Giant & Bear Playtesting…

It is now my third month with Unlimited as their Administrator & Assistant Producer and we thought it was high time I spoke a few words about what I’ve been up to… and one thing that’s been very high up on my list is The Giant & The Bear Playtest.

So The Giant & The Bear brings together, in one show, storytelling, circus, theatre and gaming. One of the most challenging and interesting parts of the show for me was the interactive gaming element. This gaming quality of The Giant & The Bear was first developed a year ago during West Yorkshire Playhouse Furnace – a festival dedicated to placing artists and audiences at the centre of development…

Successful Bear Hunters at the 2011 Playtest

Since Furnace (and before, now that I mention it), Unlimited have been playing with Layla Rosa (of Shunt) and Holly Gramazio (of Hide & Seek) to develop what The Giant & The Bear is. What it is to us, what it is to others and, arguably most important, what it is to YOU.

In the interest of developing this interactive gaming part of the show, we decided to hold another Playtest. This time as part of West Yorkshire Playhouse Transform 2012 – a festival of new work that pushes the boundaries, and transforms the meaning of what theatre is.

Now an Unlimited Playtest does exactly what it says on the tin. And we tested a game called ‘Hunt the Bear’. 12 bears of all shapes and sizes were hidden around the Playhouse…

…and the 40 or so people who turned up to play were given a list of them and were tasked with finding all bears and taking pictures to prove their successful hunting exploits…

The amazing Joe from the WYP Restaurant with "Hungry Bear"

…Cue fantastically ecstatic hunting! Crazed parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren running around the playhouse foyer and restaurant finding bears! Some people found all 12 bears, some found 14! Don’t really know how we acquired an extra two … And some found none at all but had a great time watching everyone else run around!

We also tested some of our G&B work in the rehearsal room at WYP.

Our spectacular troupe of Circus performers and creative team shared some of the Playing they had done earlier in the week. It was a very special moment for all 40 people who Played ‘Hunt the Bear’, to be invited to this experience – and we loved it!

Performers Roisin and Girisho being the Ring Master’s (Jon) Henchman and Henchwoman

Performers making a Bearmobile! From left: Rosie, Roisin, Sebastien (otherwise known as Colin the Bear), Girisho, Maddy.

The Ring Master and Circus Family make a pyramid (or you might say Bearamid) with Co-Director Layla Rosa leading the Bear ROWR.

All in all it was a pretty hectic day! So I suppose we can forgive our amazingly patient Bears, who were very playful and heroic all day, if they need a bit of a sit down after all the excitement…

Tired Bears

So now we are gearing up for more of the same with rehearsals for the show later in May – which we’re going to make videos of and post on here.

We will also, as always, be regularly updating on Twitter and our Facebook page.

To book tickets, please visit the West Yorkshire Playhouse website or call their box office on 01132137700.

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