Spotlight On… The Company of Brains at Theatre N16

Break A Leg are delighted to promote and include interviews from the company of:

Thick & Thin Theatre present:
BRAINS
January 11th – 14th 2017, Theatre N16

Following the sell-out shows Toxicity and Slight Delay in 2016, Thick & Thin Theatre present a brand new play about money, drugs and… zombies. WARNING: ‘BRAINS’ contains strong language, scenes of violence and drug use, awkward romantic encounters and the wrath of an undead scientist.

In the not so distant future humanity has fallen victim to a disease, turning people into flesh craving, drooling, rotting versions of themselves. However, the clichéd disease spells good news for one company – business is booming at MediBite Inc., where sales of their drugs and medical products have shot through the roof.

After waking himself up with his daily cocktail of drugs, Harry, the money obsessed manager, does his best to keep his terrifying CEO, Ursula, happy, while also keeping his eye on his niece and apathetic new intern, Tina. Meanwhile, accountant and hopeless romantic Jeff shows skeptical new salesman, Rosie, around the office…. However, everything changes when smug scientist Stuart finds a cure for the disease that has ravaged the world.

Thick & Thin Theatre are a young company based in London, founded in 2016 by Cameron Szerdy, Tom Spencer & Jack Dent.  They enjoy creating theatre that’s funny, fast paced and tinged with irony; taking everyday settings and injecting them with a generous helping of the absurd; and above everything else, they aim to make people laugh.

Theatre N16 is a trailblazing theatre company, dedicated to creating a creative hub where new and existing works can be explored and pushed into new realms. Theatre N16 is proud of their commitment to the welfare of creatives, operating under an Equity Fringe Agreement. This promoting and nurturing of talent means that Theatre N16 is a bastion for development within the context of a society in which the arts are increasingly struggling to stay afloat.

Venue                                  Theatre N16, The Bedford Pub, 77 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9HD

Ticket Price                         £14 (£10 concessions)

Box Office                           Ticketsource (ticketsource.co.uk/event/156645)

Here, Break A Leg chats to Actors from the show, Tom Spencer and Aine Nettleton as well as Writer and Director, Cameron Szerdy who gives us both a Writer’s and Director’s perspective:

Tom Spencer (Stuart)

brains

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Tom. Tell me about the piece and your character

‘Brains’ is a fast, funny commentary on bureaucracy, greed and human error – with an undead twist. I play Stuart, the self-satisfied research scientist at MediBite, a company getting rich in a far from ethical way.

What was your initial impression of the script?

My first thought was “S**t, that’s a lot of swearing,” rapidly followed by “This is going to be fun.” Luckily, my prediction was accurate!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

Our director Cameron is always open to our interpretations and ideas while also maintaining the integrity of his original script, so I felt the transition was very smooth.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role(s)?

I wanted Stuart to be a mix-up of a man, half-cocky, half-chaotic. He always believes himself to be the cleverest in the room, but when events begin to take a disastrous turn his haphazard clumsiness comes to the forefront. As MediBite’s resident Casanova I knew he’d provide the opportunity for some comedy too.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

Theatre N16’s intimate space is the perfect setting for the play as the audience’s proximity to the action means that they are thrown right into the claustrophobia and tension of its unfolding events. We are constantly aware of the scrutiny of our observers and this helps to heighten the stakes very effectively.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you’re interested in both the biomedical ethics of a post-apocalyptic pharmaceutical company and seeing people get totally mauled by zombies, this is unquestionably the show you’ve been patiently waiting for.

Aine Nettleton (Tina)

brains-2

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Aine. Tell me about the piece and your character.

So the piece is basically a bunch of corrupt people shoved into an office together, with the added bonus of a zombie outbreak! Tina is basically just a moody teenage girl who is obsessed with her phone (obviously nothing like myself)

What was your initial impression of the script?

My first impression was that there was a lot of swearing and drugs so I probably shouldn’t invite my mum… No but it really excited me cos it’s was hilarious!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

It translated so easily onto the stage, with the simplistic set layout it was easy to just let the characters take over.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

The play itself is very fast paced and high energy, I wanted to contrast this with Tina’s laziness and reluctance to do pretty much anything to created comedy (I hope)

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

So having the space in kind of a round means that you feel like you’re being watched from all angles which is really cool if you imagine everyone in the audience are zombies trying to get in for the cure…

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you like the F word and watching people hate each other via jokes then this is the play for you!

Writer/Director: Cameron Szerdy

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Cameron. As a Director – tell me about the piece and your vision for it…

BRAINS is very character driven and relies a lot on good comedic timing – which thankfully the actors have got! I wanted to create a sort of pressure-cooker environment with there being a crescendo of tension that eventually leads to a big release at the end.

What was  your inspiration for it?

BRAINS is meant to be a comedy above everything else. I suppose the audience will decide if it actually is! I wanted to write something with zombies and set in an office – there’s loads of opportunity for comedy in an office environment. Just ask Ricky Gervais! Once I had those two things I came up with the characters – they’re all caricatures to an extent at first, but when they’re faced with a life or death situation we see different sides to them. The inspiration for the criticisms of privatised medicine came from all over the place really – there’s a lot of bad news about it at the moment what with Jeremy Hunt continuing to ruin the NHS and people like Martin Shkreli selling essential life-saving drugs trying to make healthcare into a business.

Was it easy to put it all down on paper?

I always start with the characters when I’m writing. Once I’d figured out who the characters were and their relationships with each other, the dialogue and the action came pretty quickly. There were definitely moments when I wasn’t quite sure where it was heading or wasn’t happy with certain parts, but it was a fairly quick writing process.

Is it translating well from page to stage?

Yes, very well – thankfully! The action happens pretty quickly and the dialogue is short and snappy which helps for a short play. Once the actors had got their lines and blocking down it certainly came to life.

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

The space is perfect for the piece. As the play progresses there’s a real sense of pressure building and the office becomes this sort of melting pot of opinions and big personalities – you can almost feel the temperature in the room rise! N16 is a perfect because the audience are really close to this build up – I really wanted the audience to almost feel involved and the space allows that.

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

The characters are pretty much caricatures when they first appear on stage, but later on they become more complex. It’s quite challenging for an actor to play up to a stereotype for the first half and then start to show a more human side while maintaining specific characteristics. So my first thought about casting was that I needed bloody good actors!

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

Mostly I hope they will have found it funny! Apart from that there’s definitely a message of there being more important things than money and fame in life so hopefully it will get people thinking about that.

Hopefully they’ll know how to survive a zombie apocalypse! I hope they find it funny more than anything. Laughter is the best medicine after all!

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Definitely. My approach was to let the actors do a lot of the work in creating their characters. There was plenty of ad-libs and improvisation in rehearsals – some of it worked and some of it definitely didn’t! A lot of the blocking fell into place naturally once people had a grasp on their characters and I only really intervened when things got a little bit stuck – or when there was too much corpsing! Pun intended.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

There’s zombies and comedy. What more do you want from a show? I would say that BRAINS will hopefully make you laugh a lot, it will certainly make you think and it will definitely make you feel glad we’re yet to suffer a zombie apocalypse!

Have you any advice for budding directors?

Get involved in anything you can. Even if its not a role as a director, put yourself forward for any job no matter how small and you’ll get more and more experience of being involved in a production. Also watch other directors and see how they do things – then you can decide on your own style. Personally I always think of a director as being more of a facilitator than an all-powerful being on a production – a lot of the work can just be admin!

Any advice for budding writers?

Just write! Write down anything that pops into your head. Even if you think the idea may go nowhere, write it down and come back it. Maybe more ideas will come from it. And never be overly critical of your own work. Obviously you need to edit and revise things, but always believe what you have written is good – and even if you don’t, I guarantee somebody else will.

Thanks to Tom, Aine and Cameron for brilliantly insightful interviews, this production sounds amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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