Friday, October 30

Interviews

Imitating the dog are the first company to get back on the road
Interviews, NEWS

Imitating the dog are the first company to get back on the road

If you had to put your money on any company having the balls to get back on the road in the midst of a pandemic a strong favourite would be imitating the dog. Over the last 20 years they have never been afraid of a challenge and they have been busy devising a new outdoor show Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show that kicks off a national tour at Leeds Playhouse. Co-Artistic Director Pete Brooks is hard at work with the cast at the Playhouse but says that a company famed for their innovative use of technology are taking inspiration from an ancient theatrical tradition for their latest adventure. “It’s not set in mediaeval times, but it’s a sort of mediaeval morality tale when groups of traveling players told stories,” says Pete in a break from final rehearsals. “The idea is that there i...
Derby Theatre is back with a show all about community
Interviews

Derby Theatre is back with a show all about community

Like many spaces Derby Theatre is dipping its toe back into live shows with a socially distanced performance bringing together voices in the local community and professional performers. Their Artistic Director and CEO Sarah Brigham says they could have just thrown on a murder mystery one hander for their return, but instead they have gone for something deeper to reopen their stage with a community devised event billed as Derby Rises on Sunday 27th September. “When we were thinking about reopening the theatre we were all expecting this big grand opening, standing ovations, massive shows and it’s become clear that’s not going to happen,” observes Sarah in the midst of pulling the show together and deep cleaning the venue. “We felt the most important thing was that the first thing o...
Josephs Assemble……for a special online production of a timeless classic!
Interviews

Josephs Assemble……for a special online production of a timeless classic!

In the same way the Avengers assemble to fight baddies a crack squad of Josephs have come together to perform an online megamix version of that classic musical for showbiz charity Acting For Others. As well as Darren Day, Jess Conrad and Jaymi Hensley, who have all played the man with the multi coloured coat over the last 52 years, the Josephs are joined by a team of 30 former ensemble performers. The original idea of this charity event came from Jordan Doolan who runs a Facebook fan site. His suggestion caught the attention of West End performer and producer Adam Lacey who decided he wanted to help turn the idea from a concept into a production. “Jordan had this idea that everyone is in lockdown and the London production we saw with Sheridan Smith, Jac Yarrow and Jason Donovan w...
Hard hitting urban drama No Milk for the Foxes makes a welcome return online
Interviews

Hard hitting urban drama No Milk for the Foxes makes a welcome return online

Try as it might theatre all too often gets working class culture badly wrong unless it is created by people who have lived experience of daily struggle and social disadvantage. That’s exactly why the online revival of Beats & Elements’ 2015 production of No Milk for the Foxes is very welcome. Using spoken word, beatboxing and live looping Beats & Elements founders Conrad Murray and Paul Cree explored David Cameron's England from the perspective of their own class. It’s the tale of security guards Marx, a white working-class male from Croydon, and Spaxx, an Anglo-Indian from Mitcham, counting down the hours on a zero hours nightshift. So did Conrad base these two funny and angry men on anyone he knew, or they are composites? “It is when it comes to Spaxx, and it is ...
Lockdown Interview – Willy Russell
Interviews

Lockdown Interview – Willy Russell

On 11th May as part of Bloomsbury Academic and Stage-ed, I had the pleasure of being involved in a Q&A session with writer, composer, and lyricist Willy Russell, best known for Blood Brothers, Educating Rita, and Our Day Out, to name but a few of his celebrated works. I have a confession to make: on a personal level, Russell had a huge influence on me both as a writer and actor. Our Day Out was the first musical I was cast in and Blood Brothers was the first musical I watched. So, to be part of this was something really special for me. Russell spoke openly and honestly as to how Blood Brothers came about and how he wrote and composed the songs for the show, and in a session that was scheduled to last one hour, ever the gentleman, he gave us ninety minutes. With the soundtrack fo...
Elizabeth Newman finds new ways of making work
Interviews

Elizabeth Newman finds new ways of making work

In the second part of an interview with Pitlochry Festival Theatre Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman our Features Editor Paul Clarke hears about the innovative work her team are doing to stay connected to their audience and community. Like most artistic directors Elizabeth Newman was focused on staging her next season at Pitlochry Festival Theatre and then COVID-19 struck forcing her to abandon most of that work as the theatre closed its doors. That meant Newman and her team at the Perthshire venue had to quickly pivot away from the traditional way of making theatre into a very different way of connecting with their audience at the self-styled ‘theatre in the woods’. “As we entered lockdown we launched some really key initiatives,” recalls Elizabeth.  “The first was PFT...
Elizabeth Newman is keeping theatre alive in the hills
Interviews

Elizabeth Newman is keeping theatre alive in the hills

In the first of a two-part interview with Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Elizabeth Newman our Features Editor Paul Clarke asks her about the challenges of being an artistic director in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. After eight successful years as Bolton Octagon’s Artistic Director, Elizabeth Newman moved across the border to lead the team at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, but just as she was preparing to launch a new season of productions COVID-19 struck. Elizabeth and her team at the Perthshire venue are in lockdown after scrapping that season of work. They’ve been using that time to create online work in the maelstrom of a totally unprecedented challenge for the theatre world that managed to keep the lights on even as the Luftwaffe were dropping bombs on London. There's not...
Lockdown Interviews – Peter Egan
Interviews

Lockdown Interviews – Peter Egan

Peter Egan has been appearing on stage and screen for over 50 years. He is probably most well-known for his roles as Paul in the television sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles with Richard Briers and as Hugh “Shrimpie” MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire in Downton Abbey. Despite being known for his numerous roles in TV and film he is an award winning stage actor and has acted with both the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and The National. I started by asking what inspired him to become an actor. “I left school at 15 with no qualifications. My prospects were pretty dismal. I did a series of jobs all of which I hated. “When I was 16, I stumbled into acting by joining an amateur group in Ladbroke Grove, West London. “I became fascinated by the process of acting by watching this group...