Deaf Explorer & Bletchley Park are delighted that Mark Smith’s Hut 8 shortlisted by Unlimited.
Alan Turing has been voted greatest and most influential figure of 20th Century.
Chris Packham on the importance of Alan Turing. “A genius. A saviour. But he was also autistic and gay. So we betrayed him.” Chris Packham’s speech about #Icons winner Alan Turing might just make you cry. Watch Chris Packham speech
In Spring 2019, Mark Smith is choreographing The Colour Purple, a co-production Curve and The Birmingham Hippodrome.
Unlimited will transform the highly successful deaf choreographer Mark Smith into a pioneering inclusive artistic director creating new work inspired by Alan Turing’s genius and diversity. Turing, who was punished for being different, was winner of BBC 2’s Icon of the Twentieth Century. Mark Smith will use the art form of dance to bring Turing’s mathematical genius and complex identity of homosexuality and autism to audiences; it is this intersectionality and the creation of the computer that makes him relevant today.
Hut 8 is about new creative ways to explore dance that will be accessible to all audiences. Bletchley Park, home of the code breakers, are collaborating with Mark Smith to create a learning package for schools that will bring the disciplines of Movement, Mathematics and Music together. Mark will bring into dance the minutiae and intimacy of Alan Turing’s story to create a spectacle of innovative dance befitting of Turing’s legacy as a great mathematical thinker impacting all our lives because like Turing we all have an intimate relationship with machines. Mark has attracted significant interest from venues in this fantastic project, and will tour nationally in 2020.
Mark Smith, “By working with creative people like composer, designer, lighting designer and professional dancers who’ve worked with mainstream choreographers & directors, performed in west-end shows and mainstream dance companies. Through them, they will take me into a new direction and create my vision that I’ve dreamt about it for a long time – HUT 8.”
Michael England will compose music that facilitates Mark Smith to develop his understanding of mathematics in music. Michael is a composer. February 2010 premiere of a commission the Syred Sinfonia, Jazz Suite No. 1, new works,’Invictus’ for choir and ‘Divertissement’ for chamber orchestra. In 2012 he was commissioned by the Royal Ballet School to compose a forty minute ballet.
Ryan Dawson Laight is a designer for performance, specializing in set and costume, with credits that span theatre, opera, cabaret and dance. Having studied Design at the University of Brighton he has gone on to work both nationally and internationally. Ryan works with clients from initial design concept, through to final production, and his style is born out of the unique collaborations that occur on project.
Arnim Friess specialises in lighting design projection and digital media. He met Mark Smith when working with Ramps on the Moon Tommy. Arnim Friess designs lighting and projection for live events, and visitor experiences like museums and exhibitions. Blending lighting, motion graphics and video projection, animation and film-making.
Gavin Eden, Co-Assistant Choreographer, Dance work includes Matthew Bourne/New Adventure’s Swan Lake, Nutcracker! & Edward Scissorhands. 42nd Street at Theatre du Chatelet, We Will Rock You (West- End), Hairspray (UK Tour), The Addams Family (UK Tour), Cats (European Tour) and Pet Shop Boys (Royal Opera House).
Joseph Fletcher Co-Assistant Choreographer, work includes Mark Smith’s company Deaf Men Dancing (Alive!, Rosa, TEN and Hear, Hear!), London 2012’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony, Snowman (Peacock Theatre) and Wicked (West-End). Mark will provide a professional development opportunity to an exciting young deaf dancer. Mark Smith will audition ten more dancers for this ambitious production.
The loss of Christopher Morcom in 1930 motivated Turing, he longed to understand what had become of Christopher, of that essential aspect of him: mind. Turing thought of the mind as an intelligent machine. In Turing’s Machine, (the focus of promo video), Mark Smith is inspired by the algorithms Turing devised for the computer he built. The books about him have changed Mark’s thinking about his choreography.
His purpose in the studio is to help creative thinking amongst his team of dancers by introducing rules and ideas that imagine Alan Turing working with dancers and tinkering with machines. Mark is using 12 dancers so he can replicate the systems of Alan Turing Bombe computer and explore Turing’s private relationship with machine. Mark will work with William Elliot to audio describe a silent dance that constructs a large physical human machine.
Take a look at one week of R &D for “Turing Machine” in September 2018
Love Letter & Turings Law
Inspired by the poetic letters Alan Turing wrote about his first love Christopher Morcom, who sadly died of illness. In the dance piece “Love Letter”, Smith fictionalises Turing using Polari the code language of gay men before the legalisation of Homosexuality. Mark collaborated with Daryl Jackson to mix Polari with Gay Sign Variation (GSV), to reveal “Love Letter” a two hander, that also incorporates Turing’s visual and systematic methods for remembering ideas.
Mark Smith, “I imagine GSV/Polari as a secret communication between dancers to avoid getting arrested when cruising at the park. Alan Turing would feel uncomfortable, confused and isolated because of his literal interpretation of language, common to people on autistic spectrum. I’ve used BSL in my choreography before. With Hut 8, I am using Gay Sign Variation which is a new exciting language for me to incorporate into my choreography. Polari & GSV is a language that died out when homosexuality became legal in 1967. I want to bring them back and introduce GSV to a new audience who will be discovering it and will want to use it in their lives. I’ve always been fascinated by gay history. That’s why I’m currently researching and developing the Polari/GSV and peoples stories about discrimination and homosexuality into my work. As a gay man, I am passion about it and want people to be aware of it and learn about gay history. Also as a deaf man, I am passionate about deaf history. In 1880 at the Milan Conference, congressman voted the banning of sign-language. This took away deaf people’s own language and their right to communicate in sign-language. Congressmen believed that deaf people should learn speech therapy to fit in the hearing world. This is personal to me because I was taught speech therapy instead of sign-language. I can see the parallel and similarity between the deaf culture and gay culture. I think erasure going on in society of deaf and gay history. Gay and Deaf people were repressed by society. I think it’s important for the audience to be aware of the gay/deaf history and how far we’ve changed but still got a long way to go because there are countries where homosexuality is still illegal, which is why I hope to tour internationally, hopefully with the support of The British Council with HUT 8″
Strong interest from Venues to book Hut 8 in 2020
Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said “It sounds like an astonishing project. We’d love to see it at Curve.”
Albany Deptford, Derby Theatre, Mercury Theatre, Birmingham Hippodrome
Mark Smiths Unlimited Proposal
Marks Smith aims to show audiences all of the aspects of Alan Turing’s life, genius and legacy. He will show his artistic side, celebrate his diversity, reveal his injustice, and incorporate his mathematical language into composition and choreography.
Alan Turing won BBC2’s Icons of the 20th Century. Chris Packham’s passionate speech said, “He saved millions of lives by cutting the 2nd World War four years earlier but no-one saved him.” This is why Mark Smith is creating “Hut 8” (formerly titled 3M in EOI), to make people aware of Alan Turing and Mark is going to do it through the popular art form of dance.
In 2019 Mark Smith set out on an ambitious adventure, his Arts Council England funded R&D was inspired by code breaker & father of Computer Science Alan Turing. Chris Packham said, “He defined the computer, He designed a computer, When faced with global catastrophe, He built a computer, To turn cypher into song, And mystery into music. But all he got for all his toil and all of our trouble was a poisoned apple, A genius, a saviour, But he was also autistic and gay, So we betrayed him, And drove him to suicide, Shame, Write large”
Aware of all of this, Marks Smith made Alan Turing the focus point & middle of four very different ideas. He aimed to bring the complexity of his identity and genius to dance. To do this Mark asked everyone to try and think like Alan Turing, as if he was the choreographer, the dancer, the audio describer, the composer, the stage and costume designer. The R & D also gave terrific freedom to highly creative and skilled artists, that quickly found form for the work.
Inspired by the poetic letters Alan Turing wrote about his first love Christopher Marcum, who sadly died of illness. In the dance piece “Love Letter”, Smith fictionalises Turing using Polari the code language of gay men before the legalisation of Homosexuality. Mark collaborated with Daryl Jackson to mix Polari with Gay Sign Variation (GSV), to reveal “Love Letter” a two hander, that also incorporates Turing’s visual and systematic methods for remembering ideas.
The loss of Christopher Marcum in 1930 motivated Turing, he longed to understand what had become of Christopher, of that essential aspect of him: mind. Turing thought of the mind as an intelligent machine. In Turing’s Machine, (the focus of promo video), Mark Smith is inspired by the algorithms Turing devised for the computer he built. The books about him have changed Mark’s thinking about his choreography. His purpose in the studio is to help creative thinking amongst his team of dancers by introducing rules and ideas that imagine Alan Turing working with dancers and tinkering with machines. Mark is using 12 dancers so he can replicate the systems of Alan Turing Bombe computer and explore Turing’s private relationship with machine. Mark will work with William Elliot to audio describe a silent dance that constructs a large physical human machine.
In February 2019 Mark Smith interviewed Gay men, who experienced life in Britain after partial decriminalisation in 1967. In the rehearsal studio Mark Smith mixed movement with verbatim theatre style to describe discrimination in the sixties and the impact of Turing’s law (pardon) on the lives of older gay men. Turing agreed to be chemically castrated, rather than go to prison for his homosexuality, depression led him to bite a poison apple. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an Official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated.” It’s going to be a poignant part of the performance as Mark Smith reveal’s what Chris Packham, describes as the “shame” society should feel about Turing’s suicide, “His death, An unforgiving tattoo on humanity’s conscience.”
Across all the dance work, and creating the principal part of the commission is the three-way relationship between Maths, Movement & Music. The 3 M’s. To incorporate Alan Turing’s mathematical language into a technical choreography, he will work with Thomas Briggs, Learning manager at Bletchley Park & composer Michael England. Together they will also devise site specific performance for IF: Milton Keynes International Festival and evolve a learning package that brings together the three interlinked disciplines for secondary and primary schools. This package using maths to attract schools to the dance and music performance will be offered to venues when touring.
In 1941 Alan Turing wrote a computer programme for an early synthesiser to play “God save the queen”. Michael England has sampled the bbc recording that will inspire a mix of punch and attack vintage Moog synthesiser sounds, set against Michaels signature classical piano and strings. Designer Ryan Laight will bring Turings Maths and creative side into the dancers costumes creating complex patterns that visualise Turings maths. On display at Bletchley Park is a game board, that Alan Turing designed based on Monopoly. The theme and visual style of the performance will be that of a game because Alan loved games and sport.
Mark Smith aims to make an astonishing project for venues to promote; that will reach young audiences, older people, scientists, mathematicians, LGBT audiences, deaf and disability audiences, empowering young adults on the Autistic spectrum and hopefully attracting older, undiagnosed people on the Autistic spectrum. The response to Marks Smiths proposal from Artistic Directors and programming teams has been extremely positive and Mark is confident that touring will continue beyond the Unlimited commission. The legacy of the commission will be Mark Smith using this incredible ‘will’ amongst industry experts to see Mark Smith leading a new artistic company. Unlimited will transform the highly successful Deaf choreographer Mark Smith into a pioneering inclusive deaf artistic director. With the support of his producers Deaf Explorer will also set up a company. The Company will deliver HUT 8 and increase income from Trusts and Foundations that will further the impact of the Unlimited commission on the performing arts sector & widen audiences for Mark Smith’s disability led project.
Mark Smith Press Quotes
“Smith’s work isn’t just delightful – it is bold and interesting”
– The London Magazine
“Mark Smith’s choreography is outstanding”
“Smith’s work isn’t just delightful – it is bold and interesting”
– The London Magazine
“Mark produces some of the most unbelievable scenes & moves in a show I’ve ever seen”
– UK Theatre Network.
“Mark Smith has made an excellent piece of work with the two very fine dancers”
Leeway Productions The Last Five Years – Michael Kelligan
Theatre in Wales
My Silent World
The Last Five Years
Reasons to be cheerful
The Threepenny Opera
Tommy (Greenwich Theatre)
About Mark Smith
Mark Smith trained at Royal Ballet School and London Studio Centre. “Mark Smith’s choreography is nothing short of incredible” Andrew Tomli. His choreography credits include Paralympic Opening Ceremony – London 2012. “Smith’s work isn’t just delightful – it is bold and interesting” – The London Magazine “ His professional work includes:
Mark Smith is the founder and artistic director of his own dance company Deaf Men Dancing (DMD), who have gained critical acclaim. “Mark Smith’s choreography is outstanding” – Whatsonstage.com; in 2011 DMD were commissioned with visual artist Rachael Gadsden by Bradley Hemmings in collaboration with Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and Ardent Hare; “Alive” toured with the Without Walls Festivals in 2011. “Mark produces some of the most unbelievable scenes & moves in a show I’ve ever seen” UK Theatre Network. He has brought his choreography to Graeae shows: The Threepenny Opera (New Wolsey Theatre/Graeae Theatre – Tour Production); Reasons To Be Cheerful (Graeae Theatre – Tour Production). Mark was nominated as Best Choreographer in the Off-West End Awards and the Broadway World UK Awards for Ace of Clubs, Call Me Madam & Iolanthe and Live Theatre & British Theatre for Tommy. “Smith’s work isn’t just delightful – it is bold and interesting” – The London Magazine