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Meet The Lab Company

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Over the coming months The Lab Company will be guest writing blog posts to share their experiences forming a new company. Don’t miss the behind the scenes stories every fortnight.

What’s in a name?

A lot, apparently. I didn’t realise naming things was quite as difficult as it is. I’m not sure how parents do it. The name has to flow, it has to be catchy and different, but not too different. It has to be memorable, whilst giving something away, but not to much or it ruins the fun.

After spending hours and hours thinking, researching and laughing at words and suggestions, I’m worn out. I don’t think I could ever choose another name. All my future children and/or pets shall be called Toby.

I should back track slightly, to September. Nine of us had been picked, through auditions in the summer, to be part of this The Lab Company 2016/17. We span an age range of about ten years and have varying life experiences and training. The Lab Company is for early career artists who, together, create a theatre company and then devise a show to perform in July in The Lab space, which is used by both emerging and professional artists to create and share work, as well as a space for members of the community.

On Thursdays we have workshops with an array of incredibly talented people and theatre companies: Paperbirds, Propolis, Antler Theatre and Fellswoop Theatre have all delivered workshops, we watched the dress rehearsal of Heads Will Roll and had a chat with Paul Hunter, the artistic director of Told by an Idiot, we spoke with Ontroerend Goed about theatre in Europe and England and how they create work and Bea Roberts came in to give a writing workshop. We’ve also had more technical workshops, like stage management, stage design, a talk on the role of being a literary manager and training to become assistant practitioners.

Basically we’ve been spoilt like kids at Christmas. I speak for everyone in the Lab Company when I say every single workshop has been interesting, insightful and incredibly helpful for us all. Friday’s are our days. From September to December we had been getting to know one another, our interests and what we like to create. We started running workshops on what interested us or things we thought would help us create our show. We’ve had dystopian theatre, self censorship, writing and a two and a half hour game of Fiasco (an improv board game I recommend to every single person reading this). We’ve laughed a lot and we’ve become a team. To top it off we’ve been given these blog posts, which will be posted bi-weekly straight onto the theatre’s website, so you’ll be forever up to date on what we’re up to in the Lab!

Which brings me back to choosing our company’s name. The goal of The Lab Company programme is to create a theatre company that can up sticks and leave after our shows in July, with all the tools to be successful. Therefore, we needed a name that wasn’t The Lab Company. After much deliberation, and some rather dodgy offers that I won’t hurt your eyes with, we came up with a name all nine of us liked. No small feat, I can tell you. Anyway, imagine drumrolls, fanfares, fireworks, confetti canons and a man unfurling a scroll and calling out in a loud voice:

“They have chosen a name, and the name is The Narwhal Ensemble!”

Sorry, I’m being dramatic.

The name has meaning to us. Narwhals are the unicorns of the sea, ridiculous and mysterious and real. I think that’s an open yet apt description for us as a company and the work we like to see and to create. Mostly, it’s a funny in joke for us, as Narwhals with axes ruining birthday parties are a thing that happened on a Friday once (I’ll let you imagine the story as the real one is as strange as any you could make up).

Anyway, we’re back at it after Christmas and New year, and I for one am incredibly excited for a 2017 filled with creating, learning and Narwhals.

A happy new year to everyone reading,

Roxane and the rest of The Narwhal Ensemble

>> Find out more about The Lab Company here.

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