Q&A - Gaynor O’Flynn, TIME
This week sees the world premiere of TIME - a brand-new play, incorporating digital and performance artwork. Written by and starring Gaynor O’Flynn, TIME will run at the Vault Festival from 7th - 12th March 2023, having been selected from 600+ works to appear as one of the VAULT 5.
TIME explores the inescapable passing of the years; the story of a middle-aged female cliché, who uses her post-menopausal superpower to visit her successful friends from her past and reinvent her life.
We chatted to Gaynor about the project and found out a bit more
Tell us about TIME. What’s the elevator pitch?
TIME is a work born out of the need for women, all women to be seen & heard. It is not only a play but an app, an artwork & a social movement
So TIME isn’t just a theatre play. It’s way more than that – an app, artwork, and immersive experience. A social movement perhaps?
Why did you feel the need to have social impact?
I studied for an MA in Text & Performance at RADA during lockdown, it was there that I started to feel, for the first time in my life, unseen & unheard. There was an obsession with youth and ideas about older women that just did not align with my lived experience. We studied a range of work but very little work by older women be they straight, queer or trans. I am extremely experienced across CreaTech as are many women of my age but a myth seemed to exist that this was somehow not possible! LOL!
So, I independently started to seek out work by women of my age across theatre, TV, film, CreaTech & performance & also researched the stats, and the numbers don’t lie https://www.beinghuman.com/timestats. It was dire, the reality of the situation for women, especially older women, across the cultural industries is dire so TIME was born.
Is it challenging to be so vulnerable, especially when it comes to your own personal experiences and laying them out on stage?
When I wrote TIME I based it partially on my own experience but also on the experience of other women I have known at various times in my life. I think perhaps I was quite naïve to the process of theatre, remember I am actually new to theatre! Only when I started to learn the lines, rehearse and talk and write about the process for press did I start to feel not so much vulnerable but sad. I could see how my choices throughout my life and career had been influenced by a sexist, ageist industry.
But we will see how I feel, when I have to actually perform in public and be vulnerable!
What was it like working with Paul Sirrett?
Paul taught me writing at RADA, then he was my tutor when I wrote TIME and the accompanying dissertation. He is amazing, both knowledgeable and skillful, he has a rare ability, as a tutor, to not enforce his own loves, style and opinions on another writer or performer’s voice and style. With TIME for example, I think it is fair to say he is not personally a fan of technology but he is totally open to your individual, creative expression and helped me ensure the tech served the work.
What or who inspires you creatively?
What a question!
In the traditional sense of inspiration, TV, art, music popular culture inspire me much more than theatre but to be honest I like to create work that from a place of spontaneity and flow and what really inspires me is a philosophy called Dzogchen, a form of Tibetan Buddhism I have practiced over 30 years. Other Dzogchen practitioners include Patti Smith, John Cage, Laurie Anderson…
The first project my company Beinghuman ever did in 2000 was a Himalayan film & webcast of a Dalai Lama ceremony called Kalachakra, the highest ever in the world at that time. Kalachakra means the wheel of time, the idea is that time is like a time machine, a machine that eventually creates enlightened beings. So, this philosophical concept is at the core of TIME.
How did you, & your team bring your vision to life?
I work with an amazing creative technologist, sound designer and academic called Dr Nick Rothwell, a complete genius who is totally supportive, reliable and brilliant.
Also, Dr Carlo Harvey and Nathan Dewell from Birmingham City University have helped me create the giant women who act with me in the play using software called Unreal Engine, and specifically metahuman technology which is now used not only for games but also for virtual film production, VR and AR experiences.
The biggest challenge was the clothes. My friend Emmy Award winning wardrobe designer Jane Petrie helped me define the characters but it is hard to dress ordinary women in Unreal Engine!
We also built the TIME app where women can record a TIME message and hashtag their skills and interests.
We scanned the Tate Modern’s Tanks on our mobile phones and recreated the tank as a virtual space in Unreal Engine, on International Women’s Day we will open the virtual exhibition as the women’s recordings from the app are added to the artwork.
Post the Vaults, TIME the play will be created virtually in this virtual venue and also women who have used the TIME app will be able to find each other via the v2.0 of the app.
Is technology becoming more accepted/used/appreciated in theatre spaces?
I work with various immersive and industry groups Women In Experience, Audiences of The Future, Innovate UK that support the use of technology across the Creative Industries so to me it feels like it is everywhere!
But I do think theatre is becoming more open to technology, shows like ABBA’a VOYAGE and more generally companies like Punchdrunk, Secret Cinema and with immersive experiences from Doctor Who to Van Gogh becoming more and more mainstream I think theatre will embrace technology as it can support and enhance storytelling and drama.
How does it feel to be part of the prestigious Vault 5?
I am very honored for my first real, full theatre show ever to have been selected from over 3000 applications and 600 live shows to be on of the Vault 5!
What can the audience expect from TIME?
A good night out!
What is interesting for me is I thought I was writing for older women but actually the play really seems to interest and impact younger women and men in their late twenties and early thirties who are still deciding who they could, should, would be.
But for any audience member I hope it is a positive, uplifting experience that helps us understand nothing is permanent, including who we feel we could, should or would have been or still could be.
One of the key messages of this play is that we need to make changes in order for women over 50 to be more visible. As individuals, and as a collective society, what can we do?
Well, creative women can download the app, leave a message and get involved in TIME. We are holding a TIME event in Lisbon later in the year, an unconference where creative women who want to stage their own event are meeting to plan for International Women’s Day 2024.
I really think we women need to lead on the change we want to be and see in the world.
What’s next in line for TIME and your company Beinghuman? Is a tour in the pipeline?
We have not planned a tour for TIME, yet…
We really want a major art, performance space to open the doors and let the virtual TIME art exhibition be recreated in the real world & the play be performed in the round. I sent 100+ letters, actual physical letters to curators globally, asking them to open their doors and let TIME and more women in!
More generally with my company Beinghuman, we are restoring a warehouse space in Forest Gate, East London where artists, performers, musicians, producers, directors, writers and technologists can converge, due to open in 2024.
I am off to Paris the day after The Vaults, I am selected for a Tech initiative, for a secured, trusted, and sustainable digital society pitching the TIME app v2.0 to academics, companies & investors at BPI Hub.
I have also written my first feature film G.O.D. and have a great production team who have also worked on Boiling Point and Pirates of The Caribbean and had my first conversations with BBC.
And I am working on the script for a TV series called “The 80’s”, a sort of love story like Normal People but set against the backdrop of Liverpool, Manchester and London as music and art changed Britain forever.
Where can we find more information on TIME and your future projects?
My company website is always the best place to go…
The only social media platform I use is Linkedin, I only like to work with Big Tech that pays & plays fair!
To download the TIME app
TIME will run at the Vault Festival from 7th - 12th March 2023, https://vaultfestival.com/events/time/