Spotlight On… Comedy Trio, Sleeping Trees

Theatre503 and Sleeping Trees present  Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BW Wednesday 23rd November 2016 – Saturday 7th January 2017 Press Night: Monday 28th November, 7.30pm

A festive treat for those who don’t want to get stuck in the past…
After the sell-out successes of Cinderella and the Beanstalk, award-winning Sleeping Trees return to Theatre503 with the world premiere of Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves – a glorious cocktail of everyone’s favourite pantomimes, directed by highly acclaimed Simon Evans (The Dazzle, Bug, Silence of the Sea).
One cold Christmas Eve, Santa and his elves are preparing for another busy night. The reindeer are ready and the sleigh is packed. There’s just one problem; the sleigh won’t start because the Wicked Witch has stolen all the Christmas spirit. In his desperation, Santa looks to the most unlikely of heroes to save the day… the terrifying Ebenezer Scrooge.     Join these performers as they recreate every character you’d expect to meet in a pantomime, as well as some you might not.  With Scrooge, Snow White, the Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, the seven dwarves, Harry Potter and, of course, Father Christmas, the questions on everyone’s lips are… will Scrooge manage to change his ways and save

Christmas?  Will the boys make it to Hollywood?  And what do the Seven Dwarves have to do with ANY of this?
It abounds with heart and wit, is propelled with limitless energy from the three inventive actors who devised the piece…if you only see one Pantomime this season, see this one (Cinderella and the Beanstalk, British Theatre).
Sleeping Trees are a comedy trio blending the classic elements of a well-loved pantomime with an astonishing range of fast, physical and bare-knuckled comedy. With live music, and plenty of mess, the Trees sing, dance and fight their way through ninety minutes of panto pandemonium with on-stage musician Ben Hales!
The company comments, We are all hugely excited to bring a brand new pantomime to Theatre503 this year.  We love the audience in Battersea and are working hard to make sure that this panto is bigger, better and even more Christmassy than last year’s.  With more of your favourite pantomime and fairy tale characters ready to be given the Sleeping Trees’ treatment, Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves is a festive treat for all of the family.

Click this link to book your tickets! https://theatre503.com/ 

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I chatted to the trio, Sleeping Trees….

Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it…

The show is Scrooge and The Seven Dwarves, it is a mash up of A Christmas Carol and Snow White, with a whole host of other stories appearing as well. In our tale all of the Christmas spirit has been sucked from Victorian London town and the only person who can save it is the person who hates Christmas the most, Ebenezer Scrooge. We loved the idea of seeing what happened when the different characters collide, and ran from there.

Are you finding it easy to put it all down on paper?

As with all shows, we have ended up chopping and changing a lot as we have been creating. The story is constantly evolving every time we discover a character or idea that could add something new, which has meant it has been a lot of doubling back but ultimately for the greater good. Then there are some scenes that pretty much write themselves once you know who is in them and what the outcome will be. Easy isn’t necessarily the word but exciting certainly is.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

We feel it is incredibly important that this show appeals to adults and children at the same time, we want them to be laughing at the same jokes and engaging with the same moments. The idea of doing jokes that go over the children’s heads for the adults instantly alienates the kids who are watching and often is not worth it, and anything that is too dumbed down shouldn’t be in there anyway. We feel you should never talk down to children – if we can be clear enough they will want to engage with us and follow the story.

How does Theatre503 lend itself to the piece?

Aside from the fact that the theatre supports us in creating work and showcasing it, it is a space that we know well and feel comfortable in as well as being an intimate space for audiences which helps them to feel part of the experience with this show. They also have a fantastic team who are helping us every step of the way to making this a fun, interesting, alternative Christmas experience for all the family.

Finally, any advice for budding writers?

Write! Keep writing – every project you throw yourself into you will end up learning a lot about yourself, yourself as a writer and writing in general. The more you do that the more confident and comfortable you become in getting your voice heard in your work. And always challenge yourself, you will be surprised with what you come up with, we never thought we would be writing a pantomime for children and here we are working on our second. You never know what might happen.

Huge thanks to these guys for their time!

 

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Spotlight On… Writer of Acedian Pirates, Jay Taylor

The Acedian Pirates will run at Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BW  Wednesday 26th October – Saturday 19th November 2016 Press Night: Friday 28th October, 7.45pm. Click here for more information and to book tickets: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/the-acedian-pirates/

The Acedian Pirates is the debut play from Jay Taylor (Nell Gwyn, Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies) which challenges our understanding of mythology and forces us to ask vital questions about military occupation.
Jacob doesn’t know why he’s here. He’s been at war for six years but nobody will tell him why.  They get asked when they sign up what they want to do for the Capital State and they reply ‘Fight. Help. Assist. Do some good.’  But they’ve been helping for thousands of years and they’re still at war.
The Acedian Pirates looks at the struggles of a unit of soldiers who are desperate to return home but new arrivals puts this in jeopardy.  Where are they, who are they and why are they even fighting?
As loyalty and friendship conflict with the military necessity for obedience, this production challenges the humanity and logic of military occupation and the jingoism and bluster that defines the armed forces.

Here is my interview with writer, Jay Taylor…

Hi Jay, thank you for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about The Acedian Pirates and your inspiration for it.

The Acedian Pirates is a black comedy about military occupation and the moral conundrum of armed intervention. It is centred around a fictional war and incorporates reinvented aspects of classical mythology such as the abduction of Helen of Troy.

It sounds crap when I say it like that, but (I hope) it will be dark, funny, moving and provocative!

Was it easy to put down on paper?

I started writing this play in 2012 and, even though I obviously haven’t been working on it that whole time, it has felt like a lot of work to get to this point.

The initial idea came out of a desire to investigate exactly when it is deemed morally appropriate to intervene in a conflict and why. The Arab Spring had left a lot of instability across the Middle East and Northern Africa, and I felt compelled to write about the ethical/moral case for war.

The first draft came very quickly, I think I finished that in a couple of very intense days, but that version is unrecognisable from the version we are staging at Theatre 503. The drafting process has been exhausting and continues to be so…

Even though the rehearsal draft has now gone out to the actors, I am still writing new dialogue and making cuts and reserve then right to do so even on press night. They’re going to HATE me.

Is it translating well from stage to page?

Our rehearsals don’t start until October 3rd, so I am not sure how to answer this one!

We did a two-day workshop of this play at my drama school, which was a fascinating and brain-frying process. I felt emotionally drained at the end of each day! It was as if we’d spent all day trying to untangle a massive ball of string and by the end of the day, we had just about found the ends (in a good way). It was really the first time I’d ever heard those words aloud, and it was brilliant to see how specific and dynamic the writing has to be, in order to work. And a lot of it didn’t! But that’s the point of a workshop, I suppose.

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

Theatre 503 is a fantastic stage for new work. It’s a warm and intimate space, but there are obviously limitations to what you can achieve in a small theatre. That said, we have an incredible creative team.

Bobby Brook, Tara Finney and Helen Coyston (director, producer and designer, respectively) have collaborated in an amazing way to create a very ambitious staging with incredible imaginative flair. I think it’s going to be very cool and hopefully unlike anything that has been seen on the fringe for some years.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the piece?

I hope that the audience leave the theatre questioning the moral case for military intervention.

There are two cases that I often cite as being polar opposites and are therefore pertinent to my play, with the first being British decision to declare war on Germany in 1939 in order to defeat fascism. The second, by contrast, is the decision to wage an illegal and unsanctioned war in Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent uses of force in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. Two very different outcomes, but essentially the same question at their core: should we use military aggression to protect those being persecuted in other countries?

The play is also about debunking the mythology of conflict, so I would hope that the audience will consider how much they actually know about the reality of invasion and occupation and how much of that knowledge is simply nostalgic propaganda that serves the cause of the military machine.

Any advice for budding writers?

My first piece of advice for budding writers (bearing in mind that I am still one myself) would be an old cliché that a writer friend said to me, when I told him I was having trouble getting past the 30-page mark. He said, ‘Don’t get it right, just get it written.’

Persevere with a project and attempt to get through to the end of the story rather than constantly refining the first few scenes. That way you will eventually have a lot of raw material, which is great for the drafting process. The alternative is that you have a cracking prologue, two more great scenes, one that’s ok and nothing else. So, my advice is just to try and get to the end.

My second piece of advice is write something every day; doesn’t matter if it’s a paragraph or a whole play. Try to get something down, even on days where you feel a bit uninspired. You never know what might happen.

Thanks Jay for an extremely informative interview, all the best with the production!

 

 

Bit Of Sunshine ~ Theatre 503 ~ PRESS RELEASE

*** PRESS RELEASE ***

Theatre503 presents a Bloody Deeds Production in association with KILTER

Bit of Sunshine

by Nicole Zweiback

Directed by Katie Coull and Ed Theakston

 

25th & 26th Sept 20:00

£10/£8

Follow the link to book tickets: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/

‘I don’t even know what reality tastes like anymore…’

 

Kira is the perfect teenager. Kira wants to go to Oxford. But her eating disorder shatters everything in her path. In this poignant, raw and honest new play a young girl explores what it’s like growing up with mental illness and the lifelong struggle of addiction. A story about coming of age in a world obsessed with the struggle for perfection.

 

✮✮✮✮“Explosive & truly harrowing…a brave piece of theatre.” Broadway Baby

✮✮✮✮“A full-bodied, intense and penetrating performance.” London Theatre1

✮✮✮✮“Moments of sheer brilliance.” EdFringe Review

✮✮✮✮“An astounding piece of work with a very compelling story to tell.” Young Perspective

 

About the Writer and Actress

Nicole trained at east 15 acting school and is a writer and actor, and founder of Bloody Deeds Productions which premiered its first production at Take Courage Theatre in 2014. She also trained on the Foundation in Acting at RADA, and prior to this held a two year directing internship at Vanguard Rep Company in Los Angeles.

 

About the Directors

Katie Coull trained at East 15 Acting School. Katie is co-founder of Dead Leaf Theatre Company and Kilter Theatre. She recently worked with Emma Licia on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dreamat the Ellen Terry in Kent, playing Puck. Katie is currently co-directing Bit of Sunshine by Nicole Zweiback, and Endgame: Ariel at the Camden Fringe 2016.

 

Ed Theakston trained at East 15 Acting School. Ed is an actor and theatre-maker, and is co-founder of Kilter Theatre. Recently Ed worked as Tony Bell’s Assistant Director on The Winter’s Tale and played Francis in an R&D workshop production of The Secret History. Ed is also Managing Director of Parallel Productions.

 

About the company

Bloody Deeds Productions was created by Nicole Zweiback along with a group of young women who felt a need for a collaboration that defied the (still) heavily male dominated profession. KILTER is a collaborative theatre company that aims to make confronting theatre that responds to & seeks to change the world around us.

 

This production features an original score by Dylan Allcock.

 

Company

Writer – Nicole Zweiback

Director – Katie Coull and Ed Theakston

 

Cast

Nicole Zweiback

 

#BitofSunshine

@wearekilter

@bloodydeedsprod

http://www.wearekilter.co.uk

Spotlight On… Writer of Screwed, Kathryn O’Reilly

Kathryn O’Reilly’s Screwed opened at Theatre 503 on 28th June and its running right through until 23rd July. I caught up with Kathryn to find out all about the World Premiere of the show.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg. Can you tell me about your debut drama, where did the inspiration come from and what can the audience expect?

Screwed grew out of a poem that I’d written for actress Eloise Joseph and myself, and we used to perform it at various gigs and also music and spoken word nights that I used to put on. I had the idea to develop the poem into a play, and it just grew from there. One of the locations in the poem was a club, so that became a central location to the play and the characters started to drink more. Also, women binge drinking is constantly in the press and I thought I would like to explore that subject. I find relationships fascinating. How we function with others, how we relate to others, who we are with certain people, how our identity changes in different situations with different people at different times in our lives. Sometimes we want to hold on to things, people, the past and sometimes things run their course and you have to move on, sometimes you have to get out of situations because if you don’t you’ll be stuck forever and sometimes we just can’t get out of situations. There’s a brilliant quote “people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. In the original poem, the climax is that one of the friends accidentally reveals she’s slept with her friends man and that was the end, but they’d probably carry on as mates as another fella would come along and the reason the first fella was there was to make their friendship stronger as they were meant to be friends for a life time. But what if person you thought would be in your life for a life time wouldn’t be because you suddenly realise you don’t want them to be. And so I wanted to explore the complete dismantling of the friendship, theses best friends, co-dependant, who live for the moment, way it’s always been suddenly one of them realises the friendship has to be terminated.

The audience can expect a mix of kitchen sink drama, with stylised coral scenes, rhythmic punchy banter, and in yer face type of theatre that takes you on a roller coaster of a journey and make you think about the themes in the play. An exciting production, with fantastic collaboration from the team who create the world of the characters with brilliant lighting from Jamie Platt, set design by Catherine Morgan and original composition by Benedict Taylor, lead by director Sarah Meadows.

Following Luce and Charlene two bone deep friends, soul mates for so long they can finish each others sentences, they survive the factory line popping caffeine pills and downing miniatures as they boast about the previous nights sexual conquests. They live and work to go out and drink as much as they can and pull men. Over a period of 24 hours we see them work and go out, getting on it, enticing fellow work mate Paulo out with them whilst Doris, Luce’s parent tries to guide the women in a better direction.

An entertaining and thought provoking evening at the theatre.

What attributes were you looking for in the actresses who are playing Luce and Charlene?

The part of Luce was written for Eloise Joseph and as we worked together on the piece over the past so many years the character grew and revealed its self to us. Luce and Charlene are best friends and a double-act so the actresses needed to be able to play off each other in a sparky way and have that connection.

It’s 90 mins straight through and there is no let up, so the actresses also had to have a certain dexterity and excellent energy for a very physical performance especially as the continued drinking throughout the play has to be charted to the point of being paralytic. Charlene goes through a range of emotions and has to be able to transform from vulnerable, soft, flirtatious to ugly, savage and frightening whilst also allowing us the audience in, a laying the character bare.

Talk me through the rehearsal process, did you see anything begin to change as the words were read? Any surprises as to how the final production has turned out?

Before the rehearsal process started for this production, Screwed had been through a lot of development over the past five years, with a sharing at Arcola Theatre, an industry invited reading and development at Ovalhouse Theatre and another at the Pleasance Islington, also work-shopping with actors and director at Theatre Delicatessan before a final reading last year again to an invited industry audience along with a long collaboration with dramaturg Neil Grutchfield, so nothing really changed for me when the words were read in rehearsal as I guess it has been evolving for so long. At the same time I was also acting in Karl Sydow and Out of Joint’s A View From Islington North directed by Max Stafford-Clark at the Arts Theatre, however I was in Screwed rehearsals as much possible, especially when I brought in Jacquline Malton to talk to the cast about alcoholism and Nikki Attree to talk about transitioning, they were both so incredibly generous and helpful and I am so grateful to them for their kind support. I was conscious that I didn’t want to be one of those writers who becomes over bearing and too involved and so I gave everyone lots of room. I think also as a writer you really have to trust the director and actors and creative team implicitly, when I asked Sarah Meadows to direct I knew she was the perfect director from when I worked with her as an actress on Mark Wilson’s play YOU, Sarah is an exciting director who has real integrity and looks after plays and actors.

The action in the first fourteen scenes takes place just over 24 hours and then the following scenes are months apart as the story continues until the play ends. So the main surprise for me was that director Sarah Meadows decided to seamlessly transition between those final scenes, which is not something I had not envisioned, however I think it works brilliantly. The other surprise was Catherine Morgan’s set design, I could never have imagined something like that, when you see in the playtext my descriptions of locations is very different, and I think Catherine’s design is brilliant and exciting.

Who or what inspires you as a writer?

There are so many amazing people out there doing brilliant work and that is inspiring. Max Stafford-Clark inspires me, especially as he has championed so many writers, most notably many female playwrights. I’ve had such generosity of support form Max and when someone like that tells you that you can write it’s very inspiring to keep going. Another prolific man of theatre Rikki Beadle-Blair is inspiring to me, he keeps going and is constantly working on projects and challenging himself. There are so many writers that I love and really look up to, Helen Edmudson, her play The Clearing is just gut wrenching heart breaking intelligent writing. Jez Butterworth, Conor McPherson, Chloe Moss, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Simon Stephens, and Shakespeare and Goethe, all spellbinding, poetic incredible writers who are amongst my all time favourites.

Any advice for budding writers?

I would say go out and watch as much as you can, see who’s work affects you and know why. Read as much as you can, when you find a writer you love keep reading their work. Most importantly write. Just put pen to paper or get tapping on that keyboard and go, don’t stop and start judging yourself, get it all out, get it all down and then pick someone who you respect and admire and ask them if they would take a look. Listen, be open to their response and feedback and take it away, have a think about it and decide if it’s useful for you as you develop the piece and write some more. Finding a good course that suits you is always a good idea, meet other writers and read their work if they want to share it and just keep writing.

Finally, any words of encouragement for potential audience members?

If you want an entertaining, thought provoking evening at the theatre, don’t mind a bit of in your face explicit acting and brilliant directing get on down. The whole team behind this play are absolutely fantastic and everyone is doing a sterling job. Everyone has been and is working so hard, the actors; Elosie Joseph, Samantha Robinson, Stephen Myott-Meadows, Derek Elroy, Stage manager Polly Heinkel, Assistant director Monty Leigh, Dramaturg Neil Grutchfield, Designer Catherine Morgan, Lighting designer Jamie Platt, Composer Benedict Taylor, Educationalist Tas Emiabata, Producers Maeve O’Neill and myself along with director Sarah Meadows all make a wonderful and happy team and an exciting production.

I am very proud and I believe it’s work that needs to be seen. We’ve been getting great reviews and feedback, there’s only two weeks left to catch us and then we are gone. We’d love to see you there.

Thanks Kathryn, this sounds like an amazing piece of theatre and I encourage you al to go and see it! Tickets can be booked here: https://theatre503.com/

Spotlight On… Playwright, Brian Mullin

*** Brian’s play, We Wait In Joyful Hope is on at Theatre 503 from 17th May to 11th June – click this link to book tickets: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/we-wait-in-joyful-hope/ ***

Hi Brian, thank you for talking to Break A Leg Review, tell me about your latest piece and where the inspiration originated from?

We Wait in Joyful Hope is the story of Sister Bernie, a maverick nun who’s been working for forty years in an inner-city community. Bernie doesn’t fit your image of a typical nun – she smokes pot, knocks heads with police and gang leaders, and she’ll go to any length to protect the women’s center she runs from the encroaching forces of gentrification. The play is fiction, but I was inspired by the story of my own aunt, who was a Franciscan nun in the 1960s and 70s. Together with other young sisters, she took over a tenement building and created New York City’s first shelter for homeless women, which still exists today. Ultimately, it’s a story about feminism, friendship and one extraordinary women determined to take on the world.

Can you describe the writing process for me, did you start with character, plot or a mixture of both?

I was extremely lucky to be selected by Theatre 503 from over 800 applicants for the 503Five, an eighteen-month residency. We received mentorship and dramaturgical guidance in the commissioning of a new play, which turned out to be this one. I knew I wanted to stretch myself and tell a story I had never seen onstage before. In particular, I wanted to write big, complicated roles for older actresses. Sister Bernie was an amalgamation of many amazing sisters from my aunt’s generation whom I’d met or read about during my research. Once I had such a colourful and committed character I just put her into a crisis situation, where everything she’s built is coming under threat, and the story came from there.

Did the completed piece resemble what you had in mind when you started the journey?

It’s turning out remarkably like I envisioned. The building that Bernie built, Elizabeth House, is just as much a character in the play as she is. It’s been amazing working with our designer Kat Heath to create this space, thinking about all the layers of history that it would have. She’s done a brilliant job of transforming Theatre 503’s small stage so that it gives you a sense of a whole community going on outside of Bernie’s doors. And director Lisa Cagnacci has assembled the most wonderful cast. I couldn’t believe it, but they do look exactly like the characters I pictured in my head. It’s been a joy watching them bring this to life.

What can the audience expect from the piece and what would you say to encourage potential audience members to come along?

As the title indicates, the play is hopeful and optimistic. Even though the main character is a Catholic nun, I think the themes are universal. Bernie is someone who’s dedicated her life to making the world a better place and as she gets older she’s asking herself exactly what she’s accomplished. There’s a lot of humour and emotion in the play and I really hope that it makes audience members think about their own communities. The forces of gentrification are changing cities around the world, especially London, and the play tackles those issues head on. I want it to be inspiring and thought-provoking.

What inspired you to become a playwright?

I’ve loved putting on shows since I was young, directing the other kids in my neighbourhood growing up. When I was a student I loved Shakespeare and Chekhov and Tennessee Williams and all the rest, but I realized that if I wanted to create live performance that would be more relevant to the way the world is lived today, then writing something new was the only way to do it. I worked for a number of years running a politically-engaged young people’s theatre in New York City, where we created original, socially-relevant plays and then I came to London where I did my MA in playwriting at Goldsmiths.

What would you say to aspiring writers? Any advice?

Any story of overnight success is likely to be untrue! You’ve got to write a lot, keep challenging yourself and seek out trusted voices to give you honest, supportive feedback. Don’t expect one play to be the thing that’ll give you your “big break.” If you’ve got a piece you’re passionate about, find the people who get what you’re trying to do and find a space and put it on yourselves. Open yourself to the world around you, keep track of all your ideas, see lots of theatre and try to meet and connect with the people who are creating it. Through a combination of persistence, commitment, curiosity, hard work and being in the right place at the right time with the right collaborators, hopefully you can get your stuff made and shown to audiences.

Thanks to Brian for a really interesting interview, wishing you all the best with your play.

 

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