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The Gambit…Q&A with writer Mark Reid & actor Ben Rigby

July 22nd, 2015

Mark Reid’s new play The Gambit is coming to Theatre503 with Manchester based production company Rampant on  Read what Mark, Rampant Artistic Director, and one of the plays performers Ben Rigby had to say about the production…


Q:  What inspired this production? Did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?

Mark: This was an exercise as part of the Royal Exchange writers group, to bring in a story from that day’s newspaper.  I found one I felt was inherently undrammatic (two players having a game of chess for the first time in 25 years), to challenge the group.  A colleague reversed the challenge on to me.  Because there was something in the situation which chimed with my personal life it all came together.

Q:  Why take your work to Edinburgh and why preview your work at Theatre503?

Mark: Partly because it’s a show that we all believe should have small opportunity to get in front of a wider audience, and partly for the chance to be part of the atmosphere of the Edinburgh Festival fringe.

Ben: Absolutely, and it makes sense to get down to London for some previews, as a Northern based company we’re often on the outside of the conversation, but to get into a fantastic space like Theatre503 and to showcase the production before taking it to the festival seems like a no-brainer.

Q. What can the audience expect to see and feel – or even think – of your production?

Mark: It is an intimate piece of chamber theatre but with two highly intellectual and combative characters – thereby giving plenty of scope for big ideas.  But it’s driven by a universal human story of friendship and what can happen when it goes wrong.  It’s set in a single room around a chess set but the imagination takes it across Europe.

Ben:  And it’s the human story that really resonates.  The chess is merely a metaphor for the complexities of the relationship, the resounding feedback we have had from audiences is that they too have experienced the loss of friendship that Garry and Anatoly exhibit in the play.

A little more about Flight Lessons…Interview with Writer Amy Jephta.

July 17th, 2015

On Friday 31st Just we play host to dark comedy Flight Lessons, a story discussing what it’s like to be an expat in the UK. South African writer Amy Jephta gives us an insight on what inspired her to write it…

What inspired the play?

Saria, the actress who performs Flight Lessons, started having a conversation with me over Skype. We wanted to collaborate on a story that we both felt interested in and strongly about. Our conversations veered in the direction of what it felt like to be young and South African, moving through the world, living in another country. How the place always seemed to stay with you and in you, no matter where you went. So those initial conversations is what started Flight Lessons.


Why did you feel the need to write it?

I think plenty of young South Africans go seeking greener pastures somewhere else, because living in South Africa has a tendency to make you feel quite isolated, sometimes. It’s a tiny corner of the world that can feel very removed. I thought that was an interesting story to engage with.


What do you hope for this year’s Edinburgh production of Flight Lessons?

As with all plays, you hope someone sees the work and feels moved by it, or connects to it. I hope people find it funny, and maybe a bit sad. I guess in the end, having it out there is the most important thing.

Flight Lessons

“A Study on the Stillness of Love” Interview with performers Ming Hudson and Robert Thorpe-Woods

July 17th, 2015

The UK premiere of Andre Neely’s haunting, brilliant new play A Study on the Stillness of Love is here Thursday 30 July & Saturday 1 August as part of our Edinburgh Previews Season. Read what performers Ming Hudson and Robert Thorpe-Woods had to say about the show…

What is it like working on this play and how are you finding the process? 

Rob: It’s been exciting to see it develop. When I was reading the script for the first time I found myself a bit perplexed as to how it would be staged. The direction is a very physical approach, and that has been a very positive challenge for me: to get into my body straight away. I wanted to find something this year that was really going to push me as an actor. The play has a very interesting topic and the characters are so intricate. It’s interesting to see them progress.

Ming: I’m really enjoying working on this project because it’s such an open rehearsal space. We have the luxury of having a very gracious playwright with us in the room each day that is so open to making changes as we develop the characters. We’re also extra lucky to have a director that is really open to actor input; it lends for a very open and creative process, especially for us actors. We don’t always have the opportunity to have such a creative control over a piece.

Are you looking forward to the previews at Theatre503?

Rob: Of course, it’s a great new writing theatre. A Study on the Stillness of Love really works in an intimate space, such as at the Theatre503, where we get to share the ideas of the writer with the audience really intimately.

Ming: I think it’s great for us to do previews there because it gives us an opportunity to show our work before we head up to Edinburgh, get feedback from the audience and still have the time to incorporate some of that before we go up to Edinburgh and do a full run. With new writing that’s one of the exciting things: as you go along it constantly changes and perhaps even while we’re in Edinburgh things will change cause we’ll find something new, and it shifts in a certain way and that’s why theatre is so exciting.

“Back to Blackbrick” Q&A with Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

July 16th, 2015

Hitting up 503 at the end of our Edinburgh Preview Season will be Patch of Blue with their adaptation of Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s novel ‘Back to Blackbrick’, a sensitive and engaging look at Alzheimer’s through the eyes of a teenager, as well as a hugely exciting adventure story. Here’s what happened when Patch of Blue got to ask her a few questions…

When and why did you begin writing?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write but I didn’t really commit to writing a novel until I was in my forties. The two things I needed were time and courage (It turns out that if you find the latter then it’s much easier to find the former).

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Part of me has always been a writer since I was very young, but I don’t think I allowed myself to call myself a writer until I had finished my first novel, Back to Blackbrick

Tell us a little about ‘Back To Blackbrick’.

It’s the story of a boy who goes back in time and meets his grandfather as a young boy. It explores memory and memory loss – and at the heart of it is the love between a boy and his grandfather – and all the gifts that come from loving and being loved no matter what.

What inspired ‘Back To Blackbrick’?

I started writing this novel around the time that my own father began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and so the grief and loss that I experienced are definitely part of the story. In addition to that, I have always adored time travel stories and been fascinated by them, so somehow the concept of time travel and the experience of memory loss in a loved one seemed to fit together and the story grew from there.

What books have most influenced your life and writing most?

Oh too many to mention. Classic favourites include Catcher in the Rye, Tom’s Midnight Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, Pride and Prejudice and The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy.

How do you feel about ‘Back To Blackbrick’ being adapted for stage?

I am so thrilled that Alex saw something in this story and that he is putting his creative energy into a stage adaptation. I can’t wait to see how the talented Patch of Blue team interprets and articulates the story. It’s a huge compliment to me and to the novel.

Q & A with ‘I and The Village’ Director Robert Shaw Cameron

June 5th, 2015

On Thursday we took to Twitter to ask Robert Shaw Cameron some burning questions about our next show, ‘I and the Village’ by Silva Semerciyan. Read the results below!

@theatre503: What was your first experience of theatre?

@rshawcameron: My early memories are the Edinburgh Fringe and @HullTruck productions of Bouncers and other Godber plays

@theatre503: Describe your style of directing in three words…

@rshawcameron: Invention, truth, visceral

@theatre503: What was the first piece of theatre that you directed and how did it go?

@rshawcameron: The Second Shepherds Play from the York Medieval Mystery Cycle!!! Ambitious start! It was pretty….medieval

@theatre503: What do you look for in a piece of new writing?


@rshawcameron: I’m interested in plays that challenge dramatic form much like @IATVat503 & provoke audiences to rethink their view

@theatre503: What can audiences expect from I and the Village?

@rshawcameron: Firstly fantastic writing by @SilvaSemerciyan and I hope theatrical invention with a twist to the plot which shocks

@theatre503: What has been unique about this creative process?

@rshawcameron: I’ve felt so connected to this piece for so long having met @SilvaSemerciyan 5 years ago and so feel a great deal of responsibility to her and the play. I’m proud of what we are trying to achieve in @nkcomposition sound design too

@theatre503: What makes @IATVat503 unique in it’s exploration of gun crime in America?

@rshawcameron: Like all good plays @SilvaSemerciyan gives space for audiences to make their own judgement and presents all sides

@theatre503: Why do you feel that the issue of young people and violence is pertinent in today’s theatrical climate?

@rshawcameron: We are proud to be giving a performance to Young People in care of @KidsCompanyUK & their issues are reflected in the play. Having a strong young female protagonist at the centre I think is rare and important too

@theatre503: How would you describe the term ‘outsider’?

@rshawcameron: Well, we all are at sometime or another! So in that sense ‘normal’

@theatre503: Finally… #WhoIsAimee?

@rshawcameron: Well she’s…. come along and find out!!

A huge thanks to Robert Shaw Cameron for a great Q&A and insight into @IATVat503 Use code FIRST10 for £10 preview tickets: