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Past, What's On > Alice Theobald – The Next Step

Alice Theobald – The Next Step

MAN B/ BABY:     Sometimes I just feel like….
MAN A/ DOG:      Feel like what?
MAN B/ BABY:     Like I’m being left behind.
MAN A/ DOG:      Behind?
MAN B/ BABY:     Yes.
MAN A/ DOG:       Behind who?
MAN B/ BABY:     Just… you know… you, them…
MAN A/ DOG:      Everyone?
MAN B/ BABY:     Everyone seems to be taking the next step whilst I feel like…
MAN A/ DOG:      What step?
MAN B/ BABY:     You know… the one after this.
MAN A/ DOG:      Right.

Taking its title from a new 3D film work produced for this exhibition, The Next Step centres around a seemingly aimless sprawling conversation about relationships, aspirations and life decisions as a baby and a dog advance towards the audience. Through this conversation, a combination of language play, moving image and installation, Theobald explores conflicted feelings about societal conventions, the repeated cycle of human existence, and the ways that received wisdom about life, love, death, freedom and personal growth feed back into daily life through depictions in film, television and music.

Alice Theobald’s practice encompasses live performance, video and installation to explore the parallels between stage and life and the discrepancy between expression, appearance and feeling. Frequently working with a cast of “non-professional” actors, Theobald shifts between the role of stage director, choreographer, narrator and performer.

This exhibition is the second in a programme of exhibitions and events at Two Queens across 2016-18 and will be accompanied by project space commissions from Oliver Tirre and James Parkinson. The exhibition will also run during the inaugural Leicester Art Week (4th – 12th November) a programme of visual arts activity across the city. The project is kindly supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Leicester City Council and De Montfort University. The film ‘The Next Step’ was produced with additional support from Primary, Nottingham through their artist residency programme.

Alice Theobald, b.1985, Leicester, lives and works in Cambridgeshire
Recent exhibitions include:

Alice Theobald and Atomik Architecture, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, The Boys The Girls The Political, Lisson Gallery, London; Alice Theobald, ‘The Bear Pit’, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea

Alice Theobald is represented by Pilar Corrias, London

Q and A With Alice Theobald

2Q: What interested you about making a 3D film?

AT: An interest in perspectives, different ways of viewing and understanding the world both cognitively and physically and the relationship between the two has always been a constant in the work I make. In previous installations and performances I’ve done this with multiple screens and framing or positioning of the audience with in a space but with ‘The Next Step’ I wanted to try simplifying it and think more about scale.

With this in mind, trying out 3D felt like a natural avenue to explore and I wanted to create the visual effect of having a giant baby and dog coming out towards you. Looming over you. When in your thirties, you suddenly notice more and more weddings and babies happening and it’s interesting to observe this as both a tradition and human instinct. It’s something that most people do, but as woman there is a lot more pressure and you suddenly find yourself faced with expectations and decisions that feel inflicted on you through all these different forces – I’m interested in the situation where your body and your mind ask different things of you. Men don’t have to think about time in relation to their bodies in the same way, their existential situation is a very different proposition and one I am intrigued by.

I wanted the film to in a sense confront the audience with the reality of conformity, it’s dilemmas and the ACT of “growing up” or taking “the next step” represented through the dog and the baby.

2Q: You often appear in person in your work as an actor, for ‘The Next Step’ the script is spoken by others and the people we see on screen are not you, is there a reasoning behind whether the people in your films are you or someone else?

AT: Even though the subject or scenario in the works often come out of something I might be going through, thinking or feeling at a certain time, the work is never supposed to be explicitly about me and I like to mix it up.

The reasons why tend to change depending on the work. Sometimes I’m in it because I know how I want it to be acted and only have myself to blame if it isn’t right, sometimes it’s because I have an idea and want to do it straight away whilst it feels fresh and sometimes it’s as simple as having easy access to myself – so for economical reasons.

I like to work with other people and the different voices and styles they bring. It was an interesting challenge for me to work with dogs and babies for this because they were so unpredictable. It was this situation I had contrived with my own motives in mind yet I had very little control over it. With all these ways of working; the process of analysis and editing on retrospect with regards to what was consciously performed or not performed, the mistakes and different levels of awareness is something I find fascinating.

2Q: For the event for this Exhibition we had an event with performances by your band and other bands you invited, do you see Ravioli Me Away as an extension of your artistic practice?

AT: To an extent yes, in that I am in it and I have an artistic input. But because it very much comes from all of us in the band, our conversations and playing instruments together, it is much more of a collaborative project and there are lots of things I do as Ravioli Me Away that I wouldn’t do in my own work. Doing something as a collective like that certainly satisfies a different urge.
I invited the band Chips For The Poor to play at the event, which Michael and Scott are in – and who also played the two male voices in “The Next Step”. Scott is also from Leicester but I met him in London later in life, so there is a connection there too. I actually think there is a particular absurdist humour that comes from the Midlands which I am still trying to work out.