(We talk to Tour/Production Manager Paul Collis and artistic director/choreographer Matt Page about 'The Retinal Circus', Devin Townsend's one off spectacular on 27th October at the Roundhouse in London.)
They had the music, script, the idea for the most out-there storyline synthesised by the genius that is Devin Townsend and narrated by the Legendary Steve Vai, however, they needed one more piece of the puzzle, to seek out production company that had the tools to bring this show to life. They found their target and honed in with laser precision onto Area 51.
Sometimes, a noise is heard, that of a pin drop in the nothingness of time. But when Paul met Matt, the DTP with the A51, it resulted in a cataclysmic explosion of two astronomical forces. Like that of when two galaxies collide to form an all-consuming super universe!
What was on the plate?
Harold. A gospel choir. Sexy cat people. Angry monkey men. Religion. War. Flamethrowers and angle grinders. Circus. Pole dancers. Ziltoid and his family. Giant green lady-bits! Dwarves and Aliens! Vampires! [The list goes on....]
How must one approach such criteria? Simple. By the realisation that with this show, the extremity IS the point!
We asked Paul Collis, the DTP Tour/Production Manager and Matt Page, a few questions about how they found the whole process.
How in the blue hell did you find us? Are you part of the Illuminati?
Paul - Not that I know of, I found Area 51 via Google at first, it was the gentleman chimps and some of the alien characters that really got my interest. I was then recommended to Area 51 by one of Devin's managers who received good reports about the company, so he was pleased when we were already in talks about using Area 51.
And when you came to the nether regions of Area 51, what did you find?
Paul - Right from the first phone call with Matt the enthusiasm and passion he had for the project was obvious and I knew I was on the right path with Area 51 and during every step of the process they delivered. I found their approach realistic and the implementation efficient. It just worked.
Matt – It was an extraordinary project to be presented with, Devin's idea was nuts! We went into it not knowing whether or not it would happen exactly as intended on the night but that's the fun when heading into the unknown, it spawns a sense of adventurous ambition that the crew thrive off.
Did the Area 51 Crew do the job justice?
Matt – We used over 30 performers with over 100 costume changes in total. Our own team were joined by members of Polefire and Devin's own choir. Concluding the show was an un-rehearsed finale which included many of the backstage crew. It was complimented by a solo acoustic number from Devin, it got the crowd joining in, and everyone got a little emotional. It was a positive moment and for a few brief minutes we sat on a tiny magic island of peace in all the madness, reflecting on what had been achieved. I think Devin's fans will remember that night for a long time.
Paul - The end result was simply amazing , no one else could have delivered like Area 51 delivered. The cast was exceptional – the behind the scenes team arranged all the costumes , props and anything else asked of them without a single hitch – I never heard 'we can't do that' or 'we have been working too long'. They made me look good, very good indeed and I cannot thank all at Area 51 enough for their hard work and sheer determination to get the job done and achieve the spectacle Devin was after.
Could it have been bigger or better /and what about the future?!
Paul - It can always be bigger and better, but I feel it was the human element which made this show, it wasn't perfect but it was never going to be, but having said that it was made absolutely perfect by its imperfections, we are only human.
There are plans for the future and Area 51 will be called upon again when the time is right. =]
Matt – We look forward to next time. We'll be ready when Devin comes calling!
The show was recorded for DVD and will be released some time next year, keep your eyes and ears peeled!