Spotlight On… Creatives from Full Circle

Full Circle runs at Theatre N16, book tickets here: Theatre N16

Black Sheep Productions presents:
FULL CIRCLE
May 9th – 11th and 21st – 24th, Theatre N16

After a critically acclaimed run at the Arts Theatre in 2015, Madelaine Cunningham’s Full Circle plays London again at Theatre N16 this May, which she first performed in her native South Africa.

Director, Madison Maylin and Writer, Madelaine Cunningham chatted to Break A Leg about the production…

Interview with Director, Madison Maylin

Tell me about the piece and your vision for it

It’s a bold new play which takes inspiration from classical literature, some of the most infamous archetypes, and brings them right up to the present day. My ultimate aim is to bring out the pertinent humanity of these women – they faced the same issues modern-day women still encounter: gender discrimination, unreasonable beauty goals, the pay gap, being overshadowed by men, adultery and temptation, desperate loneliness, rape and murder. 

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

I only ever want absolute trust from any actor – trust in themselves, their cast members, their production team, me and my processes. We can tackle anything if we have that.

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

Changed minds. I don’t want to spoil the play, so I’ll leave it at that!

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Yes, things are fluid in my rehearsal space. My mantra is: nothing is set in stone – keep discovering. Every rehearsal is different – and with any luck so will every performance!

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you want to see truth on-stage then come.

Finally, any advice for budding directors?

Go to classes for yourself, learn new ice-breakers, attend workshops, learn new exercises and processes, always work with different producers / actors / writers, read Katie Mitchell’s book on directing.

Interview with Writer and actor, Madelaine Cunningham

Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it

I studied Classics and I was always fascinated by the tragedies and how truthful they were amid the heightened nature of it all, these big stories have such clear human truths. But what also draws me to incorporating the Greeks into my work and re-exploring them, are questions like: Why are we still talking about this thousands of years later? Why are these issues still relevant now? Are we as a society constantly turning full circle?

Was it easy to put it all down on paper?

Full Circle was originally going to be an installation type piece and I decided to make it into a play, so I had an idea and it all sort of just poured out onto my my keyboard.

Is it translating well from page to stage? 

I believe so, when you work with such a dedicated team- a director who honours your work and talented actors who are crazy talented risk takers, what more could I writer ask for?

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

Theatre N16 is a brilliant theatre and the intimacy of it lends itself to the closeness and claustrophobia that permeates the play.

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

I only ever want people to have been provoked in some way by my work, be it love or hate. Aside from that i think it would be great if audience members wanted to find out more about these women, be it picking up a copy of The Orestia or googling Phaedra.

Finally, any advice for budding writers?

Write it all down, and write what matters to you.

Thank you so much to everybody for such fantastic answers, it’s been a pleasure to feature you on Break A Leg and I wish you all the best for the run.

 

Spotlight On… Full Pelt Theatre

Wombmates has enjoyed a recent run at Theatre N16 – here, the writers and performers from Full Pelt Theatre talk to Break A Leg about the piece:

Interview with the show’s Performers and Writers:

Tell me about the piece and your character(s)

The piece is about 2 Geordie babies inside of the womb in which they discover, explore and debate life before and after birth. During the 9 months of pregnancy the babies play games to kill time and discuss what they think will happen to them. This gives the play a sketch show feel which influences the progression of the narrative. ’Wombmates’ is a physical comedy, 2 man show, devised from new writing which originally came from a 5 minute sketch in 2015.

What was your initial impression of the script?

The script has been developed throughout the whole rehearsal process. We began with a rough structure and from there began improvising and devising taking what we discovered and putting it down on paper.

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

Our process allowed us to experiment and constantly adapt the script depending on how the story evolved.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role(s)?

We wanted the characters of the 2 babies to be adorably naïve but still have a hint of understanding of what it’s like in the outside world through listening to Mum and Dad. We wanted what they hear from outside to influence what they do on the inside. In terms of physicality we wanted to find many different shapes and interactions between the 2 to give the illusion that they are inside the womb.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

The more intimate setting of the space means that we are immediately restricted which lends itself well to the feeling of ‘Wombmates’. 2 brothers, stuck in their own world, growing bigger every day. It would be nice, one day, to play with having the audience surrounding the action to emphasise the feel of total submersion.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

It’s unexpected and surprising. Do you ever imagine what babies get up to in the womb? Well you don’t have to imagine anymore! Oh and their Geordies too, which makes everything just a little bit funnier.

Interview with the show’s Directors:

Tell me about the piece and your vision for it…

This piece is a bizarre comedy which I think any audience will fall in love with. The characters are not only adorable but will surprise you and draw you in straight away.

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

The process has always been a collaborative one. We all work together trying new ideas and creating new material. Aaron and Adam bring their characters to life so well and both bring their own individual styles of comedy to the roles which makes watching them as a duo so much more satisfying. It also helps that they look so similar…

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

I hope it doesn’t put people off having children!! I hope the audience leave with a feeling of joy, it’s a joyful piece which we want to entertain people with. I also like the idea of people watching two grown men being so intimate with each other. You don’t often see it on stage and it’s lovely watching the twins be so tactile and close. Adam and Aaron bring a vulnerability that makes the audience empathise and root for them. Their relationship is beautiful to watch. Hopefully it will make people think of family and who knows, maybe they’ll go home and give their brother or sister a hug.

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Rehearsals included a lot of experimenting. We had to decide on what style we wanted this piece to be and that did change as the script changed. How naturalistic could we go when dealing with a situation that no-one knows about? How absurd do we push it? I think we’ve come to a happy medium, blending the bizarre with the honesty and impulsiveness of children.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

People should see this show as it is a heart-warming piece and you will have never seen anything like it! It’s a unique comedy which everyone can relate to as we have all been there…literally. At this stage I also want people to come and see it so we can gather more feedback and keep on developing the show to discover its full potential. This is the first time it has been shown as a full length piece so seeing how it is received is going to be vital in pushing it further.

Thanks so much for an insightful interview!

Spotlight On… Samson Hawkins, Director of Dark Vanilla Jungle

Dark Vanilla Jungle is running at Theatre N16 from 25 March to 31 March 2017…

Andrea keeps getting asked if she’s ashamed.

Ashamed of what she did to the soldier.

Of what she did to the baby.

But Andrea’s not ashamed at all.

And she wants to tell you why…

A beautiful, breath-taking drama about a young girl’s quest for the perfect family & home revealing a biting commentary on abuses of power in a patriarchal society.

Dark Vanilla Jungle is a magnificent work by Time Out, Evening Standard and Critics Circle Award-winner Philip Ridley. Produced by Brighton Fringe Award nominated Second Sons.

Book tickets here:  http://www.theatren16.co.uk/dark-vanilla-jungle

Break A Leg chatted to Director, Samson Hawkins about the production:

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about the piece and your vision for it.

Dark Vanilla Jungle’s about trying to find love, acceptance and belonging. It’s by Philip Ridley who has a wonderful skill of taking a universal truth and amplifying it into epic theatrical proportions. The play goes through some horrifyingly grotesque moments, but they are all based on something we relate to, make the production have so much resonance.

My production of Dark Vanilla Jungle is all about intimacy. Bringing the story play and the audience together. N16 is the most intimate of spaces and the audience are going to be surrounding Andrea, giving her no where to escape to.

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

It’s 80 minutes of 1 actor on stage. So you need someone who can carry an audience through that. Someone who has the emotional depth to take the audience on the journey, someone who has the technique to get through the production but also someone who has a bit of showmanship. I needed someone who I could be confident could handle this script, because it is a really hard job for the actor. It’s a 10 day run of bearing unimaginable emotion depths, that’s a hard thing to do, but I’m very thankful to have Emily Thornton, she’s a tough lass from Bradford but she has wonderful emotion depth and is a great ear for comedy. She’s a bit like a young Olivia Colman from Yorkshire.

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

I’m not one for defining how I want the audience to react. That’s up to them not me. I just want to make sure they do. I watch lots of productions where the audience are just waiting for the end so they can make it back in time for Match of The Day. I think some people are going to the theatre out of obligation. I think you should go to the theatre to make to feel something. Netflix is great but you can watch that on auto pilot, when there are living and breathing actors in front of you, engine with you, and telling a story you are committed to, you are forced to participate, forced to think and feel and be alive. I’m up for audiences bringing in old vegetables to throw on stage and for people to bring back booing of bad acting, it would liven things up.

And that’s what Dark Vanilla Jungle does, it livens things up.

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Emily has brought so many new ideas about her character that it changes day to day. The overall idea and piece are roughly the same, but there are some lovely little moments that Emily has really found. When I had originally read the play I had so many bold, exciting ideas. But I soon realised, many of these where pointless. They didn’t tell the story but where just there for show. The production is stripped back, it’s raw, it’s naked, and it’s honest. Working on the play has confirmed that to me.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Emily is a wonderfully engaging new working class actor performing the work of Britons most exciting living dramatist working today. It’s raw, it’s funny, it’s enlightening and I still can’t work out if it’s more fun or horrifying.

Finally, any advice for budding directors?

Learn a trade. Start earning enough to live on with that, and then concentrate on theatre. The theatre hasn’t and will never be a financially stable life, so don’t expect it to be. Also don’t give line readings.

Thanks to Samson for an insightful interview, break a a leg!

Spotlight On… The Company of Brains at Theatre N16

Break A Leg are delighted to promote and include interviews from the company of:

Thick & Thin Theatre present:
BRAINS
January 11th – 14th 2017, Theatre N16

Following the sell-out shows Toxicity and Slight Delay in 2016, Thick & Thin Theatre present a brand new play about money, drugs and… zombies. WARNING: ‘BRAINS’ contains strong language, scenes of violence and drug use, awkward romantic encounters and the wrath of an undead scientist.

In the not so distant future humanity has fallen victim to a disease, turning people into flesh craving, drooling, rotting versions of themselves. However, the clichéd disease spells good news for one company – business is booming at MediBite Inc., where sales of their drugs and medical products have shot through the roof.

After waking himself up with his daily cocktail of drugs, Harry, the money obsessed manager, does his best to keep his terrifying CEO, Ursula, happy, while also keeping his eye on his niece and apathetic new intern, Tina. Meanwhile, accountant and hopeless romantic Jeff shows skeptical new salesman, Rosie, around the office…. However, everything changes when smug scientist Stuart finds a cure for the disease that has ravaged the world.

Thick & Thin Theatre are a young company based in London, founded in 2016 by Cameron Szerdy, Tom Spencer & Jack Dent.  They enjoy creating theatre that’s funny, fast paced and tinged with irony; taking everyday settings and injecting them with a generous helping of the absurd; and above everything else, they aim to make people laugh.

Theatre N16 is a trailblazing theatre company, dedicated to creating a creative hub where new and existing works can be explored and pushed into new realms. Theatre N16 is proud of their commitment to the welfare of creatives, operating under an Equity Fringe Agreement. This promoting and nurturing of talent means that Theatre N16 is a bastion for development within the context of a society in which the arts are increasingly struggling to stay afloat.

Venue                                  Theatre N16, The Bedford Pub, 77 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9HD

Ticket Price                         £14 (£10 concessions)

Box Office                           Ticketsource (ticketsource.co.uk/event/156645)

Here, Break A Leg chats to Actors from the show, Tom Spencer and Aine Nettleton as well as Writer and Director, Cameron Szerdy who gives us both a Writer’s and Director’s perspective:

Tom Spencer (Stuart)

brains

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Tom. Tell me about the piece and your character

‘Brains’ is a fast, funny commentary on bureaucracy, greed and human error – with an undead twist. I play Stuart, the self-satisfied research scientist at MediBite, a company getting rich in a far from ethical way.

What was your initial impression of the script?

My first thought was “S**t, that’s a lot of swearing,” rapidly followed by “This is going to be fun.” Luckily, my prediction was accurate!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

Our director Cameron is always open to our interpretations and ideas while also maintaining the integrity of his original script, so I felt the transition was very smooth.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role(s)?

I wanted Stuart to be a mix-up of a man, half-cocky, half-chaotic. He always believes himself to be the cleverest in the room, but when events begin to take a disastrous turn his haphazard clumsiness comes to the forefront. As MediBite’s resident Casanova I knew he’d provide the opportunity for some comedy too.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

Theatre N16’s intimate space is the perfect setting for the play as the audience’s proximity to the action means that they are thrown right into the claustrophobia and tension of its unfolding events. We are constantly aware of the scrutiny of our observers and this helps to heighten the stakes very effectively.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you’re interested in both the biomedical ethics of a post-apocalyptic pharmaceutical company and seeing people get totally mauled by zombies, this is unquestionably the show you’ve been patiently waiting for.

Aine Nettleton (Tina)

brains-2

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Aine. Tell me about the piece and your character.

So the piece is basically a bunch of corrupt people shoved into an office together, with the added bonus of a zombie outbreak! Tina is basically just a moody teenage girl who is obsessed with her phone (obviously nothing like myself)

What was your initial impression of the script?

My first impression was that there was a lot of swearing and drugs so I probably shouldn’t invite my mum… No but it really excited me cos it’s was hilarious!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

It translated so easily onto the stage, with the simplistic set layout it was easy to just let the characters take over.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

The play itself is very fast paced and high energy, I wanted to contrast this with Tina’s laziness and reluctance to do pretty much anything to created comedy (I hope)

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

So having the space in kind of a round means that you feel like you’re being watched from all angles which is really cool if you imagine everyone in the audience are zombies trying to get in for the cure…

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you like the F word and watching people hate each other via jokes then this is the play for you!

Writer/Director: Cameron Szerdy

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Cameron. As a Director – tell me about the piece and your vision for it…

BRAINS is very character driven and relies a lot on good comedic timing – which thankfully the actors have got! I wanted to create a sort of pressure-cooker environment with there being a crescendo of tension that eventually leads to a big release at the end.

What was  your inspiration for it?

BRAINS is meant to be a comedy above everything else. I suppose the audience will decide if it actually is! I wanted to write something with zombies and set in an office – there’s loads of opportunity for comedy in an office environment. Just ask Ricky Gervais! Once I had those two things I came up with the characters – they’re all caricatures to an extent at first, but when they’re faced with a life or death situation we see different sides to them. The inspiration for the criticisms of privatised medicine came from all over the place really – there’s a lot of bad news about it at the moment what with Jeremy Hunt continuing to ruin the NHS and people like Martin Shkreli selling essential life-saving drugs trying to make healthcare into a business.

Was it easy to put it all down on paper?

I always start with the characters when I’m writing. Once I’d figured out who the characters were and their relationships with each other, the dialogue and the action came pretty quickly. There were definitely moments when I wasn’t quite sure where it was heading or wasn’t happy with certain parts, but it was a fairly quick writing process.

Is it translating well from page to stage?

Yes, very well – thankfully! The action happens pretty quickly and the dialogue is short and snappy which helps for a short play. Once the actors had got their lines and blocking down it certainly came to life.

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

The space is perfect for the piece. As the play progresses there’s a real sense of pressure building and the office becomes this sort of melting pot of opinions and big personalities – you can almost feel the temperature in the room rise! N16 is a perfect because the audience are really close to this build up – I really wanted the audience to almost feel involved and the space allows that.

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

The characters are pretty much caricatures when they first appear on stage, but later on they become more complex. It’s quite challenging for an actor to play up to a stereotype for the first half and then start to show a more human side while maintaining specific characteristics. So my first thought about casting was that I needed bloody good actors!

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

Mostly I hope they will have found it funny! Apart from that there’s definitely a message of there being more important things than money and fame in life so hopefully it will get people thinking about that.

Hopefully they’ll know how to survive a zombie apocalypse! I hope they find it funny more than anything. Laughter is the best medicine after all!

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Definitely. My approach was to let the actors do a lot of the work in creating their characters. There was plenty of ad-libs and improvisation in rehearsals – some of it worked and some of it definitely didn’t! A lot of the blocking fell into place naturally once people had a grasp on their characters and I only really intervened when things got a little bit stuck – or when there was too much corpsing! Pun intended.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

There’s zombies and comedy. What more do you want from a show? I would say that BRAINS will hopefully make you laugh a lot, it will certainly make you think and it will definitely make you feel glad we’re yet to suffer a zombie apocalypse!

Have you any advice for budding directors?

Get involved in anything you can. Even if its not a role as a director, put yourself forward for any job no matter how small and you’ll get more and more experience of being involved in a production. Also watch other directors and see how they do things – then you can decide on your own style. Personally I always think of a director as being more of a facilitator than an all-powerful being on a production – a lot of the work can just be admin!

Any advice for budding writers?

Just write! Write down anything that pops into your head. Even if you think the idea may go nowhere, write it down and come back it. Maybe more ideas will come from it. And never be overly critical of your own work. Obviously you need to edit and revise things, but always believe what you have written is good – and even if you don’t, I guarantee somebody else will.

Thanks to Tom, Aine and Cameron for brilliantly insightful interviews, this production sounds amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On… Star of HE(ART), Alex Reynolds

Theatre N16 has an exciting new production coming up, here’s the release and an exclusive interview with one of the stars of the show, Alex Reynolds:

Theatre N16 Hosts ‘HE(ART)’;

A New Production by Off-West End Award Nominated Creatives

Written by: Andrew Maddock
Directed by: Niall Phillips

heart

At Theatre N16, 77 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HD

10th – 28th January 2017 (excl Sundays & Mondays)

PRESS NIGHT: 7.30pm Wednesday 11th January 2017

Duration: approx 65 minutes (No interval)

Alice just wants Rhys to help her pick a piece of art for their living room wall. And go to her family doctor to make sure the ‘Heart thingie’ he’s got is under control. But he won’t. Because he’s a Wembley Warrior. Kev’s just got out of prison, he’s not supposed to be, and he’s going to be in a lot of trouble when he’s found. But his sister Sam needs help to make sure mum gets the treatment the NHS won’t pay for. And they’ve all got their eye on the same painting.

A HE(ART)-warming new play, complete with an upbeat Motown soundtrack, about class and the lengths we are prepared to go for the ones we hold dearest. Bought to you by the creative team behind the 2016 critically acclaimed and Off-West End Award nominated IN/OUT (A Feeling) & the writer of the Off-West End Award nominated and acclaimed ‘The Me Plays’ & ‘The We Plays’.

Press on previous work:

★★★★★                    ‘Just go and see!’ – Londontheatre1 for IN/OUT (A Feeling)

★★★★    ‘enthralling and urgent’ – The Stage for IN/OUT (A Feeling)

★★★★    ‘Maddock’s writing is intelligent, insightful and beautiful’ – Views from the Gods for The We Plays

★★★★    ‘incredibly touching’ – The Reviews Hub for The We Plays

Cast:

Kev played by Shane Noone (Warde Street, King Lear at The National) | @snoone_1

Sam played by Flora Dawson

Alice played by Alex Reynolds (In/Out (A feeling) | @alexrey1302

Rhys played by Jack Gogarty | @jackgogarty

Creative team:

Written by: Andrew Maddock | @AndrewMaddock

Directed by: Niall Phillips | @Niallpxx

Produced by: Lonesome Schoolboy | @LonesomeSchoolB

Theatre N16: www.theatren16.co.uk | @theatreN16

Alex Reynolds from the cast tells Break A Leg more about the show:

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Alex. Tell me about HE(ART) and your character. 

He(art) is a new play by Andrew Maddock. It follows the lives of four people, Kevin and Sam, Alice and Rhys, all of them trying to survive in their own way, all of them fighting for something that could ultimately make or break them. The play gives you a real insight into the complexity of relationships, and makes you question the lengths that people will go to in order to do what’s right, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in. I play Alice, a young woman who curates a high-end Art Gallery. She is passionate, intelligent and a real fighter. Alice is in love with Rhys, with whom she sadly doesn’t always see eye to eye…

What was your initial impression of the script?

Honestly? I loved it and knew I wanted to be a part of it. From scene to scene my first reading felt really personal, which is always a good sign. I laughed out loud, was also deeply moved and grew to care for all the characters – scripts on a first read don’t usually provoke that kind of reaction out of me. To put it simply, I’d do anything in an Andrew Maddock play. One line here or there, I’d be in. It feels great to be able to work on another one of his plays.

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

It’s always challenging, but that process of ‘Page to Stage’ is the most exciting part of the job. You have ideas, pre-conceptions and all these things you want to explore and try once you get into that rehearsal room. Niall Phillips is a hands-on director. There isn’t too much time to think when you are at work. He encourages you to be in the moment, to always listen and be truthful. Safe to say, I’m learning a lot.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

I don’t tend to think about what I could ‘bring’ to a role, I like to think that the character will bring stuff out of me. It’s about taking risks and doing things that scare you. There’s a lot about Alice I don’t yet have fully figured out, but the more I step into her shoes, the more I want to know her. I look for diversity within each role I take on; people are complex and flawed, but they can also be brilliant. Alice is all of this and more, so whatever it is I end up ‘bringing’, I just hope the audience see in her, all the wonderful things I did.

How does the space at Theatre N16 lend itself to the piece?

The Theatre N16 is an intimate space, with a strong artistic following – things like that, in my opinion, are what makes working on the Fringe pretty awesome. The off-West end is where some of the most exciting, provoking work is being staged, and the N16 is one of these pioneering venues –  so yeah, a great place to be staging He(art).

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Just come, trust me. I know it’s easy for me to say that, but I am first and foremost a theatre-fan and I adore new-writing. This is a play worth seeing.

HE(ART) runs at Theatre N16 in Balham from 10th – 28th January. Purchase tickets here: http://www.theatren16.co.uk/heart

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