One of the victims of the fire that reduced part of the Battersea Arts Centre to ashes last Friday was acclaimed theatre company Gecko. Its show Missing was being staged in the grade II listed Grand Hall, which went up in smoke. As a result, all its props, costumes and technical equipment were lost. The good news is that Southbank Centre has stepped in to give Gecko a chance to perform “a bare bones” version of the play so that people who bought tickets can still see it.
An open rehearsal will take place in the Royal Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom this Friday 20 March from 2-5pm, followed by a performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall the same day at 7.30pm, both of which are free (but tickets need to be booked). The evening performance will be stripped right back to basics with audience members requested to bring items that might be used as props. The list of stuff they need runs thus:
1) Cardboard boxes of all sizes
2) Bike lights/small torches
3) 'Real' looking dolls to use as puppets — two girls, aged around four and 11
Gecko will attempt to use everything that is offered. You're invited to bring any of the above to the show just before 7.30pm, and someone will find you in the foyer. Or bring your items to Gecko's open rehearsal.
All dolls, boxes and torches will be returned at the end of the show
Gecko hopes to recapture the essence of the original show and take the new version on tour to Mexico next month, as was originally planned. Amit Lahav, the artistic director of Gecko said: “The next two weeks are going to be tough, but the team are stronger than ever and desperate to work together to rebuild this beautiful show of ours piece by piece.”
A Kickstarter campaign to support Gecko has already exceeded its target, though donations are still welcome.
You can also donate to the BAC itself. The latest word from artistic director David Jubb is that a salvage team from Historic Royal Palaces has come in to help, while architects Haworth Tompkins and other experts are thinking about possible next steps. “We are exploring the idea of creating a temporary theatre space, perhaps even one in which the infrastructure we use can then be used back in our rebuilt space.”
The idea of creating a “temporary Grand Hall” in a warehouse or other big building is being considered. The building is still open, however, with the Scratch bar still serving and other shows still going ahead in unaffected spaces — for more information see here.
Missing will have its open rehearsal on Friday 20 March 2-5pm in the Clore Ballroom, just turn up. The stripped back performance takes place on Friday 20 March at 7.30pm (free but ticketed).