Highly ambitious – TUG is all about taking Dog Kennel Hill Project out of the contemporary arts bubble and placing their work in a deeply alien environment, creating opportunities for meetings, exposures and clashes with and around different ways of life.
TUG will engage participation from canal communities and bring performance to an area rarely, if ever, the setting for contemporary performance.
Urban canals tend to conjure up ideas of disenchanted places, historically the place of the socially excluded navvies and more recently showing the decay and neglect of our abandoned industrial trade. It is in these wasteland territories, only now being reclaimed, repopulated and re-imagined with romantic notions of craft and folklore, that we will find material to weave into engaging scenarios.
Dog Kennel Hill Project want to tap into the way that canals force us to slow down to another pace of activity, just by stepping down from a city environment to the often slightly hidden waterway that passes through beneath. They will also look at what it means to travel on water, and the sensations this can evoke of passing over to the unknown.
They are working in these environments starting on the heritage boat, Renfew based in Braunston, Northamptonshire. Here they begin with the construction of a spectacular stage set designed to form an intriguing contemporary showboat.
Whilst this is happening Dog Kennel Hill Project are researching how arts, performance and dance are perceived by the locals through formal and informal conversations. Through this exchange they will discuss and document lives of people working the canal environment, talking about work and how they feel about things work, politics and economics related. Drawing also from romantic poets such as William Blake, they will devise poetic song material from these stories and elements in collaboration with sound-artist Sianed Jones.
This developed into a 30-40 minute performance journey with a cast of 4 multi-talented performers. It also includes a larger cast of local participants who perform small incidental moments along the towpath, rooting the experience in its particular site. The audience either board the boat in exclusive groups to get an intimate immersive experience as though they were our cargo, or else follow the boat on a towpath walk with an audio guide. Each experience plays with the merging of real, imaginary, functional and mythical situations and spectators are invited to form part the experience of their fellow audience members.
Dog Kennel Hill Project’s first performance event happened in Nottingham on the 29 – 30 September 2012 along a stretch of the Nottingham city canal. They took the project to Watford in 2013 working with Watford Palace Theatre to recreate the performance for a new, different site and set of cultural conditions.
Tug is co -produced by Dog Kennel Hill project, Dance4 and Watford Palace Theatre, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and commissioned by Dance Umbrella and The Place, with development support from Halton Borough Council, Arts development Team Halton and The Canal and Rivers Trust.