One of my first assignments as a reporter for BroadwayWorld UK was to to interview the cast and director of the West End Play Glengarry Glen Ross. The cast included Christian Slater and the dialogue was insightful talking about the themes of the play and how they are still relevant in the present time. You can find out more about the show and see the video here.
David Mamet's trailblazing modern classic Glengarry Glen Ross, directed by Sam Yates, runs at the Playhouse Theatre in London's West End until 3 February, 2018 - read our review. The production stars Christian Slater, Robert Glenister, Kris Marshall, Stanley Townsend and Don Warrington. At a time of fierce debate about the American Dream and what it represents, Glengarry Glen Ross is a lacerating satire for modern society, highlighting how economic austerity can affect the morality and greed of individuals under financial pressure. Pitched in a high-stakes competition against each other, four increasingly desperate employees will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. As time and luck start to run out, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you've won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you're f****d. Watch the video and read the article on Broadway World
So you might be thinking what is a relaxed performance? Is it where the cast leave the glitz and glamour behind and wear pj's and the audience can come and go as they please and eat food in the auditorium? ...No would be the answer to that. Relaxed performances are designed to allow those members of the audience who would most benefit from having a more relaxed and accessible environment. Relaxed performances are open to people with autism spectrum condition, sensory and communication disorder and learning disabilities.
This means that for that particular performance there is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and when possible small changes to the light and sound of the show will be made to accommodate this, overall trying to reduce some of the sensory aspects of a production. Shows like 'The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time' give just a small insight to what life with a disability is like and it was also the first West End show to give a relaxed perform to an older audience.
During relaxed shows families will be warned when to expect loud noises or of bright light changes and for anyone who is overwhelmed during the performance there is, when possible, a 'chill out ' zone located somewhere in the building which also may have televisions and audio relay to the show.
There you can relax more and still not miss out on the production. Theatre and the arts has been shown to help with interaction and communication within people with disabilities and learning difficulties and this is a great way to expand on this and make sure that theatre is accessible to all. More and more theatres and shows are now starting to implement relaxed performances and with live theatre now being shown in cinemas and with the occasional live musical on TV, the mediums in which we watch and enjoy theatre are starting to expand and thus making it much more accessible.
You can find out some more information on Relaxed Performances here: Stage Newspaper. An great article from The Stage about relaxed theatre. ATG - find out information here about ATG relaxed theatre and performances. Autism.org There are also certain charities such as Mouse Trap that also run relaxed and disabled friendly theatre trips.
Some shows that offer relaxed performances are :Curious Incident Wicked. Matilda Most show websites and pantomimes will list when their next relaxed and altered show will be. And make sure to check out if your local cinema show live theatre and shows.
Theatre Re’s Blind Man’s Song graces the stage again this year, embarking on a forty show run across ten cities in three countries.
We managed to catch up with artistic director Guillaume Pigé to discuss not only bringing the show back to life after its 2015 sold out run, but also the logistics of taking a show on tour and building a audience and fan base. “We will be starting rehearsals again a week and half before our first show and to be honest I don’t know how things will change. The piece was well received, but I don’t think the fact that it was sold out will have a direct effect on how I will change or evolve it.”
Through collaborating with people who are blind or visually impaired Blind Man’s Songhopes to appeal to a wide demographic and help to bring theatre to a whole spectrum of audience members while on tour. “Blind Man’s Song is a very specific show, it has no words and is not your standard show. It’s visual, physical and almost like a concert. It was a fascinating creative process and it’s a method and process we are trying to do more and more of as a company.”
Despite having a sold out run last year the company now have the added element of trying to appeal to audiences both nationally and internationally as it starts its tour off in London on 27 April. “We’ve always wanted to tour as much as possible and share our work as much as we could. People are different everywhere and the age groups will vary which is so exciting.”
Pigé goes on to mention about how the company has been able to take the show on the road and how they will hopefully increase their demographic and audience. “It’s been a long process. It’s been about establishing a conversation with venues, festivals and key organisations over a few years. From my experience it has been about developing a relationship of trust with the venue and then making sure it’s the right piece of work for their audiences. As a show and as a company we are accessible to everyone but as we are not a famous company there is an element of risk to be had when a venue takes us on.”
Theatre Re are gaining more momentum and it seems that Pigé is going the right way about it. I wanted to know if they had any words of wisdom for companies wanting to tour. “We are making it up as we go along [he laughs]. Make sure that every time, whatever it is, that it is the best you can do! Make sure that you are not just doing something to get somewhere else. Really believe in your work and what you are doing. Fight for it and spend time on it. It takes us almost two years to make a show, far from your regular six-week rehearsal/creation process you see in London. There is no rush – make a great piece of work you are proud of and believe in it. ”
Theatre Re travel compact. “We use a big six seater van when touring. It fits all the costumes, set and cast in. We find it to be a good bonding process. It’s been tricky as the more we grow as a company the bigger the van we have to get, we can no longer travel by train.”
As the show spans ten cities make sure to check out their website and see if it comes to a city near you.
Photo: Marc Sethi.
Even with the growth of London and the ever changing times, Soho is still known as an artistic hub and home to some well established and emerging theatre.
Soho Rising is the first of its kind. A festival of new shows from Soho’s hottest home grown talent with the youngest member involved being 22 years old. It is a celebration of brave new writing and you can catch the festivities from 15 March to 9 April.
“It came to happen by talking to people about some of our flagship shows like Bitch Boxerand how well known they were and we wanted to let people know where they came from and how they grew into such big shows.” Steven Marmion, the artistic director of Soho Theatre said. Marmion also commented on the past twenty years in Edinburgh: “I was amazed to see how safe and reserved a lot of the mainstream shows were up there, when it’s normally a place of brave and experimental theatre. We saw that a lot of brave new work was actually coming from these guys and we needed to show them off in London.“
This season Soho Rising is made up of a whole host of shows, with a lot of the people involved coming from the Soho Theatre Youth Company (SYC) and as well as from other artistic outlets and classes.
Soho is different for everyone and is constantly changing, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. As Marmion commented: “We are looking for young diverse voices that have not been heard. Soho is associated with interesting people, indefinable shapes and sexuality and Soho’s all across the world have a similar vibe.”
“The underline theme is about spring and arising, new beginnings. Currently in society there is a general urge to do things before it’s too late, something is always bubbling on the surface whether it’s as a nation in regards to elections and so on or personal and individual. This easily translates onto stage and within the shows we may see someone who is trapped or escaping a situation.”
Soho has been a hot topic in the media, especially over the last year or two and a lot of big theatre names are supporting the ‘Save Soho’ campaign. “If Soho was sanitised and pedestrianised it wouldn’t have the same calling. It is in some danger yes, but it’s not like the final scene of Watership Down just yet [ he laughs], but all support is welcome and appreciated.’’
The Soho Rising season is bound to be a good showcase for theatre and emerging talent, “You will see people that will be big names in the future, whether that be actors, directors or behind the scenes”
We also managed to speak to a few of the people involved in some of the shows at the festival such as Will Cowel, Artistic Director of Caligula’s Alibi: “Soho Rising is a great opportunity to show IDIOTS to a wider audience. For us Soho is where our audiences are – people who seek out performances that bite back – the kind of work that is truly original and does not stem from zeitgeist or topicality.”
“For me, it’s brilliance and appeal as a venue is its breadth of programming.” Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart, director of Antler’s If I Were Me continued: “I love that at Soho you can see a Philip Ridley play, next to a show by Made in China next to a work in progress by Stewart Lee. That openness and diversity is so exciting, and as a result there’s a huge mix of audiences which is ace. So yeah, it’s a buffet. A really, really good buffet. There’s something for everyone.”
Soho Rising is playing at the Soho Theatre from 19 March to 9 April. Idiots is on 29 March to 2 April and If I Were Me is on 22 – 26 March.
“You see a lot of TV shows about doctors, and the glamorised idea of what people think they do. I actually wanted to know and show people what they really do.”
Being such a hot topic in the news at the moment, it is sure to hit home as it tackles such themes as where the NHS is heading and the current pressure on junior doctors and the medical industry.
“It’s been interesting for me to meet junior doctors and interview them, as well as having many doctors fill in my survey and tell me their experiences. I have learnt so much about what they do and what goes on behind what we see, it’s been so eye opening.”
Marshall had in-depth interviews and one on ones with six junior doctors as well as having two junior doctors sit in on the first few days of rehearsals to gain knowledge of what constitutes a ‘day in the life of a junior doctor’. “They were flattered that people found their lives interesting enough to make a play about it. Which was funny to me as what they do is incredible.”
Diving in to the vast platform that is medicine the Resuscitate Theatre Company had a lot to work with. “There was a great book we read called, ‘Trust me I’m a junior doctor’ and partnered with the first-hand information and stories from the doctors we interviewed, we had so much to explore.”
The cast created the piece from scratch, without a script. The actors had to grow and explore ideas together and the only prerequisite was that the story had to be based on true events. “With the two doctors in rehearsals we really got to see what moves doctors made in every day life at the hospital, and this helped us so we didn’t look like ER or Holby City. We were following first year doctors, and with them being first years they are not perfect and at times they mess up, and this is a theme we explore a lot in the show. Showing the highs and lows of what they go through,”
“This has been one of the most interesting processes for me, working with no script and having to create work on the spot. We learnt about certain procedures to help us in our creation period. Such as a cranial nerve exam and how doctors practise on each other. From here this helped inspire us to make a movement sequence for the show. We explore the idea of showing both the work and life of doctors and how they intertwine, like for instance in one scene the doctors are at home making dinner and the beeping on the microwave blurs into a scene of a patient having a cardiac arrest and the beeping becomes that of the heart monitor.”
The show focuses on six doctors, with each of them showcasing characteristic that developed from stories they heard. “One of the questions we asked in our survey is, what is the hardest day you have had in career. We heard heart breaking stories about having to handle a patient’s death and telling the victim’s family, and then going to see a patient in the next room and have to be smiley and welcoming.” All based on true events, some of the storylines follow doctors who are top of the class text book perfect, to doctors with substance abuse who take drugs as the only way to help handle the stress and international doctors that not only have to focus on the medical side of the industry, but also mastering a second language.
“We hope to attract a wide audience, and we hope to attract people who are medical professionals. Whether you are wanting to go to medical school, but want to know about it or people who want to know what’s in store for the NHS. “
This show taps into something that the general public take for granted. “Due to the recent strikes, junior doctors have had such negative press around them. We want to be a voice for the people. We have no agenda at all, we just found a passion in this story and we want to continue to bring light to stories like this”
There is also a post-show debate and the panel for the debate will be made up of the Rounds cast, Director, Associate Director and junior doctors.
Rounds is at Southwark Playhouse on 28 Feb.
“We hadn’t intended to line it up and cash in on the anniversary, but like many instances with Oscar and myself, it just happened.” 125 years after the book was published ThePicture of Dorian Gray has been brought to life again in this new stage adaptation by Oscar Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland, and John O’Connor from the European Arts Company. Holland talked to A Younger Theatre about the many versions of The Picture Of Dorian Gray and how Wilde’s life just seems to slot into place with his own.
This classic Oscar Wilde story has been retold so many times across print, stage, TV and film, I am sure everyone has come across one version or another, and this year The Picture Of Dorian Gray has been entered into the English A level syllabus. For Holland, “this is one other reason that we thought it was absolutely necessary to be as true to the original we can”
The Picture of Dorian Gray was originally first published in the English and American Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, six chapters shorter then the book, and more explicit with its sexual content. It later went to be published as a book in 1891 after Wilde had to rework some of the material due to its homosexual nature.
“I feel that the original book hadn’t been allowed to speak for itself. There have been too many attempts to add to it. Not to be rude about other adaptations but we have tried to be faithful to the original”. People are in for a treat, as with access to the original manuscript, Holland and O’Connor hope to have produced the version of Dorian Graythat Wilde always intended. People may think they know the story but they “have seen a compressed version to the point where some of the psychology is made less credible”. Holland and O’Connor are hoping to bring a fresh insight to a work that many think they know and “whether we have succeeded better then anyone else will be up to the audience”.
This production of The Portrait of Dorian Gray has been advertised and supported by Stonewall. Stonewall campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across Britain and was originally created in 1989. O’Connor’s previous production, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, saw the show’s proceeds donated to Stonewall.
“As we have taken material from the original magazine version, which has significant exchanges between characters that explore the theme of homosexuality”, Stonewall’s support is “wonderful from our point of view”.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is performed by four actors, two of which were in The Trials of Oscar Wilde. “Four actors in 21 different parts, it’s not a vaudeville show but has an element of comedy. It would be impossible to have 21 actors in a studio, so you need talent that can do that. “
“The story itself along with Lord Henry’s wit and Dorian’s dark psychological development, is difficult to bring to life. Being able to bring that into four walls, I mean to make a film you can have innumerable scene changes, but to bring it on stage and make it credible can make it hard.”
The Picture of Dorian Gray plays at The Trafalgar Studios between 18 January and 13 February.
So I have found myself listening more and more to podcasts lately. I am no longer untangling my head phones in my pocket to listen to albums on a commute but to listen to reviews, interviews, stand up comedy and a multitude of other things.
For those of you that don’t know, Podcasts are audio files which can be downloaded or streamed on your computer, iPhone and other media players. It originated from combing ‘broadcasting’ and ‘Ipod’ and podcasts are growing in popularity like wildfire.
I managed to grab an interview with the creator of the podcast Kin. We spoke about how podcasts are becoming more mainstream, how to go about creating one yourself and what inspires a podcaster.
A little more info on the podcast Kin to start with and for those of you that have not listened to it. Kin is a podcast brought to you by Sarah Kosar and a friend and has been in circulation for just over 6 months. Kin works on pushing the boundaries of social conversations and giving a voice to people that would not otherwise be heard. Kosar is a London based American playwright and along with her friend release a new episode on the last Sunday of every month.
On the creation of Kin Kosar says that the idea “spawned from my love and routine of listening to a podcast every morning on the way to work, I listen to at least one a day”. She continues with:
“I was chatting away to my mum on skype one evening after a night out and I started to record the conversation on the down low. We were having a great conversation not just as mother and daughter but as adults. I played it back to my friend the next day and we both agreed that there was something there.”
I myself only really got into podcasts last year in NYC so I wanted to know what podcasts inspire a podcaster. “Serial has done massive things for the podcast community. [A true crime podcast that has topped the iTunes charts and gained worldwide listeners.] Podcasts are breaking into the mainstream medium and as a podcaster it is good to know what others do well and learn from them whether it’s something they do well or bad. Other podcasts that I listen to are Death Sex and Money and StartUp, to name a few.”
Kosar gave a good insight into how easy it can be to create and maintain a podcast. “Having a degree in film did give me the basic knowledge and editing skills but podcasts are so low cost and easy to make. We started off with just our laptop and microphone and have learnt as we have gone on, on average each of our podcast takes 2.5/3 hours to make.”
With both Kosar and her friend being of a creative nature I wanted to know if podcasting and their other careers ever cross over or aid one another. Kosar mentions how “ being a playwright helps me to find the narrative in peoples stories. Quite often the stories of the people who we interview don’t have a movie quality but the listeners need that.”
Having listened to all of their podcasts to date, I really enjoy how easy and fun they were to listen to. I particularly enjoyed ‘No one puts pasta in the corner’ it actually made me laugh out loud on my morning commute and Kosar explained that for instance “that episode ties into a show I am writing of a similar pasta related title, with having a podcast along side my other line of work it becomes a slight case of the question is life imitating art or art imitating life.”
After meeting the lovely Kosar I am excited for them and the growth of Kin and the growth of the podcast community. It goes to show that with hard work you can have parallel careers and how with being creative you can create your own work. The dream for Kin is to have “Kim Kardashian on the show, come on Kin, Kim, It’s perfect”. Make sure to check out Kin on social media and to listen to their podcasts on your morning commutes.
Find out more on Sarah’s personal website and you can find Kin on iTunes and Sound Cloud.