that deepens human connection—“pleasure and voyage,” Amit says. This means a production can take up to four years to complete.
“Essentially, we are now in year four (of Kin) where we tour and perform and listen and respond to what the audiences say and how they react. This means it will continue to change and develop; Kin has had some seismic shifts already. Even the creative team is touring with the show, which makes it expensive, but this is the only way Kin can keep on its journey of development.” The Kin creative team consists of designer Rhys Jarman, lighting designer Chris Swain, sound Mark Melville and original music composed by Dave Price.
Gecko's productions are bold and dynamic, using movement, voice, light, sound and stage craft to tell their stories.
We talked a great deal about the workshops which the company offer.
The facilitators are performers in their own right and the atmosphere safe, supported and collaborative, encouraging practitioners, local community groups and students to be bold and experimental, inviting them to share stories, push beyond the boundaries of their previous experience, develop new skills, connections and increase understanding of the world around them. “Seed planting,” enthuses Amit.
Amit himself is clearly utterly committed to these processes, the boldness of the final productions and the way work changes as it is performed and is happy for productions to evolve and change over time.
Kin is commissioned by the National Theatre and Rufus Norris, the Artistic Director, has been following Gecko’s work for a number of years. He has a great admiration for their dynamic and fearless approach to story in motion. Combined with their commitment to internationalism and completely integrated educational work, as well as their deeply embedded UK-wide touring ethos, Gecko is a hugely impressive company, says Norris.
Kin premières at the National Theatre, London in the autumn, so audiences here are very lucky to see Kin preview at Northern Stage. Don’t miss it.