Two people in dolphin costumes stand while one lies on a crash mat, inside 101 Outdoor Arts

Nature Show

HESTER CHILLINGWORTH, The Nature Show (Part 3 of The Extinction Trilogy)

July/August 2021

Nominated by Cambridge Junction

Hester undertook this residency with plans to make the final and biggest show in The Extinction Trilogy - a 'live outdoor David Attenborough-style nature show, in which all the animals are performers in cartoony fancy-dress animal costumes.' It would be 'Part choreography, part immersive, part live art.'

About the residency

In Hester's words:

'The Extinction Trilogy is an exploration of trying to erase, obliterate, transcend, render obsolete, the human body and its limits and to stare into the face of the Armageddon we seem to be trotting towards, natural and humanmade. To laugh at it (because we're scared of it), to get inside it, and to get in front of it. It's about the post-human, the trans-human, over-production, over-population and voluntary species extinction.'

Hester hadn't done a great deal of outdoor work before this residency, and pre-Covid was conceiving of this piece as an indoor theatre show.

They wanted to use the residency to explore and understand how this piece would function out of doors (which they felt was a better frame than a stage, given the content), and how their practice and process for devising in a rehearsal room could best translate for producing the right material for this outdoor performance.

They wanted to explore whether or not audience would listen to audio on headsets while moving, and whether concrete landscape or natural landscape was best for the work, plus how many performers the piece needed.

The Extinction Trilogy was being commissioned by Cambridge Junction with potential co-commission from LIFT and Fierce Festival

2 people in dolphin costumes run around on Greenham common amongst the bushes
Hester Chillingworth, Nature Show Seedbed Residency, Summer 2021
Two people in dolphin costumes jump while another lies on the crash mat
Hester Chillingworth, Nature Show Seedbed Residency, Summer 2021

Hester Chillingworth (pronouns: they/them) makes playfully subversive and interventionist work which sits at the crossroads of live art, theatre, visual art, text and film. Hester is a Jerwood New Playwright at The Royal Court Theatre, where their live-streamed installation ‘Caretaker’ ran for 6 months over the first UK lockdown.

Recent directing credits include 'That Night Follows Day' for Forced Entertainment at the Southbank Centre, London and the world premiere of 'Trainers…', by US-based trans artist Sylvan Oswald, at the Gate Theatre, London.

Hester was founder of experimental performance company GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN, is Industry Drama Fellow at the University of Hull, a Fellow of the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre and Associate Artist at Cambridge Junction.