The Local Stigmatic: A Dark Look At Our Celebrity Obsessed Culture At Old Red Lion Theatre 

 
Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ 
Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 28th May 2016

The Local Stigmatic is a sinister, deeply disturbing study of psychosis, fame, obsession and envy. Darkly comical at times, it reveals society’s fascination with ‘celebrity’ and the resentment it can provoke. In our celebrity obsessed culture, The Local Stigmatic seems as relevant as ever as it foreshadows the ‘fan culture’ that is now omnipresent.
Powerful, highly provocative and profoundly shocking, The Local Stigmatic finally returns to the London stage to mark its 50th anniversary.

Graham and Ray are working class sociopaths who idly spend their days gambling on the dogs, debating, bickering and reading the newspaper gossip columns. A chance encounter with a somewhat famous actor reveals their true psychotic nature as the pair begin to play a cruel and manipulative game with this innocent man – stalking, harassing and goading him. Delighting in their new found source of entertainment, they progressively assert their power, determined to gain the upper hand over their intended prey.
Misfits – disturbed, damaged and broken by their social boundaries – Graham and Ray then choose to take their animosity towards this individual to the very brink, culminating in a truly horrific conclusion.

Director Michael Toumey, comments

I first became aware of The Local Stigmatic in 1999 whilst working as an actor. I was blown away, not only by the play’s unique dark narrative but also by its two main protagonists. These two powerfully written individuals have continued to lurk on the fringes of my mind for nearly 20 years. I’ve always thought that it is a superb, innovative piece of writing and something that I passionately wanted to direct. The Local Stigmatic speaks volumes about a society that still exists today. Certain factions on the one hand relishing in celebrity culture, whilst, on the other, often resenting what they themselves will never have – fame, status, and privilege. This message resonates through the vitriolic, biting voices of Grahamand Ray. For me, the best writing doesn’t give you answers, but asks the most interesting questions and this play does precisely that.

The Local Stigmatic was first staged at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in 1966 before transferring to The Royal Court in the same year. The play was consequently made into a film in 1990 with Al Pacino both producing and playing the role of Graham. 

 

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The Wittenberg Class of 2016 Graduate in The RSC’s new trailer for ‘Hamlet’

 

Don’t miss the brand new & stylistically modern trailer for Simon Godwin’s 2016 adaptation of ‘Hamlet’; starring Paapa Essiedu in Shakespeare’s searing tragedy at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon until 13th August.

As relevant today as when it was written, Hamlet confronts each of us with the mirror of our own mortality in an imperfect world.

Please watch and embed the following:

“…remember me…”

SOCIAL TAGS & WEBSITE:
#RSCHamlet / @TheRSC
Please Visit: https://www.rsc.org.uk/hamlet

Three Simple Words…Opportunity.Grab.It

 

As the lyrics of that well known song by The Backstreet Boys poetically proclaims “I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did..as long as you can be the role..”(ok I changed the last bit myself) which certainly describes my motto in terms of casting. If you can play a role does it matter if you don’t have a qualification from RADA or a CV of a varied career? Of course not!

I have seen a Twitter backlash towards Reality TV personality Ferne McCann, who is making her stage debut in GATSBY next month at The Union Theatre. This is down to a thinking that she is stopping another ‘proper actor‘ from being in the show. What it really seems, is McCann is being made a scapegoat by these disillusioned individuals, as one casting isn’t going to realistically bring down the whole theatre industry. 

Personally I detest someone being singled out in this way and believe if they have auditioned for a role like everyone else, they deserve to be judged on their performance in that show . Being a reviewer, I want to look at the GATSBY production as a whole not just at one person too, which this sort of attention (negative or positive), will perhaps overshadow for the audience.

The fact is when you are given an opportunity like GATSBY, you would take it, let’s be honest here. In this industry where that break is far and few between, if you are given a wonderful role, you take it and realise how lucky you are. A sense of snobbery by others, should never lessen an achievement, I should hope this won’t be the case for Ferne McCann.

Remember Theatre is about risks and everyone has to start somewhere and that somewhere could be very special indeed. And most of all, lets show each other kindness in the arts. We need it.

Great Cast Announced  For Ruby In The Dust’s GATSBY, At The Union Theatre

 
April 6th – 30th 2016, The Union Theatre Press Night: April 12th 2016, 7.30pm

Ruby in the Dust’s Gatsby, which plays at the Union Theatre this April, is proud to announce the cast to their jazz musical adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s epitome of glitz, glamour and the end of the American Dream.

The cast includes The Only Way is Essex star Ferne McCann in her theatre debut.

“Evokes the decadent rush of the jazz era and its seedy underbelly” (Time Out)

In this adaptation, the setting is the speakeasy of Meyer Wolfsheim (Paul DuBois – Hockney (BBC), Carousel (Theatre Under The Stars – Vancouver), My German Routes (Arcola Theatre)). There, we meet the famous characters: Jay Gatsby (Nicholas Fagerberg – La Ronde and Terra Nova (Academy Theatre – Off Broadway)), Daisy Buchanan (Joanna Brown – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Princess and the Pea (York Theatre Royal)) and Nick Carraway (Blair Robertson – The Grand Tour, Dorian Gray and Annie Get Your Gun (Tarento Productions)), alongside George Wilson (James Rallinson – Made In Britain (Old Red Lion), Arthur’s World and Boy (Bush Theatre)), Myrtle Wilson (Ferne McCann – The Only Way Is Essex, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, ITV’s This Morning), Jordan Baker (Kate Marlais – War Horse (West End), The Great Gatsby (Riverside Studios), The Human Comedy (Young Vic)) and Tom Buchanan (Dinner With Saddam (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Merchant of Venice (Redgrave Theatre)). 

The ensemble includes Emma Whittaker, Katie Beudert, Lewis Rae, Mark Townsend and Samantha Louise Clark.

.“…revels delectably in the period glitz… and deftly harnesses the yearning beat of jazz that echoes so perfectly the novel’s strains of heartbreak and disenchantment” (Metro)

Gatsby was first presented by Ruby in the Dust in 2012 at the King’s Head Theatre, and again in 2013 at the Riverside Studios, and was greeted with wide acclaim and sell out audiences on both occasions.
The Roaring Twenties are heading towards their invariable crash, the party’s almost over.

To Live Is To Say Goodbye: This Is Living At Trafalgar Studios 

  
THIS IS LIVING BY LIAM BORRETT

Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY Tuesday 17th May – Saturday 11th June 2016

Following a critically-acclaimed Edinburgh production in 2014, this award-winning debut play by Liam Borrett, starring Michael Socha (E4’s The Aliens, This is England, Being Human) and Tamla Kari (BBC’s The Musketeers, The Inbetweeners Movie, Versailles (Donmar)) is a poignant and relatable exploration of what it means to say goodbye.
Alice and Michael met six years ago. Three years later their daughter Lily was born. Now, in a Yorkshire meadow, just past midnight, they’re having an argument. Because Alice is cold, she’s tired, and Michael won’t stop telling her that she died twelve hours ago.

Dealing with themes of loss, grief and heartache, this intimate portrayal of a relationship forces us to examine our own lives. With only the simplest of lighting, the couple skilfully flit between the past and eerily into the present where their thoughts stay with us long after the curtain has closed.

Writer and director Liam Borrett comments,

 Saying goodbye has always interested me. Whilst it happens at different times to different people, the fact remains that it is an unavoidable part of life. To place two people in this situation, especially people with so much to lose in doing so, fascinated me. It is as impossible as it is unavoidable. If you were to stand opposite the person you loved most, knowingly for the last time, what would you say?

We soon realise that this is a family riven asunder by tragedy, but rather than dwell on cheap melancholy, we witness instead two loving individuals whose determination to grow with each other stretches beyond the grave. Although the story told here of their romance is slight, it keeps you guessing all the way, flipping from past to present in mid-sentence, slowly piecing itself together as the fragments of time join up (The Stage).

This production will be a reworked transfer of the original Edinburgh Festival 2014 production, which played at Bedlam Theatre in 2014. This run of the play received critical acclaim and won EntertainmentWise’s Best New Play award.

Press Night: Thursday 19th May, 7pm

Crowdfunding Campaign For New Folk And Puppetry Musical: The Wicker Husband 

  

CROWDFUNDING NOW!

On 24th February the team behind The Wicker Husband a folk musical launched an online
crowdfund for further development of the project.
The support has been overwhelming and over 30% of the target – £3,018 – has already been raised. The creative team are optimistic they will reach their goal of £9,500 by the end of the campaign on 2nd April.

WHAT IS THE WICKER HUSBAND?
• CREATIVE TEAM: Based on an original short story by Ursula Wills-Jones, The Wicker Husband a folk musical is being adapted by composer Darren Clark and bookwriter Rhys Jennings.

• PREVIOUS DEVELOPMENT: With help from director/dramaturg Charlotte Westenra, the Unicorn Theatre, the Little Angel Puppet Theatre and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, material has already been through a series of workshops with actors, musicians, students and puppeteers.

• FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: The money and support raised through this crowdfund will strengthen and subsidise a bid to the Arts Council to undertake a series of three workshops:
• ONE: Material will be taken into a week of workshop with actors and musicians with a focus on structure for the second act.
• TWO: An exciting collaboration between puppetry experts and basketmakers, during which a human wicker puppet will be designed, built and explored.
• THREE: Material will be rehearsed and performed script-in-hand at a private industry sharing to gather feedback and secure future production.

WHY SUPPORT?
• FOLK: Unlike most conventional musicals, The Wicker Husband a folk musical, will feature a score influenced by the best of British folk music – performed by an on-stage band of actor musicians. The story borrows heavily from British and Scandinavian folklore and this will be reflected in its musical language.

• PUPPETRY: In an on-stage landscape populated by human actors, the title role of the Wicker Husband will be played by a full size puppet made of wicker. He will be operated by three puppeteers using a traditional style of puppetry known as ‘bunraku’. Other puppet characters will also feature, including a little wicker dog (called Basket!) and a monstrous lady woven from thorns.

• FUSION: Combining folk music and musical theatre is an interesting fusion in itself. Both are a medium of storytelling-through-music and have a lot to offer one another. But the fusion of puppetry and basketry is what sets this project apart. These two ancient crafts both give life to the inanimate, and The Wicker Husband, a folk musical will possess a magical quality thanks to this exciting collaboration of basketmakers and puppeteers.

• INCENTIVES: There are a number of incentives in place to encourage donating to the project’s development, including:
• All UK residents who donate over £5 will be entered into a general raffle for £160 worth of vouchers, donated by Theatre Tokens and the Society of London Theatre, Waterstones, Cafe Rouge and Boots.

• All UK actors who donate over £6 will ALSO be entered into an actors-only raffle to win a package worth over £500. This includes free headshots with Samuel Black Photography, 2 years free membership to the Actors Guild, 6 months free membership (+£15 Workshop Credit) to the Actors Centre, 2 months free membership to Dramanic, £150 off a tax return for new clients with Theataccounts, a free showreel editing package from Casting Workshops, a free 1-on-1 Shakespeare workshop with Charlotte Westenra, a free 1-on-1 Career Development workshop with Oliver Powell, and a copy of Contacts 2016 donated by Spotlight UK.

• Other incentives include: a hand written thank you card, a signed copy of the rehearsal script, private online access to music in development, and invitations to the puppetry and industry showings.

• Anyone who contributes over £1 will be welcomed into “The Wicker Family”, and will be kept up to date with progress as the work develops.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE?
• CROWDFUND: The crowdfund can be found at http://bit.ly/wickerhusband
• TWITTER: handle: @wickerhusband – link: https://twitter.com/wickerhusband
• FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/WickerHusband
• RAFFLE: Details of both raffles can be found and entered at http://bit.ly/TheOtherPerks

Never Let Yourself Feel A FTTN

What’s a FTTN you may ask? Well a FTTN stands for Fascination Turned To Nothing. You know what I mean, you’re the ‘toast of the town’ or the ‘flavour of the month’ it seems, and then BAM! Nothing. This feeling can also occur in all aspects of your life, but we will focus here on your career in the arts.

Although it might feel as though you have been riding on the crest of a wave, chances are you haven’t been. In fact no one really does, yes things are going well, but you make yourself believe to an extent, things are better than they really are. This means when things suddenly aren’t as glorious, you are falling from a greater height off your own wave. If things had been going that well, you would be taking the good from the situation rather focusing now on the bad.

The moment you believe you have failed and become a FTTN, you will find yourself frozen in that mindset. OK, so things are suddenly a little quiet or you didn’t get that casting, but remember you are not a failure. Everyone has quiet points in their career, being a creative is unpredictable and that’s what makes it exciting. Use every possible negative as a positive step towards your next goal.

Remember a FTTN DOES NOT EXIST. Your future is worth getting excited about right now.

Meet Hamlet’s Mother: Gertrude by Howard Barker At Theatre N16

 

LWL Investments and Entertainment in association with Theatre N16 present:

GERTRUDE

June 12th – June 30th 2016, Theatre N16

Combining feminism, sex and objectification into his own take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Howard Barker’s Gertrude is a complicated, challenging and utterly filthy play. Theatre N16 will be playing host to its first major London revival since its premiere in 2002, directed by renowned theatre publicist Chris Hislop and produced by LWL Investments and Entertainment Ltd, in association with Theatre N16.

“No playwright knows better than Howard Barker of the intimate relationship of sex and death, sin and ecstasy” (Lyn Gardner, in the Guardian, on Gertrude)
Reinterpreting Shakespeare’s classic from the perspective of Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude – The Cry kicks out 9/10ths of the plot in favour of a brutal, poetic exploration of lust and sexuality. Complicit in her husband’s murder from the off, Gertrude begins a tempestuous and raw physical relationship with Claudius, much to the disgust of her prudish son Hamlet. Unable to recreate her “cry”, Gertrude tries to find what drives her lust – and in doing so, gains power over all of the men around her.
Chris Hislop says:

 “The play is a mass of dichotomies. Gertrude has all of the power, a woman in complete control of her choices and her body, but the script wilfully objectifies her at every turn. Lust is a vicious, cruel force that ruins many a character, but is also the only constant in this world that Barker has created. It’s going to be hard to pin this one down!” 

 

***** “Chris Hislop directs a well-paced and tightly-managed production, enthusiastic in its humour yet showing the discipline needed to keep a free-wheeling script from running disastrously away” (Fringe Guru on More Light)

While better known as a theatre publicist, Hislop now returns to his directing roots after a 3 year hiatus. He has directed a wide variety of theatre in London, Brighton and Edinburgh over the last 10 years, and Gertrude will be his third Shakespeare pastiche/parody after Snoo Wilson’s More Light (**** “excellent” What’s On Stage) at the Rose Bankside and Andrew Shepherd’s The Shakespeare Conspiracy (**** “funny, witty, intelligent” Remotegoat) at the Chelsea Theatre. He also co-wrote and directed the award-winning, critically acclaimed A Fistful of Snow at the Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals in 2009. 

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Ross & Rachel UK Tour: A Play That Shows Relationships Are Not Like TV Shows

 
Ross & Rachel by James Fritz UK Tour: June – July 2016

London run: 21st June – 25th June, Battersea Art Centre

Look at all those couples. Who will leave. Who will cheat. Who will die first. Her. Her. Him. 

After an incredible, highly acclaimed sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe 2015, Ross & Rachel by Olivier- nominated James Fritz heads to New York for this year’s Brits Off Broadway Festival before embarking on a UK Tour. During its Edinburgh run, Molly Vevers was awarded The Stage Award for Acting Excellence (solo performance) recognising her stunning and deeply moving performance.

A dark and uncompromising new play about romance, expectation and mortality, Ross & Rachel tells the mind-bending, heart-breaking story of what happens when a couple that was always meant to be together, gets together. And stays together. In this disquieting duologue for one performer, Molly Vevers takes an unflinching look at the myths of modern love.
Vevers’ performance … is like an act of spiritual possession: intense and concentrated as she slowly submerges herself in a tub of water lit by a ring of candles, the significance of which slowly and horrifically dawns (The Scotsman).

Ross & Rachel confronts what happens when two people are forced to handle the end of a relationship in the harshest of ways. It explores the idea of ‘happy-ever-after’ – sold to us by rom- coms and sitcoms, whether it’s Ross and Rachel or Romeo and Juliet – and how this affects our real- life relationships. Ross & Rachel leaves audiences feeling bruised and shaken, thinking long and hard about endings of all kinds.

Writer James Fritz comments,

 It’s a show we’re all thrilled to be doing again – not least because more people can experience Molly’s incredible performance. We had no idea how audiences would respond to the play’s form and subject matter before the first run, so to have had such a positive and visceral reaction was really exciting.

Fritz’s script has a streak of mischief a mile wide … It’s a virtuosic piece of writing, playful, post- modern and devastatingly serious, all at once (Time Out).

“Lookin’ Good”- Appearance And The Creative 

 

For something that is subjective, we spend a HUGE amount of time thinking about our own physical appearance, or if not ours then it’s others in one capacity or another. Whether it be the size of our nose, our hair, our weight, hips, thighs, the list is infinite. We as human beings pick ourselves apart, which in itself needs to stop!

To make this scenario even more hopeless when you are a performer and someone else comments on your appearance you pick that apart, even when it’s meant in a positive way, you get your Suffragette hat on and take your high horse (maybe that’s just me). Mainly because as much as a compliment can sometimes be flattering, being told “looking good” or “brains and beauty” in relation to you as a creative IS patronising, as it has no bearing on your work. 

Does the fact someone thinks you are attractive, make what you have performed or written anymore of an achievement, as its a ‘novelty’ to be deemed attractive and intelligent? 100% HELL NO! 

What you have produced is an achievement because it’s the product of hard work and determination, please don’t ever forget that. You’ve spent many hours of your life, rephrasing or rehearsing a script to get it just right. Sung that line hundreds of times to get emphasis on that semi-breve, just the way you think it should sound.

Don’t put yourself down and don’t let anyone else belittle your achievement. You can be both brains and beauty, as beauty also comes from within. Remember you can be as many things in life as you want to be, don’t feel confined through convention or what’s expected of you, if you look a certain way. 

Just know the sky is the absolute limit.