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Claire Mullane (Animals Assistant Director) gives us a little insight into the crazy world of their rehearsals

April 1st, 2015

Animals in RehearsalWe’re preparing to begin our final week of rehearsals and it’s been one great adventure so far. The first day of rehearsals was like was the first day of school – all these eager, expectant faces in the room. It’s all a bit different now – what started out as a lovely, sweet, innocent cast has turned vicious! They now delight in discussing the details of murder and are no strangers when it comes to handling knives. I’ll have to be on my best behaviour around this cast if I want to make it out unscathed.

Research for this project has been very interesting, if a little disturbing at times. If anyone is checking my Google searches I think my name just might be pinging on some watch-list! Our research certainly hasn’t been all doom and gloom – we’ve had fun times drawing up the floor plan of Norma’s house (she certainly knows how to manage a household), drafting a map of our town (I don’t think we’ll be invited to become town-planners any time soon) and improvising moments in the characters’ lives, which provided much hilarity. Research for this project even included watching part of Shrek, so we have certainly covered a lot of ground!

We had our first stagger through the play yesterday. That was fun! It was the first time seeing all of the scenes in order. I must admit I was prepared for major confusion, but it went swimmingly (our director, Lisa Cagnacci, is certainly on it!). It was nice to have members of the creative team, Theatre 503 and our lovely writer, Emma Adams, in the room – it made the stagger through a little nerve-wracking, but it also injected lots of excitement and laughter into the affair.

So far we have consumed copious cups of tea, biscuits, and even a delicious lemon drizzle cake homemade by one of our cast members. We have contemplated our fate as the threat of climate change looms, and we have discovered just how far we might be prepared to go in order to survive.

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It has been a great ride so far. I look forward to seeing what treats lie ahead – although, if anyone brings in ham sandwiches I might just have to pass (come see the play to find out why!).

Click here to book tickets for Animals

Q&A with WINK Movement Director Isla Jackson-Ritchie

March 25th, 2015

We did a little Twitter Q&A with Isla. Check out her interesting & insightful answers:

 

Is there a specific method that you prefer to use (i.e. Laban, Alexander) or does it vary depending on the actor?

It really depends on the actor and their previous training/physical backgrounds. I like to work in a collaborative way. It’s about allowing the actors to explore things freely. Then I plan rehearsals according to their responses to exercises.

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What has been your main focus for WINK?

Making sure the movement portrayed the internal feelings of the characters. Also making sure the actors had a connection with the movement.

What is your favourite part of being a movement director?

The challenge of helping an actor develop a physical approach to a piece is always something I really enjoy. To help maintain technique throughout the show is hard but I give the actors a set warm up and also make sure half way through a run I go over the meaning and qualities of all the parts of movement to refresh. 

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What challenges have you come across while working on WINK, if any?

Plenty of challenges! Rehearsing for just three weeks was difficult as it was such a short process. It’s vital that the movement has meaning and connection otherwise it’s just there to look nice, and usually this takes months. I have to give credit to our two actors as they worked extremely hard.

 How much research goes behind what you do?

It varies on the production. WINK we all did a lot of research into the main bodies of the play, ie the Internet. Going into a job I always have to have a good understanding of the director’s vision and contexts always helps with style. Once in the rehearsal room, I would always try and use outside research to influence exercises.

As a movement director what would you suggest actors should do to maintain good technique when they are not in a show?

I think it’s important to see as much theatre as possible – physical or not. There’s also loads of drop in classes at Laban, Pineapple Studios etc that are great. In a rehearsal room you can always draw out people’s techniques or physical ability. That’s part of being a movement director.

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When working with an actor or a cast for the first time what do you normally start with?

Once the warm up is done, I always start with a day of exercises that involve physically getting to know other cast members and also ways of responding to a text physically. As soon as you can start helping an actor begin to think physically you’re half way there! I would always start with helping an actor explore the body as well.

And finally… If you could be the movement director for any show which would it be?

Gecko theatre company do great work. I would love to work with Lloyd Newson from DV8. Peter Darling who choreographed Billy Elliott is also brilliant! In terms of a specific show- it’s varies. Pornography by Simon Stephens or the other end of the spectrum and Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.

 

Book tickets for WINK here to catch Isla’s work in action

WINK receives rave reviews

March 13th, 2015

It’s only had 3 performances so far, but debut play by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, WINK, has already received a very large handful of stonking reviews. Here are the highlights so far:

Wink - high quality

LondonTheatre1 – ★★★★★

“Wink is so, so much more than just another internet play. It is a play about human beings, genuine situations and very raw, real emotions.”

“Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s script is a delight; warm, honest, funny and moving.”

“Wink is a modern play for a modern world, but its themes, and the feelings it elicits, are timeless. A triumph.”

 

Entertainment Focus – ★★★★★

“Sam Clemmett and Leon Williams bring this show to life and the play is really enhanced by the power and quality of their acting.”

“The set was so simple, yet so perfect.”

“Phoebe Eclair-Powell has proven what a talented young writer she is.”

“Wink is currently being shown in the tiny and intimate Theatre 503, in Battersea, which is gaining a most excellent reputation for staging some very strong work.”

 

Londonist - ★★★★★

“The twin streams of consciousness are note-perfect, Eclair-Powell weighting each word precisely, her phrasing both real and rich (and often very funny).”

“The stylised direction by Jamie Jackson has shades of Danny Boyle about it”

 

The Stage – ★★★★

“The result is both humorous and disturbing, with the playwriting being remarkably assured, well observed and emotionally convincing.”

“Movement work by Isla Jackson-Ritchie ensures that the staging is never static and creates a physical impression of the online world in what is a really exciting debut play.”

 

The Public Reviews – ★★★★

“it is the insight in [Eclair-Powell’s] writing and the tenderness shown towards her characters which are the most memorable features of her play.”

“this little gem reveals a new writer full of promise”

 

TimeOut

“Phoebe Eclair-Powell has created a harshly funny story of modern-day loneliness and male alienation.”

“Jamie Jackson’s boldly directed production is infused with evocative, jerky choreography “

“There’s very strong performances too from Leon Williams and Sam Clemmett.”

 

Bargain Theatre

“a great script, interesting and engaging characters who are brought to life through wit, pathos and astute performers, a great set and lighting all wrapped up with a brilliant soundtrack.”

“the whole stage is a delicious visual feast.”

“Thoroughly deserving of an audience, Theatre503 has programmed here another piece of exciting new writing.

Interview with WINK director, Jamie Jackson

February 19th, 2015

Jamie Jackson is a theatre director, some recent credits include: Skint (Vaults Festival), Alice through the Looking Glass (Iris Theatre), as well as shorts Care (Arcola Theatre) and CoalEaters (Theatre503) both by Phoebe Eclair-Powell. In March, he directs WINK, Phoebe’s debut full length play – we chat to him about his vision for the production.

What has been the process behind developing WINK?

Phoebe and I started talking about our first full length show in 2013, having worked together on a short play BANGIN’ WOLVES previously. I was offered time with Old Vic New Voices to develop a play, and invited Phoebe to join me. We later participated in 503Futures, a programme providing writers with a weeks’ development and showcase. Tara Finney subsequently came on board as producer, and 503 as co-producer and venue. Phoebe and I have spent the last six months developing the play with dramaturg Graeme Thompson, researching the play’s subject matter alongside redrafts of the script.

We knew we wanted to create a show that dealt with the impact of the internet/social media on young people and wanted to be an exciting, visceral and properly theatrical experience for the audience.

What challenges does the script contain in staging?

WINK is unique in that it contains no stage directions – a daunting but equally very exciting challenge for a director! The only stage direction in the script is “This play should be performed with movement and sound.” I consider myself very privileged that Phoebe has placed such trust in me as a director and given me such space to put my own stamp on the play.

How will you tackle the play?

I started by asking myself three questions. What should it look like? What should it sound like? What should it feel like? I knew that I wanted to find a language that could convey the interior world of the characters as much as it could the exterior, as the majority of the play is told in internal monologues. Phoebe and I both knew that we wanted to tell a story about computers and phones without using computers and phones, to use a less conventional but still accessible way of telling the story. We want to make the ordinary seem extraordinary, and ensure that it feels immediate and relevant to the people whom the play is actually about, yet still worked as a heightened dramatic experience. We want it to feel contemporary not just in subject matter, but the way we present it on stage.

WINK moodboard

I’ve since watched a lot of research material that shares thematic concerns with WINK, or approaches telling contemporary stories in bold and interesting ways. From this, I created two moodboards; one a collage of images and a film version including music.

Please click here to watch the film version.

“This play should be performed with movement and sound. How are those two elements going to feature in your production?

I have worked closely on the physical language of WINK with the Movement Director, Isla Jackson-Ritchie, and we have focused on using movement to articulate what goes unsaid by the characters. What they are thinking but not necessarily saying out loud. I also want to use it to differentiate between the online and offline world; that the impact of their adventures in the internet has a real and physical impact on the characters.

Working with Sound Designer Max Pappenheim, we want the music in the production to articulate how the characters are feeling. For example, when Mark goes for an incredibly fast and thrilling run, we want to use music that creates that sensation in the audience – to mirror Mark’s adrenaline rush. The music we are working with isn’t necessarily recognisable but feels contemporary and relevant to the world of the play.

Isla, Max and I will work closely together throughout the rehearsal process to tie the elements together. 

Can you share with us your plans for the set?

Our designer, Bethany Wells, has created a playing space that has qualities of an arena, which adds to the competitive, tactical side of the narrative. We wanted to make a space that felt purposefully cinematic, to allow us to draw the audiences’ eye toward particular images that inform them of the focus of each scene.

Lighting will play a large part in informing the audience which location we are in throughout the show. Working with the lighting designer, Aaron J. Dootson, we decided that whilst we won’t have computers on stage, the design will feature the familiar glare of a computer/phone screen and isolate them on stage from each other, reminding us of their continuing disconnect from the world around them.

Sounds exciting!

Thanks. We’re really excited about creating something that challenges what’s possible in fringe theatre, and creating something unexpected.

 

WINK runs from 10 March to 4 April at Theatre503

For more information on the show & to book tickets click here

Off West End Award Nomination for ‘The Separation’

February 3rd, 2015

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We’re are overjoyed to announce that this week The Separation has been nominated for Best New Play in the Off West End awards! This darkly comic Irish drama, brought to us by company Pixilated Plays, is even the first play to be named in its category. It’s an invigorating start to the shows second week of its run at Theatre503!

Set in the build-up to Ireland’s historic divorce referendum of 1995, The Separation is an unsettling – and uproarious – journey into the dark heart of a disintegrating Dublin family.

 

Come explore he play’s hard-hitting subject matter further in some exciting post-show talks hosted by the company:

Directors Night

3rd February

Post show Q+A with Simon Evans

Marriage, Divorce & Catholic Ireland

10th February

Post show panel discussion

Irish Theatre Makers Night

17th February 

Post show panel discussion