We sat down with Weronika and Rosie from Coin Toss Collective to discuss their show FREAK OUT! Which is coming to VAULT festival in mid-march, it promises to be a ‘high-energy cocktail’ of a show exploring the themes of climate change and human response to one of our most difficult challenges. What do you do when your town might fall into the sea? Have a party, I guess.
You can catch FREAK OUT! at the Network Theatre between Saturday 18th of March till Sunday 19th March either at 2:30 pm or 6 pm. Tickets are available through the VAULT box office.
Hi Both! So before we start talking about FREAK OUT! Tell me more about about the history of Coin Toss Collective, how would you describe your company’s art and work so far?
Rosie: “We began in September 2021, when the nine of us met after an audition to be the 12th group to take part in Made in Bristol, which is a year-long theatre-making residency at Bristol Old Vic theatre. Over the course of a year, we learned and explore how to create theatre and perform together as an ensemble. How to communicate and collaborate together, we really benefitted from Made in Bristol as we also had workshops with industry professionals such as directors, choreographers and other artists. We were taught in all areas of theatre, anything and everything!
With Coin Toss, we basically chose our name in a fluke moment when one of our members said we should decide between two names by tossing a coin. We thought ‘coin toss’ really reflected our collaborative approach to devising theatre. I would describe us as playful, and open to surprises, and it takes our work in really random directions. It is quite funny because when we made our first show, we worked with a performance artist, called Tom Marshman, who basically called us a ‘bunch of tossers’ and we affectionately took that name on, that’s now our group chat name.”
Weronika: “A bunch of tossers, really says a lot about how we see ourselves. We were struggling between these two cool names, and we couldn’t tell why we are struggling. Until we realised it sounds like we were cooler than we are. Coin Toss just came to us, it took a while to adjust, but in terms of our ethos, it works so well. It’s all about looking for these random creative accidents, even in the devising room sometimes we will say ‘should we come back to that moment of tossing a coin?’”
Rosie: “Even in our social lives we kind of describe certain moments as a ‘coin toss moment.’”
I see you’ve had a run at the Old Vic in Bristol, tell us about the show’s journey so far.
Rosie: “FREAK OUT! was our last piece for Made in Bristol it was made in four weeks. We did go slightly insane, but doing it in this collaborative way and using all of our different skills and interests allowed our show to marry more performance art elements with ‘traditional’ dialogue and character studies. At the beginning of our third week, we made this decision, which I think is one of the best decisions we made in the run-up to the show, which was to split the group in two and half of the group, which Weronika was in, experimented with the show theme and experimented with the show theme to make performance art, live art and movement. Whilst the other half, which I was in, wrote a script with the characters. Then we came together and married these two halves together. We injected these scenes of dialogue with these movements. It was a beautiful marriage, quite messy at times, but it was really exciting.”
What is the real-life inspiration behind FREAK OUT! ?
Weronika: “Our very first thing that happened when we began, was learning about the town Pacifica in California through a podcast episode on The American Life. The town is set on a cliff and a lot of properties were in danger during a heavy storm year, and despite the panic, one resident threw a ‘fuck you party’ to the cliff. People wore life vests to the party. We really liked that story and we were looking into devising something around The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe. We wanted to play with this idea of protecting people from some form of doom. The podcast episode caused a lot of conversation between us, is it climate denialism? It is the only human response? What do we do when we find ourselves in moments like that? Then in week two or three, we realised that, I mean we didn’t even think, but England itself has one of the fastest eroding coastlines in Europe! We were very surprised to see how local this issue is, people thought it was a fictional story but FREAK OUT! Is based on a real town in East Anglia and by communities in Norfolk and Suffolk. Truthfully, all communities have to be adapting to climate change.
Our specific case study focused on this BBC documentary called The town that’s falling into the sea which is about Happisburgh (pronounced Hayes-buh-ruh), there was a lot of existing research and we built our story with that link.”
Rosie: “Now the show is all about starting a conversation about climate change and coastal erosion affects all of us. London itself will be subject to a lot of flooding in the coming years, so we think it’s apt to bring it to the VAULT Festival. We’ve actually started a podcast series with other people who have brought shows about climate change. It has been so interesting to have these conversations. All of us have sort of touched on different aspects of climate change but we have found a lot of common ground. But it’s been great to talk to other creatives and to share our influences and styles and more.”
Weronika: “When we talk about climate change we often jump to places far away, we did that ourselves with the town in California, but actually it is closer than we think. Every country will have to adapt to the consequences of global warming.”
You describe the show as ‘a high energy cocktail of a show’, what can the audience expect going in?
Rosie: “In short- expect the unexpected. The show is unpredictable, loud and lively, with a mix of styles, like a cocktail itself.”
Our little quirk here at Binge Fringe is recommending a drink to go along with a show- what drink would you pair with FREAK OUT!?
Rosie: “We would say a bright blue blueberry slush puppy, it evokes these really nostalgic memories of going to these beautiful seaside towns with your family and a reminder of how these places are under threat. I guess you could add some vodka to it. ”