1 June 2014

WeFund Video for 'A Little Nonsense'

Juncture Theatre's A Little Nonsense is heading to Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 and we need to raise a huge amount of money to get there. As part of our fundraising I worked closely with the company and film-makers Matty Groves and Chris Collier to produce this wonderful little video about our appeal. If you would like to donate and support us in getting to the festival, please click here.

27 May 2014

Mayfest at The Wardrobe 2014

For the past few months I have been working frantically to produce Mayfest at The Wardrobe 2014, Mayfest's third collaboration with The Wardrobe Theatre. Each year we with Bristol annual festival of contemporary performance to programme a range of work up-and-coming artists and companies in the region. This year between 19th and 23rd May I was delighted that we were able to showcase new work by Bristol-based artist Bella Fortune and welcome back Verity Standen after the phenomenal success of HUG. It was also great to introduce the city to the excellent improvisers, Katy & Rach. The week of performances was fantastically received by terrific audiences and I look forward to doing it all again next year.

11 May 2014

Directing Puppetry Workshop with Emma Williams

Yesterday I attended a puppetry directing workshop led by Emma Williams, a great local director who's shows I have enjoyed watching for years. The day was divided up into working with lots of different types of puppets from simple object manipulation to hand puppets and rith the way through to bunraku puppetry. It was a wonderful workshop put on by Puppet Place and it has given me some great ideas and skills which hopefully I can put into practice soon working on Thumbelina with Corina Bona and the new Christmas production with The Wardrobe Theatre.

9 May 2014

Designing Wedding Invitation

Meghan Leslie and Edmund McKay, two close friends of mine, are getting married this summer in San Diego and I was delighted that they asked me to work with them to design their wedding invitations.

5 May 2014

The Wardrobe Theatre's Updated Box Office

It's taken months of meetings, negotiations and organising but as of this week, tickets for all shows at The Wardrobe Theatre can now be purchased in advance via the box office at Tobacco Factory Theatres. This is a huge step forward for the venue I am co-director of as it will improve the way we run things at the venue tenfold. For too long we've had to rely on an unreliable email ticket reservation system with all tickets payed for on the door in cash. The new system streamlines the booking system, our accounts and should make people's visits to The Wardrobe Theatre easier and more enjoyable. Furthermore, the backing of an wonderful institution like Tobacco Factory Theatres who are willing to go into a long term partnership with us on this is a terrific validation for our venue. They have supported us from the very start and I am excited to see what this new box office system could mean for our whole venue in the future.

29 March 2014

Bristol Old Vic Adult Company Clown Workshops with Toby Hulse

For the past 12 weeks I have been attending a weekly evening clowning class at Bristol Old Vic available through Bristol Old Vic Adult Company. The course was run by Toby Hulse, a local theatre director who specialises in clown, who I've wanted to work with for a long time. The course was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed approaching clown from a different point of view to my previous experiences. I also felt I made significant progress as a decent clown performer. I learnt a huge amount during these 12 weeks and now I'm going to try my damnest to put this hard work into practice on some shows.

27 March 2014

The Wardrobe Theatre recieves Bristol City Council Creative Seed Funding Support

A couple of weeks ago I got the fantastic news that a funding application I submitted to Bristol City Council for their Creative Seed Fund was successful. This support enables us to change the way we work with theatre companies that make shows for families and enables us to put on three new productions by Bristol-based companies and artists for family audiences over the coming year. This is the first funding The Wardrobe Theatre has ever received and feels like a huge step forward in the development of the venue I am co-director of.

26 March 2014

'Thumbelina' R&D

After advising her on a successful Arts Council England Grant For The Arts application, during the last week of February and a handful of one-off days since I have been working very closely with Corina Bona to R&D her new one-woman puppetry family show, Thumbelina: A Fairytale Case. The show has a playful film noir setting and follows a young detective as she explores the kidnapping of a young girl, Thumbelina. As the investigation deepens, the detective meets a range of fun characters and animals including toads, bugs, dogs, rodents and sparrows. During this research and development process as we explore the show, its characters and story I have been working as part-director, part-dramaturg but mainly as a co-devisor with Corina and a handful of other theatre makers. These days have been really playful and productive, sometimes very challenging as we grapple with the limitations of a one-woamn puppet show, but we have successfully created some wonderful characters and generated some wonderful moments that we can hopefully use to build towards a finished production.

18 March 2014

Closer Each Day Mini-Series for Bristol Improv Festival 2014

For 5 nights last week as part of Bristol Improv Festival 2014, Closer Each Day Company performed The Improvised Soap Opera Mini-Series at The Bierkeller Theatre. The idea was to replicate our much-loved format from The Wardrobe Theatre but with all new characters, all new settings and all new plotlines. After much rehearsing, we settled on the idea of setting this new mini-series onboard a cruise liner (which ended up being named The Spirit of The Waves). The show was a wonderful nautical adventure featuring dance-routines, marriage proposals, mini-Olympics, Titanic parodies, Baywatch parodies, food poisonings, characters thrown over-board, stowaways and castaways. The existing Closer Each Day cast all featured and were joined on stage by some very special improv guests each night including members of Glitch, Impromptu Shakespeare, Bristol Improv Network and on Thursday night I even handed over my role as off-stage director to appear onstage with Closer Each Day for the first time as Luke, a bedraggled castaway with a dark secret, which was a scream. The week was an exhausting but exhilarating one as we performed every night as the late night bonus performance after the festival's other two main acts. On the final night we performed to a packed out audience as a warm up to the best improvisers in the business, The Showstoppers, which was a real privilege. We all had a great time working on this show and hopefully we'll be able to do it all again at some point in the future.

24 February 2014

Assisting on Juncture's Clown Workshops in Devon

As part of Juncture Theatre's 2 week residency at The Bike Shed Theatre between 4th and 14th February 2014, we were able to organise 3 workshops with students in the South West who wanted to learn more about clowning. Company director, Anna Girvan, led these afternoon sessions and I assisted her on each one. The sessions were with a couple of societies from Exeter University Students Union and with TYKES (Teignmouth Young Keystone Entertainers). The group sizes of the sessions varied from 8-25 and the students were aged between 13-21 years. Anna and I introduced the groups to the world and rules of clown, played several games with them as a group and individuals and then catered the last hour or so towards the sort of clowning they were most interested in including Tragic Clowning and Ensemble Clowning. These 3 sessions were really great fun to run and I look forward to doing more in the build up to Edinburgh Fringe and spreading the good message of clowning around.

22 February 2014

Devising New Show 'Stuff' with Juncture Theatre

During Juncture Theatre's fortnight residency at The Bike Shed Theatre in February the company worked together to devise a new show during the daytimes. The new performance piece was called Stuff and is inspired by Miranda July's book, It Chooses You, in which she explores people's idiosyncrasies and how people develop relationships with the objects they surround themselves with. I took part in several days of this devising period and helped create and try ideas as we built towards performances of Stuff at the end of the residency. These performances were received very well by their audiences and we have since been invited back to premier the finished show at Ignite Festival 2014.

21 February 2014

Producing Juncture's Residency at The Bike Shed Theatre

Several months ago Juncture Theatre contacted me to see if I would be interested in working for the company as a producer as they had a 2 week residency at The Bike Shed Theatre fast approaching. During these weeks in February 2014 they would perform their clown drama A Little Nonsense in the evenings whilst working on new show, Stuff, during the day. Theatre producing is something I am trying to do less and less at the moment and so I am very careful about the projects I take on but this one was an easy decision. When A Little Nonsense premiered at The Wardrobe Theatre back in November 2012, I thought it was the best show we had at the venue all year. I found the performances, characters and writing powerful, hilarious and really interesting. This coupled with the fact I would be working with three close friends of mine who I already had terrific working relationships with (director Anna Girvan and performers Adam Blake and Harry Humberstone) meant I was delighted to accept the offer. As part of my role I organised the entire trip to Exeter including all accommodation and travel, wrote an Arts Council England funding application for the residency (which was unfortunately unsuccessful), was the main contact between Juncture and The Bike Shed Theatre, sat in on some of the rehearsals, created a new promotional image for the show and was responsible for generating and carrying out an effective marketing campaign. This was the third time A Little Nonsense had visited Exeter in 2 years and so trying to sell a fortnight of performances to audiences there was always going to be a hard task but I think we managed very well. We got a lot of local press (including an interview with me on a local blog), engaged the city's student community, and ran several successful online campaigns which resulted in an average attendance over the fortnight of over 40% which we were pretty happy with. David Lockwood, director of The Bike Shed Theatre, remarked how impressed he was with our decent audiences for the run considering this slot just after Christmas was historically very quiet. The fortnight was a wonderful experience for all those involved in the show and now we build towards taking A Little Nonsense to Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014!

10 February 2014

50th Ever Episode of Closer Each Day

Last Tuesday was a momentous occasion for Closer Each Day Company as it marked the 50th ever episode of our improvised soap opera. Originally planned as only a trial show, thanks to the support and commitment of a dedicated group of performers and theatre producers, Closer Each Day has grown to become one of the pillars of The Wardrobe Theatre. Its fortnightly performances have been growing in popularity since the show's inception in the summer of 2011 and we were blown away by the incredible amount of people who turned up to watch for this 50th episode special - surely one of the biggest audiences in the theatre's history! The performance was Episode 2 of Season 7 of the show. We wanted to make it a memorable one and so contrived to bring back a few of the show's long dead characters via a flashback. It proved to be a masterstroke and was a really brilliant performance full of delicious soap opera-y drama and hilarious scenes. With 13 characters onstage, it was also one of the most challenging episodes ever for me to direct but I managed to hold the reigns very well to control the story. To celebrate this landmark episode for Closer Each Day we also had a commemorative decorative plate made up with a unique illustration from Phillipa Thomas and created this wonderful accompanying video. Bring on the next 50 episodes!

26 January 2014

Spring 2014 Season at The Wardrobe Theatre

For the past several months I have been working intensively once again with my two fellow co-Artistic Directors of The Wardrobe Theatre to put together another excellent, daring and supportive programme of theatre, comedy and regular local nights at our venue which is constantly growing in influence, momentum and recognition. The programme this season is as always a diverse mix of performance, and supports and collaborates with a huge range of local and national artists. This season I am particularly excited about new work by FellSwoop Theatre, Callum Mitchell of Silly Boys, The MolinoGroup and Glass Eye Theatre. Here's the season's printed brochure which I designed very closely with the venue's resident illustrator, Ben Goodman:

11 January 2014

Creative Producer on 'Se7en Dwarfs'

After last year's sell-out success of Oedipuss In Boots, for 2013 we wanted something equally daring, dark and silly for The Wardrobe Theatre's Christmas show. After several meetings we settled on the idea of merging the classic family fairy tale Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs and David Fincher’s cult 1995 horror/thriller Se7en which featured murders inspired by the seven deadly sins. This constrasting of light and dark had served us so well for the theatre's last two Christmas shows and we were excited to make this idea a reality as another darkly comic, adult only, anti-Christmas pantomime. I was Creative Producer on the project and worked very closely with the show's excellent director Anna Girvan for several months as we had countless production and creative meetings, hosted an R&D week at the theatre, held auditions for the show, assembled a terrific creative team, carried out an effective marketing campaign, held a couple of invited previews and negotiated several large stumbling blocks which presented themselves during the run. In the early months I also had a big hand in creating the story and structure for the show and I joined the cast for the first week of devising and rehearsals to help get the show on its feet. The show was a particulalry ambitious one for us at The Wardrobe Theatre this year as the show had to share a stage with a family show which ran every day during the run, The Little Match Girl by Dot & Ethel Theatre, but we pulled it off. The result of all this hard work was a truly excellent production which exceeded all our expectations. Tickets sales for Se7en Dwarfs at The Wardrobe Theatre were absolutely through the roof and sold-out audiences were in fits of laughter night after night. It really feels like we've hit on something here with an alternative anti-panto for adults! Such was the demand for tickets that we had to put on 5 extra performances of the show including 4 that stretched into January 2014 - something we never dared dream before the run. The show was a hysterical, smart and daring production and I'm proud to have played a part in its success. Eyes turn toward Christmas 2014 now naturally but who's to say that Se7en Dwarfs won't get a second wind much like Oedipuss In Boots did this year as it went on tour? Who knows!

Forced into early retirement after her over-exuberance in the field of duty, Detective White is reluctantly brought back to the police department to help with one last case. But with a madman on the loose and the body count creeping towards the fourth prime number, can Detective White conquer her demons and solve this dark riddle in time to catch the serial killer?

"Director Anna Girvan has created an exceptionally funny show that generates all the informality and chaos expected of a panto-esque production whilst also refreshing it."
Theatre Bristol Writes

“This quirky, laugh-out-loud three-hander will leave you wanting more and it might even put you off traditional pantos for good.”
Bristol Culture

31 December 2013

'Oedipuss In Boots' - Christmas Tour 2013: Exeter

Our final stop on the Oedipuss In Boots Christmas 2013 tour was at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter between the 19th and 21st December. This small, young venue is a really wonderful space in Exeter and is fast growing in reputation as a vibrant cultural hub for exciting theatre talent in the South West. I had a great time when I brought Ablutions with FellSwoop Theatre here in June and so it was an easy decision to bring Oedipuss In Boots here. We were programmed as a late night alternative adult panto after showings of the venue's in-house family Christmas show, Eliza And The Wild Swans by The Wardrobe Ensemble. The Wardrobe Theatre and The Wardrobe Ensemble are affiliated companies who collaborate regularly and so it was a wonderful coincidence and pleasure to share the venue with them. In the lead up to our run I was interviewed on air by Phonic FM, an interview you can listen to again here. Putting the show's cardboard proscenium arch up and down every performance was a bit of a pain (and especially difficult with some severe time constrains) but it served to make sure we were all on our toes and rearing to go for each performance. The three shows each enjoyed packed, enthusiastic audiences and the run was a wonderful send off for the show. One audience member was moved enough to email The Bike Shed Theatre after the show to say "Just wanted to let you know how much I loved this play - funniest thing I've seen for ages, thanks for putting it on!" - which is nice. One of the performances was particularly memorable as we had a few surprises in store for James Kent, the show's lead, as it was his 21st birthday but those surprises will remain as joyous memories for us and the 60 odd other people that were in the auditorium that night. Exeter marked the end of the show's Christmas tour and even though we have no plans to take Oedipuss In Boots anywhere else or every perform it again, who's to say we won't fancy revisiting it in the future? We would certainly listen to offers or suggestions if another company or venue wanted to stage it somewhere but for now, Oedipuss In Boots goes back in the tattered suitcase and under The Wardrobe Theatre's stage.

26 December 2013

'Oedipuss In Boots' - Christmas Tour 2013: Bristol

As part of The Wardrobe Theatre's 2013 Christmas tour of Oedpiuss In Boots, we were offered the chance to bring the show back to Bristol for a one-off home town performance at The Canteen on 17th December so we jumped at it! The show was a free event at the popular bar on Stokes Croft and was attended by 100 people at least, many of whom had seen the show last Christmas but wanted to bring friends and family this time and individuals who missed the show first time round and had been waiting 12 months for it to come back to Bristol. The busy bar atmosphere meant the performance had a wonderful wild feel to it (very similar to when we performed the show at Shambala Festival 2013) and it meant the cast really had to be on their toes but we were rewarded with an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end. It was a terrific night and hopefully has opened the door for future collaborations between The Wardrobe Theatre and The Canteen.

22 December 2013

'Oedipuss In Boots' - Christmas Tour 2013: Brighton

After a terrific two weeks at The Wardrobe Theatre in 2012 as the venue's Christmas show and a rip-roaring performance at Shambala Festival 2013, I decided to look into the potential for touring Oedipuss In Boots around the country for Christmas 2013. We still really loved performing the production and really felt it stood up as a quality show that was worth trying to reach more audiences with so after some great offers from various venues, we eventually settled on taking the show to Brighton and Exeter (with a bonus one-off home town show in Bristol too). Between 7th and 21st December 2013 Oedipuss In Boots became the first ever production of The Wardrobe Theatre's to tour! After a few days getting the production back on its feet in Bristol with some minor reworkings, our first stop on the tour was Upstairs At Three And Ten in Brighton. This small pub venue in the very centre of the city has lots of similarities to The Wardrobe Theatre in terms of size, feel and audience and is it also a prime venue during Brighton's annual fringe theatre festival so felt like a great place to bring the show. I produced the entire tour, designed our new flyers and posters, worked with Ben Goodman to produce a new tour trailer and also worked whilst on the road as stage manager, technical operator and (in the absence of the show's director for Brighton) gave notes to the actors and worked on problems with the performance as they arose. We performed Oedipuss In Boots in Brighton for 7 nights and all the audiences here really love the show. However, it must be said the numbers were a lot lower than we had hoped for. This tour was always going to be a steep learning curve for us and one of the valuable lessons was overestimating our audience reach in Brighton. We would have done a lot better to do half the number of performances here with 3/4 busy nights rather than 7 quite quiet shows. We always knew Brighton was going to be a big risk though as we've never been here before with any of our shows and the city is geographically very far from Bristol so the reputation of The Wardrobe Theatre's work hasn't really spread this far. That being said, we all had an amazing time bringing the show here and it felt like a really momentous step in The Wardrobe Theatre's history - to celebrate we even staged a fun photoshoot on Brighton's pier with local photographer Edward Moore. Hopefully this has started a good relationship between ourselves and Upstairs At Three And Ten and, who knows, in the future we may be able to bring other productions here.