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Critical Writing Graduate on How Student Podcast Became a London Theatre Production

14 August 2013 – Critical Writing in Art & Design graduate Alice Hattrick discusses how the programme's CAR podcast went from student initiative to London theatre production.

‘While studying on the MA programme in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the RCA, myself and three other students – Tom Harrad, Paddy Langley and Naomi Pearce – founded a platform through which to develop our writing in an audio context. This resulted in a fortnightly podcast about art and ideas called CAR.

One of our longer-term aims was to develop CAR in a live context. In spring this year The Yard theatre in Hackney Wick held a call-out for new productions, and we pitched a live version of our podcast. Our show, Unwinding into the Windshield, was one of 20 selected from over 300 applications.

The central narrative was based on a ‘true rumour’. According to legend, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando escaped from New York in a hire car on the morning of 11 September, 2001. Our tale follows this unlikely trio as they travel across the States, all the way to California, using their story to analyse celebrity through the lens of the road trip.

Unwinding into the Windshield began as short radio play written in response to a brief set by the poet George Szirtes and organised by David Crowley, Head of Critical Writing in Art & Design.

During the last months of our MA this idea developed into a collaborative production involving actors, technicians and staff at The Yard, and the artist Lawrence Lek. Our production, a ‘live listening experience’, ran for five nights. The script, which drew on found material, such as interview transcripts to Youtube comments, was written and performed by all four members of CAR.

In rehearsals our actors honed primarily vocal performances: Jake Costello as Marlon, Luke Davies as Michael, and Tanya Cubric as Elizabeth. Everyday objects provided an array of foley effects; a fan held to a microphone became a car motor, and popping candy sounds a lot like bacon frying.

We had collaborated on projects as students at the RCA, which prepared us for the challenges of working together and introducing new participants into the mix. We wanted the piece to be funny and moving, excessive and empty all at once. At The Yard we were presented with new challenges, not least producing an audio experience that would engage an audience for 50 minutes.

CAR is now based at The Woodmill in Bermondsey. We’re staying active since leaving the RCA, with plans to release new podcasts in September and develop further live work and collaborative projects with organisations and galleries.’

Alice Hattrick, MA Critical Writing in Art & Design (2011-13) 

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Click here to visit the RCA CAR website.

Click here to visit The Woodmill website.