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Who are you?  We are .dash, an experimental theatre company. Two of our team also manage the Tom Thumb Theatre.

Why Cliftonville & the Pettmans building for the location of your play?  We are head over heels enamoured with the Tom Thumb, but being one of the smallest theatre’s in the country ‘And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out’ simply would not fit in it (it features a 30m Hornby train set & projections 10m wide). We were adamant we wanted to keep the performance in Cliftonville – one of the most beautiful, exciting & creatively explosive areas in the country – so Pettmans was the perfect option. It’s an incredible space, full of lovely folk making things & just around the corner from the Tom Thumb.

Where would you most like to perform?  We’d like to take the show on the road, to a couple of Festivals; travelling the world with the Cliftonville, Margate stamp!

Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?  We really enjoy collaborating with people outside of the theatre scene. Throughout the making of And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out we have worked with a musician, a filmmaker and an Astrophysicist. On past productions we have worked with visual artists, choreographers, academics, programmers, designers, noise musicians, super-8 artists and a stand up comic. We’re not sure who we would like to collaborate with next; we’ll have to see what opportunities present themselves…

How would you describe your play ‘And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out’?  A raucous love story about attraction & entropy, astrophysics via boy meets girl.

The three words you would use to describe .dash are….?  Noisy. Shambolic. Live.

Why do you think theatre is important?  It is live. In an increasingly mediatized society, that is something to be celebrated.

What’s the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you? And the last?  Eoin cut his teeth working as a technician at SHUNT, which had a huge impact on our view of theatre & what it could be. Other game-changers include’Three Kingdoms’ at the Lyric Hammersmith, ‘Mission Drift’ from The TEAM & pretty much anything from Katie Mitchell. However, live music is probably as much of an influence on us as theatre. Shallac at ATP festival in a Pontins holiday camp was a big one, as was Nick Cave’s last album launch. The immediacy of a gig is something we strive for. Recently, we have seen some outstanding stuff at the Tom Thumb. ‘A Conversation’ by Nigel & Louise was ridiculously inspiring & developed at the theatre. We feel extremely lucky to be in a position where we can invite artists we admire to develop work at the Tom Thumb.

Was there someone who inspired you to get into theatre?  We fell into theatre for different reasons, but the aforementioned inspired us to start making theatre together. 

Does digital technology help or hinder theatre?  It has the potential to help it, providing it’s not used to emulate digital forms, such as film and TV. Much as we love film and TV, theatre is a different medium and should be treated as such. It should embrace and champion what is unique about theatre: it is live and it is immediate.  

What is the impact of digital technology on .dash performances?  We like exploring the interplay between hi-fi & lo-fi; applying the same (ir)reverence to the use of a wireless camera & powerful projector as a beaten up dictaphone & props made of cardboard.

What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?  The perception that theatre is dry, elitist, boring & disengaged. Theatre can be punk rock. Theatre can be DIY.

What one thing would you change about the industry?  Apathy.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?  Set yourself deadlines & work through the night to meet them.

What piece of advice about playwriting / theatre have you found to be the least helpful? Jess was told, “Do it again. Do it better” by a director once. At the time it felt particularly unhelpful (“HOW do I do it better? What does he want from me?!”), but retrospectively it’s pretty sage advice.

What is most helpful to you as you start work on a new play? A topic that excites us & a ban on self-censorship. Wine sometimes helps. “Nina does a seagull-headed break-core dance” is a stage direction we probably would not have written sober.

Any other special performances coming up in the future we should know about? There are some absolutely brilliant shows coming up at the Tom Thumb. The Ring is particularly exciting, on the 26th Sept. It’s a thriller performed in complete darkness, where the audience have wireless headphones that play binaural recordings. It’s had an incredible reception across the country and we are delighted we’ve been able to nab it for the Tom Thumb – get your tickets quick!

What are .dash future plans?  To keep making things.

ROUND-UP: The beautiful Pettmans depository, home to Pettmans auctions & removals & RESORT Studios, this weekend is the venue for a production by .dash in association with Tom Thumb. The auction room has become a contemporary theatre space, amongst piles of furniture & seated on a random collection of chairs soon to be auctioned ‘And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out’ will be performed on the 30th & 31st August at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 & can be booked at www.tomthumbtheatre.co.uk


The Pettmans Depository, 2 Athelstan Road, Margate, Kent CT9 2BH

With kind support from Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Hornby.

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To take part in the Curio contact: thecurioinmargate@gmail.com

All images ©Jo Willis

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