Inspired by teach-yourself-to-dance floor mats, The Steps Series invites audiences to perform the show themselves. Performance instructions are printed out as vinyl footsteps, handprints, 'objectprints' and script fragments and applied to the venue's walls, floors, windows and doors. These instructions act as a puzzle waiting to be solved with the solution often coming by physcially trusting in the instructions rather than quizzing them from the outside.
By choosing which colour footsteps to follow audience members can cast themselves in the show. Alternatively the performance instructions can be read from a distance as a script, but the most fun is to be had by getting stuck in. Audiences can turn up at any time, on their own or with any number of friends. The show starts when they start. Audiences can be their own audiences. They can rehearse, repeat their favourite scenes or moments, cut bits they're not happy with, maybe even go off script and improvise. Everyone is welcome.
Whilst the format of The Steps Series remains constant the content of the piece is remade afresh for each venue, responding to its architecture, activity and the occasion of the commission. Different editions of The Steps Series place emphasis on different elements of the show, taking the basic idea off in different directions.
Here is a brief history of the series outlining how the series has evolved. For further information on each edition including credits and photographs click on the links below of the chronology to the right.
Dance Steps was the first edition and thus the one in which we established the grammar for the whole series Steps Series. The vinyl was cut by a commercial firm but we learned the skills of applying it to different surfaces.
In Spy Steps we moved on from the episodic narrative style of Dance Steps to explore the use of a continuous narrative. We added a soundtrack which could be downloaded as an MP3 to be played on headphones as the audience perform the action. Having bought a vinyl cutter we were able to grow more ambitious with size and the look of the show.
We made 49 Steps far from home in Edinburgh and experimented with having two central characters whose continuous lines of action cross.
Giant Steps responded to children's love of the show and made a piece especially for them without text and sections designed for improvisation.
For Odyssey Steps we cracked the difficult design challenge presented by dialogue.
Space Steps was devised with a team of school children to turn their brand new building into a Space Ship.
Final Steps was a miniature version made for the British Dance Edition.
We installed Market Steps over night in a busy shopping mall.
For Revolutionary Steps we took on the challenge of adapting Danton's Death into vinyl and applying it to the foyer spaces of the National Theatre.
The dry climate of the south of France made possible Apollo Steps our first outdoor edition.
Sandwell Steps was commissioned to celebrate the children's fiction of Alan Alberg.
Olympian Steps saw both our first use of outdoor temporary paint and our first documentary piece - we immortalised major Olympic achievements across two parks in Birmingham.
Mystery Steps was commissioned for an empty shop unit in Coventry and was an experiment in depicting a the actions of a thin slither of time through a single building.
Golden Steps was a more advanced take on Olympian Steps, commissioned to celebrate the Olympics and draw visitors along a desginated route between Euston and St. Pancras Stations.
Foot Steps was our first piece spread across a town centre. It celebrated the history of Wellingborough.
Dragon Steps told a simple narrative across six major cultural venues in Newcastle Gateshead.
Robot Steps a modestly scaled piece delivered in a rapid turn around for The Barbican in response to their theme.
Exodus Steps was an ambitious version installed in Los Angeles following significant preparation in the UK.
The Orchestra Dream was a vinyl treasure hunt commissioned by Symphony Hall, Birmingham to coincide with the Universe of Sound installation and is not technically part of the series.
St. George's Steps was made with Year 7 at our Partner School, Saltley Academy. Through seven scenes from British history the installation helps participants think about how our values have evolved over time.
Shakespeare Steps was made commissioned for the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's Death.