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The Ding Foundation

Company Profile by Dorothy Max Prior

Ding is the German word for Thing
- and the Ding Foundation have a straight-forward mission in their work: The Advancement of Things! The creative use of things of all sorts - and in particular found objects - is at the heart of their work.
'We're all about wood, found scraps of metal… drift wood, old recycled doors, window-frames, doorknobs… a drawer from a factory in Estonia, for example' says company co-director Simon Plumridge, who aims 'to find a new way of presenting something familiar, strange combinations perhaps…'

This is all very evident in Unexploded Bomb, the Ding show that recently completed a successful summer run at BAC, now going on to the Visions festival this October in Brighton - see for full details.

The set for Unexploded Bomb is a solid construction of weathered woods - floorboards, doors and walls. ' A lot - most - of our sets are constructed with found objects that we feel are interesting and that we want people to look at and appreciate' says Simon. This beautiful, concrete set frames a melancholy story that examines presence and absence, love and loss through the skilful animation of household objects that seem to represent the ghosts of tenants of the house: a clothes line full of dancing baby-grows; big and little chairs that seem to move themselves in a poignant choreography; a woman's dress wafting across the stage.

Unexploded Bomb shows us that Ding have developed a signature style rare for a company at this stage of their development; it is hard to believe that this is only their second show. This maturity of creative vision and skill in execution has been rewarded by the kind of support and programming at major venues that other companies do not achieve at such an early stage in their careers.

The Ding Foundation was founded in September 2000 by Amelia Pimlott and Simon Plumridge. Amelia was - and is still - a set designer and maker. She has also been a devisor/ performer working with veteran physical and visual theatre company The People Show. Simon was and is a Fine artist, set and prop-maker and builder, who when he isn't being a Ding also designs sets for other companies....

The two founder-members started work on their first show, Being A Bird, having seen flock of Canada geese land on Clapham Common. I saw this show at Visions festival 2002 and remember it as a whimsical and charming exploration of - well, being a bird - with a fantastic set, a cross between a dolls house and a Victorian cabinet of curiosities, peopled by beautiful and batty birds of all sorts. Ding drafted in composer and cellist Hannah Marshall who made the music for both Being a Bird and the new show Unexploded Bomb.

Bomb started life started two years ago in workshop style at BAC with the Theatre Futures project run by producer David Jubb (who is now the artistic director of BAC). The company are BAC supported artists. The work is all their own - they are devisors, makers, animators - the lot. They do however rely on a little outside help now and again. Outside Eyes have included Fiona Creese (People Show and The Kosh performer, dancer, devisor) and Emma Bernard (director for Scarlet Theatre, BAC and others).

Ding Foundation's plans for the future include a UK mini-tour with Unexploded Bomb - and starting work on a new show. 'Which may well be a kid's show about a girl born up a tree during a flood' says Simon, who adds 'I'm also writing/ piecing together a piece about Joseph Roth, the writer, his wisdom and the last few months of his puppets here though!'

But animated objects of all sorts of course remain a passion - and one that the company are keen to share: ' We want people to look at these found objects and appreciate how nice these things are - and perhaps want to dig some up for themselves. We'd like to do some kids' workshops on this theme…'

The company have toured to Poland, Germany and Holland and - promoters and presenters please note - are, says Simon, ' keen to do more and forge more links…'
Wherever they go and whatever they do next - I feel sure that The Ding Foundation will be making their mark in the world of visual theatre and object animation - remember where you read it first!

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