Residency diary from BrainFools

Jacksons Lane Associate Artists BrainFools spent a week in our theatre to work on their newest project, Lift UP. We asked Toffy, one of the co-founders of BrainFools, to keep a diary. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes view on what the crew got up to.

Day 1

As the producer of the show, I get to Jacksons Lane two days before everyone else to make sure that the circus lifting was in place. Working with Kevin, the fab JL technical manager, we make sure audio and lights were ready for the performers.

A circus performer sits on the ground, his legs out in front of him, knees bent. He clutches a ladder, balancing the end un his upper arms. He's surrounded by other performers, either clasping the ladder to help keep it upright, or with their arms gesturing above their heads
Photo: Liza Heinrichs

Day 2

Jared the director and I meet in the theatre to organise the rest of the week. We put up loads of post-its with ideas and schedule the different activities for the next three days of theatrical circus workshops.

We invited a group of artists and performers to come into our space and create show “material” with us over the course of three days. This time around we wanted to explore the idea of objects, and their meaning to us. Little stories that they spark and memories they hold.

A photograph of a man holding a bottle in his hand. His body faces the camera, but he turns away, looking back over his shoulder at the other performers on stage, clustered behind him on the ground
Photo: Liza Heinrichs

Day 3

We had a lot of great participants throughout the week, who all brought a different set of skills, perspectives and relationships with objects to share.

Sean, Maisy, Jared and I were first up. We introduced ourselves with a round of personal stories about the objects we had brought along. It was very interesting to see how people interpret important objects. We had a bottle of water, children’s shoes, a ladder, high heels, empty bottles and many more things. We started off the exploration with acting exercises and created mirrored stories where the object was replaced by humans.

A photograph of a circus performer balancing upside down on a ladder. Their legs out outstretched, their hands clasp onto different rungs of the ladder. The ladder is held at an angle by the other performers.
Photo: Liza Heinrichs

Day 4

Today we had six performers in the space and continued the exploration with the objects. We had our favourite photographer, Liz, join us and take some awesome photos. (We posted some images on our Instagram if you are curious: @brainfools). At the end of the day we had a little showing of what we came up with so far with some of the JL staff. It’s great to get feedback from outside perspective.

A photograph of an circus artist climbing a ladder without using his hands. The ladder is held up at an angle by the other performers
Photo: Liza Heinrichs

Day 5

Last day and we are all a bit sore from all the physical exercises and creative stimulation. It takes a lot of concentration and energy to share creative ideas for three days straight. But we are still having fun. We went on a little scavenger hunt through the storage to find some fun big new objects to play with. We found a giant ball, some great blocks of wood and some pieces of fabric. As a surprise visitor our friend and awesome painter Barbara came by and painted a little artwork of the process and took hundreds of photos.

A photograph of three performers on stage. The two in the foreground each hold lengths of rope in their hands The one in the background leans on a broom and watches
Photo: Liza Heinrichs


The whole week was fantastic. We were so overwhelmed by the amazing ideas and support by Jacksons Lane and all of our friends. Artistically we very much found a voice for the story that we want to tell with Lift UP. But more importantly, we learned how important it is to work together with people that share the same vision. We are so grateful. We can’t wait to continue dreaming up this idea and make it reality.

Photo of a circus artist climbing a ladder without using his hands. The ladder is being held up at a 45 degree angle by other circus performers. The top of the ladder balances on the feet of a performer lying on his shoulders and lifting his legs high above him
Photo: Liza Heinrichs

BrainFools are performing their work Lucky Pigeons at Jacksons Lane on Thursday 23 March at 7:30pm

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