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Camden Fringe Interviews and Previews

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Here are our interviews and previews with makers of fringe theatre, comedy, cabaret, dance and more…



INTERVIEW

Eleanor Hill from SYCORAX Theatre Company talks about Obsolete Tomfoolery

Obsolete Tomfoolery

What’s the theme of your show?

As side-splittingly funny as it is thought-provoking, Obsolete Tomfoolery tells the story of Helen Duncan; a famous medium who travelled around Britain in the 1940s performing séances, claiming she was able to physically manifest the spirits of dead people. During the war, she was investigated by MI5 after it appeared she revealed government secrets about sunk British Battleships. In 1944, a few months before D-day, she was sent to prison under a 200-year-old ‘Witchcraft Act’.

What’s new or unique about the show?

Obsolete Tomfoolery is unique because it takes a true story and looks at it from a brand new point of view. Our subject matter of spirituality is not often explored within theatre, as well as the daring combination of so many theatrical styles.

How did the show come into being?:

Jess, one of the Sycorax family, first heard about Helen Duncan on a true crime podcast. She couldn’t believe that there wasn’t already a play or film about her life! She pitched it as an idea to the 2018 year group at East 15 as a potential project for the upcoming MAP festival at school, and Sycorax theatre company was born! Each of the company members brought a different side of a story that they were interested in, and the first drafts of Obsolete Tomfoolery came to life.

Describe one of your rehearsals.:

Each Sycorax rehearsal is different – variety is the spice of our creative life. One day we can be in the studio working on movement improvisation, the next we can be out in the forest doing yoga. We use a lot of games such as viewpoints, chair duets and prop based improvisation.

How is the show developing?

To take the show to the next stage, we have to expand the show from 30 minute show to a 60 minute show. We feel there are still important parts of Helen’s story left to tell and this will be achieved through research, games and improvisation.

How has the writer been involved?

Our writing process involves us meticulously recording our rehearsals and improvisations, then typing them up. Once we have a physical copy of a potential scene, a different member of the company edits the first draft of the script. In this way there is no ownership of the script, we work, write and edit as a company.

How have you experimented?

We never let ideas fester. Once something feels comfortable we love to mess it up! From multi-rolling, changing scene locations and rehearsal venues, nothing stays safe for long. We love to work from a place of chaos: a singing warm up can become a full blown musical number within the show!

Where do your ideas come from?

Our ideas and inspirations are eclectic. Obsolete Tomfoolery pulls heavily on Brechtian performance and rehearsal techniques. We are also inspired by the exciting physical work of frantic assembly, DV8 and RashDash. Each company member brings their individual experience to the rehearsal room and we get our ideas from each other.

What are your future plans for the show ?

We plan on taking Obsolete Tomfoolery to other fringe venues and hopefully touring the show around the UK. After each show we plan on collecting feedback from our audiences in order to be consistently improving our work.

Show dates, times and booking info

Location: Etcetera Theatre. Above the Oxford Arms,

265 Camden High Street, London NW1 7BU

Ticket Price : Adult (£10), Concessions (£7.00)
Dates and Times :
Mon 13th August @ 6.30pm
Mon 20th August @ 12.30pm
Mon 20th August @ 16.30pm
Tue 2st August @ 12.30pm
Tue 21st August @ 16.30pm

Company web site: http://sycoraxtheatrecompany.wordpress.com



INTERVIEW

Claudia Carroll, Artistic Director at Orange Moon talks about The Nightingale & the Rose & Other Tales

The Nightingale & the Rose by Oscar Wilde

What’s the theme of your show?

A duo of Oscar Wilde’s most haunting fairy tales. The Nightingale & the Rose and The Birthday of the Infanta are tales of love and ignorance; selflessness and waste. Balancing the beautiful with the comic; and, in true Wilde style, sillifying the serious and sharply cutting through tragedy with beauty.

Witty and pretty.

What’s new or unique about the show?

Wilde’s fairy tales are quite rarely performed, and this show is particularly uniques as it’s being crafted entirely by women in a new physical and musical adapatation. Just a string of fairy lights with adorn the set and the rest is ensemble -With originally composed music, played live on the cello, and five-part choral harmonies and all squeezed into an hour long show, at three pub venues across London, this is a treat for the eyes, ears and stomach and an evening not to miss!

As the great man said himself: “I can resist everything except temptation.”

Both the co-directors, the movement director and the composer are women, as is the AD of the company, and it will always be this way for Orange Moon. We are not man-haters but we are keeping this platform for ladies to shine through.

The show is ensemble and has been devised by the company, it is accessible, beautiful and inventive. And family friendly too! What’s not unique about that?!

How did the show come into being?

AD Claudia Carroll has wanted to do these fairy tales for a while. Our company focuses on bringing ‘lost’ or rarely performed classics and other stories to the stage. Our last show was Galatea by early modern playwright (and inventor of that title!) John Lyly, first London performance in 400 years!

We have a reading and decide as a company whether this is something we all want to do! Very socialist.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

We rehearse at our local cricket club in the evenings and weekends, so we start by clearing away boxes and bats, open the windows to look out over the beautiful ground and then someone goes downstairs for wine. We often start with a bottle of wine and plenty of snacks between us, have a communal discussion, based on the directors aims and talk about what we want to acheive, then we play with the text as much as possible – although this show involves lifts, so we have non-drinking rehearsals too! We start with an image: “let’s make a rose!’ Then we all get involved and figure out the best way to do it! Often cast and crew bring their children, babies, dogs… everyone is welcome.

We were born out of amateur theatre and do it because we love it and we love working together, so nothing is ever very serious. We want to create theatre that is fun! So we have fun. And the director often gets very upset if people don’t have a drink at some point in the rehearsal…

How is the show developing?

Bit by bit, through play and experimentation. We are creating gardens and palaces and lullabies – and it is quite complex. The blocking takes the most time, as with the style of the piece. Getting everyone on the same page so that the story flows like the vines and leaves within the tales is time-consuming and our movement director and co-directors are in every rehearsal!

But it’s looking fantastic and is really exciting.

How has the writer been involved?

Not at all – he’s dead! (Er…. RIP? Ed)

How have you experimented?

Sooo much. It is all experimentation! We try; it doesn’t work. We try again; it doesn’t work. We combine the previous two ideas and throw in a jump; BOOM! Magic.

Where do your ideas come from?

Mainly AD Claudia brings the stories to the table, being a keen literature geek, and has a style in mind and the rest comes from the company. Everyone puts something into the play and everyone invents as much as each other. We work well together, which is why we are a company!

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

We are ambitious with scale of the piece vs time to rehearse… That’s certainly a challenge!

What are your future plans for the show ?

We want to do a pastoral setting. We are looking at places like the Minack (we wish!) and outdoor theatres in the UK and beyond!

What are your favourite shows, and why?

Everything, ever, by Kneehigh. Frantic Assembly and Complicte, too. these are our inspirations because they do not just reproduce someone else’s story, enacted on a stage by some talented actors with a quirky set design that ‘means’ something. They create theatre in the same way we want to. They play, and they see what comes out. Claudia saw Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter when it first came out, years ago and that has always been the inspiration for Orange Moon. They create images that mean something to people, that are entirely human and understandable, and at the same time hilarious and touching. Theatre is the most humane form of art and it is not so serious that it should feel pretentious, I think. That is what we try to do, make sure people have fun when they come to see us. They should be moved, too, of course! We like to think of it as ‘balancing the beautiful with the comic.’

Show dates, times and booking info: The Barons Court Theatre : 17th – 19th & 20th July @ 7:30pm, 20th July @ 1pm.
Box office: 0208 932 4747

http://www.offwestend.com/index.php/plays/view/17554
The Lion & Unicorn Theatre : 1st – 3rd August @ 2:30pm
https://camdenfringe.com/index.php.
The Landor Space : 15th – 17th August @ 6:30pm, 18th & 19th @ 2pm, 19th @ 6pm.
https://www.landorspace.com/nightingale.

Book here



INTERVIEW

Comedy Improv back at Camden Fringe: Brendan Way, Performer with The Parentheticals talks about  Improdyssey

The Parentheticals: Improdyssey

What’s the theme of your show?

Hard to say as each show will be improvised! But our heroes will probably prove that love, friendship, and family are the best way to go about this world. Unless it turns out this tale was their villain origin story. Plot twist!

What’s new or unique about the show?

Improdyssey is a format we’ve devised that’s a hybrid between an improvised narrative quest and ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’-esque games. Those are two very different styles! Figuratively speaking, we’re mixing cats and dogs to make a whole new beast.

How did the show come into being?

Ever since 2016, our fringe hours at Brighton and Camden have culminated in an improvised epic quest. Each year, they’ve been taking up a little bit more of the show – and for good reason! They’re our favourite bit to do. So this time we’re given over our entire sixty minutes to a single ad-libbed adventure.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

Depends where we are. If we’re at a studio, we’ll start by complaining that the windows don’t open. If we’re at a certain cast member’s house, we’ll play with their dog. Then we get on with some improv!

We warm up with some quick games, then we’ll run a few variations on a stock scene (we meet the villain) or, if we’re feeling brave, do a full show.

How is the show developing?

Terrific. We leave every session feeling like we’ve made progress. Each week we get one step closer to nailing what works. It’s exhilarating.

How has the writer been involved?

Whilst the show is improvised, we have been working on a basic structure. For example, when to bring in certain stock characters and story element. This is our first hour-long quest so we want to ensure the plot keeps moving.

However, when first discussing this project, one of the team said “if it turns out we’ve written a play, we’ll pull back”. And they’re right. The show works best when we’re loose. If we’re in our heads about which scene comes next, we won’t be open to fun tangents. The medium would lose all of its joy. We would be bored. So whilst all our shows will have the same skeleton, each time we flesh it out, the details will be new. No two stories will be the same.

How have you experimented?

We’ve been figuring out how to work more games into the show. We want the audience interacting and contributing as often as possible. Other improv hours take suggestions at the beginning and that’s the only time the crowd gets to help. If your prompt wasn’t used then, you might feel a bit disappointed. So one of our big aims this year is ensuring people get plenty of chances to influence the show.

Where do your ideas come from?

We’ve been taking it in turns to present fairy tales, folklore, and Arthurian legends to each other, then lead discussions on which tropes we could feature in our own stories. All of our ad-libbed adventures at Camden will be set in a mediaeval fantasy/D&D/Lord of the Rings world – think magical woods and talking animals – so we’re very much influenced by those too. Like all improv shows though, we’re mostly inspired by what comes up organically in the room and how audiences react.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

A few rehearsals in to tackling our new format, we tried running our first full hour-long story. The longest quests we’d done prior to that were thirty minutes. The resulting show was a little rough, but we proved our formula works. We can actually do this. And now we know what to tinker with before August.

What are your future plans for the show ?

Up the production values, get better at doing the format, and plan a quest to the biggest Fringe of all: Edinburgh.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

So many of our great improv buddies are at Camden this year – Improbotics. Clusterfox. Open Roads. Panicky Tack. Impro Deathmatch. They’re all worth checking out.

I’m also keen to see Secondhand Stories, the new production by Putnockee Players. Their debut play at Camden Fringe last year was so good! If you’re in Edinburgh, please go watch puppet quintet Bark and B. They’re just wonderful.

Show dates, times and booking info

3rd-5th August. 2:30PM. Etcetera Theatre.

Book here

Company web site: https://theparentheticals.co.uk



INTERVIEW

Two Actors, Fourteen Characters: Debbie Griffiths from Clueless Theatre talks about Two by Jim Cartwright 

Clueless presents Two

What’s the theme of your show?

This classic two-hander expertly blends together a whirlwind of emotion, questionable customer service and unspoken truths. From the landlord and landlady who despise one another to a shaken (not stirred) cocktail of customers; Two explores love in its many forms and guises. Each vignette skilfully combines pathos and humour providing the audience with laughter, tears and a thought or two to take home.

No scenery, no props, no sound effects – just the cast, the audience and the script. Minimalism is the key to this enthralling piece of drama which concentrates on the characters and poetry of Cartrwright’s writing.

What’s new or unique about the show?

Two actors bring 14 characters to their audience in 75 minutes of seamless entertainment with two stools and some rapid costume changes. Described as a roller coaster of emotions, the audience are guaranteed to laugh, cry and gasp.

How did the show come into being?

Kyle Cluett, Debbie Griffiths and Piers Newman, the founding members of Clueless Theatre met whilst performing their award winning production of Two at Bromley Little Theatre in 2014. All three have worked on other projects, but their love and adoration of this play and each other brought the trio back together. In order to bring their production to a wider audience they formed their own theatre company with the aim of touring Two. There is no doubt that this talented trio will be back with more good quality writing and acting. Clueless Theatre – keeps you guessing.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

You might think it was easy to mime working behind a bar – oh how wrong you’d be. At least one rehearsal has been dedicated to marking the till, the pumps, the optics, how to drink – yes really, neither actor could mime drinking? Working the hatch in unison, remembering when it’s up and when it’s down.

How is the show developing?

We are now well into our UK tour and the show is receiving outstanding reviews. It has been described as 75 minutes of spellbinding theatre, a rollercoaster of emotions, tour de force performances, a seamless production that never loses momentum and more.

How has the writer been involved?

The writer wrote this working class poetry back in the 1980’s and it’s a popular play for groups to revive. We know that Jim Cartwright supports working class actors, which we are, and that he goes to Edinburgh. We would like him to see our version of his show and we think he’d like it.

How have you experimented?

Mainly with mime. When we first decided to do the show we wanted to concentrate on the writing, here are some dramatic turns in the show and props would only distract from this.

Where do your ideas come from?

We have a wonderful director whose imagination and enthusiasm have lifted this version of Two to another level. His influence is very apparent.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

We may have performed this show many times, but every single performance finds something new. It’s too fast and furious for us to become complacent or lazy, it’s important to stay “in the moment”.

What are your future plans for the show ?

When we finish our tour at the Edinburgh Fringe (theSpace on Northbridge V36 Fife Theatre) we’ll be working on a new project. Watch this space.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

We like good writing, dark with a black sense of humour. One of our favourite plays is Beauty Queen of Leenane, beautifully drawn characters that are flawed in so many ways and a good story line.

Show dates, times and booking info:

Camden Fringe – The Lion & Unicorn – 2nd – 5th August at 8.45pm

Book here

Company web site: http://www.cluelesstheatre.co.uk/



INTERVIEW

A one act play set in London about online dating: Kyla Morris , Producer/Director/Playwrigh from Diamond Productions talks about O.L.D – Online Dating

O.L.D: Online Dating

What’s the theme of your show?

O.L.D is a contemporary one act play set in London about online dating. It has many themes including the struggle of searching for love online, loneliness and being stuck in a rut with your life. It also examines the contradiction of being simultaneously interconnected via the internet and disconnected.

What’s new or unique about the show?

There haven’t been that many shows that have examined life as a millennial navigating online dating whilst feeling isolated and lonely.

How did the show come into being?

I online-dated for several years with disastrous effect, never having gone on a second date. I put some of my experiences into the play and added what I considered to be important contemporary themes.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

Rehearsals typically involve a table run through of the entire script and then acting out the scenes.

How is the show developing?

We had a read through with the actors and an audience in order to gauge how the play would be received in April and are pretty happy with the results. People laughed in the right places, cried in the right places and felt an affinity with the characters.

How have you experimented?: We aren’t using scenery and the lead actor doesn’t leave the stage. Scenes are indicated via ambient sound.

Where do your ideas come from?: My ideas come from my experience online dating and my observations of life in London.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

I am a writer, so used to being in a room by myself writing. Collaborating with actors is a challenging experience for me in itself. I’m learning on the job, especially regarding the technical aspects such as lighting and tech.

What are your future plans for the show ?

If the show is a success at the Camden Fringe we have been offered longer runs at other Fringe theatres.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

I’m very open minded and appreciate anything well written and produced. It depends on my mood but I’ll watch anything from Shakespeare to sitting in a darkened room with only audio.

Show dates, times and booking info:

O.L.D will be performed at The Water Rats at 9:30pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of August 2018.

Book here


Check back here regularly for more interviews at Camden Fringe.