“I love that I got to contribute to a new, live, breathing story and experience made for our wonderful participants. We could have made a hundred shows from the content we got, but I’m pretty proud of this one.” – Emma Tompkins, Designer on Room 504
Room 504 is a Taking Part response to our production of Marguerite Duras’ La Musica, directed by Jeff James. A lyrical and poignant study of the damage we inflict on those we love, La Musica tells the story of a couple who meet in the lobby of a hotel to finalise their divorce as well as reflect, with honesty, on the events that brought them to where they are now.
Working with participants for YV Taking Part’s Two Boroughs programme, writer James Fritz , director Anna Girvan and designer, Emma Tompkins (designer) devised Room 504 from four workshops. Exploring the personal stories that participants associated with hotels was, according to Anna, “a great jump off point into their life experiences all over the world and we learnt that people from completely different walks of life have unusual things in common.” All the participants spoke about precious objects, an element that Emma became interested in when considering the design of the space which in this case was modern, functioning hotel room in Waterloo – “I love that some of the participants have items filled with memories so precious to them that they are kept in a box by the door in case of emergency.”
The outcome of the workshops (hearing from nothing shy of 800 collective years of stories) was a 20 minute play beautifully written by James to be performed in the intimate space of a hotel room to an audience of four people at a time, over 8 performances – a challenge which delighted Anna who has “always been fascinated by voyeurism in theatre.” She told us that “there were so many fascinating stories and images to draw from but what was most important was that these 20 minutes were something that felt universal and encapsulated something about the function/nature/history or a hotel room and the people that inhabit it for a short time.”