BITESIZE FESTIVAL 2024
"Playgrounds exist as ‘factories’ for creating worlds within worlds, and as a theatre company part of our work is remembering, recalling and reinterpreting the stories we created as kids."
February 10, 2024
Playwright / Director
'We Remember The Fields As Wild' is a play that explores the darker themes of Shakespeare's most beloved comedy and delves into Demetrius and Helena's relationship following the events of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. As tensions rise and the couple's bond begins to fray, the lines between dreams and reality become increasingly uncertain. As Helena remarks, 'The story shall be changed.'
Hello Jake, thank you for talking to TNC. How does it feel to be at the 2024 BITESIZE Festival with your show We Remember the Fields as Wild?
It's brilliant to be platformed alongside so many other incredible creatives and theatre makers.
Are there any nerves ahead of opening night on the 14th Feb, Valentines Day which seems very apt?
If there weren’t I would be worried!
How important are festivals like BITESIZE in creating this unique platform for theatre and comedy?
Arianna Muñoz, Producer: Incredibly important, and for both the artist and the audience. For artists, BITESIZE and similar festivals provide a supportive space for experimentation, a genesis point for the shows that eventually find success across London, the Fringe, and beyond. Likewise, for audiences, it's a chance to discover these new artists and new ideas, to expand their theatrical experiences beyond the traditional ‘canon’.
It’s an unfortunate reality that (due to a myriad of factors) the theatre industry tends to be very risk-averse; however, it is festivals like BITESIZE that allow companies like Playground Factory Theatre to take those first steps, and bring our original, exciting ideas to life.
What are you hoping to take away from the experience of being part of BITESIZE Festival?
This is our first show in London, and also the first by our company, Playground Factory Theatre, so it's an excellent opportunity to figure out what works and what doesn't, a process which will help us lay out the framework for our future projects.
Can you tell me a little bit about your show, how did We Remember the Fields as Wild come about?
In lots of scattered scraps.
After first writing my show 'Playing Pretend', which reimagined the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream as the imaginary friends of a group of boys growing up, I knew Helena and Demetrius were next.
This play attempts to unpick what this couple would look like today when the magic isn't enough to stop messiness. ‘We Remember the Fields as Wild’ iis also the second in what I hope will be a trilogy exploring the afterlife of stories (specifically fairies like Puck) and what happens if they don’t want to be forgotten.
What was it about Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Demetrius and Helena, that impaired you to create We Remember the Fields as Wild?
I’ve wanted to tell Helena and Demetrius’ story for a while. The ending of A Midsummer Night’s Dream always unsettled me as Demetrius is still under the influence of the magical love drug (‘love in idleness’). The play originated from there, and during the writing and workshopping process it began to question Puck's and Helen's role in the play, as well as the afterlife of the characters.
The idea of Puck as a performer, stage manager, and director always intrigued me. Puck orchestrates a collision between dreams and reality, and I think that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeares' most playful and consciously metatheatrical works. Consequently, one of the questions We Remember The Fields As Wild tries to ask is what happens when Puck's power fades.
"Any solo show is a challenge, but Dickless is this unique mix of pitch-black comedy and tragic drama, and finding someone who can dance between genres with fluency is tricky."
What has been the biggest challenges you faced bringing We Remember the Fields as Wild to the stage?
I feel incredibly fortunate to have an amazing team that I trust completely. So rather than anything logistical, knowing when to stop adding to the story and to stop writing scenes has been the biggest challenge personally.
Where did you passion for theatre come from?
Our drama teachers were incredible - and we got discounted or free tickets to theatres like the Old vic and Young vic. And in class, as life got more serious, the idea of play, being silly and dressing up was an antidote to all of that. Our theatre company's name - Playground Factory - was chosen to represent this idea of play. Playgrounds exist as ‘factories’ for creating worlds within worlds, and as a theatre company part of our work is remembering, recalling and reinterpreting the stories we created as kids.
How best would you describe your show in 3 words?
Magic, Memory, Make-believe (Cheating by hyphenating but there we go).
Do you have a favourite Shakespeare quote?
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck's final monologue advises the audience that if they did not enjoy the performance, they should consider it nothing more than a dream. However, throughout the play Puck demonstrates dreams are anything but inconsequential. The play hinges on dreams and slipping between levels of the dream world, the play world, and the metatheatrical world. I believe theatre can capture that blurring of worlds in a way few other mediums can.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer anyone wanting to get into theatre and what has been the best advice you’ve been given as you started your own journey?
Someone once told me that this industry is made up of people who hold on the longest. A caveat I have to add is it's much easier to hold on if you surround yourself with other people who share that passion, and if you start to let go this shared passion can help you hold on.
And finally, what do you hope you audiences will take away from We Remember the Fields as Wild?
Shakespeare’s plays should be treated as malleable - he certainly treated all his sources as such. I want audiences to be provoked into thinking about the afterlife of the characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Shakespeare's play Helena says ‘Run when you will - The story shall be changed’: to me that is the line that drives ‘We Remember The Fields As Wild. It shows that stories never end - not really - every retelling, every performance there will always be a subtle shift. There are some stories that cycle right back to the start and this play tries to explore what happens when the characters reject their role and insist that ‘the story shall be changed’.