A big baby, a big issue
Bringing a big issue to a new audience in the big outdoors
As with its previous shows Anna and Mia, ZARA continued its polemic story-line which which explores the issues facing learning-disabled parents.
Conceived by Mind The Gap's artistic director Joyce Lee with a filmic sense of scale and drama, ZARA raised some big issues about how the capabilities of learning-disabled parents are misunderstood by the social care system, leading to a series of potential devastating consequences on families.
Unlike its two previous shows performed in theatres, ZARA was a larger than life outdoor performance featuring a 20 foot high mechanical baby, complete with five foot high baby bottle and a dummy the size of a dustbin lid.
Telling an important story on such a large scale required a significant cast too. So, apart from the core cast that included Zara, her baby, Zara's mum and social worker, as well as a roving tv reporter, the show included a troupe of bio-hazard cleaners and a community cast of over 100, as well as a series of dramatic props including two cherry pickers, an army tank and 4x4 truck.
The story was not only conveyed through its scripted dialogue but through video mapping projections onto the giant baby and the surrounding building-scape of each venue, The Piece Hall at Halifax and the Imperial War Museum in London.
ZARA was seen by a ticketed audience in excess of 1,500 on its first night, and 1,750 on its second night in Halifax, and to an audience of around 800+ people for each of the two performances in Southwark. The show was live-streamed once, from each location, reaching an audience of around 1,900 people.
ZARA is a great example of how two arts organisations can collaborate on a new creative venture which gives both sides the chance to apply their specific expertise to a shared outcome.
Significantly, during the rig-build before the world premiere in Halifax, the building of the giant baby on location generated major world-wide media coverage, featuring in The Guardian, Times and Daily Telegraph. The show also led to a 12 minute piece on the BBC's One Show.
"Moving, thought-provoking, ambitious, creatively magnificent and done at huge scale: world premiere of #ZARA2019 at the @PieceHall tonight in Halifax. Brilliant #ACEsupported collaboration from @Walktheplank and @MTGStudios." Darren Henley, Arts Council England
"ZARA was an ambitious production that gave both us and Mind the Gap an incredible opportunity to create a ground-breaking piece of work that brought an important issue to a wider audience in a show that mixed drama with spectacle and created some powerful touching moments along with some whacky bits of humour." Liz Pugh, Walk the Plank Creative Producer