top of page
  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

George Mann and Ramesh Meyyappan talk Last Rites at MimeLondon and Manipulate Festival 2024

The world premiere of Ad Infinitum's Last Rites takes to the stage in 2024 at MimeLondon and Manipulate Festival. Ahead of the two runs, we spoke to theatre maker Ramesh Meyyappan and Ad Infinitum's Co-Artistic Director George Mann about the show, which they have been co-devising together over the last few months. 



Tell us a bit about Last Rites 

George: Last Rites is about losing your parent, and becoming a parent. It explores memory, and the relationship between father and son through the generations. It's moving, it's sometimes funny, and of course it's exploring the themes of love and loss, grief, and parenthood.  


The show is dynamic, physical and visual. The storytelling style that we're developing uses a mixture of projection, creative captioning, sign language, physical storytelling, a simple but really beautiful set, and exquisite lighting and sound. So it's a real feast for the senses. 


What was the inspiration behind the show? 

George: Both Ramesh and I have experienced losing our dads and becoming dads ourselves, so we were fascinated by this subject matter and what it means to be a parent. With Last Rites, we've created a fictional story inspired by our experiences, in which a man loses his father before he's had time to really introduce his son to him - so grandchild and granddad never meet. 


As co-creators, how did you work together to blend your artistic styles and develop a cohesive story for Last Rites

Ramesh: We've been talking about working together for a very long time as we'd both seen each other's work at various times. We both knew we should do something together as we understood how to make something visual. 


George: I think we have a lot in common. We have a physical theatre background which explores styles like gestural language and mime; we're both passionate about using the body to tell stories on stage and finding really exciting visual styles for storytelling theatre; and we both have a history of making non-verbal work. 


Ramesh: Throughout the R&D time we explored a range of ideas - nothing was off the table - this afforded us an insight into how we could see not just the narrative taking shape, but work out how we could build on each other’s individual skills, while finding the visual language that would best support Last Rites.  


George: It's a fusion of the things that we're both good at, and I think it makes for a really rich experience. We cram a lot in - the visuals convey storytelling, poetics and emotional language, and sometimes the elements of sign language too. It’s really exciting. 


How did you ensure the show is accessible to both deaf, Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing audiences during the creation process? 

Ramesh: Being deaf, I've always worked visually and have been committed to exploring what I refer to as the visual vocabulary; visual style, tone and visual elements that specifically support the story telling.  


George: The fact that it's visual does mean that neither deaf, Deaf & hard of hearing nor hearing people are excluded at a foundational level. I think the real challenge is how you bring the two worlds together. In part it’s about making sure everyone can understand, but it's also about understanding that there are two different cultures, two different languages, two different ways of perceiving the world. So, I think our challenge sometimes is how to accept those differences and accept that the experience for a deaf, Deaf & hard of hearing audience is going to be different to that of a hearing audience. 


Ramesh: It helps if the emotional story connects well with the audience so that it has some resonance - this way, audiences can have some empathy and will pick up on the nuances and visual clues that support the storytelling. 


What's the biggest challenge of performing in a solo show?  

Ramesh: A typical challenge is that I'm on the stage alone - the production team obviously supports, but I'm out on the stage on my own. It does feel like a huge responsibility, carrying the performance on my own with no-one to bounce off or react / respond to. 


The biggest challenge for this performance is playing more than one character. I need to get the tone of each character right, ensure the physicality works and is clear for each character, make transitions between them clean and clear, and ensure the emotional story for each character is communicated effectively. 


George: The great thing about a solo show is that it’s a wonderful way to bring focus to someone's talent. For this show, it’s such an incredible way to see Ramesh do his thing. It’s almost like a celebration of that person’s performance skills, and in this instance it really does feel like a celebration because you see Ramesh do such incredible work. That part of it is an absolute joy. 


What kind of emotional impact or connection do you hope the audience experiences, and what do you believe makes this performance resonate with viewers? 


Ramesh: We think the themes will resonate with lots of people: grief and loss, being a parent, the relationships we have with our parents even when we have matured. Most folk have experienced these in some way, so will connect with the work emotionally...we hope! 

 

George: We really want the story to resonate with all audiences. Last Rites deals with universal themes, but it is a story told through the eyes of someone whose perspective is not often represented in mainstream culture. This is really exciting for us - and we hope it will resonate with audiences too.  


Last Rites will be performed as part of MimeLondon at Shoreditch Town Hall 24 - 27 January 2024 & as part of Manipulate Festival at Festival Theatre in Edinburgh 3 - 4 February 2024. More information and tickets here: https://ad-infinitum.org/last-rites

コメント