A.E. Harris Factory, Birmingham
13 September – 5 October, 2008
This show, using 120 tons of rice to represent the 6.7 billion inhabitants of our planet, was the realisation of a long held ambition. We had always wanted to perform the whole world version in our home city and in 2008 many things came together to mean that it had to be the year. The three years which had elapsed since the only previous World Version of the show were a great opportunity to learn about how the show works and to refine our techniques (It also required an extra 8 tonnes of rice to represent the growth in the world’s population).
The show was presented in the fantastic setting of the A.E. Harris factory in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. A.E. Harris are a presswork and tool making business who have been operating in Birmingham since 1880 and we were able to use some vacant space within their complex. This large space was divided into smaller areas and spreading the show through these rooms allowed for a sense of journey and surprise. It allowed the audience to gain a variety of visual perspectives on the show and presented hidden corners and quirks for the show to take advantage of.
The space was laid out quasi geographically moving the audience through the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. One room contained three piles representing the population of the world in 1 AD, 1500 AD and 1900 AD. These were made more sculptural through the use of theatrical lighting which slowly cross-faded over and between the piles. The largest pile in the rest of the show represented the 1,148,000,000 inhabitants of India.
We also tried out a new approach in this version, where in a small side room we represented a range of individuals and small groups who had been involved in famous events – moments of tragedy, discovery, celebration, protest or exploration. A further new feature introduced was a website” thericeshow.com which collated the webcast tannoy announcements, twitter feeds and and any visitors’ photographs posted on Flickr. This new site gave us the opportunity to have an ongoing digital dialogue with audience members and those unable to visit. Our friends from the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath ran the very tasty catering and helped to provide a welcoming atmosphere for visitors in the venue’s courtyard.
National press coverage helped to bring people from all over the country to our Birmingham home to see a show which had its first outings five years ago at Warwick Arts Centre and Birmingham Cathedral and has since travelled the world.
Performers: Sarah Archdeacon, Heather Burton, Ali Carney, Chris. Dugrenier, Charlotte Goodwin. Charlotte Gregory, Lucy Nicholls, Jake Oldershaw, Kerrie Reading, Graeme Rose, Benny Semp, Craig Stephens , Jack Trow and James Yarker.
with Kim Charnock, Melissa Hurlbutt, Deborah Light
Production Manager: Colin Wallace
Sound and Music: Jon Ward
Lights: Paul Arvidson
It has made me consider how one person can remain insignificant in this world, whilst another can choose to make a difference and be noticed and recognised, both in positive and negative way.Sarah
It feels like reading the newspaper: but so emotional! Strange combination of intellect and physical involvement… Fascinating.Kate
It’s unthinkable that rice and a few words can be so funny and so horrifying. WonderfulAudience Member
I really want to jump into India pileAudience Member
Was great to see that I was actually part of certain rice ‘mountains’!Audience Member
“Proud to say we were 2 of the Santas in NewTown Santa Run 2004. Thankyou!”Rachel and Richard
My grain of rice – that’s me – I’m a part of all this – I’m involved – I can make an impact even though I’m only one person amongst the billions – I’M HERE TOO!Audience Member
Excellent work – I’ll never be able to serve rice again without thinking ‘There goes the Isle of Wight, just add another Swindon to that plate…’ Top stuff”Steve