A Stroll Down ‘Penny Lane’ With Dominic Garfield (@HighRise_UK)

Inter­view with Domin­ic Gar­field — 

Artist­ic Dir­ect­or of HighRise Theatre and co star of Penny Lane

The cre­at­ive nature of hip-hop has long been acknow­ledged and the con­tin­ued integ­ra­tion of the cul­ture into oth­er art forms has proved both excit­ing and enga­ging.  This week ‘HighRise’ theatre com­pany are show­ing their latest work, Hip Hop-era ‘Penny Lane’ at The Yard Theatre in Hack­ney Wick, a ‘hip-hop folk tale of a shattered com­munity full of bad decisions and missed oppor­tun­ity’.  I caught up with co-writer and per­former Domin­ic Gar­field to get the low down on what looks set to be a revolu­tion­ary theatre exper­i­ence…

Q. Tell us a bit about the Penny Lane pro­ject

Penny Lane is a Concept Con­cert – Basic­ally a 2 handed Hip Hop-era with a live DJ…The piece is set in the form of a murder tri­al with flash­backs and nar­ra­tions to tell the story of a tur­bu­lent rela­tion­ship between two broth­ers. Hip hop, grime and dub­step tracks under­score the script and as per­formers we mul­tir­ole between dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. The piece is a work in pro­gress and in col­lab­or­a­tion with The Yard Theatre (Hack­ney Wick)

Q. What was the inspir­a­tion behind it?

We draw inspir­a­tion from many medi­ums and wacky sources. From Eminem to East­enders, MF Doom to The Temple of Boom at Secret Garden Party. Rud­y­ard Kip­ling, The Roots,  Kendrick, Kate Tem­pest & Shakespeare.   Most of all we take inspir­a­tion from people and the com­munit­ies we come from.

Q. What can we expect from the live show?

Beats, tricky lyr­i­cism, twists and turns, a washed up kids TV presenter hooked on drugs, slimey law­yers, a scream­ing baby and a s*** load of energy!

Q. What are your back­grounds? Are you rap­pers?

Both me and Ger­el have been writ­ing and per­form­ing dif­fer­ent forms of rap for over 20 col­lect­ively. Start­ing with Drum and Bass & gar­age before mov­ing onto UK Hip Hop and Grime. We then both trained as act­ors and found a com­mon eth­os of want­ing to bring rap into theatres and cre­ate ‘plays’ and nar­rat­ive based scripts using heavy set rhyme. I am also a dir­ect­or and love to see new pieces come to life and explore how phys­ic­al­ity can link to words and flows to cre­ate dynam­ic the­at­ric­al exper­i­ences.

Q. Are you involved in any oth­er pro­jects?

I have just fin­ished a UK tour with theatre com­pany CONEY who cre­ate inter­act­ive, immers­ive theatre. The piece was called ‘Early Days’ and puts the audi­ence in a fic­tion­al coun­try in 2035 that has been shattered by civil war and revolu­tion. The audi­ence then have the chance to act as politi­cians and rebuild the coun­try. I also start work on a sketch show with com­pany MUJU in June. The piece will har­nesses the cre­at­ive potency between UK Muslim and Jews and cre­ate a united response to events of 2014–15. As a col­lect­ive HighRise have sev­er­al pro­jects that we are devel­op­ing includ­ing ‘The Con­crete Jungle Book’ — a con­tem­por­ary twist on Rud­y­ard Kipling’s clas­sic, using live music and rap to tell the story of a young man going through the care sys­tem in urb­an Eng­land. The piece is in col­lab­or­a­tion with The Arts Depot and we enter a second stage of devel­op­ment in Septem­ber.

Q. Whats the story behind HighRise?

HighRise met whilst train­ing at Drama School and the com­pany grav­it­ated to each oth­er when find­ing a com­mon goal of cre­at­ing edgy theatre for young non-theatre goers, as well as your typ­ic­al theatre punter. We also have a massive drive and thirst for teach­ing young people and facil­it­at­ing work­shops and social experiments.We are the Artist­ic Dir­ect­ors of Spot­light Youth Theatre in Pop­lar, East Lon­don and are a res­id­ent com­pany at The Arts Depot.

Q. After these per­form­ances where do you intend to take Penny Lane?

After this work in pro­gress at the Yard, we have secured a book­ing to per­form the piece at a fest­iv­al called ‘story city’ in Leicester. We are excited to see how we can fur­ther explore and devel­op the piece before this gig but in the fur­ther future i think we would like to get it up to the Edin­burgh Fringe Fest­iv­al.

 For more inform­a­tion and tick­ets click here. 

By Micky Roots

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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