I don't know how to even begin to describe the intricacies of what happened at the last Secret Cinema event, I know I wont be able to cover half of the beauty and madness that took place, but I shall try to explain the best I can what I have been doing for the last month...
This time the film was the 1948 classic, The Red Shoes, and the location was the now derelict Tobacco Docks, a failed east London shopping centre. The Secret Cinema team transformed the lower level labyrinths of the venue into a 1940's Covent Garden, featuring a mixture of actual shops and shop installations, with amusement and fairground props in every spare corner. You were collected at Wapping tube station and marched in a huge procession to the venue where actors and musicians entertained the queue.
I was asked to design and set up a 1940's stationers in one of the abandoned shop spaces. The attention to detail was really outstanding, there was even a designer for the area behind my shop which was transformed to give the illusion that you had entered a dark, eerie backstage area.
When you had entertained yourself with the hustle and bustle of the market, and explored all the beautiful theatre inspired installations and spent all your money on all things 1940's, the upstairs maze of oversized glass rooms were transformed into rehearsal rooms, as if the first dress rehearsal from the ballet in the film was about to take place. Ballet lessons were held, set props needed painting, Lermontov's office was set up, all dragging you further and further into the dream/dillusion that you were actually involved in the production and that the year was actually 1948.
As everybody religiously followed the 1940's dress code, you were unaware of who were the actors, and who were the audience. Dancers pulled you onto raised stages and danced to the Charleston, workmen made you stand on a step ladder whilst holding window shutters on either side of your face and made you recite the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. A drunken policemen in a tutu skipped around blowing a whistle, meanwhile 'Act 2' is suddenly called and dancers rush past you in a frenzy. After you had watched a circus act perform miraculous stunts suspended from the roof rafters , the atmosphere changed and the crowds were encouraged to witness the final climax of the show, which saw almost every member of the audience dancing together in a bizarre frenzy whilst dancers in nude lycra suits and rather disturbing masks which resembled animal skulls put on their finest show.
Just when you thought that there couldn't possibly be any more, you remembered that you were there to watch a film and dashing gents ushered you to your seat.....
For seventeen nights I manned my stationery shop and got to play make believe every single evening. Thank you so much to the team, I was so excited to be part of the project, and sorry to the actors who tried to bring my dramatic side out of me; I'm afraid my impov skills leave a lot to be desired.
All in all, I think it's best if next time, you take a chance and you book those mystery tickets. You are guaranteed a night you will never forget....But remember, it wasn't me who told you alright?