Happy Place: Q&A with Forget About the Dog

Happy Place: Q&A with Forget About the Dog

Who are Forget About The Dog theatre company and what is your style of theatre?

We are a Leeds based, new writing theatre company, dedicated to cohesive nonsense, thought-provoking whimsy and well made tea. We fundamentally believe in the power of storytelling and like to create stories that are unique, but have universal themes. Behind our work is an exploration of what makes us human and our natural desire to belong. Due to our varying interests within theatre, our shows always combine comedy, physical theatre, original live music and puppetry. A reviewer a few years ago called our style a 'theatrical buffet', which we thoroughly enjoyed and still use that phrase to this day!

What is Happy Place about?

Happy Place is a comedy set in a not too distant future where happiness has been commodified and Happy Place booths,* are as common as phone boxes. The show follows a group of unlikely people who find themselves trapped in a malfunctioning Happy Place booth and have to work together in one another’s Happy Places to find their way out.

*Where you can pay an amount of money to be transported to your 'happy place' whenever you please.

Where did the concept of Happy Place come from?

We had been working on the idea of a happiness journey for months and we loved happiness as an overall theme, but as you probably know it is a very large and complex topic to untangle. This show went through several drastically different iterations, from a solo mountain hike to a group hot air balloon journey. Then throughout the long Covid lockdown we were meeting up on Zoom for rehearsal to explore more ideas, chat over situations people find themselves in that may make them happy or unhappy and share stories about how we were passing our time. At one rehearsal it suddenly hit us that when people are unhappy, struggling or in an uncomfortable situation, they may go to their 'happy place'. From this we then started discussing what would happen if someone entered your happy place. It then turned into this idea of paying to receive a physical version of your happy place no matter how unrealistic or wild. We are also big film lovers and watch a lot of futuristic and dystopian style films, so once the idea of happy place booths arose we combined this with a dystopian setting and here we are now!

What is your process for creating a show?

Our process involves a lot of improvisation and play - that's where much of our comedy and physical theatre comes from. A really important part of the way we work is that everything is done together. For example, many people are surprised that it's actually all of our voices combined in the writing, but for us, having so many different voices, styles and ideas to pull from really informs our work. Because we tend to start with a theme and build from there, all of our thoughts, opinions and experiences on said theme get combined together in a cohesive and comedic way. Starting the devising process can be challenging as we have so many ideas, but once we have the theme down, we try to flesh out the full story's plot points and then begin to build around that. One day we might bring in bits of writing from Josh or Leanne, some music Robin's created or some puppetry Jordan has worked on, share it, work on it, edit it and slot it into the show.

And finally what are your Happy Places?

Jordan - A theme park of varying adventures and activities with the centre of it all being a Scandinavian styled cabin by a lake with my paddleboard - and a dog.

Robin - My Happy Place is sitting in an empty cinema, with a dustbin-sized tub of popcorn, right before the opening scene of a story I’ve not seen before.

Natalie - Somewhere with lots of mountains and lakes.

Leanne - Walking the dogs with my boyfriend somewhere beautiful at sunset, whilst eating a big fish and chips with curry sauce.

Josh - When I am sat with friends playing table-top role playing games. Delving into a new quest, battling creatures and having a laugh.