Oop-La! Looking Ahead
Since Oop-La! formed they have danced and pranced, lip-synched and lip-sunk, and had a jolly good time making witty, intelligent and, above all, fun work.
The question that we ask ourselves now is “what comes next?”
Since their debut show Encore, Encore! in August, the boys from Oop-La! have been keeping themselves busy and out of trouble and have been working on the future of this joyous, chaotic mess that they call a theatre company.
This began with a three-day artistic residency at The University of Aberystwyth where the clowns were generously given space and equipment to develop their work. Being able to take themselves off to a beautiful place where there was nothing but the sea and fish and chips to distract them allowed the clowns to discuss the future direction of the company as well as to rehearse and begin to action some of the questions that had been raised after the performances in the summer. What is this show about? What questions are we asking? How can we incorporate what we have into something new?
It was also here that we were able to perform just a small extract of the work to invited staff from the university and to get their feedback. Listening to what a group of people who had never engaged with our work on any level before thought of the piece was incredibly helpful. They were quick to pick up on the dynamic of the company and how gelled all three performers seem to be. This was a fantastic opportunity to network and grow the company’s platform. We would very much like to return and to work with the university again in the future.
The company are also interested in how their show works on a mixed bill and in more cabaret-style settings. Since performing Encore, Encore! they have had two shows at The Pleasance in Islington and at The Albany in Deptford where they have presented a fifteen-minute set that takes a few elements from the main show and turns them into a short "turn". The former was more clown orientated whilst the latter, a night called Cabaret Playroom, was a scratch night for work-in-progress cabaret acts. It was so interesting performing to these two very different audiences, in different locations in London, and in different spaces. The work was received well in both and it has led the company to conclude that their work has a wide reach and they are excited to continue exploring their practice at cabaret evenings such as these.
The benefit of cabaret is that it gives the company the chance to keep their work fresh whilst taking their time on developing their full show. As the company moves into the next phase of their work together, when other projects will be running alongside Oop-La! and day-jobs will have to be taken in order to stay afloat, having short little cabaret turns up their sleeves that the boys can rock up and perform relatively easily will keep the work ticking over until the find time (hopefully around December/January) to get back into a rehearsal room for a couple of weeks and fully revamp the piece.
Cabaret also gives the clowns an opportunity to reach new audiences and to increase their profile. The above image was taken by Oop-La's new friend @bricketty who came to see their work at The Albany. Cabaret gives the company a chance to get more exposure and to showcase their work to a wide range of people. It is also a great way for the company to meet other performers and industry professionals who can offer advice and feedback as well as befriending the company and inviting them into their networks.
Throughout their journeys together, the thing that has always united Oop-La! is the fact they have created a company of individuals who are all rooted in the same world. The show, ultimately, could be about anything but it is the relationship that Rob, Ben, Hippolyte (and Albert) share that binds them and makes their show so much fun to watch and to create. Obviously, we cannot predict the future, but it is fair to say there is a passion and a love for this company that will keep it going strong and will, we hope, mean that Oop-La! continue to make work for many more years to come.
The video below is footage from our favourite scene from the show which we come back to again and again. It was shot in Aberystwyth whilst working with the university and showcases the kind of work will currently make and hope to make in the future.