After the huge success of Minotaur Theatre Company’s first production of the term, Love and Money by Dennis Kelly, we brought you even more great theatre to feast your eyes on.
The annual Shorts Festival is a great chance for members of the company to write, direct and perform in 12 short plays. This year there was 4 plays a night taking place over 3 nights from Thursday to Saturday. This was a great opportunity to showcase the variety of talent Minotaur has as well as a chance for our first years to get involved with such a diverse weekend. As the subject matter could be anything, there was something for everyone whether that was comedy, crime drama, romance or many more! It was a weekend not to be missed.
The Shorts Festival 2014 went down a treat check out the reviews from all 3 nights on Concrete.
We have also had the opportunity to catch up with the directors and this is what they had to say about the process:
Hold My Tongue
Written by Josie Dale-Jones and Gemma Barnett
Four overlapping monologues that explored the theme of anxiety and feeling alone even in a group of people.
Directed by Dom Luck and Jules Chant-Tuft, Dom explains that ‘It was tough at first because Jules and I hadn't done much directing before and monologues are often so internal and personal, for the actor as much as the character. You don't want to step on your actor’s toes particularly when there's already such a great script in front of them which frankly tells the cast much more than I ever could. The focus was more to bring that internalized personal stream of conscious and convert it into something conversational and as natural as possible. So when you have 4 very different people both in terms of acting and personality, and 4 very different monologues, you're not left with a huge amount of work in creating or playing with that contrast because it's sort of there for you by that point. Our poor cast were made to repeat the piece over and over until we found the rhythms and the moments and until they were comfortable to really mess around with it and make it theirs. So honestly, it was scary but the actors were so patient with us and after 2 weeks of repetition and 2 weeks of tuning we had it’.
by Lucas Burt
A standard late night conversation at a bus stop. Except half the people involved are incapable of replying.
Director Pip Williams said that ‘it was a completely new experience, but I enjoyed it hugely- the character was one I recognised instantly, and Katie was an absolute dream to direct, as she was receptive yet also got to know the character really well, meaning that the process became so easy and fun’.
by Jessica Cole and Sian Duggan
Deirdre and Margaret the ‘Angels of the North’ thrust out of their comfort zones to the world of the coach trip.
Director Jessica Cole said ‘it was a really good experience, although it was challenging organising 13 different schedules. Overall, because we had a large cast it meant there were lots of ideas and interpretations about the play when we worked on it, which made it a really exciting process’.
by Joe Jones
Charlie is a 21 year old from Essex who will achieve his goal of becoming a successful stockbroker. However this high pressured dog-eat-dog environment takes its toll on Charlie with devastating effects.
Directed by Jake Head and Claire Daniels, Jake explained that ‘the writer, Joe Jones, had a pretty clear idea of who Charlie was. He came in a couple of time to do some one-on-one stuff with Jim Murrel to really nail down the character. Our job was to garnish the rich illustrative monologue with the rest of the actors on stage. Joe wanted the piece to be stylistic, so from early on we were pretty set on having the chorus on stage at all times. We played a lot with clowning techniques in order to properly distinguish each of the chorus members’ roles, they spent the duration of the play snapping from their creepily neutral states to stock brokers, doctors, hippos etc. So we had to really nail each role without blurring the lines. The cast took on board everything we threw at them, regardless of how mental it may have been, and we’re very grateful for that’.
Claire also said that ‘we always had a discussion about our wants for the scenes before we started, and then spent a fair bit of time playing about with various ideas before something would jump out that worked successfully. The chorus were always eager to try out everything we suggested and give their own feedback which helped with the whole collaborative process and made it great fun to be involved with’.
Mack the knife
by Alistair Bourne
Performed as Film Noir on stage and set in 1920s New York. The play tells the story of an alcoholic cop on the hunt for a serial killer.
Directed by Alistair Bourne who said he came up with the idea because ‘I've always like the song and the story within the song and I thought that it would work if it was put on stage. The film noir concept came not only because I am a fan of that genre of film but because I felt that it very aptly facilitated the genre and lyrics of the song’.
by Linus Wyeth
To his wife Gwyneth’s dismay Barry prides himself on being somewhat of a spider hunter, so much so that he carries them into the house in order to kill them later.
Directed by Linus Wyeth who explains ‘that working with young actors who were playing characters much older than they are was always going to be a task. You can utilize costume and makeup, but in the end the audience will always know they are being deceived. The trick was never to deceive but portray. My actors worked tirelessly, trying to get the movements and the characterization correct – we spent many a times watching the old couple from Gogglebox for inspiration. In the end and after much hard work, my actors reminded me of my own Grandparent’s and hopefully the audience could see their own in them’.
Grace is a dark comedy involving a husband and wife, an accidental murder and a tasteless kitchen.
Director Molly Mckernan reveals that ‘directing a play was quite a scary concept to me as I've never directed before. I was really worried about making sure the acting displayed how comical the script was, but ultimately the script was so well written that it wasn't an issue! Personally I think that because the script was so absurd and amusing that the seriousness of the plot wasn't the focus for the audience’.
All you need is love
by James McDermott
Timmy loves Jacob. Jacob loves Timmy but his father wants him to love Jane. When Timmy and Jacob are caught in bed together, Jacob is forced to make a decision that will change Timmy's life forever.
Ollie McFadden comments on the fact that being a director is ‘ Difficult, I was lucky because I had personal experience which related to the topic which I could draw on to help my cast do the same but if anything that made it an even more emotionally draining process. That being said another challenge I feel I did overcome was keeping the rehearsals a mixture of light and cheerful and then being more serious as well so as not to wear ourselves out and indeed to protect the general mental health of all involved’.
by Ciara Morris
She’s Bella, he’s Berty and they are News Night; the news at ten. News reader double act Berty and Bella present their own news show, in hopes of one day getting picked up by the BBC or ITV or even Channel 4.... Not channel 5, though.
Megan Holmes says that ‘directing News Night produced many challenges due to the snappiness of the language, it made the early rehearsal process quite difficult. However, the actors were amazing and once they got really into the swing of it (and learnt some lines!) it became such a fun experience’.
Nina and Herb are your average genetic counterparts. Both jobless; both living in London. In Hackney. In the same house. Simultaneously sharing a slightly stronger than normal sibling hate for each other.
Director Charlotte Rhodes comments on the fact that ‘Common People was an insane play to write. I've been wanting to write something wacky to distract me from the amount of work I had to do in summer. The idea came to me while I was dancing to David Bowie and dancing with my 4 year old cousins when, they were pretending to talk to their imaginary friends. I love the idea that people’s brains can take you away from where you are and suddenly you're a princess or a taxi driver or dancing on stage at the AMA's so I developed that into a story plot and that's where the craziness of Common People came from’.
Based on the true horrors that occurred within the Magdalene Laundries during the late 1970s and 1980s in Ireland, this play highlights the silenced abuse of generations of women within the Catholic community.
Director Gabrielle Onyett said that ‘I can't exactly remember when it was but I knew if I was to write a short, it needed to be something that really grabbed my attention and would also be interesting for others to watch. After watching a documentary about the Magdalene laundries a few years ago, I was shocked that something so backward and awful had happened so recently! Not only were this, but the fact that so many people are still ignorant to it all, particularly our generation. I knew many students at UEA would be just as shocked and intrigued as me as to why this sort of abuse went on for so long, and that's when I knew I wanted to do it’.
Mattie is a 14-year-old girl from North London with a passion for crosswords and an incorrigible thirst for attention. Frank is a 17-year-old middle class boy, aware of, but not entirely used to, girls like Mattie.
Directed by both Adrian Moore and Chad Porter, Adrian explains that ‘As a director I didn't feel that my role was to accentuate the differences - which were superbly brought out by both Martha's script and Sam and Shiv's acting - but rather to find ways to accentuate their similarities. To find through well placed pause and movement a commonness and simple human characteristics that the audience could feel and relate to.'
Chad says ‘Mattie and Frank appear so different to an unassuming audience, and our job initially as directors was to bring out the humour that this creates- after all, most 'average-Joe' kind of people would be put off by a 14-year old invading their personal space at a bus stop! Yet, it is later on in Martha's clever script that the two of them find themselves not to be that different after all; though their cultures, and even vocabularies, are so far apart. Adrian and I worked with the fabulous talents of Sam and Shiv, in order to highlight these moments for our audience, and ultimately, break down some class stereotypes that dominate today's society!’
Overall it has been a brilliant semester of shows and as a company we have welcomed new students and opened new opportunities for everyone to take part in. We cannot wait for the next!
Make sure you check out the blog about Minotaur’s Poetry Slam that happened on Monday 24th November, it was an awesome night of entertainment and there will be more to come.
That is it from us until January when we kick off the year off with the return of our 2014 Edinburgh show, The Psychosocial Gathering, which will be taking place at The Garage Theatre, Norwich on the 12th January 2015 at 7.30pm for one night only. Make sure you come along as it received great reviews when showcased at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014! Tickets are £8/£6 (cons.).
Also coming your way is Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. It will be performed from the 22nd-24th January 2015. We have a lot of great theatre to kick start the New Year so keep your eyes peeled.
Towards the end of January we bring you a new play never-seen-before called The Head that Bears by Lewis Garvey. It is the winner of Minotuar’s creative writing competition 2015. That will performed from the 29th-31st January 2015.
Both of these performances start at 7.30pm at the UEA Drama Studio, tickets are eill soon be available at £7/£5 (cons.).
But for now, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Minotaur Theatre Company!