Backstage

Bryce Ives & Nate Gilkes | PRESENT TENSE

Bryce Ives and Nate Gilkes of Present Tense

Introducing Bryce Ives and Nate Gilkes, co-creators of Present Tense. Theatre Works friends will recognise these two as the team that brought you the delightful Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert back in 2013. This November, Present Tense return to Theatre Works to present RICERCAR an epic 21st century operatic event inspired by the music of JS Bach and featuring pop violin and drums duo The Twoks. We chat to Bryce and Nate about their ongoing collaboration and what it means to be creating their most ambitious work yet.

BRYCE IVES on working with Nate Gilkes

When did you realise that you wanted to develop a body of work and way of working with Nate?
We were paired up on a devising project at the VCA. The moment we started working with bodies in space, with text and with music, suddenly I was free to do everything I had always secretly wanted to do in a rehearsal room. Collaborating with Nate was like finding my lost tribe, and we continue to collect members!

What do you remember most about Nate from drama school?
I thought Nate was foreign, like a foreign exchange student, possibly from Germany.
Nate regularly speaks in accents and is convinced he speaks Italian, German and Russian. He doesn’t speak any of those languages to my knowledge (although there is plenty of German in Ricercar.)
I was so nervous about going to the VCA. I had never really worked physically on the floor before, and I was worried I would be a luddite amongst the elite.
In our first composition class with Leisa Shelton, I looked across the rehearsal room, and there was this tall, awkward man, experiencing as much pain as I was from what is a very basic stretch. Suffice to say we still train with Leisa now, as often as we can, and we still struggle our way through rather simple stretches! Nate and I have a very similar capacity to reach our toes.

What do you think makes for a successful artistic relationship?
A willingness to challenge each other, to not hold onto your personal ideas but instead to be willing to have your ideas radically altered and transformed.
We prototype, we draft, and we sketch, often right up to the finishing line. We work so fluidly that it’s difficult to know who initiated what idea, or who is responsible for what element.

How would you describe Ricercar?
An investigation that is both personal and crucial to our growth, a work that we need to make now, and a collaboration between many exceptional artists.

Why do you make theatre?
Because I wake up in the morning, and I feel the urge to create things. To be honest, I mostly want to create ecstatic experiences, but theatre is the medium I understand and love the most.

If you had one piece of advice for Nate what would it be?
Restrictions create freedom, with love from Bach. Oh, and never put eggs in a microwave, with love from Margaret Fulton.

I love working with Nate because…
It feels like we’re only beginning, yet we’ve been collaborating now for five years. Every work we make feels like another shift in dimension, a surprising beginning. This journey is invigorating and challenging beyond words, and yet it feels like it’s only just begun. It’s nice to feel not stuck, but in transit.

NATE GILKES on working with Bryce Ives

When did you realise that you wanted to develop a body of work and way of working with Bryce?
During our study year at the VCA. Both of us had an idea about how music and theatre could be reimagined together and we thought there was a huge possibility in working together. We ended up creating a sound installation with voices, music and darkness. It was exactly the kind of work I wanted to be making and we felt like we could do it together.

What do you remember most about Bryce from drama school?
It was Bryce’s passion for making theatre and his big open heart towards the actors, the artists and collaborators he worked with. He expected an incredible amount but is also willing to give as much.

What do you think makes for a successful artistic relationship?
Listening. Listening and listening… that and knowing that your collaborators will often have a better idea than you.

Why do you make theatre?
I want to make the foundations shake; I want to rock; I want to feel the awesome rumble of what it is to be alive now.

How would you describe Ricercar?
Ricercar takes the listener on beautiful musical journey through time and space. It taps into the beauty and power of JS Bach’s music and our zany, epic energy and love of live music. It’s an all-encompassing opera for now, the 21st Century; a reflection on what it means for us to be tenants and custodians of this planet. It will be a place for the listener to hear, see and reflect.

If you had one piece of advice for Bryce what would it be?
Try to get some shut eye.

I love working with Bryce because…
Freddie Mercury summed it up perfectly in ‘Don’t stop me now’

RICERCAR Season: 24 November – 12 December, 2015
Click here for tickets and information