Spotlight On… Heartbeat Star David Lonsdale

*** UK Tour ~ stopping at Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 2nd April then touring to: Eastbourne, Coventry, Manchester, Northampton, Bromley, Newcastle, Woking, Brighton, Buxton, Richmond. Ends on Saturday 2nd July where the show finishes in Glasgow. ***

He’s well known as David in Heartbeat, the popular sixties-based television series which ran on ITV from 1992 until 2010, spanning 18 series in total. Actor David Lonsdale is reprising his role as the simple side-kick for a stage version of Heartbeat. I caught up with him to find out all about this new production.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg Review, David, what’s it like to be back on the road with Heartbeat on stage and how does it fee to be stepping back into the character of David’s shoes, again?

I was unsure how revisiting David would feel, and Steven (Blakely, who plays PC Geoff Younger) and I actually discussed whether we could remember how we used to play the parts! However, it has been a joy. I really like David Stockwell, he’s a much nicer person than I am, so it’s good to spend time with him again.

What can the audience expect from Heartbeat on stage? How has the show been received so far?

The stage production is a completely new story, but with many elements of the original TV show which the audience will recognise immediately. There’s the pub of course, and several familiar characters, along with tons of music. Heartbeat always blended a main drama story-line with a light hearted sub plot; we’ve done that in the stage show and there are plenty of laughs. Audiences so far have really taken to it; we obviously can’t reproduce the Yorkshire Moors, but with projection and a clever set design we do get the audience out and about! The atmosphere of the piece is wonderful.

Do you think The Royal could also work as a stage show?

I think that, with a little imagination, anything is possible on stage so I don’t see why The Royal couldn’t be done.

Do you think it was the right time to finish Heartbeat the television series? Do you feel the show had run its course?

I honestly believe that there is still a place for Heartbeat. It needed a break and a little refreshing, but the level of interest and affection is still huge. It just hit the right note! However, dramas like Heartbeat couldn’t compete financially with the Sunday ‘result shows’ and their phone-votes, so they had to go. I think making 24 a year was too many; it stretched the format (and the cast, crew and writers) too far.

What’s your personal favourite song from the sixties era and why?

My favourite 60s song is probably She’s Leaving Home by The Beatles. I loved it as a kid and, now with children of my own, it still works. A great song.

What are your favourite moments from filming in Goathland?

My favourite moments from filming in Goathland were days in Spring when we were shooting in an out of the way spot surrounded by that beautiful countryside. You could really believe you were in 1960s Aidensfield on days like that.

Are there any characters missing from the stage show that you feel would enhance the production, even more?

I would have loved to have had Lord Ashfordly in the stage show. He was a great character and would have been very useful to the plot.

What would you say to potential audience members to encourage them to come and see the show?

I’d recommend Heartbeat fans to come along, have a laugh, wallow in some un-apologetic nostalgia, and enjoy some good music and a great story. I’d actually make the same recommendation to people who aren’t familiar with the TV show; Heartbeat on stage is just a good-fun, easy entertaining night out at the theatre. Hopefully see you there.

Huge thanks to David for taking the time out to chat, I’ll be seeing the show in Coventry at the Belgrade Theatre on 11th April. You can see it too, the list of tour dates and ticket purchase information is here http://www.heartbeatontour.com.

 

Featured image courtesy of: http://www.davidlonsdale.co.uk/

 

 

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Spotlight On…Suanne Braun

Suanne Braun is an actress capable of pursuing many genres of performance and doesn’t shy away from a challenge. I chatted to her about her recent challenge and her acting career to date.

First of all, do tell me about 48 Hour Musicals and your role in Thoroughly Modern Mille, it sounds really exciting!

What an extraordinary thing to have been a part of. 48 hours to stage, choreograph, orchestrate and produce a West End musical! The pressure was immense and it was one of the most exhilarating, terrifying and exciting things I’ve ever been a part of. The company, Showtime Challenge have done several of these, so it’s run with military precision. The principals are given their scripts and scores about 6 weeks ahead of time to learn but rehearsing together is against the rules. At 7.30pm on the Friday, there’s a countdown and you’re off! 48 hours of intense rehearsals and then the show on the Sunday night. I’m so very pleased that I decided to audition and that I got to play Mrs. Meers. It’s a brilliant part and the comedy glue of the piece I think. She is an untalented actress who is also the criminal Daisy Crumpler, on the run from the law and so adopts a “disguise” as the Chinese proprietor of a hotel for young ladies. In actual fact she is shipping them off to the Orient and into white slavery! Although dark, somehow the writers managed to make her such a rounded, hilarious character. I had a ball playing her and even got to tap and sing in Chinese. The proceeds of the evening go to a charity and this year it was Mind. I’m thrilled we manage to raise so much money for such a valuable and worthy charity. For more details check here: http://www.showtimechallenge.co.uk

Last year you played Mary-Marie in Cougar The Musical, what was it like to be part of a premiere and did you enjoy playing the role?

I loved playing Mary-Marie! She is a serial Cougar and it was such fun to play someone so utterly uninhibited, sexually free and so completely sure of herself. We were blessed with a dream company – Dawn Hope, Pippa Winslow and Barnaby Hughes (who was our gorgeous toy boy). I did spend A LOT of time in leopard print and vertiginous heels though! Our creative team too (Patricia Benecke –director, Racky Plews– choreographer and Neil MacDonald-musical director) were perfection and I think every department just got the humour and feel of the piece. We were particularly lucky that the creator of the piece, Donna Moore was so open to our suggestions and ideas. For me, that was a dream as I was able to incorporate my stand up , my musical theatre & acting background into one canvas. When you’re in a premiere, you have no idea how it will be received. You spend your time in a bubble and for 5 weeks during rehearsals, you’re trying new things and not sure how they will land with an audience or IF they will land at all. Then suddenly, you have an audience and there’s this feeling that everyone has taken a large inhalation of breath and as the curtain comes down at the end of the piece, there’s a mass exhalation and a release. I love that!! The show did very well at the Belgrade and I hope it gets to have a second life here in the UK as it seems to resonate so well with audiences. There have been productions all over the world now so I say onwards for our Cougars!

What led you to a performing career and what career do you think you would have pursued if you hadn’t taken this path?

Actually my cousin is responsible for my start in the business as she mailed a photograph of me to the producers of the musical Annie when I was 10. I was called to an open audition with hundreds of other young girls but I waited my turn and when I got up to sing, although I was so nervous, I felt oddly at home. After a long rehearsal period, I remember the curtain going up on press night as the opening bars of Maybe played and I felt totally and utterly at home. I also remember being about 6 or 7 and my mum took me to see The Sound Of Music. I was entranced and at interval I asked my mum what it was called. She didn’t understand what I meant and when I said I knew that the children weren’t really Captain Von Trapp’s children, she replied that it was called acting. I remember sitting bolt upright and saying “THAT’S what I’m going to do when I grow up”. And the feeling has never changed. I feel like acting picked me rather than the other way around. I’m not sure what I would have done if it hadn’t been this industry as it’s truly the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I have recently however, started flirting with the idea of directing. So who knows what the future will bring?

What has been your most memorable role to date and why?

Oh that’s a hard question to answer as they are all memorable for various reasons. However the one that springs to mind immediately is the role of Alison in the world premiere of I Have Life, based on the book of the same name. This was a truly astonishing production to be a part of and based on a true story. In 1994 Alison was abducted by 2 men, raped and brutally stabbed. She was disembowelled and had her throat slashed 17 times. She was thrown out the car by her attackers and left for dead. However defying ALL the odds, she survived and today is a successful motivational speaker who gives talks all over the world. It’s such an extraordinary story- both harrowing and uplifting and it presented so many challenges in bringing it to life on stage. It was also a mammoth task playing someone who is very much alive and who was around during the rehearsal process. I felt a true sense of responsibility and it was hands down the most challenging role I’ve ever played. Again I was so fortunate to work with a stunning company of actors and a brilliant director but I spent the 6 weeks of rehearsals vacillating between a sense of achievement and moments of total self doubt and fear. I know this sounds corny but every time I got frightened, I kept thinking of Ali and what she had been through for real and that gave me the strength to portray her as truthfully and tell her remarkable story as honestly and sensitively as possible. I’ve done the piece twice now in 2 separate runs and in all the years I’ve been a professional actor, I’ve never experienced a response from audiences like this. People were weeping, cheering and we had standing ovations nightly, particularly when Alison was in the audience and came up on stage afterwards. It was remarkable and I felt such pride in telling her story. I sincerely hope we get to bring the piece to the UK as that’s always been our dream. For more info on the play, click here: https://www.facebook.com/IHaveLifeAlisonsJourney/

Are there any roles that you’ve an ambition to play?

Plenty!! Musically- Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Momma Rose in Gypsy, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeny Todd, Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret and Desiree in A Little Night Music. Also- Lady Macbeth, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Cleopatra in anything and I’d love a part (no matter what) on a great sitcom like Episodes. Oooh- there are SO many roles!

What is your advice for anyone wishing to go into ‘the business’?

This is a relentlessly tough industry and it can be absolutely brutal and heartless so my advice would be this- if you can see yourself happily doing something else, than pursue that. If however you cannot imagine your life without performing, then go for it! I think that way, you will always manage to find work and creative satisfaction. Also I’d say that remember a career is a lengthy thing. Don’t focus on the sprint but rather the marathon. I see so many younger artists focused solely on where they are now, not thinking about the longevity of a career and how to sustain it. It’s not just about getting the work but about sustaining it. That and your income, sanity and creativity for the long haul.

If you could have a dinner party with five famous people, alive or dead – who would they be and why?

Noel Coward, Oscar Wilde, Ella Fitzgerald, Ira Gershwin and Robin Williams. Why? Can you imagine the conversation? And then the songs post dinner? Sublime! I could think of another 5 people to make up the rest of the party too. Why stop at 5?

Favourite things (can I have your first reaction to these questions, please?):

Favourite film?

Again I can’t pick one! Eek! Top 3: This Is Spinal Tap, Young Frankenstein and When Harry Met Sally.

Favourite theatre?

Most recently, Jerusalem with Mark Rylance and my friend Caroline Faber playing Piaf at the Bolton Octagon.

Favourite co-star?

Now that would be telling wouldn’t it? I have had some gorgeous ones though.

Favourite landmark?

Table Mountain. When I see it, I know I’m home.

Favourite moment from your career?

I think when I got my first big laugh on stage. I remember it so clearly and afterwards a director who I admired greatly told me I had “funny bones. Every night for the rest of the run- that bit of dialogue became my tutor and knowing that I could really make people laugh changed everything for me. It’s what spurred me to try stand up and although terrifying, making people laugh has been such a gift for me.

Huge thanks to Suanne for her time, I strongly suggest watching out for this wonderful lady in future projects, I’ll be sure to be in the audience whenever possible 🙂

 

Spotlight On… Tiffany Graves

Featured photo credited to Claire Grogan

Appearing in her very own cabaret at The Crazy Coqs, Picadilly on 11th April and 18th April 2016.  

She’s played Velma Kelly in Chicago, appeared in The Producers, Kiss Me Kate and Sweet Charity amongst many other successful shows. Her cabarets have received critical acclaim and she’s about to embark upon two more cabaret dates at the Crazy Coqs. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…. Tiffany Graves!

Tell me all about your exciting cabaret dates at The Crazy Coqs and what the audience can expect from your cabaret.

I had such fun performing at The Crazy Coqs in October and so I’m so excited and flattered to have been asked back to do two nights on April 11th & 18th. I have many returning audience members from the last time which is ace, but it also means it has to be a completely new show! It’s called “Let’s Do it!” and there’ll be plenty of classics from Kander & Ebb, Cy Coleman and Rogers & Hart as well as new work from British composers and songs from Broadway. I also enjoy doing mash-ups, as well as changing the lyrics of well-known songs to incorporate suggestions from the audience, and my wonderful MD Leigh Thompson is a musical genius who loves doing them too.

What are your personal favourite numbers from the show? Why are they your favourites?

I previously sang a song from Pal Joey called ‘Zip’ and changed the lyrics to make it all about the people who were in the audience. There had been many who had contacted me on Twitter (@TiffanyGraves4) to let me know they were coming and tell me what they were up to – it was great fun and something I shall be doing again! Everyone loves to feel included and special and The Crazy Coqs is the perfect venue make this happen because it is so intimate. It’s also a nice way to say Thank You for coming to support me in my show!

Are there any numbers that have been personal challenges to sing?

Patter songs! Like the fabulous number “Words, Words, Words” from The Witches of Eastwick that I sang whilst playing Sukie Rougemont at The Watermill Theatre a few years back. It’s always a worry that, with adrenalin, I will start off too quickly and have nowhere to go by the end of the number – falling all over my words. But I love them and it’s definitely a personal challenge to include one in my cabaret. For this cabaret, I’ve placed my patter song in the second half of the programme so I should be nice and relaxed and in full swing by the time I reach it!

What sort of ambience do you find in The Crazy Coqs? What can audience members who’ve never been to this venue before expect?

It’s definitely one of my absolute favourite cabaret venues in London to both perform at and visit as an audience member. It has been lovingly restored to it’s original Art-Deco splendour and has small cabaret tables with ‘buzzers’ on that you press for service. The staff are genius cocktail-ninjas- they are so discreet and make sipping a classic beverage whilst enjoying the show an absolute breeze. The ambience will be down to me and I hope to make it as scintillating as my favourite tipple, The Dry Martini; bracing, refreshing and perfect as an after-work de-stresser! I aim to be sexy and sophisticated with a twist… without becoming shaken or stirred 😉 The venue also has the fabulous Zedel restaurant that does a great pre-show menu – I can highly recommend it.

You’ve had a varied and successful career to date, what have been the best moments so far?

That’s hard! Hmmm… rocking out with Brian May playing his guitar in front of packed arenas in Copenhagen as Killer Queen in We Will Rock You is up there, as is being a member of the cast at the 21st Birthday and last night of Cats at The New London Theatre. Meeting Mel Brooks whilst playing Ulla in The Producers last year was an incredible treat. My first West End lead was Velma Kelly in Chicago at both The Adelphi and Cambridge Theatres and the entrance to All That Jazz through the trap-door with back-lighting cannot be beaten. They still use my face to advertise the show on Broadway outside the theatre which is pretty cool, too!

Who have been among your favourite co-stars to work with and are there any ‘dream’ co-stars that you’ve an ambition to perform with?

I was part of NT50 a couple of years ago and was in awe of Ralph Fiennes when I was part of the Pravda section. In the finale of the show, I was stood between Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and to the left of Dame Maggie Smith. If I were playing ‘Top Trumps’, I think I have been dealt a pretty good hand and will stick with that!

Favourite Things (can I have your first reaction to these questions, please?):

Favourite food?

Porter-house Steak, medium-rare with triple-cooked fries and creamed spinach with a glass (but please leave the bottle!) of Argentinean Malbec. And an Espresso Martini for dessert. My mouth is salivating just thinking of it.

Favourite tipple?

A Dry Dirty Martini made with Grey Goose Vodka and lots of extra Olives. Yum!

Favourite childhood memory?

Being greeted by my Border Collie when I had been away for more than a couple of hours. He always greeted me with so much love and it was a joy.

Favourite hobby?

This is a bit odd, but I collect flattened coins from tourist attractions. I have them from all over the world ranging from Blackpool Tower to The Empire State Building.

Favourite way to spend your time off?

On my sofa. In my jim-jams. With a glass of wine, a good box-set and my husband.

I’d like to thank Tiffany for her time and wish her every success with this Cabaret and beyond! I think The Crazy Coqs sounds like a fantastic venue and if you want to be in  audience for an amazing evening with a talented lady, you can book tickets here: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/crazy-coqs/tiffany-graves-1/50587203

 

Spotlight On… Secondary Cause of Death and Gangsta Granny Star: Liz Garland

Gangsta Granny is currently touring the UK, stopping at: Nottingham, Richmond, Southampton, Brighton and Cornwall to name a few. For an extensive list of all theatres participating in the tour and dates, follow the link below. Tour ends in Newtown on Saturday 3rd December 2016.

http://www.birminghamstage.com/shows/gangsta-granny-by-david-walliams-comes-to-the-stage/tour-info

Liz Garland has just completed a tour of Peter Gordon’s Secondary Cause of Death and now she’s embarking on a new tour with David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny. I chatted to Liz about her recent roles and what it was that attracted to her to a career in ‘the business’.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg Review, you’ve just completed the tour of Secondary Cause of Death, did you enjoy it and what did you think of your character, Henrietta?
It’s a pleasure to chat. I have loved being a part of the show. As a company we had so much fun onstage and off. The moment I read the role of Henrietta I wanted to play her. She is incredibly endearing and it was wonderful to be able to play a character who is so outlandish and ridiculous.
Have you performed in murder mysteries before and is that a genre you’re particularly fond of?
I have performed in a couple of others but I have not had the chance to perform in a spoof one prior to this show. What I like about doing shows such as this is that the audience are involved the whole way through. Whilst onstage you can almost hear them trying to guess who did it.
What’s next for you now that this your has finished?
I am joining the cast of Gangsta Granny for Birmingham Stage Company.
What made you decide to become an actress?
I have always loved stories. People fascinate me and I love the challenge of being able to convincingly portray individuals. Theatre/Film/Radio has the power to make people think about themselves and the situations around them like no other. It’s a privilege to be a small part of that. And in the words of Henrietta herself ‘Rather like dressing up!’  
What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
There have been so many. Each production you do is completely different and each one has special moments that you treasure.  A huge high however was getting the chance to be a guest in a TV show I was a fan of.
What are your ambitions for the future, any particular show or role that ‘calls’ to you?
I hope to continue doing what I love. If I can do that then I will be a very happy lady. I used to say my dream role was Queenie from Blackadder, played so wonderfully by Miranda Richardson. I got the chance to do this in a touring dinner theatre production which was a treat. I was allowed to watch endless episodes of Blackadder and call it work. Now that is a high!

I do hope to work in TV comedy at some point. I have written and produced my own online sketches as well as writing a sitcom pilot and I hope to continue down that road. Who knows what is ahead. That is what is exciting.  
What’s your advice for budding young actors?
My advice would be to not take it all too seriously. It doesn’t define you, or give you purpose. Cultivate life outside of it and create your own work where you can. It gives you  a sense of power as you create on your own terms.

Final words- It is a marathon not a sprint. You run your own race so don’t compare your journey with that of others. 
Favourite Things (give me your first reaction to these questions, please):
Favourite theatre?
So many! But I would have to say Poole Lighthouse because it is my home theatre and the first one I ever performed at as a little girl.
Favourite song?
Sara by Fleetwood Mac.
Favourite television programme?
Currently The Good Wife. A series that is getting better and better with every season. The characters are so strong and complex. Another contender would have to be The West Wing. I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing.

But I also have to mention all the wonderful old comedy series such as Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Dads Army, Porridge and Father Ted.
Favourite actor or actress?
There are so many I love for many different reasons. Favourites include Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson, Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weiss, Sally Philips and Joanna Scanlan. And I can’t forget the force that was Bette Davis. Now Voyager is firm a favourite of mine.
Favourite holiday destination?
Tuscany, Italy!
I’d like to thank Liz for her time and wish her every success future, she was a real treasure in Secondary Cause of Death, hilarious!

 

MCM Comic Con ~ Birmingham ~ 19th & 20th March 2016

March madness descended upon NEC, Birmingham on 19th and 20th of the month and a myriad of Cosplayers were out in force to seek out their desired goodies from the massive range of stalls available. The layout seemed much improved with fewer bottle necks and easy access for a family with a buggy (aka us!). I found it easier to find a space to treasure hunt at the stalls and there was an excellent variety of dealers on hand, The Sword Stall and Stateside Stills proving particularly popular.

The number of guests signing in the memorabilia area was phenomenal, ranging from Carry On Stars, to Star Wars actors, to Primeval favourites as well as the ever popular Red Dwarf contingent. UK Garrison are a regular feature at Comic Con and they had their usual storm troopers doing the rounds as well as Darth Vader, Princess Leia and Wicket the Ewok in residence. They had brought along an interesting display of trooper helmets and the famous pod-racer was also a highlight. A good array of photo sessions were also on offer with a variety of stars present over the weekend.

A superb line-up of panel sessions took place in the theatre, Warwick Davies was by far, top of the bill, but there was also a fantastically lively panel with the Red Dwarf cast.

The cosplayers never fail to impress with their magnificent costumes, it was interesting to see some different characters make an appearance this time. The attention to detail with some of the costumes is faultless. The quality and organisation of MCM’s comic cons gets better at every event and I can’t wait for November!

 

Press Release: March 2016 Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival 2016 20th – 30th April

A world-record 1,000 plays will be performed in 10 days across East London on a ‘medieval pageant wagon’ to herald the launch of The Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival 2016. Celebrating The Bard’s historic connection to the neighbourhood on the 400th anniversary of his death, the festival itself brings together four of the UK’s most engaging playwrights with four of London’s most exciting directors – alongside a programme of workshops, film screenings, and talks.

Following 2014’s sell-out success of the inaugural festival, Shakespeare in Shoreditch this week announced the full programme line-up for the second edition from April 20th-30th.  Kick-starting the programme, a newly formed company of Rude Mechanicals have scheduled a world recordbreaking tour of Hackney on a ‘medieval pageant wagon’ from April 8th to 18th – performing in ten days the very 1,000 plays written by playwright Annie Jenkins across the ten days of the inaugural festival. The Rude Mechanicals will slog down the River Lea and up the Kingsland Road, stopping off to perform around a hundred plays each day at some of Hackney’s most beloved cultural institutions – all the while recruiting new fans and audiences for the festival. Launching on April 20th, the festival itself is centred around the theme of Storms – and is headlined by four radical reinterpretations of Shakespeare’s plays by four of the UK’s most engaging playwrights (Lulu Raczka, David Watson, Amy Rosenthal, Charlene James) and helmed by four of London’s most exciting directors (Robyn Winfield-Smith, Roy Alexander Wise, Abigail Graham, Hannah Bannister).   Written and developed in Shoreditch, the newly-commissioned works all aim to build a connection between new, younger audiences and the world & works of Shakespeare – recruiting life-long fans and followers along the way.

Meanwhile, at the Festival Hub – at BL-NK, on Curtain Road – a ten-day programme of workshops, film screenings, and talks invites audiences to take shelter from the storm and share their own stories on A Hackney Story Map.
Shakespeare in Shoreditch 2016 Dates      April 20th-30th   (The Rude Mechanicals from 8th-18th April) Venues          Across Shoreditch with the festival hub at BL-NK on Curtain Road Tickets      £15.50 Website          http://www.shakespeareinshoreditch.in / http://www.newdiorama.com
Listings Information  The Rude Mechanicals
A band of patches and vagabonds, the Rude Mechanicals will tour Hackney on a medieval pageant wagon from 8th – 18th April performing a world-record breaking 1000 plays in ten days. Slogging down the River Lea and up the Kingsland Road, The Rude Mechanicals will stop off to perform around a hundred plays each day at some of Hackney’s most beloved cultural institutions – all the while recruiting new fans and audiences for the festival.  Written by Annie Jenkins.
The Rude Mechanicals is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Hackney Community Fund.
Dates / Times  April 8th-18th 10.00 – 18.00
Ticket Free admission http://www.shakespeareinshoreditch.in
Media Opportunities Interviews available Photo / Film opportunities
The H-Word
On the trendiest side of London’s most happening street – The HWord. A place for everyone. A place where people can be themselves. A café for the future, but haunted by the past, in a play about spirits, belonging and gentrification.
Written by David Watson Directed by Roy Alexander Weise
Grey Man  Maya knows a lot of good scary stories. Loads. Too many really. She hates them. But why then, is she telling them to us? Two sisters grow up on either side of a bedroom wall, one tells the stories, and the other hears them.
Written by Lulu Raczka Directed by Robyn Winfield – Smith
Dates / Times  April 20th-30th 19:00
Ticket £15.50 http://www.newdiorama.com
Media Opportunities Interviews available Press tickets available
Pelican Daughters
A reversal of King Lear set in the shifting landscape of East London, Pelican Daughters is about sibling rivalry, filial bonds and the inescapability of our roots.
Written by Amy Rosenthal Directed by Abigail Graham
This is Art
Set at the Desdemona Gallery in an ever-changing Hoxton, This is Art explores jealousy, betrayal and how we make a mark to express who we really are.
Written by Charlene James Directed by Hannah Banister
Dates / Times  April 20th-30th 19:00
Ticket £15.50 http://www.newdiorama.com
Media Opportunities Interviews available Press tickets available
Events
BL-NK on Curtain Road will be home to talks, workshops, music and conversation throughout the 10 days. A daily workshop programme exploring filmmaking, animation, playwriting and directing will take place in the afternoons and post-show discussions with the festival’s writers and directors will follow the evening’s plays. On 25th and 27th April, Robert Stagg will be curating two discussions: Shakespeare and the Storm, and Shakespeare’s Shoreditch.
For up to date information visit: http://www.shakespeareinshoreditch.in
Dates / Times  April 20th-30th 21:00
Ticket Free admission http://www.shakespeareinshoreditch.in
Media Opportunities Interviews available
Contacts  For further information / Use of pictures / Interviews: Press Office  07776 374490 Press email:               info@shakespeareinshoreditch.in Producer:             francesca@r-ft.co.uk
Editor’s Notes
Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival:
Shakespeare in Shoreditch was launched to celebrate Shakespeare’s historic connection to Shoreditch. Dedicated to inspiring creativity through the lens of Shakespeare’s works, the  programme is built around a focus upon radical reinvention; playful experimentation and new perspectives.
Conceived and produced by Francesca Duncan, Joshua Nawras and Felix Mortimer, Shakespeare in Shoreditch was developed from RIFT’s work on Hoxton Street with O Brave New World (2012) and The Trial (2013). The Festival was launched in April 2014 with the commissioning of 10 new plays and the inaugural Festival followed in October 2014. Shakespeare in Shoreditch now operates its own programme of activities and became a charity in 2015.
The 2016 festival is delivered in collaboration with RIFT and supported by New Diorama, BL-NK, Hackney Council and The Creative Exchange.
The Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival 2016 is sponsored by Principal Tower. The Rude Mechanicals is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Hackney Community Fund.
The Rude Mechanicals: World Record 1000 Plays in 10 Days
From 8th – 18th April a troupe of players, The Rude Mechanicals, will travel around Hackney on a makeshift pageant wagon performing 1000 mini plays in 10 days. The Rude Mechanicals will encourage members of the public to help them with their challenge to perform all of Annie’s 1000 plays in just 10 days – that is 100 plays per day!
Annie’s 1000 Plays were written during the Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival 2014 by playwright Annie Jenkins who was tasked to write 1000 new plays in 10 days. She was helped to reach her target by members of the public who donated over 300 plays to her cause. Annie’s plays are short candid snapshots of real London. Formally experimental her plays veer from autobiographical to surreal and back again.
The Rude Mechanicals is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Hackney Community Fund.

The Plays
Grey Man Written by Lulu Raczka : Directed by Robyn Winfield – Smith Maya knows a lot of good scary stories. Loads. Too many really. She hates them. But why then, is she telling them all to us? Two sisters grow up on either side of a bedroom wall, one tells the stories, and the other hears them.  The H-Word Written by David Watson : Directed by Roy Alexander Weise On the trendiest side of London’s most happening street – The H-Word. A place for  everyone. A place where people can be themselves. A café for the future, but haunted by the past, in a play about spirits, belonging and gentrification.  Pelican Daughters  Written by Amy Rosenthal : Directed by Abigail Graham A reversal of King Lear set in the shifting landscape of East London, Pelican Daughters is about sibling rivalry, filial bonds and the inescapability of our roots.  This is Art  Written by Charlene James : Directed by Hannah Banister Set at the Desdemona Gallery in an ever changing Hoxton, This is Art explores jealousy, betrayal and how we make a mark to express who we really are.
The Writers
Lulu Raczka is an award-winning young playwright. She is a Company Director of Barrel Organ Theatre, who she worked with on her play NOTHING, which has toured the UK. Lulu has also had her work performed at the Sheffield Crucible, and the Soho Theatre. She is currently working on a play for the Gate Theatre and Some People Talk about Violence with Barrel Organ.  David Watson’s other plays include Housed (Old Vic Community Company), The Serpent’s Tooth (Almeida), You cannot go forward from where you are now (Paines Plough/Oran Mor), Pieces of Vincent (Arcola/Paines Plough), Flight Path (Bush/Out of Joint) and Just a Bloke (Royal Court Young Writers Festival.) He is under commission to Birmingham Rep, Cardboard Citizens and the Royal Court. His TV work includes the BAFTA award-winning L8R (BBC Education /Actorshop.)  Amy Rosenthal has been writing for stage and radio since 1998. Her theatre work  includes Polar Bears (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Tailor-Made Man – A New Musical (Arts Theatre West End); On The Rocks (Hampstead Theatre); Sitting Pretty (Watford Palace Theatre, UK Tour, Hypothetical Theatre New York); Jerusalem Syndrome (Manchester Royal Exchange Studio, Soho Theatre);Henna Night (Chelsea Theatre). Amy wrote the libretto for chamber opera Entanglement, touring summer 2015, and is currently working on two musicals and a new play.  Charlene James is a playwright and an actor. In 2008, she participated in the Royal Court’s Young Writers Programme and in 2012 was selected to be one of the 503 Five at Theatre 503. In 2013 Charlene became a writer in residence at the Birmingham Rep for their season focusing on mental health. Charlene was awarded the Alfred Fagon Award, for best new play at the National
Theatre for Cuttin’ It, a play focusing on Female Genital Mutilation which also won the George Devine Award 2015.
The Directors
Roy Alexander Weise After training at Rose Bruford College on the BA Hons Directing course, Roy joined the Young Vic Genesis Directors’ programme and became Associate Director for The Red Room. He was Trainee Director on Topher Campbell’s Channel 4 short film INVISIBLE. Roy was First Runner Up for the JMK Award for directors of great promise in 2014 and received a BBC Theatre Fellowship bursary at the Bush Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith in the same year. He is currently Trainee Director at the Royal Court Theatre where he has assisted on Hangmen, Primetime 2015, Violence and Son, Who Cares and Liberian Girl.  Abigail Graham Abigail is a freelance theatre director and Artistic Director of OpenWorks Theatre. She has just written and directed her first short film, Timetable, (Anderson Shelter Productions). Recent directing work includes: And Now:The World! (UK tour), Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (Assembly Rooms Edinburgh), DEBRIS (Southwark Playhouse), Molly Sweeney (Print Room, Lyric Theatre Belfast, Northern Irish Tour), Agent 160,Four Short Plays (UK tour), The Censor  (JMK Award Runner Up, Young Vic), Blue Heaven – Three Short Plays by Tennessee Williams (Finborough), Jack’s Quest (Company of Angels, Young Angels Award Winner), The Boy and the Dog who Walked to the Moon (Pleasance, Edinburgh). Work as an assistant/associate director includes: ENRON (Chichester/Royal Court), Great Expectations (Bristol Old Vic), Glass Menagerie  (Young Vic), Ruined (Almeida), Death and The Maiden (West End).   Hannah Banister Hannah was a finalist for the JMK young director’s award 2014 and trained at Central School of Speech and Drama (BA Hons Acting).Theatre credits as Director include I Killed Rasputin (George Square Theatre, Edinburgh) Gardening: For The Unfulfilled and Alienated (fringe first award winner and Sell out run at the Edinburgh and Latitude Festivals 2013), Crimble(Old Red Lion), Trapp (24 Hour Plays/The Old Vic), Best Men (Little Pieces of Gold Festival/Southwark Playhouse). As associate director: The Absence of War for Headlong, Tiger Country at Hampstead Theatre, Another Country at Trafalgar studios; As Assistant Director The Angry Brigade (Paines Plough),The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Globe), Longing(Hampstead Theatre), Step in Time (24 Hour Celebrity Musicals Gala/The Old Vic), Jumpy (Duke of York’s Theatre and Royal Court Theatre).  Robyn Winfield-Smith Robyn is an Associate Director at Omnibus, having directed the Off West End Award-nominated UK premiere of Lot and his God by Howard Barker at the Print Room (November 2012) – where she also directed Nicholas Le Prevost in a staged reading of The Twelfth Battle of Isonzo and assisted Lucy Bailey on her acclaimed revival of Tennessee Williams’ Kingdom of Earth. Robyn also assisted on the Donmar Warehouse’s world premiere of Conor McPherson’s adaptation of Strindberg’s The Dance of Death, as part of the Donmar’s residency at the Trafalgar Studios.

Writer in Residence
Annie Jenkins  Where tiny plays are concerned, she is a record-breaking playwright. In 2014, as part of the Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival she was tasked with accumulating 1000 micro-plays over it’s 10 day duration; she succeeded, writing over 700 and gathering 300 donations. Volume One was published in April 2015 and they are also available to read at http://www.annies1000plays.com. She has written and is currently co-producing Funemployed, a short film about an unemployed graduate with an obsessive crush on David Cameron. Her first full-length play, In Lipstick, was part of the Arcola’s new-writing festival PlayWROUGHT#4 in February. She is from Tottenham, North London.

Spotlight On… Amy Rosenthal

*** Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival 2016 runs from 20th – 30th April ~ http://www.r-ft.co.uk/sins/ follow this link for information and to buy tickets ***

Amy Rosenthal is a highly acclaimed playwright and also know for having followed in the footsteps of her father, the late playwright, Jack Rosenthal. Amy is one of the playwrights for Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival, and I caught up with her to ask her about this latest piece and what else the future holds for this talented lady.

Hi Amy, thanks for talking to Break A Leg Review, first of all tell us about Shakespeare in Shoreditch, what can the audience expect from your piece ‘Pelican Daughters’ and where did the inspiration come from?

A pleasure to talk to you! Shakespeare in Shoreditch is a festival of theatre celebrating Shakespeare’s connection with this part of London. I’m one of four playwrights commissioned to write one-act plays for the festival – my fellow-writers are Lulu Raczka, David Watson and Charlene James.

We were asked to write a play inspired by Shakespeare, Shoreditch, the theme of storms, and I’m very obedient so I made sure to jam in all three. I used King Lear as a springboard, partly because it features a memorable storm, but also because I was interested in turning the relationships on their heads. Lear makes it obvious from the start that he prefers his youngest daughter Cordelia to the other two, and it struck me that the “wicked sisters” Goneril and Regan have probably had to put up with that all their lives. As an eldest child myself, I wanted to look at the nature of being the firstborn, and how in some cases we never stop striving to reclaim the full attention of the parent.

So: Pelican Daughters is set at the 80th birthday party of Leo Shine, one-time king of his East London stamping ground. It focuses on his eldest daughter Gaby, who wants to be her father’s favourite, if only for a day. It’s about family dynamics, a shifting city and a gathering storm, and I hope it’s funny.

How do you feel when you watch your work interpreted and performed? Are you adept at stepping back and allowing other creatives to ‘take over’?

Writing can be isolated and a bit self-punishing, so it’s fun to reach the collaborative part of the process. Watching and listening to a good director and good actors interpret a text is the reward for wrenching the work into being. I’m not a natural at letting go, but I’ve got better at it. I’m a worrier, and even if I bite back my concerns in the rehearsal room, my pinched little face gives me away.

 

You’re an acclaimed playwright, with many credits under your belt, was there a piece of writing that you felt was a turning point in your career?

My first full-length play Sitting Pretty was written for my MA in Playwriting at Birmingham University in 1998, and kick-started my career. It’s in some ways very conventional, but probably braver than anything I’ve written since; I didn’t care so much about being judged at twenty-five. But the real turning point was a play called On The Rocks, first produced at Hampstead Theatre in 2008. It’s about D.H.Lawrence and his attempt to convince Katherine Mansfield and her husband to live with him and his wife in Cornwall. I’d struggled with writer’s block for some time (as did Mansfield) and this play was a breakthrough. Lawrence loved the symbol of the phoenix rising from the ashes and I felt like one myself. I’ve since learned that you have to rise from the ashes more than once.

Is there a piece you look back on and that you would re-write if you could? If so, what’s the reason for your choice?

Early on I wrote a two-hander called Henna Night that gets performed a lot. I’m grateful for its longevity, and some of the productions have been lovely, but the play itself makes me wince. It’s very raw and confessional, and I didn’t cover my tracks enough. If it’s played with a light touch, it can just about get away with it, but weighty, sentimental readings expose all the flaws in the script.

Do you have particular performers in mind when you write scripts? Can you imagine specific people in the roles?

I don’t often think about casting whilst writing, but I do like writing for actors when I get the chance. I work regularly with the Oxford School of Drama on their graduate showcase – it’s exciting to tailor a play to bring out the qualities of talented young actors and makes the process feel less introspective. I’m working on one play with a specific actor attached, and I’ve workshopped a musical with actor-improvisers, who are so inspiring that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles they create.

We know that you also write musicals, do you have a preference over genre? Do you find certain genres easier to write than others?

I don’t find anything easy to write! I grew up on musical theatre and I love it, and would challenge anyone who sees it as a poor relation to “serious drama”. I’m relatively new to the genre and again, the collaborative aspect is great. Writing the book for a musical feels less ego-driven than writing a play, because I think a good book-writer serves the composer/lyricist, and most of the big moments are songs. I like both working in both genres, but if pushed to choose, my ego would probably win.

I expect you are asked this next question a lot, but did your father influence your career choice and does his work influence yours in any way?

Watching both parents at work had a huge influence. I spent lots of time in rehearsal rooms and dressing rooms, and took it for granted that the theatre was home. I’ve been influenced by their work ethic and inherited from both of them the desire to make people laugh. Initially I wanted to act, and studied Drama at university, but realised after about nine minutes that I’m a terrible actress. It was a nice surprise to discover I didn’t care; that I had more of a facility for writing, and that the playwright plays all the parts, and never has to stand on stage unless it’s a post-show Q&A.

My dad’s view of humanity influenced me, it sings out of everything he wrote and although our voices are different, we shared a sensibility. He was a wry optimist. He wasn’t naïve, he was socially engaged and his plays were (in my view) political, in the best sense of the word – never overt or didactic, always striving to see both sides. But his world-view was ultimately hopeful.

Who were your influences when you were growing up and has a writing career always been your goal?

Katherine Mansfield, Chekhov, Sondheim, J.M.Barrie, J.B.Priestley, Arthur Miller, Leonard Bernstein, ABBA. That’s also my fantasy dinner party; I’d put Katherine Mansfield in between Benny and Bjorn.

Finally, are there any future projects you can tell us about, yet?

My new play Fear of Cherry Blossom opens at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre in May – it’s a contemporary story about two Jewish sisters, one of whom has become a committed Buddhist. I’m working on a musical with composer Karl Lewkowicz about Queen Victoria’s last great love and developing another musical with Adam Meggido and Duncan Walsh Atkins of The Showstoppers. And I’m adapting two of my dad’s TV plays (Eskimo Day and Cold Enough For Snow) for BBC Radio 4.

Huge, huge thanks to Amy, interviewing her has been a real pleasure and I can’t wait to see Pelican Daughters!

 

 

 

Secondary Cause of Death ~ Malvern Theatres

Touring production which finishes on Saturday 12 March at Malvern Theatres.

Secondary Cause of Death has landed at Malvern Theatres for the final leg of its tour, written by Peter Gordon and produced by Talking Scarlet. This features the bumbling Inspector Pratt who makes an appearance in a trilogy of Gordon plays (Death by Fatal Murder and Murdered to Death are the other two).

Set in Colonel Charles Craddock’s Country Manor House, Bagshot House, the guests of the Colonel are embarking upon a murder mystery style ‘parlour game’ which is hosted and written by Cynthia Maple (sister of Joan Maple, a nod towards Joan Marple, presumably!). Included in this charade are Count Puchlik of Puszczykowo from Poland, Lady Isodora Pollock who takes great delight in taking part in the game, over-acting like crazy. There’s also Henrietta Woolmer-Cardington who is an army captain and appears to be nice but dim – or is she? Lily Tuthill the cook who looks ready to skin a rabbit at a moment’s notice, and Cardew Longfellow, an actor employed by Miss Maple, who just happens to pay a resemblance to the Colonel – or does he? Either way, the bodies start piling up and the race is on to find out whodunit.

What’s refreshing about this is that it’s a farcical murder mystery and the ‘garden paths’ it leads the audience up are not only numerous, but all result in great hilarity. Inspector Pratt (played by David Callister with comic genius) moves from accusing no-one, declaring an obvious murder to be the secondary cause of death to announcing himself as the culprit (although he plans to plead innocent). It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud with such frequency during an evening at the theatre, and at a murder mystery of all things!

Judy Buxton is perfectly cast and puts in an excellent performance as Cynthia Maple, she’s the epitome of the formidable busy-body who sets the hapless Inspector straight. Liz Garland could be likened to a chameleon in her role as Henrietta, seemingly innocent but with a wholly different persona behind closed doors, Garland is an actress to watch out for, she shines in this production. Polly Smith is equally well cast as Lily Tuthill, the south western cook with her Mrs Overall style gait who is also not what she seems. David Janson brings a Manuel from Fawlty Towers quality to the role of the Count, he has some excellent slapstick scenes with Callister. Then there’s Jeffrey Holland, who demonstrates one of the many reasons why, in my opinion,  he’s one of our finest actors and remains so after years in the business, he switches seamlessly between the Colonel and Longfellow, his diction is precise and each character is played as an individual.

Secondary Cause of Death finishes its run in Malvern on Saturday 12 March and that is where the tour ends, so get your tickets by visiting this link: http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/

 

 

Spotlight On… William Rodell

William stars in Of Mice and Men which is touring  the UK at the moment, at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 8 – 12 March 2016 and then continuing around the country, finishing at Leicester Curve Theatre on 28 May 2016.

Hi Will, thanks for chatting to Break A Leg Review, How has the tour of Of Mice and Men been going so far and how are you enjoying your role of George?

I’m really enjoying the tour, the cast get on so well and as we’re doing a long tour together, we need to, so it’s been cast really well. Kris (who plays Lennie) and I get on well off stage and on stage and I think that you have to have a good relationship if you’re playing those two characters or it doesn’t work. George is a dream role to play.

What’s your favourite part of the play and why?

Oddly I like the ending, because George is setting Lennie free and although it’s the saddest part of the play, it’s also moving. I also like the scene where Candy has become involved in the boys’ dream to own their own ranch, it’s the first time that we see George really get excited about it.

If you were to switch roles and play another part in the play, who would it be?

I’d like to play Slim, he’s cool. Although I’m not tall enough….

What made you decide on a career in acting?

It was all I ever enjoyed at school. I bunked off at school, but I enjoyed drama lessons. I went to a performing arts college, then I worked in The Old Vic bar so I was still surrounded by performing. I finished at drama school 6 years ago.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

This, Of Mice and Men, it’s an amazing production, I’m privileged to be part of the company. The Director and Casting Director have cast it perfectly and it really is an ensemble piece.

What would you say to potential audience members to encourage them to see this production?

There are so many layers to this piece, the amount of work that has gone into it can be seen happening on stage. It’s aesthetically beautiful, the designer has done an amazing job. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the stage.

Thanks to William for chatting to us, we wish him and rest of the cast luck with the tour and you can find further tour details including information on booking tickets here: http://touringconsortium.co.uk/show/of-mice-and-men/

 

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