Super Duper Close Up is the ambitious and adventurous new multimedia show from acclaimed UK company Made In China that will premiere at The Yard Theatre this winter.  We caught up with Jessica Latowicki to find out more.

Super Duper Close Up is at The Yard Theatre 13th to 24th November 2018.

You’re bringing Super Duper Close Up to The Yard Theatre, what can you tell us about it?

Super Duper Close Up is a hilariously weird monologue about anxiety. It’s full of unsettling dance, super sexy video, ridiculous nods to the world of glamour and perhaps the most amazing dress of all time.

What inspired you to conceive and write Super Duper Close Up?

There’s no single inspiration for Super Duper Close Up, it’s more a kind of furious distillation of about the last 3 years of my life – complex and very wide-ranging. Its cross-hairs are undeniably trained on my experience as a woman now: half-waving, half-drowning amidst a glittering sea of beauty vlogs, glamour selfies, frozen pouts and desperate smiles. As the script comically testifies, I did a lot of googling. A lot of scrolling. But I also wrote and wrote and wrote, wild fantasies and close-to-the-bone autobiography and everything in between. I met academics to talk about the radicalization of young girls, I met plastic surgeons, I visited a medical research facility exploring sleep disorders. I watched tons of movies. And I thought about family, inherited trauma, learnt behaviour, self-improvement, my own anxiety.

Why is information overload a topic you wanted to explore on stage?

Made In China have always been interested in information overload, which feels like a uniquely contemporary issue. It’s an urgent topic because it’s about living in a world where everything is virtual, and virtually everything is for sale. This isn’t just a question of technology – it’s not a piece ‘about’ Instagram and online shopping even if these are symptoms of whatever disease modern life has got! But Super Duper Close Up does speak to a very contemporary form of anxiety, one that’s developed sharply this decade fed by social media. The show zooms in on the feeling of being constantly being looked at but never really seen; of always looking but never really seeing. And as part of this it explores the poisonous legacy of the male gaze and old gender stereotypes, asking whether we’ve actually moved beyond these, even in our own selfies and status updates. And asking what it means if our culture fetishizes and rewards women for their beauty and suffering.

What are the challenges in writing and performing a multi-media show like this one?

We’ve never worked with video or film before, but it was so central to the idea. Over the last 100 years, screens, whether they be film, television, computer or phone screens, have shaped our identities and how we tell stories in a fundamental way. The main challenge for us was about learning how a screen interplays with the live experience. And also learning about cameras! There are so many different types of cameras. WHO KNEW? Luckily, we are working with an amazing design team who all have much more of a handle on this than we do.

How did you get involved with Made In China?

I started Made In China with my partner Tim Cowbury in 2009 after we made a show together on our MAs at Goldsmiths. We felt like we had a really unique working relationship and we were young and stupid so we started a company and now we are stuck with each other.

Why is the Yard Theatre ideal for this production?

We’ve loved the Yard since we opened their theatre space with our first show, Stationary Excess, back in 2011 – this feels like a homecoming. As a theatre, they are consistently championing risky and cutting-edge work of a really high-calibre, so it felt like a natural home for this piece. Also, as an added bonus, it’s super close to our house.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly

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