PreviewVAULT Festival

VAULT VIGNETTE: Michael Ross – Protect and Survive


How would you describe your show in one sentence?

Three young people in 1980s England break into a secret government bunker but it’s their own buried secrets and repressed desires which come to the surface with explosive results.

Is this your first visit to the VAULT Festival, if so what interesting tales have you been told about what to expect?

I wrote a play Rats Nests that was done as a promenade piece by Descent Theatre at the very first VAULT Festival in 2012 and I loved the experience, but since then the festival has got so much bigger and more exciting. One of the best plays I’ve ever seen was The Cement Garden at VAULT Festival a couple of years ago.

How has the show developed on the way to the tunnels?

This is our premiere. I wrote it specifically with VAULT Festival in mind. Last year I visited a Cold War era nuclear bunker at Kelvedon Hatch in Essex and I left knowing I simply had to write something about such an amazing place, and this warren of tunnels under Waterloo seemed the obvious location to tell such a story.

How have you been preparing for VAULT Festival?

As the writer/producer of the show, I’ve mostly been panicking and hyperventilating. But luckily my director Andrew Pritchard and our excellent cast (Karl Mercer, Carla Rose and Josh Husselbee) have things in hand with the really important stuff, which is the actual show.

What do you think sets your show apart from all the other festival offerings?

Lots of the work at VAULT Festival is very experimental in terms of form and style, with lots of devised and physical theatre, which is wonderfully exciting of course, whereas mine is actually quite a traditional play really, very word based, written by a playwright in the traditional way; with quill and parchment by candle light.

What’s the show that you don’t want to miss at this year’s VAULT Festival (apart from your own!)?

I just saw Melancholy by Certain Dark Things which blew me away. It combines puppetry, animation, acting and music, but no dialogue, and it’s just exquisitely beautiful. I just went in completely on a whim- and that’s the beauty of Vault, you can pick anything and at the very least you’ll have a fascinating experience. But I’m also very much looking forward to seeing Smoke &Oakum’s Cornermen and Eden by Displace Yourself during the week of my show.

If your show was a creature lurking in the depths of a dark tunnel what would it be?

One of those blind cave salamanders, crawling about in the dark. It may look a bit creepy and unpleasant, but actually it’s just sad and lonely and only wants to be hugged.

Protect and Survive is performed at the VAULT Festival 2-6 March 2016

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