Friday, 15 October 2010

Southward Bound

We’re deep into rehearsals now for our collaboration with the Young Actor’s Company for this year’s Takeover Festival at the York Theatre Royal. Elsewhere is becoming very exciting and will be truly unique theatrical experience taking place at York Explore (York Central Library). Tickets can be bought from so make sure you get yours!

Whilst not in rehearsal for Elsewhere though, we’re deep in preparations for our second run at the Southwark Playhouse from the 9th to the 27th of November. We’re taking three of our Edinburgh shows – Lorca is Dead, Atrium and Quasimodo – down south as part of the ‘Belt Up Season’. We worked out that over Edinburgh around 2250 people saw these shows and contributed to these performances to make each of them entirely unique. It’s always lovely to reminisce on our highlights whether these be mad things that audiences do or bizarre things that occur to make a performance truly different. We’ve put together a little list of some our favourite moments from this shows over their runs at Edinburgh.

So (in no particular order):

1. The Parisian Powercut
One of the difficulties of working outside of normal theatre spaces is that sometimes the technical equipment can be quite temperamental. One performance of Lorca is Dead saw Breton’s apartment plunged into darkness for a good ten minutes. Luckily we all knew where the torches for ‘Dreamscape’ (our blindfolded sensory show) were kept so an improvised lighting design quickly came about. Bizarrely this occurred just as the story moved to being in New York so there were lots of references to the New York Blackout being knocked about. When the story moved back to Spain the lights miraculously came back on. We’re not sure if the audience knew whether this was all intentional or not but behind the scenes there were a lot of panicking technicians trying to fix the problem.

2. The Stripper
In Atrium there is a section where an audience member is invited to come and perform a strip tease. One performance had a good sport in the audience. Well done him!

3. Breton’s Wives
The final performance of Lorca at the Fringe inevitably had a little bit of playing around in it. There’s one moment where Breton pulls back a curtain and on this performance this included several members of the Belt Up company playing a collection of his many ex wives who all gave him a slap. As far as the audience was concerned, this could have happened every show but for them it was entirely exclusive.

4. Kissing Quasimodo
We pride ourselves on the fact that the audience can get up close and personal with our characters. One audience member was so involved that as she left she gave Quasimodo a little kiss. Bless her.

5. A Genuine Thankyou
Lorca was full of fun and opportunities for the audience to mess about. One audience member that stands out though approached one of the characters as she left and said that her father had been a Minister in the government that General Franco had overthrown. She said we had captured the era and story beautifully and that she was very much moved by the piece. That was one of the moments that made us feel proud of what we were doing; a genuinely heart warming response. There were a lot of tears from the audience at the end of each show and we are eternally grateful to all of those that opened up to this story.

6. Over egg-cited
Apologies for that pun, it felt urgent. There’s a moment in Atrium where an audience member is encouraged to do something with a raw egg (a specific task as well, not just ‘something’). One performance saw an audience member panic, get over excited or just simply go a bit odd and she flung it at the floor. Bizarre. Funny, but bizarre.

7. Naughty audience member forgets the lack of a fourth wall
A lot of people grieve the loss of audience good behaviour in modern theatre and we’ve had our fair share of talkers, sweet rustlers and vomiters (she at least tried to be subtle and contained it all in her hand and wiped it under her seat). One woman didn’t really like Lorca (which is fine, it doesn’t have to be every cup of tea) but she made the mistake of being quite vocal about this so much so that she disturbed the rest of the audience who had been tutting and shushing at her throughout. However, she’d forgotten that Lorca doesn’t have a fourth wall and she was in a room full of highly strung, egotistical Surrealists. Hopefully having Salvador Dali roar at her that she was a worthless human being (this speech is in the play anyway but in all other performances was about the masses in general, on this performance Dali had a prime example to direct it at) and had no right to have such genius shared with her. Hopefully she’ll be more respectful in the future and remember when there is or isn’t a fourth wall to hide behind.

8. Egg on his face
Another Atrium one. Same egg moment. Audience member decided to eat raw egg. Literally just bit into it. If you bite into a raw egg it explodes. What an odd thing to do.

9. Dialect coach
Throughout Lorca, audience members are asked to volunteer to take the title role and act in scenes having their lines fed to them by the other members of the cast. On two occasions the doppelganger (two different ones) of Federico Garcia Lorca was in the audience so naturally they were invited up. Strangely both turned out to be Spanish leading to a bit of embarrassment when their beautiful accents tripped out words like ‘Granada’, ‘Vega’, ‘Cadaques’ with perfect (and beautiful) pronunciation making the English cast quickly try and emulate the correct pronunciation.

10. The one and only
The final one is a very special one and another Lorca moment. Unfortunately it’s one we can’t say much about as it would spoil bits of the play. If anyone has seen Lorca then you will know that very near the end an offer is made to the audience. This has only ever been accepted once and by a very brave individual who we are very thankful to. It was a very special and magical moment. Well done him!

They’re just a selection of our many favourite moments from these shows. The run at Southwark means entirely new audience members who will no doubt throw some more surprises at us – this is what makes these shows so exciting to perform in. No doubt we’ll post another highlights thing after the run.

In the meantime, you can come and offer your own contributions to these shows by joining the audiences – get your tickets at

Look forward to seeing you there!

Belt Up

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

It's that time of year again (October to be precise)

Somehow it has become October again. There is of course a rational explanation for it being October again (earth rotating round the sun etc) but it's still surprising.

It's well over a month since the mammoth month that was August and we've just about recovered from our 9 shows at the Fringe. We managed to ease the recovery by doing another show, Macbeth, in the main house of the York Theatre Royal last week. This went incredibly well with packed houses for all three performances
The dust has barely settled on Macbeth and we're heading towards our second show of the month, Elsewhere, a collaboration with the York Theatre Royal's Young Actor's Company for the 2010 Takeover Festival. This will be a site specific piece set in York Explore (York Library) and wil be a bit similar to the piece we did for NSDF earlier this year.

The reason why it feels such a shock that it's October again is because we're back preparing for a run at the Southwark Playhouse this November. It barely feels a year since we were last there with The Tartuffe and The Trial. This time we're taking three shows that some of you may have seen as part of our Edinburgh Programme; Lorca is Dead, Atrium and Quasimodo. For Lorca and Atrium we'll be converting their main space into a cosy study with Quasimodo taking place in their spooky back vaults.

That's just a quick update, there'll be a few more posts coming that talk about the shows in a bit more detail but for now that's where we're at - it's October again and it's getting cold... so we're going underground. We'll be spending a lot of the next year or so underground it seems, that's a little hint at some potential projects coming soon...

James Wilkes x