The Halfway House was a site-specific, immersive theatre piece that was devised and staged by Persona Collective in the Old Central Saint Martins campus on Southampton Row, Holborn. The Koppel Project kindly invited Persona Collective – to develop and stage a theatre show at their Koppel Project Campus, which was conceived as an experimental, cross-disciplinary education and arts facility in the former Saint Martins. It has been vacant for many years and is eventually due to be redeveloped as a high-end hotel. The live show took place from 21st September to 4th October 2020


The narrative revolved around three storylines, each unfolding in ‘The Halfway House’ - a fictional hotel. The building and its residents are stuck between two worlds, paralysed by nostalgia and slipping into real and fabricated versions of their past, but equally seduced by and drawn into this absurdly ill-fitting new reality of a ‘luxury’ hotel, which is in the process of being constructed but already feels extremely makeshift, seedy and tired.

There were three main protagonists and storylines: The Porter, an immaculately-presented professional who works in the hotel but is haunted by his dark past; The Maids – one experiencing her first day at the hotel and the other running a voyeuristic side-business, charging visitors to secretly observe guests in their rooms; and The Resident, who is trapped in a hazy, melancholic and opium-fuelled love story where boundaries between reality and fantasy have become indistinguishable.

There will be a film released this year, which will open it up to a much bigger audience and also allow those who did attend to see the show from the perspective of the other characters.

Poster design by Emily George
poster design by Emily George
Poster design by Emily George

poster design by  ©Emily George

Cast & Creators

Jean-Charles Wadja

Mélanie Gautier

Michael Hall

Emily George

Olga Lagun

Tom Kim

Francesca Costa

Georgia Leefe

Anna Fil

Valia Katsis

Cameron Lee-Allen

Charly Monreal

Sally Plowman

Daniel Seifu

Michael Sookhan

 

Host & Collaborator - The Koppel Project

Venue - The Old Central St. Martins 

Special Thanks to - 

Abigail Adams

Marcela Iriarte Villalobos

 

Directors

Rocío Ayllón - Artistic Director & Producer

Elina Akhmetova - Movement Director & Choreographer

Karolina Burlikowska - Photographer & Art Director

Satu Streatfield - Lighting Design Director

Finn Boxer - Sound Designer & Cinematographer

Sami Sabik - Creative Technologist 

more info: www.personacollective.co.uk

Assistant Directors
Elina Akhmetova 

Michael Hall 

Production Team

Alice Wilson

Clare McAndrew

Rocío Ayllón

Elina Akhmetova

Emma LD

Tom Kim

Tom Wheeler

Lighting Technicians

& programmers

Steve Lowe

Thomas Blackburn 

Lighting Designers

Technicians & Operators

Laura Arroyo

Gaia Crocella

Steve Lowe

Luciana Martinez

Tom Wheeler

Alice Wilson

Art installations & Collaborations

Jack Wates - Storm Room

Charly Blackburn - The Lab

Will Langstone - Cello

Set Designers

Emma Wilson

Emily George

Clary Montero

Alice Wilson

Emma LD

 Graphic Designers  

Emily George

Emma LD

Sound Assistants 

Waris Albakri

Femi Oriogun- Williams
 

Cinematographers

Finn Boxer

Olga Lagun

Hamish Nichols

Location Sound Recordist

Florence Woolley

Alice Wilson

Research 

Satu Streatfield, Emma LD, Karolina Burlicowska, 

Clare McAndrew, Rocío Ayllón

Community 

Holborn Association

Dragon Hall

Chaperones 

Abigail Adams,

Juan Sanchez Plaza,

Rocio Chacon, Clary Montero, Femi Oriogun – Williams,

Anna Chiarin

Show - Preview Mentors  

Jo Danzig, Vanya Gostev, 

Florence Greensmith

Sponsors Lighting 

White Light 
Enliten Architectural Lighting
Mike Stoane Lighting
iGuzzini illuminazione

Lighting, Effects &

Logistics Equipment

Shakespeare’s Globe

Audio Equipment

Orbital Sound

Shakespeare’s Globe

Film Equipment

Direct Digital

Costumes

Putney Theatre 

 Props  

Phoebe BP

Lobster Records 

Prints

Duplikat Press

cinematography by Finn Boxer
cinematography by Finn Boxer

cinematography by  ©Finn Boxer

"The experience was something between watching a fragmented movie, being in a haunted house, and being in touch with your memories all at once, as the story that was being told was not in chronological order. The interactive way that we walked through the building added an extra element of voyeurism and mystique, as if the events were all happening parallel to each other and not for an audience to witness.

 

A fact I wish I had known before watching, is that this beautiful, eerie building is soon to be torn down to build a hotel, adding another layer of tragedy to the events we were seeing, as the dialogue shifted from an old arts school to a hotel multiple times throughout the story.

 

I think the hints were there in the beginning, as we entered the first room, which was a modern room filled with swivelling desk chairs. The story flips real life on its head, by playing with the idea of ghosts in a very “sixth sense” manner, without giving any real clues about which storyline is present or past until the very end, which even then can be debated"

                                                                    - Kelly Samuel

cinematography by Finn Boxer

Photos by  ©Karolina Burlicowska

 "I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it. Snatches and glimpses still drift through my mind: a porter pulling a man to shore; clandestine talks in bedrooms and on doorsteps; a cardigan pulled on and off; flirtations and aggravations across space; an impressive thunderstorm; infinite refills at breakfast; dances alone, together, bare-chested; a voice in the distance, then singing in your ear, eerie: ‘don’t you want me baby?’; a curtain lifting, a majestic ghost, a curtain falling. My god, it was so good"

                                                                           - Flo Ray

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cinematography by  ©Finn Boxer

"Persona Collective immersive theatre shows, are the most prolific and ambitious projects I have come across in the past two years. 'The Candidate' and 'The Halfway House', are undeniably pushing the boundaries of experimentation, constantly questioning what live performance means today. Their scenarios are visually and conceptually curated to the minimum detail, and yet they leave space to the audiences to be part of it. I truly believe Persona Collective artistic research will have a big impact on the theatre community and beyond..."

                                                - Marcela Iriarte Villa Lobos

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Photos by  ©Karolina Burlicowska

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cinematography by  ©Finn Boxer

"The Halfway House" invites a pod of few visitors to follow one of 3 groups of characters. I followed The Maids through the meandres of the Old St Martins, into a labyrinthic journey of discoveries.

 

What at first seemed like strange pit stops in extraordinary locations, very soon turned into clues. Windows into the story. 

We met characters along the way. We seemed to be following threads of histories. At times, we were woven into the general story. 

 

Like cogs of a giant clock, we met The Porter's pod and The Resident's pod, here and there, and realised that our 'trip' was shared with others spectators, in uniquely different yet parallele experiences.

 

I shan't reveal the plethora of delicious details and scenic punctuations which makes the whole experience so rich and intellectually engaging. 

 

What I must say is: the timing, the clever nods to the work of so many artists, like cinematographer Roy Andersson, Sophie Calle, Jean Genet to cite a few, and the coming together of a group of resourceful artists, is relevant, and a massive breath of fresh air in this troubled times.

 

When the journey had to end, as it must, we found ourselves at the heart of the play. The perfect ending.

 

Coming out of it was as unexpected as the entrance was, in the London streets and its passing traffic we felt detached from Time.

                                                                                - Aurelie Noublanche

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