THE STAGE DOOR tHE MAGAZINE FOR young THEATRE Enthusiasts
Issue 1 £4.00
Life outside the west end
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts His acts being seven ages.” As you like it by William Shakespeare
Page 2 Editor's Letter Page 3-5 News
Page 7 What's on Page 9-11 Feature: Auditioned to death page 13-14 Events: Monologue slam & Dreamarts gala Page 15-17 feature: Why off west end? Page 19 Q&A: Luke SHIRES OF JOE PUBLISHING PAGE 21-22 fEATURE: A KIDULTHOOD GENERATION PAGE 23-28 TALENT SCOUT: sILLHOUETTEZ IN THE DARK PHOTOSHOOT PAGE 29-30 BOOKS: 8 PLAYS YOU SHOULD READ BEFORE YOU DIE PAGE 31-32 OPINION: ARE CELEBRITY GUEST STARS RUINING THEATRE'S REPUTATION? PAGE 33-34 THEATRE REVIEWS PAGE 36 PROFILE: there WAS AN OLD LADY WHO LIVED IN A SHOW- the aMARGOSA opera house PAGE 37 THEATRE TALK: THEATRE TERMINOLOGY PAGE 39-42 Theatre list
Charles Condomine: If you're trying to compile an inventory of my sex life, I feel it only fair to warn you that you've omitted several episodes. I shall consult my diary and give you a complete list after lunch. Blithe Spirit
THE STAGE DOOR EDITOR-in-chief Ana peralta
PHOTOGRAPHY SIMON Xing Liu
THE MAGAZINE FOR young THEATRE Enthusiasts
Special thanks to: Rob De Niet, Sara Hasan, Paul Tierney, James Anderson, Sylvia Dwarka Ohemeng, Luke Shires, Graham Witlock, Anne-Marie REIDfi, Michelle Stannard, Lucy Ferguson, Richard Evans, Sophia Fallone, David stringer and Oval House Theatre. All interviewees and contributors.
if you would like more information on the stage Door magazine, please contact: Ana_peralta@hotmail.co.uk
EDITORIAL INTERN KEVIN MISSI
t’s true what they say, you never forget your first love. This is most definitely the case with my long love affair with the world of theatre. We’ve had our ups and downs but, in the end, true love conquers all. Creating this magazine has been an incredible journey. The highs and lows of creating something out of nothing, and watching it develop before your very eyes, is a truly special feeling. When developing the idea for the first issue, I was stunned to find that there was nothing exciting to represent theatre in print form , when it is such an important part of our culture. We have The Stage and What’s On Stage yet, despite their readership and their importance within the industry, it just isn’t enough. What about the young people who are interested in theatre? Where is the publication for them? Theatre is about entertainment and creativity. This is what this magazine is about; capturing the essence of theatre for young people, without dumbing it down. It’s unapologetically intelligent, slick and never patronising. The Stage Door is your companion, the friend who is just as obsessed with theatre as you are. The theme for this issue is Off West End theatre which is often overlooked. We wanted to celebrate the outcasts. The little studios far away from the bright lights of Theatreland that create innovative work with little to no funding because they are in love with the art of entertainment. So let me introduce you to the magazine... Our What’s On page features some of the most exciting theatre pieces, outside the West End. New writers, directors and actors who represent the future of theatre. (page 7) In Auditioned To Death (page 9) I interviewed struggling actors, who audition constantly but will they ever catch a break? Why Off West End? takes a look at reasons why theatregoers may be avoiding Fringe venues and offers practical advice on how to deal with these issues. Are young writers using their imagination to create theatre? Or are they stuck writing about the same things? In A Kidulthood Generation, we explore whether they can escape the stereotypes. (Page 21) Don’t know who Joe Keller is? Don’t worry if you don’t- we give you a rundown of 8 Plays You Should Read Before You Die. (Page 29) Luke Shires, of Joe Publishing, tells us what life is like post university, and why working as a theatre producer can be a fantastic job in the Q & A. (Page 19) Taking it a little further than Off West End, we investigate Marta Becket and the Amargosa Opera House, all the way in the Californian desert in There Was an Old Lady Who Lived in a Show. (page 36) Hopefully, you will discover things you didn’t know before and fall in love with theatre all over again. I know I have. Enjoy! Ana Peralta
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THEATRE OLIVIER AWARDS 2012 SPECIAL
he most glamorous award ceremony in the world of theatre took place on Sunday 15th of April, at the famous Royal Opera House. Hosted by Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball, who are currently starring alongside each other in the new adaptation of the musical Sweeney Todd at The Adelphi Theatre. Although the ceremony was plagued by technical issues, the hosts were excellent at providing humorous retorts which kept the audience cheerful. Entertainment for the evening was provided by musical numbers, by the Best Musical nominees. These included a solo from Sophie Evans who sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow, from The Wizard of Oz and the cast of Singin’ In The Rain with an uplifting performance of Good Morning. All eyes were on new musical Matilda, nominated for the maximum amount of categories (ten), the creative team walked away with a total of seven awards on the night. Including the coveted Best New Musical Award and Best Director for Mathew Warchus. The four young actresses made history when they won the joint award for Best Actress, the youngest of the quartet only ten years old. Special performances from pop star Ronan Keating and a mesmerising Elaine Paige, who stunned with her rendition of Evita’s Argentina. Award winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice, who won the Special Award said it was “one of the best versions of Argentina” he had heard the theatre starlet sing. Meanwhile outside in the Covent Garden Piazza, there were special performances from audience favourites Wicked! and Billy Elliot. Lés Miserables stunned audiences with a performance, who won the Audience Award, voted for by the public. A special congratulations to Theatre Royal Stratford East for winning the Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliated Theatre, for Roadkill. Further proof of the importance of subsidised theatre in London. A truly eventful evening, celebrating the best of British Talent in theatre. 3 THE STAGE DOOR
Hosts Micheal ball and Imelda staunton
The cast of les miserables perform In the covent garden piazza
Sir Tim Rice
List Of Winners Mastercard best new play Collaborators at the Cottesloe
Best lighting design Frankenstein, designed by Bruno Poet at the Olivier
Best revival Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse
XL Video award for best set design Matilda the Musical, designed by Rob Howell at the Cambridge
Best entertainment and family Derren Brown Svengali at the Shaftesbury Best actress Ruth Wilson for Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse
From left: The Matildas: Sophia Kiely, Kerry Ingram, Eleanour Worthington Cox and Cleo Demetriou.
Best actor Benedict Cuberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller for Frankenstein at the Olivier
Best costume design Crazy for You, designed by Peter McKintosh at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Best sound design Matilda the Musical, designed by Simon Baker at the Cambridge
Outstanding achievement in an Best performance in a affiliate theatre supporting role Theatre Royal, Sheridan Smith Stratford East in for Flare Path at association with the Theatre Royal, the Barbican and Haymarket Traverse Theatre for Roadkill Best actress in a musical Best new opera The Matildas for production Matilda the Musical English National at the Cambridge Opera’s Castor and (Cleo Demetriou, Pollux at the London Kerry Ingram, Sophia Coliseum Kiely and Eleanor Worthington Cox) Outstanding achievement in opera Best actor in a musical ENO, for the breadth Bertie Carvel for and diversity of its Matilda the Musical at artistic programme the Cambridge Outstanding Best performance in achievement in a supporting role in a dance musical Edward Watson for his Nigel Harman for performance in The Shrek the Musical at Metamorphosis at the the Theatre Royal, Linbury Studio at the Drury Lane Royal Opera House
ruth WILSON won the best ACTRESS olivier, Johny Lee Miller shares the best actor award with Benedict cumberpatch
Elaine paige performs Argentina from the musical evita
Best musical revival Crazy for You at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Best new dance production Desh by Akram Khan Company at Sadler’s Wells, choreographed by Akram Khan
Best director Matthew Warchus for BBC Radio 2 Olivier Matilda the Musical at audience award the Cambridg Les Misérables Best theatre choreographer Peter Darling for Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge
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news in theatreland
Dancing on Ice judge Robin Cousins will join the cast of Chicago in September. The judge will play charming lawyer Billy Flynn at The Garrick Theatre from 17th of July till the 8th of September 2012. Cousins used to be a professional skater and won a gold medal in the 80s Winter Olympics. After retiring due to a sports injury, he turned his talents to choreography.
Andrew Lloyd Webber sells The Palace Theatre. The undisputed lord of the musical sold the West End venue for an undisclosed sum to Nimax Theatres Limited. Webber described the sale as a way to “secure theatrical future for the Palace.” He said in a press release he was always fond of the theatre having written early versions of Phantom Of the Opera in the upstairs office. The theatre is currently home to the screen to stage adaptation of Singin’ in the Rain. Previous productions include Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Monty Python’s Spamalot.
The Royal Court’s Theatre Local project will return to Peckham in the summer. The project aims to bring theatre to “alternative spaces”. Hayley Squire’s Vera Vera Vera and Bola Agbaje’s Belong, will be featured in the Theatre Local space, in the Bussey Building, from the 31st of May until 28th of July.
Michael Attenborough was a warded with Excellence in International Theatre. The Artistic director of the Almeida Theatre was honoured by the International Theatre Institute for his contribution to the stage. Attenborough said of the award: “I am honoured and flattered to be given this prestigious award from such a distinguished and hugely respected organisation.”
Hampstead Theatre’s Chariots of Fire confirms West End transfer to the Gielgud Theatre from 22nd of June 2012. Based on the story of Eric Lidell and Harold Abrahams, two athletes who struggled to compete in the 1924 Olympics, because of prejudice because of their background. Just in time for the Summer Olympics.
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Across the pond the infamous Pulitzer Prizes were awarded and Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes won the award for Drama. The award is for outstanding work by American Playwrights, along with a hefty prize of $10,000. The play centres around the lives of four individuals whose lives become intertwined through an online chatroom. This is paralleled with the life of a war veteran struggling to deal with post-war life. An emotionally charged second instalment in a trilogy. As part of the National Theatre Connections festival, artsdepot will be hosting an exciting programme of events as part of one of the biggest youth theatre festivals in the world. One of 20 partner theatres nationwide, arts depot will host performances by 12 youth theatre groups over six days.
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what'S ON As You Like It by William Shakespeare. 24 Apr 2012 to 19 May 2012 @ The Lion and Unicorn Theatre
This spring, Custom/Practice and Graffiti Productions bring you a vibrant, playful and passionate retelling of Shakespeare’s comic masterpiece,
Brimstone and Treacle by Dennis Potter 02 May 2012 to 02 Jun 2012 @ Arcola Theatre
theatre LISTINGS OFF WEST END SPECIAL
The Devil Inside Him by John Osborne
The Pirate Project by Lucy Foster
10 May 2012 to 26 May 2012 @White Bear Theatre
15 May 2012 to 02 Jun 2012 @ Oval House Theatre
The Devil Inside Him tells the story of Huw Prosser, a young man suffocating in his tight-knit Methodist community. He is bullied by his father, who thinks he is soft in the head, and, when his erotic poems are discovered, he is subjected to sermons by the local preacher.
In The Pirate Project three women set sail in search of their inner pirate. Expect sword fights, theatrical storms and cross dressing aplenty. Ha Harrrr!
Children’s Children by Matthew Dunster 17 May 2012 to 30 Jun 2012 @ Almeida Theatre
Egusi Soup by Janice Okoh 23 May 2012 to 09 Jun 2012 @ Soho Theatre
A fast, furious and funny new family drama about intergenerational and cross- cultural relationships. Contains plenty of spicy bits…
The Conquest of the South Pole by Manfred Karge 29 May 2012 to 02 Jun 2012 @ Rose Theatre Kingston
Mad About The Boy by Gbolahan Obisesan 12th of May to 19th of May @The Unicorn Theatre The first ever major London revival of Dennis Potter’s most controversial play. Renowned for being banned by the BBC in 1976, Brimstone and Treacle’s glimpse into middle-class suburban paranoia, xenophobia and insularity is as revealing and relevant today as it was then. A twisted allegory about fear, faith, morality and the incomprehensible randomness of good and evil.
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Winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First Award 2011. This timely, urgent, razor-sharp drama sees a teenage boy fighting to save his reputation.
Michael and Gordon have been best friends since acting college. Now, 20 years later, Michael is Mr. Saturday Night TV but failing actor Gordon struggles with enormous debts and asks Michael to lend him a large sum of money. It sets in motion a series of events that reveal irreparable cracks in the characters’ relationships.
London youth – out of work, on the dole, spending time in their flat, going on epic journeys of the imagination and hoping for the best. This play is a fascinating mix of domestic drama and epic adventure, a 90-minute study of fantasy and dignity which cannot fail to cast its spell over audiences.
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AUDITIONED TO DEATH
Auditioning for acting roles and never getting them- is it a curse? Ana peralta investigates
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t is always tricky to find an appropriate place to do an interview; but getting to interview an actor at the legendary theatre bar/restaurant The Cut, was obviously going to be pretty symbolic. However, this wasn’t going to be one of those celebratory interviews where we look at an established career. I am going to interview an actor, who like many others, has been sentenced to an unforgiving curseauditioning to death, without ever getting any good parts . As I meet up with 28 year old Steven, I thank him politely for doing this and we exchange pleasantries. Steven could have been plucked straight out of a 1920s Humphrey Bogart film -short curly brown hair, with a haunting dark circled stare which disappears as his dimples pierce the side of his pale cheeks, when he smiles. I commend his courage for talking about such a sensitive subject. I imagine this is what it would feel like if someone was to ever ask me to do an interview about how I failed as a writer and spent my days writing obituaries. As we settle on the terrace overlooking the busy street, the conversation turns to the very venue we sit on top of, The Young Vic. “I remember being here when I was younger and just being completely in love. Sounds silly, I know, but when you’re an actor, every theatre you go to is like... it’s like your Mecca.” A waitress takes our order and asks
if we would like any beverages. I choose a glass of white wine and the waitress suggests my interviewee follows suit in sing song voice. Reluctantly he accepts her childish request for an adult drink. I am going to be testing the very reason this man gets up in the morning; wine shall be my liquid iron shield. So have you ever performed here, I ask. “No, no, no... I wish.” He laughs uncomfortably and it occurs to me for the first time that maybe the venue wasn’t being symbolic but rather ironic. Steven decided he wanted to be a professional actor when he left college and the extreme auditioning began at the age of 17. “Almost ten years ago”, he sighs bitterly. The natural progression for someone on this chosen path is to enrol in a drama school, in order to get proper training. However, things took a dramatic turn for the worse (no pun intended, honestly) when he didn’t make it through to the second round of auditions at all five of his institution choices. “I wasn’t sure what to do then. I hadn’t thought about what would happen if I didn’t get into any of my choices. All I thought about was what would happen if I didn’t get into my first choice Drama School, which was East 15.” The number of applications each year for drama schools are simply staggering, so it really doesn’t come as a surprise that he was unsuccessful. For example, Central
"It is tough for actors, and always has been with too much competition out there. It obviously depends on the individual as to how they deal with rejection." School of Speech and Drama receive an average of 4,700 applications for their drama programmes but they only have 54 places. Overall, UCAS receives on average 53,000 applications for theatre programmes for various institutions. To say the competition is intense would be an understatement. Casting agent Richard Evans, of Richard Evans Casting, agrees. “It is tough for actors and always has been with too much competition out there. It obviously depends on the individual as to how they deal with rejection.”. After not getting into any drama schools, Steven decided he would return with a better audition strategy the following year. Instead, he devoted his unintentional gap year to auditioning for theatre pieces and signed up with an agency to do some film extra work. “I did extra work just to keep the money coming in and had a part time job as a sales assistant at a shoe shop. It was hard to juggle everything but I wasn’t going to give up.” Out of school and in a part time job he didn’t enjoy, what made him carry on? Had he somehow developed a special gene, which made him impermeable to the heartache of rejection? “I was auditioning constantly; sometimes twice a day. I would run from one and go straight into another. I’m not sure how I did it and I would be lying if I said that it got easier. The auditioning got easier because I pretty much knew what I had to do but the rejection definitely wasn’t.” After trying for a second time at another round of auditions for drama schools, it seemed no good luck charm could have helped deal with the aftermath of being rejected once again. “At that point, I felt like I just wasn’t good enough and my confidence took a hit. But I am a persistent person and I just don’t know
when to admit defeat. It’s just how I am.” Although his confidence took a hit, he could not stay away from the addictive acting world and a few months later he went back for more. After a couple of successful runs at some major Off West End productions (which he inaudibly skims through), he carried on auditioning in the hopes that he will one day make it and live the dream. His luck seemed to change when, two years ago, he managed to reach the second round of auditions for the TV show The Inbetweeners. He didn’t succeed in making the final cast but was asked to stay on and do extra work. Later, he recalls that a producer he had met on his stint for The Inbetweeners, contacted him about auditioning for the E4 series Misfits. “I remember the director’s assistant saying that it was between me and Iwan Rheon, who plays the character of Simon in the series. They weren’t very clear as to why I wasn’t chosen and even when my agent asked they just said it was because they wanted to go in a different direction.” Indeed, as a casting director, it must be hard to choose between two actors who look similar. That’s when they perhaps look for experience and that certain je ne sais quoi. “I always go in thinking I did a good job and then I don’t get a call back. It’s frustrating but I can’t give up.” Steven isn’t alone there are others out there just like him, actors who remain tenacious and undefeated, lumbering through mediocre jobs in order to make their dreams come true. Annabelle Spencer is also a serial auditioner. She even moved to Los Angeles in the hope that a career in Hollywood would somehow manifest itself. “I know what I want even if it means going to another country to get it. I’m just ambitious. Other famous
actors didn’t give up and they proved you can do it.” she insists. Starting out wasn’t very hard for Annabelle, as a friend of her father worked in a production company and she was able to find herself an agent within the first month of being in L.A. A feat which most actors trying to make it out there, find near impossible. She began auditioning for television shorts and adverts. At one point, one of directors she worked with on a screen test for a toothpaste commercial told her she needed to work on her accent, so she got herself a speech coach. Despite all of her connections, her luck ran out when her visa expired and she had to make a hasty return back to the U.K. “It was devastating because I could have actually made it. It was all going well but then I had to leave because of a... technicality. It’s so annoying.” So has this changed the way she thinks about the industry? Does she think she can continue in her quest for fame? “I am not going to give up. Once I can sort things out, I will definitely go back. The rejection is a part of it I just have to have thick skin.”. I recall Steven and his struggles and ask her if she would still be as enthusiastic about moving to L.A if she still had to audition, without getting anywhere, when she is in her 30s. She laughed awkwardly then in an offended tone said: “I will definitely make it before then.”. No glass of wine to defend me there. Casting director, Richard Evans, agrees that a career in acting is no stroll in the park but remains hopeful, that if actors persevere, they will reap the rewards. “There is no career path in acting and, like investments, careers can go down as well as up but the call that changes someone’s fortunes could come at any moment, often when it’s least expected, so there is always hope!” His unwavering optimism may be THE STAGE DOOR 10
justified. Yet, back The Cut restaurant as I swirl the last bit of wine in my glass, wishing I had a bit more left because of what I have to ask Steven: Doesn’t he think it’s time to be moving on to something else and admit defeat? After all, he has been dealt a bad hand in every single opportunity he has thus far encountered with no change. “No chance of that happening”, he answers in a defensive manner. “It’s not like I haven’t thought about quitting. I have.” He pauses, playing with the remains of his burger and stares into the streets below. “If I was going to quit I would have done it a long time ago.”. I got the impression he was trying to reassure himself more than anything else. Admittedly it does make for a fantastic career story: the years of struggling to make ends meet; never getting a call back when, suddenly, the drama Gods smile upon you
Famous actors who almost didn't make it... and a miracle happens. You get your break. We appreciate an artist more, it seems, when they have made it despite their hardships. We not only buy into their talent but their story. We like the idea that someone, who appears to have it easy, has had to struggle; the prize is too good for it to just be handed over. As I pay for the bill and we part ways, I wonder if he will ever catch his break and hope that, the next time he is being interviewed, it’s for his successes rather than his struggles. It seems he has done his time on audition death row and ultimately it’s his decision whether to keep appealing his case, or give in and hang. The names of the participants have been changed at the personal request of both parties.
"It's not like I haven't thought about quitting. I have. If I was going to quit I would have done it a long time ago."
It is a shock to know that Michael Caine, one of the most respected actors, was told by his headmaster that he would be “a labourer for life”. How wrong was he?
American acting legend Lucille Ball was told by a drama school tutor to “try another profession.” She went on to be one of the most iconic faces in American Television and Cinema. She won over twenty awards, including five Emmy’s.
French actress Jean Moreu, was told at the beginning of her career by a casting director that “she wasn’t photogenic or beautiful enough.” She went on to star in over one hundred films.
Lord of The Rings star Orlando Bloom, broke his back when he was younger. There were fears he may never walk again. Despite the scare, Bloom walked away to become one of the most sought after male actors, for stage and film.
Eccentric actor, Rupert Everett, was expelled from Central School For Speech and Drama, for artistic differences with tutors. He left and went on to experiment with his acting. Despite this, he is now one of the most revered British actors.
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Old Man, right (sighing): Death to the fascists! The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
t was an incredible evening bursting with original and up and coming talent. Hosted by Award winning actor Jimmy Akingbola, one of the stars of evening medical drama Holby City, who was a funny and charming host. The premise of this event is a simple and effective one: twenty actors are separated into two categories of Monologue Slams competing against each other in one and three minute rounds. They battle it out in front of four industry judges. The panel consisted of Fela Oke (who is the man responsible for making monologue slam project possible...) Casting Director Annie Rowe, Agent Paul Sainou and, Creative Director of Oval House Theatre, Toby Clarke. The monologues varied in structure and style with some dark explorations into the human psyche, to the comically stereotypical and the abstract. The competition was fierce and there truly wasn’t a dull performance; the talent was consistently outstanding. After the heated one minute battles, it was time for the improvisation round, which was hilarious way to get the audience involved. They were encouraged to shout out different scenarios so two randomly selected actors could improvise around it. There wasn’t a quiet soul in the house. Everyone was howling with laughter at the improvisations. The evening was enriched by the presence of MOBO award winning hiphop artist, Akala, who received the highest of accolades of the evening: two standing ovations following his spoken word set. 13 THE STAGE DOOR
He presented some of his best spoken word pieces and had the whole room in awe of his sharp witted observations of social constructs and modern life. A truly remarkable talent. This is a fantastic event, which happens monthly at different off west end venues. It is one of the best ways to interact with young actors and a fantastic networking event for anyone who isn’t lucky enough to make it through to the acting spot. There are always “industry ninjas”, as Mr Akingbola wittingly referred to them, who are professionals who attend the event to scout new talent. vAmong them was Ricky Beadle Blair, the distinguished south London Playwright. After the event, a DJ spins some tracks in the main space and there is an opportunity for any enthusiastic dancer to get down on the dance floor or to just trawl through and network with the “in” theatre crowd. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening and not to mention it only costs £10 per ticket.
For a chance to get involved in a future Monologue Slam, all information can be found on the TriForce Promotions website: www.triforcepromotions.co.uk
" You learn the dynamics and mechanics of a good performance. For an actor that information is incredibly valuable."
t is always fantastic to see the young people in London show off their talents in a way which doesn’t perpetuate further stereotypes. The DreamArts Gala, which took place at the Playhouse Theatre, presented famous well loved musicals whilst staying true to musical convention for some good clean, family fun. A wonderful opportunity for young people to perform at a West End theatre, they did this stunning venue justice with their performances. The four chosen musicals were presented by the weekend groups, which are separated into juniors (8-12 year olds) and seniors (13-19 year olds). The evening opened with a great introduction by host and vice chair, Ronald Cummings-John, who was in replacing Jodie Prenger, who was absent due to unforeseen circumstances. Nevertheless, the evening wasn’t ruined by her absence. First off, it was the Liz York Award ceremony rewarding outstanding behaviour and talent within the DreamArts community. The Saturday juniors tackled the classic Doris
Day musical, Calamity Jane, and well done to them for singing their little hearts out to some of the hardest songs in the musical repertoire. They did so with gusto and professionalism expected of actors twice their age. The Sunday seniors followed with their exciting rendition of Little Shop of Horrors. Once again, they managed to tackle a difficult catalogue with classics such as Downtown and Suddenly Seymour. The handmade plant was a particularly nice touch reminding the audience of the hard work they put in not only into their own performances, but to the overall visuals of the show. After all, it is hard to make the set of Dreamboats and Petticoats look instantly like a botanists. That was followed by crowd pleaser Oliver!, which had the full house singing along to the classics Food, Glorious Food and a stunning solo from Ashlin Farci singing As Long As He Needs Me. It was easy to forget at times that they were actually younger than thirteen. The Saturday seniors closed a show
with Blood Brothers and what a rendition it was. Strongly cast and competently played by the young actors they managed to capture the very essence of the show, in the little time they had. Outstanding vocals by Heloise de Satge as the working class heroine Mrs. Johnstone and the trio narrating the show. The evening was closed by the whole DreamArts ensemble singing the hit song Something Inside So Strong with the whole audience singing and clapping along. These young people proved that, contrary to popular belief, younger generations can commit to activities beyond the comfort of their own sofas. As they sang, there’s definitely something inside so strong.
For more information on how you can get involved with DreamArts contact Becki Lunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0207 266 8262. All further information can be found on their website: www.dreamarts.org.uk THE STAGE DOOR 14
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WHY OFF WEST END THEATRE?
life OUTSIDE THE WEST END IS AN EXCITING ONE. A PLACE WHERE CREATIVITY IS BORN. so, WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE ATTENDING FRINGE VENUES? Ana PERALTA FINDS SOLUTIONS TO COMMON PROBLEMS.
lthough Off West End theatres often lack the glitz and glamour we have come to expect from the West End, there is still value in what goes on inside these spaces. According to Journalist Caroline McGinn from Time Out London, “The capital’s classy off- West End houses make some of the most imaginative theatre anywhere and its ever enterprising Fringe scene makes brilliant shows across London on a shoestring.” Over fourteen million people attended the theatre last year and it raked in a healthy sum of over five hundred million for our trembling economy. So, why aren’t more of us taking chances on Off West End venues? We take a look at some of the problems surrounding the attendance of theatres outside the bright lights of Theatreland and provide solutions and advice, so, you will have no excuse to avoid great up and coming work. Theatre location seems to be one of the things deterring potential audiences. According to the Fringe and Off West End audience report for 2011, more than half (54%) of theatregoers are influenced by location and transport links to the venue. Accessibility to certain venues are crucial, for example, The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone, although a lovely venue can prove tricky to find. As well as accessibility, it seems that a particular area’s bad reputation, be it crime
or anti-social behaviour, sways the decision of all theatregoers, despite their background. For example, The Bussey Building in Peckham is a fantastic venue brimming with talent. However, many people would avoid the venue because of the area’s reputation. Here are some possible solutions: If you feel unsafe or out of place leaving your part of London to watch a piece of theatre it’s a shame but perfectly understandable. However, you can still make a difference by checking listings for your local theatre, (there is a high chance that you have one that you never considered attending) where you will perhaps feel safer and more comfortable, whilst helping local talent. Only 38% of Off West End theatregoers support local theatres with 42% only supporting sometimes. This is evidence that it’s time you looked to your local theatre for entertainment. (Have a look at the back of the magazine where there are listings for all Fringe venues.) Preconceptions about locations must be shattered for the sake of watching imaginative theatre. Most of the time, an area’s reputation is exaggerated by the media and people who live in these socalled unfavourable places will confirm this. Most experimental and groundbreaking work happens in outskirt locations. If you want to experience innovative work, you must go outside of your comfort zone and experiment a little yourself. It is
not always as easy as going beyond your comfort zone, however. As the strain of modern life and the lack of disposable income, especially in lower income families, there is an obvious link between ticket costs and people’s attendance. A poll on The Guardian website claimed 85.7% of voters felt that high priced tickets are the reason theatre is becoming inaccessible. Everybody loves a bargain that’s why 48% of theatregoers are more likely to attend a production which offers discount tickets. On the other hand, statistics do show that we are willing to invest in an evening of entertainment in the West End. So, why not invest just as much of our money in other theatres around London, which incidentally, can be much cheaper to attend? If you’re still not convinced, here are some solutions if you have too much month at the end of your money... The way to attack the issue of finance and theatre is by knowing where and when to look for a bargain. Off West End productions range in price but, in most cases, you will be able to find something below the twenty pound mark, for an original production, of high quality and standard. The Old Vic has worked with accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, to fund more than 15,000 subsidised tickets for under 25s, which will cost young people only £12 to catch a show there. This is an incredible opportunity and a great effort from The THE STAGE DOOR 16
Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey (isn’t he nice?) to get a good variety of people (especially young people) attending plays. You may also consider going to scratch nights, which often cost as little as one pound. The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone does a Theatre in the Pound night every month which, yes, you read correctly only
was that the issue was indeed the elitism of producers and creators versus the artists. He claimed class is responsible for blocking the creativity in companies. He argued that most people creating and acting in productions are from top universities and were from wealthy backgrounds- even within his own Youngblood company. As well as limiting
However, this isn’t the case with smaller productions, which have a limited time in a Off West End venue- they have to gain attention and attract large numbers of people to their production without the power magnet that is worldwide status. There are many different ways to keep up to date and know what shows are on.
costs one pound. You watch five to six fifteen minute extracts of up and coming work. Not to mention you will have more than enough money to get a snack and a drink during the interval. At The Royal Court Theatre, they offer pay what you can showings and you can literally pay what you can. 50 pence for a show you would normally pay twenty pounds for. You just need to be on the lookout. Try their website (below) or follow them on twitter for regular updates on up and coming PWYC nights. OffWestEnd.com is a great source for discount theatre. They have sections divided by price where you can pick what to watch, based on what you can afford, starting from only five pounds. The theatre was made for everyone. The very nature of theatre is to challenge preconceptions in society and create an environment of honesty and exploration. Nevertheless, some potential theatregoers still believe that going to the theatre is reserved only for the middle and upper classes. In March 2011, an article by Michael Kaiser for The Huffington Post sparked a controversial response from Joshua Conkel, blogger from the Young Blood Theatre Company in New York. He wrote about the issue of class in theatre. His argument
performers, it effects the audiences too. Statistics prove that people attending the theatre are from all backgrounds. By attending these experimental pieces, you are creating a new breed of audience. This means, as the audience shifts from being primarily middle class, the work produced by theatre companies will have to adhere to this change and create work which reflects the people watching it. Themes brought in through a different set of ideals and lifestyles will cater to this new audience and hopefully inspire more people to attend. After all, it is a better theatre experience when you can identify with what is onstage or learn something new about a different cultural group. It’s all about strength in numbers, so the people in charge will have no choice but to meet the demands of the public. To put it simply, we all want to be entertained no matter what class we happen to belong to. Knowing where to go and what show to see can be hard at times, especially with Fringe pieces. Not all of them get enough coverage in national newspapers, so they are often overlooked. According to statistics, 60 to 64% of Fringe theatregoers were influenced by word of mouth. West End productions have worldwide reputations, which they have gained through years of hard work and marketing.
Most of us are avid users of social networks and they are a fantastic way to know what is happening in the theatre world. Most theatres have their own Facebook pages and you can subscribe to their statuses and get a better idea of what’s on. Twitter is also a great way to keep up with news, listings and even last minute ticket sales. Follow Arts Live UK (@freelondonarts) for free events in London, including theatre. Ideas Tap (@ideastap) tweet theatre competitions and reviews of different shows. A Younger Theatre website is fantastic for reviews offers for young people or you can follow them on twitter for more news. Bookmark these websites and instead of playing Cityville on Facebook during your lunch break, trawl through them for some evening entertainment. As you can see, there are solutions to problems you meet when deciding to attend a production Off West End. Yet, as you can see, there are ways around them which means you can truly enjoy Off West End theatre at its best. Happy theatregoing!
"After all, it is a better theatre experience when you can identify with what is onstage or learn something new about a different cultural group."
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www.royalcourttheatre.com or Follow on Twitter @royalcourt. www.thecockpit.org.uk www.oldvictheatre.com www.ayoungertheatre.com
Alice: I donâ€™t love you anymore Goodbye. Dan: Since when? Alice: Now. Just now. CLOSER
careers job so interesting and enjoyable. Every day is hard work. The myth that working in the arts is easy is completely untrue. It requires passion and dedication and an awful lot of time. If you love what you do though it is a lot of fun. Q. Is there anything you are working on at the moment? If yes, what is your involvement in the whole process? A. I oversee the marketing, advertising, promotions and PR of our productions alongside my team. I also work alongside our general management teams to ensure the smooth running of the productions themselves. These two areas tend to throw up a wide variety of daily tasks. Q. Did you always want to do theatre and how did you get into it? A. I always wanted to work within the theatre industry. I decided quite early that I didn't want to be a performer. So it took a while to discover which element of the theatre world I was most suited to and enjoyed. The balance I have found between production and marketing is an absolute dream.
Ever thought about a career in theatre production? Luke Shires of Joe Publishing, who count Wicked! Among their clients, takes us through the ups and downs of life after university. ďƒŞ
Q. What did you study at university? A. I studied English and Theatre Studies joint honours for my undergraduate and then Creative and Media Enterprises as an MA, both at Warwick University. I'd always been involved in theatre as a performer from childhood and the transition into my studies seemed quite natural. Q. What was life like after graduation? A. Leaving University is an interesting time. You are full of mixed feelings of pride, expectation, fear, excitement and that slight twinge of suddenly feeling lost, as you are exposed to the real world. Luckily I'd worked alongside my studies from the age of 15 so I was prepared to throw myself into job hunting and working in whatever job I needed to pay the bills. Q. What was your first job? A. I threw myself into working unpaid for numerous London Fringe theatre companies in order to gain as much experience as I could. I applied and was rejected from 72 jobs before sending my CV off to the Guardian CV Clinic. I received a call from a journalist there asking me if I'd take part in a column called 'Blind Date' in the Work section that sets up mock interviews between graduates and prospective employers. 19 THE STAGE DOOR
I was interviewed by Sarah Hunt, Director of Marketing and the National Theatre which was brilliant. Sarah then offered me an unpaid internship in the marketing department on two specific projects. I stayed at the NT for 3 months and left to take a position at Act Productions as the Office Assistant. Q. What experience did you gain whilst you were starting out? A. I worked in the marketing department and ran the Youth Theatre at the Warwick Arts Centre while I was at University. I also produced, directed and marketed many student productions throughout my 4 years at university. When I graduated I worked for a few London Fringe theatre companies and also produced a few productions at the Edinburgh Fringe. Every job I've ever had (ranging from Legal Secretary to Factory Worker) did in some way help to prepare me and give me the skills that I now use every day at work. Q. What exactly does your job entail, for example, what is a typical day of work for you? A. It is impossible to describe a typical day. Every day is incredibly busy and the eclectic mix of tasks and people are what make the
Q. What was the last thing you saw at theatre that really impressed you? A. I recently saw 'Long Day's Journey Into Night' and absolutely adored it. Q. Have you seen anything in any Off West End theatre that left an impression on you? A. Some of the most interesting, for god or bad reasons, pieces of work I've seen have been away from the West End. Fringe, Off West End, regional and subsidised theatre are absolutely pivotal to the future of the theatre industry. They are the most creative and daring areas of the theatre world. There are many wonderful companies doing incredible work that I like to see. My favourite are a company called Dumb Show. Q. Who is favourite actor/actress and why? A. I absolutely adore Julie Walters for her warmth and commitment to a role. Her portrayal of Mo Mowlam in the Channel 4 drama Mo is still one of my favourite performances ever. Judi Dench in absolutely anything but especially in Iris. Those two women are quite simply powerhouses. Q. What advice would you give graduates or anyone trying to get into the theatre industry? Any tips? A. Stick with it. If you love the theatre then stick with it. It's an incredibly competitive industry to get your 'foot in the door' and my advice would be to do as much as you can and say 'yes' to everything, you have the time to do. Also, don't stop going to the theatre. It's important to be reminded just why you love doing what you do and there is no better way to get that feeling than to be an audience member.
Chris: You killed them, you murdered them Keller: How could I kill anybody? all my sONS
A Kidulthood generation Are young playwrights perpetuating stereotypes of young people in their plays? WRITTEN BY Ana pERALTA ILLUSTRATION BY EZRAZ ADAMS
oung playwrights and producers are responsible for shaping the future of theatre; yet they continue, along with their hoodies, to induce fear in a large part of the population. A fear which has spread like wildfire due to sensationalist news stories in the press, and by a small number of individuals bent on destroying the reputation of youth in London. Nevertheless, the accusations being made aren’t without just cause; knife crime and gang related crime has been overwhelming in recent years. It is a shocking part of London life, which cannot be ignored. This type of civil tension provides the perfect blend of emotion and dramatic richness which good theatre thrives on. Young playwright’s such as Bola Agbaje and screenwriters Noel Clarke of Kidulthood fame and Nirpal Bhogal writer of 2011s Sket, have recreated in some way or another the world of youth and street life. Like any other art form, writing for screen or theatre, helps to uncover parts of society which engage an audience. The life of London’s youth had remained unexplored until Noel Clark’s Kidulthood exploded onto the scene in 2006. The film became one of the most influential pieces of work depicting “street life”, and went on to inspire many other versions. Bola Adbaje also set the standards pretty high when it came to dissecting the social effects of estate life and identity in modern Britain. In her award winning play Gone Too Far, Agbaje displays the trials of two black young males in Hackney. She won the 21 THE STAGE DOOR
prestigious Laurence Olivier award in 2007 for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliated Theatre and best playwright at the African Film Awards. With an acute knowledge of the world they write about, they are changing the face of theatre and film with their writing. Yet how much of what they are doing is actually changing it for the better? Or is it just a matter of perspective? For aspiring playwright Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, the change starts with teens questioning their own methods. “Skeen”, seventeen year old Tristan’s debut play, may tempt you to roll your eyes in fear of being bombarded with yet another formulaic teen “street” drama. On the other hand, the play is an acknowledgement of the labels attached to London’s young people. A play within a play, it features seven hauntingly typical urban youths in college, who vow to put on the best end of year drama production. “They think that, to make it the best theatre production ever it has to have a tremendous amount of swearing and it’s got to have sex onstage, drugs everywhere. Just obscenities... It almost become nonsensical. Throughout the play they start to realise, is this what we are really like? Yes, let’s tackle a gang related subject but do we have to do it like this?” It deals with the very idea of not having to surrender to any self fulfilling prophecies they have been subjected to, but breaking away from them- through theatre. Tristan is the perfect example of a well spoken black boy who single handily karate chops the south London bad boy stereotype in the face. Not only has he made the most of his community theatre programme, at Oval
House, he wrote his own play whilst doing his A levels. It was such an impressive first try that it was featured in the line up as part of the 33% London Festival. He claims he is just trying to find a way to educate the people, especially the adults, around him. “When you see things like this, what do you think it says about you? Are you willing to change it? It’s all well and good to say I don’t like this, I don’t like that, but what are you going to do about it?” So should young writers be overlooked as serious practitioners? After the release of Sket, writer Nirpal Bhogal film was bombarded with mixed reviews and criticised the mainstream media of misusing the term “urban”. A review by film critic Henry Barnes for The Guardian simply began with the words, “Sigh.” And ended with, “Anything but this. Again.” It's hard not to disagree with this view; young writers have been given the creative license to “write what they know”. Instead, in order for these stories to progress, the use of imagination should be reinforced for the sake of originality in scriptwriting and playwriting. After all, film, but even more so theatre, is about pushing boundaries, and who better to do that than the very people
who feel trapped? Creative director of drama company Silhouettez in The Dark Damilola Fashola wants to see a change. “I saw an interview with Noel Clarke where he
provided a view of London youth so stifling that no wonder young writers are influenced to never think beyond their own postcodes. “What about those youths who are not
constructed from the narrow minded view of previous writers. One that isn’t afraid to be smart without consequences, one that shows young people in a different light altogether.
They have provided a view of London youth so stifling, that no wonder young writers are influenced to never think beyond their own postcodes. was talking about the reasons behind writing the screenplay for Kidulthood. He said that he wrote another screenplay, completely different to that one, still including black youth, but no one was interested in picking it up. Until I see evidence of him doing something else, I just won’t believe it.” Anne Marie Reid, Programme Manager at Dreamarts, shares Damilola’s views. “I would say that young people often engage with material and subject matters which is of interest to the young person or their peers. This provides a voice for their experiences.” A voice, it must be said, that has come from an older generation led by the likes of Noel Clarke and Adam Deacon. They have
excited by ‘street life’,” she argues, “ who have their own struggles, and are not conforming and successfully doing so? I question whether the industry would accept these stories and promote it with the same zeal?” The answer is- probably not. With films such as Kidulthood and television shows like Top Boy, it’s no wonder that the glamorisation of street life, (an always oversimplified version of it) is becoming monotonous. Granted it is a hard subject to tackle, but if nothing is done the subject will put audiences off. It’ll become like a bad Adam Sandler movie- it just won’t go away. This is why youth theatre needs a new voice, one that hasn’t been
The possibilities are endless, yet we are stuck in a circular motion, unable to push forward. If Nirpal Bhogal wants critics to understand the meaning of Urban, I’m sure there are innovative ways to try and explain. Not focusing on the negative, however, we have to acknowledge, as Tristan rightly put it: “The fact that there is even theatre being produced by young people should tell you that there is something good there.” I guess we will just have to have patience that there will be a young person who will end this. After all, The Merchant of Venice wasn't written in a day. THE STAGE DOOR 22
Silhouettez In The Dark, made up of four members, aims to revolutionise contemporary urban art whist providing the community with substance. Their work has been recognized internationally in the US and Africa, leading to an invitation to perform in Artistic Director, Damilola K Fashola’s home town, Lagos, Nigeria. The group’s artistic approach is to take an individual’s thoughts, ideas and feelings and express them through raw visual pieces.
In The Dark, were originally made up of four members, but began expanding, once other were inspired by the companies's mission. This company aims to revolutionise contemporary urban art whist providing the community with substance. Their work has been recognized internationally in the US and Africa, leading to an invitation to perform in Artistic Director, Damilola K Fashola’s home town, Lagos, Nigeria. The group’s artistic approach is to take an individual’s thoughts, ideas and feelings and express them through raw visual pieces. The faces you see onstage are more than just the beings creating the art. Breaking into an industry, which is already branded with the ideas of what 'Art' & ‘Urban Art’ should be; Silhouettez choose to do what Art dictates. “F**k the media’s spoon”, we will dine at our own table. Call it controversial, call it feminism, try to fit us into a box, we won't fit, Silhouettez were not made to. The Stage Door caught up with them during rehearsals for their upcoming show, Communication...
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Jerome and Crystal, discover that love isn't always everything needed to survive, within the given circumstances of everyday life.
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"Communication delves into the inner eyes of young love and asks: Is staying together logical? Is risking everything for love worth it?" 27 THE STAGE DOOR
"LOVE ISN'T ALWAYS ENOUGH"
Communication @THE OXFORD HOUSE THEATRE MONDAY 30TH APRIL THURSDAY 3RD MAY Written & Directed by Damilola K Fashola 7PM Tickets £11 | MOTD [£15] 07578014122 URBANTICKETS.CO.UK
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8 plays you should
you SHOULDN'T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE ON YOUR DEATH BED OR TO SEE THEM ONSTAGE, TO ENJOY GREAT THEATRE. HERE ARE EIGHT PLAYS WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY INSPIRE YOU AS MUCH AS THEY INSPIRED US...
Educating Rita by Willy Russell British playwright Willy Russell is great look at the British class system and the shortcomings of a working class woman’s quest for education. Set entirely in an office of an open university, the play centres around the relationship between ‘Rita’ and her tutor Dr Frank Bryant. Rita(whose real name is Susan) is a liverpudlian who is tired of her life and enrols on a English literature course. He tutor, the alcoholic Dr Frank Bryant, is a man who has lost his way and begins, through his conversations with Rita, to re-examine his own life choices and decisions. The most unlikely of friendships, these two characters teach each other the meaning of life. It is also worth watching the film adaptation with Julie Walters and Micheal Caine, which is absolutely brilliantly preformed by both acting heavyweights.
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Angels in America: A gay fantasia on national dreams by Tony Kushner
The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Another fearless play by Pulitzer winning, American playwright Tony Kushner. Set in 80s New York (some other parts in Salt Lake City) this epic play merges religion, homosexuality and humanity within its themes, intricately interwoven into the lives of main characters. Prior Walter is a gay man with AIDS, who experiences intense religious visions, in which he is told by an Angel he is a prophet. It also follow the stories of the people directly or indirectly connected to Prior, and the choices they make about life and how that changes the path they were originally on. Perfectly daring and unapologetically complex, this play is a powerful look at character, sexual identity and loss. A heavy read, with dark humour in places but a worthwhile one nonetheless.
As of the practitioners to change how theatre was performed, German modernist Brecht’s work is a tour de force which sees the key theme of class meandering through its veins. The Caucasian Chalk Circle struck a chord as an anything but simplistic story of a post world war II of a young peasant girl who rescues a baby, and much like the story of King Solomon, becomes an exemplary mother to the child. Based on an older Chinese play The Chalk Circle, the translation from the German is hard to follow at times, and like Shakespeare it is a little bit of a heavy read. Still powerful in its message and a great way to introduce yourself to epic theatre and the influential work of Brecht.
A Raisin in the Sun is perhaps one of the most influential works by a female African American playwright. The characters remain some of the most sought after roles for black actors everywhere. The story takes place south Chicago following World War II, and the lives of a black family and their experiences. The Younger family receive an insurance check of $10,000 after the father dies. Each family member argues over what they will each spend their money on, with Mama, the matriarch, deciding that it would be best to buy a house they could all live in. A riveting conscientious look at universal themes such as of black identity and family life.
read before you die
Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward
All my Sons by Arthur Miller
Closer by Patrick Marber
The Iceman cometh by Eugene O’Neill
Blithe Spirit is a comedy written By British playwright Noël Coward, set in 40s London. The play tracks the life of writer Charles Condomine who hires eccentric medium Madame Arcati to perform a séance, for research on his new book. Wonderfully sceptical, the writer is unprepared for the outcome of this supernatural meeting. In a hysterically ironic fashion, he is then haunted by the ghost of his first wife Elvira, who makes his life a misery. Her ghost is determined to ruin his marriage with his second wife Ruth, who is unable to see the ghost. It first appeared in the West End in 1941, but continues to be an easy and pleasant read. A classic Noël Coward play, a sharp satirical look at marriage.
This one of the first plays which definitely resonated deeply. Considered to be one of the masterpieces from American Playwright Arthur Miller, All my Sons is a morbid look at 40s family life and the surrounding mixing business and family. The play presents the aftermath of a business partnership gone stale between Joe Keller and Herbert Deever. Whilst Deever is sent to prison for selling defective airplane parts, Keller escapes imprisonment and goes on to live a wealthy life- but not without consequences. His family has to deal with the bitterness and guilt of the crimes committed and this takes its toll on the love between Ann (Deever’s daughter) and Chris (one of Keller’s son). Absolutely gripping read and even better to watch live.
An intense look at relationships between four characters, who constantly fall in and out of love with each other. Larry, Anna, Alice and Dan are caught up in their love lives, and throughout the play we see each couple deteriorating and returning to their previous partners. Like an odd emotional game of chance, the truth is a hard pill to swallow for all four individuals. A poignant look at the love between men and women, Closer is a modern tale of lives forever intertwined. There is minimal setting description with more focus on the speech; with some fantastic one liners, and character monologues. Not for the emotionally faint hearted- a passionate look at the cruelty of love when it’s used as currency and ultimately how people deal with the repercussions.
You can’t go wrong by reading the work of a Nobel Prize winning writer. Eugene O’Neill’s work is always vivid and truthfulfrighteningly accurate at times. He was one of the first American playwrights to write about the people outside of the conventional bourgeois settings. His characters were real people- the undesirables of society. In this play a bunch of no good alcoholics and prostitutes frequent a saloon, where they spend their days drinking and bickering, with no real purpose to their lives. It is darkly humorous and reflects themes as Waiting For Godot did, about the mediocrity and stillness of life. Exceptionally smart and witty; the classiest portrayal of the lower class. You should definitely own this play- even if you don’t have the courage to read it.
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“Please sir, no more.” Are celebrity guest stars ruining musical theatre’s reputation? Ana PERALTA seems to think so...
had the nightmare again. The one where I am inside the Dominion Theatre (or at least it’s what I believe in the dream, because it actually looks nothing like the Dominion Theatre.) and I have taken my seat ready to watch We Will Rock You. In this nightmare, I go on to endure a truly traumatic experience; none other than 80s “pop sensations” the Milli Vanilli duo, screech through a rendition of I Want To Break Free. As a polite audience member, even in my dreams, I refuse to get up and leave looking around me, utterly bewildered as to why nobody was as shocked as I was that this was happening... I woke up in cold sweats. For those of you too young to know who Milli Vanilli are please find a YouTube video of them actually singing, and you’ll understand the nightmare a little better. For those that do remember who they are, thank you for gasping when you read that part. This wasn’t an unfounded dream, however, as I found on my second trip to watch Wicked! the smash hit West End musical. The experience was thoroughly enjoyable; the cast were a strong ensemble and the acting resonated, as it should. However, the cast welcomed former pop star Matt Willis from pop band Busted, into its talented embrace last December. He played the role of Fiyero, the green witch’s love interest. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement; his performance was mediocre, at best. In fact he would get a D for effort in my books. His voice fell short of the standard set by the rest of the cast; especially noticeable against Rachel Tucker’s exceptional vocals (the woman can hit a high F for god’s sake). So the cold sweats I experienced post nightmare returned, as the question arose 31 THE STAGE DOOR
in my mind- are celebrity guest stars, ruining theatre’s reputation? The trend began in 1998 when David Hare’s The Blue Room opened starring Nicole Kidman. Since then it has been deemed acceptable to cast celebrities to grace British Theatre stages. However, what has been forgotten along the way, like a bad game of Chinese whispers, is that Nicole Kidman is an actress; therefore, she knows how to act and is more suited to be on stage in a play. However, what is the excuse for the injured birds of the entertainment industry who are now migrating to the West End? One of these vocally injured birds is Peter Andre who waddled onstage for a special charity performance of new musical Ghost. Even if it was for a good cause, and even if it was for a mere fifteen minutes, they left a permanent stain on the Piccadilly Theatre. His performance was pitchy, flat and so mechanical it made the Tin Man’s rigid walk resemble a slinky. Speaking of tin men- Russell Grant’s wooden performance as The Wizard, in The Wizard of Oz revival at The London Palladium, made me click my heels furiously whilst whispering, there’s no place like home. Blue’s Duncan James and Simon Webb who have also nested onto musicals such as Legally Blonde and Sister Act. I was smart enough not to book these, because I am not a sadist who enjoys torture to my young and very delicate eardrums. Casting a celebrity to do a run in a musical is of course a fantastic marketing strategy and PR genius. However, doesn’t it ruin the integrity of the musical genre if any old Peter, Duncan or Matt can come along and get the part, because they have status without the talent? As an audience member and an avid theatre fan, I refuse to accept
that there wasn’t a talented musical theatre graduate who could have done a better job. However, not all celebrity collaborations have made our ears bleed and our eyes water; there have been some performances that have sparked an albeit small, flame of hope. Melanie Chisholm (aka Melanie C, aka Sporty Spice) is one of the few celebrities that was been able to take part in a musical and give an outstanding performance, for her role in Blood Brothers. A performance which earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Musical at the 2010 Lawrence Olivier Awards. She played a heartfelt and a believable Mrs. Johnstone. Even comedian Justin Lee Collins was able to give a good performance as Amos Heart in Chicago, where he was filming for his Sky1 show Justin Collins is. He shocked the audience with an excellent rendition of Mr. Cellophane. So as these rare performances prove, it can be a worthwhile investment in casting talented celebrities for musicals. However, I still remain fearful that the ratio of good to awful performances, aren’t proportional to the money these celebrities are raking in to theatre’s revenue. I still stand my ground and believe it is better to cast someone who can keep up with the demands of singing on a big musical, and think we have talented theatre graduates right under our noses, who aren’t being put to good use. As West End ticket prices sky rocket, we have a right as an audience to demand to see only the best. Although these “singers” have a fan base (who must collectively share a bad case of Otitis) it doesn’t mean they can take over our well loved theatre stages, and defecate all over them with bad talent.
opinion I’m going to try musical theatre.
Russel grant as the wizard of oz
Melanie cHISHOLM AS MRS. JOHNSTONE IN BLOOD BROTHERS
I’m sure you’ll doo well.
Peter Andre and CO star, Recreating the famous clay scene from the famous film, Ghost.
Matt Willis as fiyero in wicked!
Justin lee Collins in rehearsals for his role as Amos Hart in the musical CHICAGO.
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VERA VERA VERA @ the royal court
era Vera Vera follows the lives of an English family dealing with the death of their youngest sibling, who lost his life in the Iraq war. Being dubbed a hero for fighting for his country, we see a grim portrayal of family life through his two siblings, Emily and Dan, who share different ideas about whether their deceased brother was truly a hero or not. The two siblings argue over what their brother stood for- Emily believes in her brother’s good heart. Dan is a drug dealer and a bully who constantly undermines the ones around him, with a penchant for violent behaviour. The visceral performances from both actors is juxtaposed in the form of calm
WRITTEN BY hAYLEY squires DIRECTED BY Jo Mcinnes and rational Lee- Bobbie’s insecure best friend. This is countered with a glimpse at the blossoming relationship between Charlie (who is their cousin) and her boyfriend Sammy, who open the show with hilariously well timed banter, which remind us of their immaturity. They are at the mercy of young love but, despite their differences, manage to stick together. Sammy is a bomb waiting to explode and resorts to violence. Charlie is the voice of reason, coy and mysterious. Dealing with the death of her cousin, she presents the innocent, fragile side of grief. The setting is a grey stage, surrounded by an idyllic painted park background, with the outskirts of the stage filled with grass, littered
RATING: with vodka bottles, cigarettes and general waste. The imbalance shown in the set, provided a distinctive parallel to the action onstage. Here is a family who should be proud to have someone who they loved fight for their country- yet they argue and pacify their grief with anger and narcotics. The extreme view of modern day English families and how they deal with death was acutely portrayed within the deteriorating relationships. “We do drugs, we don’t work... Bobbie got the good heart”. A truly remarkable sharply written debut by Playwright Hayley Squires and an absorbing probe into British identity.
“A grittier Carmen”
Carmen @ The king’s head pub
here are not many theatregoers around who can boast that they have seen a classic like Carmen, in a Pub. Yet, as Londoners we are privy to many interesting venues, to experience good theatre. This was no exception. Rather than hinder the scale of the show, the intimate space bringing a fresh sense of identity. Set in modern day north London, we are taken into the world of sassy Carmen (played by Christina Gill) who starts the party in the pub. Dancing on the table, as the whole cast sang in harmony accompanied only by Spanish guitar and piano. This Party atmosphere carried the audience through to their seats, where they were presented with a modern day flat. 33 THE STAGE DOOR
Written by Georges bizet Directed by rodula gaitanou Although the set was meant to portray the immaturity of the characters, whether intentional or not, it felt slightly slap dash, as if it wasn’t quite finished. Nevertheless, the set didn’t overshadow the ambitious production, with strong performances from the cast members. The condensed version of the Opera meant there was a sense of urgency, which the original loses slightly, with achingly unnecessarily long exchanges between Don Jose and Carmen. Here we are thrown straight into the action, with Christina Gill bringing a darkness to the character and Christopher Diffey’s Don Jose was perfectly servile. Also talented singers, the cast carried the title songs with conviction- no note out of place. Excellent
RATING: comic contrast from double trouble Mercedes and Frasquita (played by Olivia Barry and Fleur de Bray), and a charismatic Escamillo (Nicolas Dwyer). A strong ensemble with excellent singing skills; this gritty modern version made it hard to remember you were sitting in a Pub, watching an Opera classic. Carmen is playing at The Kings Head Theatre until 14th of May.
filumena @ Almeida
ilumena has been the mistress of Dominico Soriano for 25 years, she pretends to be dying in order to trick Domenico into marrying her. Samantha Spiro’s portrayal of Filumena is outstandingshe manages to capture the different dimensions of the character. She moved fluidly from a loving woman, to a sharp tongued vixen. However, she held her own well, whilst the rest of the cast appeared to be on a slightly different rhythm, and failed to truly gel at certain points. The first act was longer, helping to build up the tension, hinting to an exciting second half. However, that wasn’t the case. When the actors returned for the second act, there had been a resolve
written by Eduardo De Filippo Directed by Michael Attenborough between the characters. The relationship between Filumena and Domenico lost the fire and instead we saw a happy ending, which seemed forced. One of the most stunning sets I have seen at the Almeida Theatre- the audience had no doubt whatsoever that they were in 1940s Naples. This small venue always manages to transform the sets into something incredible. This production and Robert Jones’s stunning visuals were a testament to that. The production and set design helped elevate the short second act. As all the character resolutions happened off stage, there was a sense of rushed closure. It would have been nice to get to see those hidden parts. Overall the production is worth
RATING: watching for the incredible use of space. The story would sit better with audience members who are hopeless romantics and enjoy it when everything comes together in the end, neatly packaged, with a bow on top. Filumena is playing at The Almeida Theatre until 12th of May.
Playhouse/ definitely the Bahamas @ Orange tree
his double bill by writer Martin Crimp who also directs the pieces, presents the emotion of couples and the inner workings of relationships. Play house takes us through the lives of couple Simon (Obi Abilli) and Katrina (Lily James), who have moved in together for the first time. They present the audience with the inevitable highs and lows of relationships. Their conversations were at times predictable, showing how history constantly repeats itself in relationships. They bicker and attack each other verbally, which often has more implications on their relationship that both admit to, at the time. The relationship begins spiralling out of control, all shown too well in the now
written and directed by martin crimp claustrophobic apartment the two share. The leading Actors shared a palpable chemistry, which added to the audience’s sympathy when it all began going wrong. Obi Abili’s performance was a revelation. Lily James’s Katrina was at times quite two dimensional, however she did shine when things heated up and her anger leapt out, and dominated the stage, especially noticeable over Abili’s soft natured Simon. Although sharply written and well directed, it seemed much more could be pushed in terms of the production. Enjoyable and a real demonstration of young love. Definitely Bahamas was definitely the strongest of two- that may have something to do with the fact that it was originally
RATING: written in 1986 for radio, then adapted to stage in 1987. Like wine, this play seems to have aged well. The three actor’s kept the pace up with their fast exchanges, and comic timing. Once again the performers had extremely excellent chemistry and bounced off each other well. Although the presentation style was at often times confusing, it managed to keep the modern twist on this old script fresh and unpredictable. Both pieces are well presented and deserve to be shown together. An evening of exploration and the inner workings of human nature. THE STAGE DOOR 34
Harper: In your experience of the world. How do people change? Mormon Mother: Well it has something to do with God so it's not very nice. Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika
he words “Opera house” and “Ghost Town” sure sound like the setting for a 70s horror movie, but for the twenty inhabitants of Death Valley Junction, it’s a reality. It seems creativity truly has no limits, and Marta Becket and the Amargosa Opera House are no exception. Located somewhere in the California desert, it is hardly the hustle and bustle of Broadway. Nevertheless, it carries certain charm, due to the enigmatic Marta Becket who is not only the owner, but the one putting on the shows. The New York born dancer came upon the location by chance when, on a performing tour, her trailer broke down. She instantly fell in love with the derelict building (which was originally used for miners as a social hall) and decided to turn it into an Opera House. She has occupied the space since 1968; it became her unlikely home. In her 2007 autobiography To Dance on Sands: The life and Art of Death Valley’s Marta Becket, Becket explained how the move made an impact on her life and how performing helped ease the transition. “When I first came, I was to many the crazy lady who moved out into the desert to run an opera house...However, if my Opera House had not become successful, I would still be here struggling to support my art.” She specialises in one woman dance and mime shows throughout her early career and this is what she continued to do in her new space. She spent her time reconstructing and repairing the theatre, as well as painting renaissance characters, around the circumference of the complex to form an audience. These are often the only audience she had, as she religiously put on a show at 8.15 every evening, even if there wasn’t a single person sitting in the audience. The Opera House attracted press attention in 1970, when Becket was accidentally discovered performing alone by journalists from The National Geographic Magazine. She was then featured in a profile for Life Magazine. Becket and her ghost town opera house were also the subject of a documentary in the year 2000, which won an Emmy Award in 2003 for Best Cinematographer. She no longer had to worry about performing only for her renaissance audience on the walls, as the Opera House became so popular, she now regularly expects full houses. Many people have travelled far and wide to visit this wonder in the desert and Becket gained a cult following, including author Ray Bradbury who described Becket as, “The spirit of theatre. The spirit of creativity”. A slim, fragile woman with dark hair and a magnetic gaze, she admits it gets harder with age to keep up with her old routines- the dance moves have had to change to accommodate her now older, more delicate frame. Whether you are dumbfounded by her unapologetic, bizarre behaviour or completely understanding of her desire to keep her art alive no matter the circumstances, you have to admire her commitment. It makes sense to Marta who seems genuinely happy and not the stereotypical mental patient, waiting for the men in white coats to come and carry her away. She is aware of how her quirky life may come across to others and is bold and honest about what she has created for herself. If there is a lesson that captures what theatre is about, it is the courage to follow your heart. “It’s a place where time seems to have stopped. A place where you feel as if you can catch up with forgotten things left in the real world...somehow this isn’t the real world. It’s my world.”
There was an old lady who lived in a show
THEATRE TALK EVER FOUND YOURSELF NOT QUITE UNDERSTANDING THEATRE LINGO? FEAR NOT! WE HAVE A HANDY A-Z OF TERMS TO HELP YOU OUT. ďƒŞ
ACOUSTICS: qualities that evaluate the ability of a theatre to clearly transmit sounds from the stage to the audience.
audience with a window facing the stage. The Stage Manager calls the show from there.
CUE: the last words or actions that come before another actor's speech or entrance; a light, sound or curtain signal.
ACT: main division of a drama,they are further divided into SCENES.
BREAK A LEG: a superstitious good luck wish exchanged by actors who feel that saying "good luck" is a jinx.
CURTAIN: end of a scene; closing of a curtain to depict the end of an act or scene.
ADAPTATION: a reinvention of an existing story or play; includes turning novels into plays, plays into musicals, or making changes in language or plot. AD-LIB: making up a line not originally in a play, usually done when an actor forgets a line or someone misses an entrance. ANTAGONIST: the opponent or adversary of the main character (protagonist); provides the obstacle the protagonist tries to overcome. ARENA STAGE: stage placed in the center of a room with audience seating surrounding it, also known as theatre in the round. ASIDE: a brief remark made by a character and intended to be heard by the audience but not by other characters. ATMOSPHERE: tone or mood established by events, places, or situations. AT RISE: refers to the action taking place as the curtain rises. AUDITION: a brief performance of either a monologue or a short scene done by actors for the director of a play in order for the director to decide which actor he or she wants to cast in a particular role. BACKSTAGE: refers to the areas not a part of the actual stage, but restricted for actors and crew members. It usually includes the green room and the dressing rooms, and frequently offices and scenic shops as well. BOOTH: the small room set up for the management of the technical elements needed during a play,usually set behind the 37 THE STAGE DOOR
CALL: the time at which an actor is supposed to be at rehearsal or performance. CALLBACK: a second or third audition used to further narrow the field of actors competing for a particular role in a play. CAST: (verb) to assign parts to the actors in a play. CAST: (noun) group of actors in a particular play. CASTING CALL: notice to actors of an audition for parts in a play. CHARACTER: a person in a play created by the playwright and represented by an actor. CHOREOGRAPHER: the artist in charge of creating the dances and/or movements used by actors in a play. CLIMAX: (of a script or play) the moment of highest tension or suspense in a play; the turning point after which all action moves to a resolution. COMIC RELIEF: a humorous moment, scene or speech in a serious drama which is meant to provide relief from emotional intensity and, by contrast, to heighten the seriousness of the story. CRITIC: a writer who reviews plays. CROSSOVER:a hidden passage, often behind the scenery, through which actors can go from one side of the stage to the other without being seen by the audience. It's used if actors need to exit on one side and make their next entrance from the opposite side.
CURTAIN CALL: the process of actors taking their bows, receiving applause, and/or being reintroduced to the audience at the end of a play. DIALECT: a speech pattern which is distinctive, or the use of a cultural accent on stage. DIALOGUE: conversation between two or more actors in a play. DIALOGUE COACH: person responsible for working with a cast on correct pronunciation and dialect usage. DIRECTOR: a person responsible for initiating the interpretation of the play, enhancing that interpretation with the concepts of the designers and making all final decisions on production values; tells the actors where to move and how best to communicate the interpretation of the play to the audience. DOWNSTAGE: front area of the stage, nearest to the audience. DRAMA: the play script itself; the art of writing and staging plays; a literary art form different from poetry or other fiction. DRAMTIS PERSONAE: cast of characters in a drama or, more generally, participants in an event. DRESSER: a person in charge of assisting actors with their costumes, wigs, and makeup during a production. DRESSING ROOM: the place where actors take their costumes, wigs, and makeup on and off.
ASAGAI: Then isn’t there something wrong in a house,—in a world—where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man? BENEATHA: AND YOU CANNOT ANSWER IT! ASAGAI: I LIVE THE ANSWER! A Raisin in the Sun
the FOLLOWING PAGES ARE A LIST OF ALL THE OFF WEST END THEATRE VENUES AVAILABLE. now THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT EXPERIENCING INNOVATIVE FRINGE THEATRE-BECAUSE NOW YOU KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE...
39 THE STAGE DOOR
NEAREST TUBE STATION
Almeida Street Islington London
Dalston Kingsland BR
24 Ashwin St Dalston London
Clapham Junction (BR)
Barons Court Theatre
Euston, Euston Square
Blue Elephant Theatre
Bride Lane Fleet Street London
Catford Broadway London
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
Honor Oak Park
The Bull's Head 373 Lonsdale rd, Barnes London
Shepherd's Bush tube
Shepherds Bush Green London
Camden People’s Theatre
58 - 60 Hampstead Road London
Canal Cafe Theatre
Charing Cross Theatre
Oakwood Tube Station
East Croydon & West Croydon Stations
Katharine Street Croydon London
41 Earlham Street London
Earls Court tube
Notting Hill Gate tube
Hackney Central BR
Half Moon Young People’s Theatre
43 White Horse Road London
Swiss Cottage tube
Eton Avenue , Swiss Cottage London
Hen and Chickens
Highbury and Islington
109 St. Paul's Rd Highbury Corner London
Jermyn Street Theatre
Piccadilly Circus tube
5 Nether Street, North Finchley London Lavender Hill, Battersea London Silk Street London Curtain's Up pub 28a Comeragh Road London 15 Gordon Street London 59a Bethwin Rd Camberwell London
410 Brockley Road London
The Bridge House, Delamere Terrace Little Venice London The Arches Villiers Street London Chase Side, Southgate London Southampton Row London Glebe Avenue Ickenham, Hillingdon London The Courtyard Theatre Hoxton 40 Pitfield St London
265 Camden High Street London 118 Finborough Road London 11 Pembridge Road Notting Hill London Crooms Hill London
291 Mare Street London
130 Hoxton Street London St Paul's Church Bedford St Covent Garden 269a Archway Road Highgate London 16b Jermyn Street London THE STAGE DOOR 40
NEAREST TUBE STATION
King’s Head Theatre
Angel / Highbury & Islington tube
115 Upper Street Islington London
70, Landor Road LONDON
Leicester Square Theatre
6 Leicester Place London
Lion and Unicorn Theatre
42-44 Gaisford Street Kentish Town London
Little Angel Theatre
14 Dagmar Passage London
208 Wandsworth Road London
Lyric Square, King Street London
Menier Chocolate Factory
London Bridge tube/BR
51/53 Southwark Street London
Millfield Arts Centre
Great Cambridge Junction
Silver Street Edmonton London
New Britannia Theatre
Great Portland Street
Hampton Wick Station
Old Red Lion Theatre
Old Vic Tunnels
Orange Tree Theatre
Oval House Theatre
52-54 Kennington Oval London
People Show Studios Pollard Row London
Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design University of the Arts London
Handyside Street London
Carpenters Mews North Road London
240 The Broadway, Wimbledon London
Tottenham Court Road / Goodge Street / Euston
Billet Lane Hornchurch Malet Street London
35-47 Bethnal Green Road London
Crisp Road Hammersmith London
Rose Theatre Bankside
56 Park Street, Bankside London
Rose Theatre Kingston
2 Shepperton Road London
Chalk Farm tube
Chalk Farm Road London
Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square London
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
London Bridge tube / BR
Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk Bankside London
Royal National Theatre, South Bank London 246A Lower Road Waterloo London 360 Victoria Park Rd London 15-16 Triton Street Regent's Place London 2A Langdown Park Teddington Middlesex
41 THE STAGE DOOR
418 St. John Street Islington London The Cut London Arches 228-332 Station Approach Road London 1 Clarence Street Richmond Surrey
24-26 High Street Kingston London
NEAREST TUBE STATION
King's Cross & Euston
Novotel London St Pancras 100 - 110 Euston Road London
42-44 Bermondsey Street London
Tottenham Court Road tube
Waterloo / Embankment
Shipwright Yard Corner of Tooley St. & Bermondsey St. London
2 Bath Road London
The London Theatre
New Cross BR
The Print Room
Notting Hill Gate
269 Westferry Road London
The Vibe Gallery
91 - 95 Brick Lane London
Theatre Collection at Lord Stanley Pub
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Gerry Raffles Square Stratford London Latchmere Pub
Clapham Junction BR
503 Battersea Park Road London
Leicester Square/Covent Garden
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
East Croydon Rail Station
Waterloo East Theatre
Watford Palace Theatre
Watford High Street
20 Clarendon Road Watford
138 Kennington Park Road London
Wilton’s Music Hall
Ye Olde Rose and Crown
53 Hoe Street Walthamstow London
66 The Cut London
21 Dean Street London Belvedere Road London
356 Garratt Lane London Douglas Way Deptford London Broadway Barking London gateforth Street (Off Church Street) London 443 New Cross Road New Cross London 34a Hereford Road London
51 Camden Park Rd London 3-4 Picton Place Westminster London
26 Crowndale Road London 28 Commercial Street London 269 Kilburn High Road London 1a Tower Street London Tooley Street London 204 Union Street London The Gatehouse, Highgate Village London Dingwall Road Croydon London Brad Street London 40 High Street Brentford
Grace's Alley Off Ensign Street London
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FRANK: Do you know Yeats? RITA: The wine lodge? FRANK: No, WB Yeats, the poet. RITA: No. FRANK: Well, in his poem 'The Wild Swans At Coole',Yeats rhymes the word "swan" with the word "stone". You see? That's an example of assonance. RITA: Yeah, means getting the rhyme wrong Educating rita
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