24 July 2014

End of Closer Each Day Season 7 and Auditions for Season 8

Tuesday 8th July saw Episode 13 of Closer Each Day: The Improvised Soap Opera at The Wardrobe Theatre and thus Season 7 of the show was brought to a close. It's been the busiest and best season of the show yet and I'm constantly thrilled to be working so closely with such a talented bunch of performers. Season 7 did feel a little unbalanced with the number of male versus female performers in the cast however and so at the end of July we hosted an audition to find some new funny women to join the show. John Lomas, Lindsey Garwood and I ran an informal workshop audition for eight or so women and we were overwhelmed with the quality and range of improvisers we were able to bring together. However, we only have so much room in the cast at the moment and so I am delighted that for the new season, we will be joined by Shaelee Rooke and Abbi Davey. It feels really exciting to be bringing some fresh blood into the group and it should make Season 8 the best yet of the show!

2 July 2014

Muppets Die Hard R&D

For a handful of days last week a few of The Wardrobe Theatre's familiar faces (including Chris Collier, Andrew Kingston, Corina Bona, Malcolm Hamilton and I) gathered at the venue to explore ideas for the theatre's 2014 Christmas show. Se7en Dwarfs is going to be one heck of a tough act to follow but we feel we have a terrific idea to rival it. We want to create a comic, festive ode to Die Hard (the cult 1988 action film starring Bruce Willis), told primarily with puppets in a Muppets' Christmas Carol fashion - "Muppets Die Hard". I will be working as dramaturg and producer on the project and this R&D was a fun and fruitful few days as we worked through various ideas and way to tell the story and I feel we've established some firm foundations for what could become a really amazing show. Next step is to try and get some funding to make the show before we go into the rehearsal room proper in the autumn.

27 June 2014

Bristol Culture - My Bristol Favourites

Last week I was asked to name my favourite 5 things about Bristol for the Bristol Culture website. After a few days of pondering, I finally plucked for the floating harbour, independent businesses, Closer Each Day: The Improvised Soap Opera, hot air balloons, and Bristolians making it happen. You can read my reasons by clicking here.

23 June 2014

Clowning with The Original Spinners in Stratford

Yesterday I had an amazing time in Stratford with The Original Spinners as the group were asked to perform some walkabout clown at the RSC's A Midsummer Sundae event. I had attended one rehearsal with the clown troupe before I was asked to join them for the gig in Stratford. I prompted jumped at the opportunity and had a fantastic time clowning around all afternoon in the grounds of the RSC's theatre. We performed three of The Original Spinners main routines including Land Of Play, Cowboys and Synchronised Swimmers. It was a wonderful day and I look forward to the chance to perform with them again.

22 June 2014

Utterance Gig at The Star and Dove

Last Friday in the Star and Dove pub, Totterdown, Verity Standen's Utterance choir shared the bill with The Morning Chorus and The Fine Chisel Band in a fun fundraiser music night to raise money for Verity's trip to Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014 with HUG and Mmm Hmmm. The show was a terrifically fun night with much dancing and merriment.

13 June 2014

Bristol Acting Academy

For the past 8 weeks I have been attending a regular acting course at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School as part of Bristol Acting Academy. The course concluded last Wednesday with a handful of short two-hander performances by the students. I performed a scene from The Crucible playing John Proctor. The course was something I wanted to do to gain more experience as an actor but also to get outside of my comfort zone and work with some people I didn't know. It's very easy to get consumed in the Bristol theatre-making scene bubble and although it's fantastic to be able to work with the same people regularly, it's also very useful and you learn a lot about yourself when working with new people. I also wanted to get a chance to work in a more traditional way and with scripts rather than making theatre by devising and improvising which I predominantly do at the moment. The course was a really interesting few weeks and I certainly learnt a lot. Most of all however, it gave me real personal confidence as a performer and theatre-maker.

9 June 2014

Wildbore at Exeter's Ignite Theatre Festival

Last week Wildbore (written by and starring Jesse Meadows) become the second of The Wardrobe Theatre's in-house productions to tour outside Bristol. The show received Arts Council England support (an application I helped write) to be reworked and further developed for a trip to Exeter Ignite Festival. I produced the show during this development and helped it get good audiences during its 3 performances at Exeter Library. The show's future is now uncertain but it will remain a very powerful, affecting and intimate work.

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.

24 May 2014

Utterance Gig at Mayfest's The Blind Tiger

Last night Verity Standen's Utterance choir performed a fun and informal set during Mayfest in Bristol Old Vic's bar area which had been transformed into a festival speakeasy known as The Blind Tiger.

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.

5 April 2014

Script Space Reader

This year I took part in Tobacco Factory Theatres' Script Space competition as a script reader. Over the past few weeks I've read through 10s of scripts submitted to the theatre, each hoping to win the competition and get made into a full show. It will now be interesting to see which get selected to be made at the end of the process.

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.