Seeing the positives – the things I hope theatre will take from lockdown! #staycreative #cultureinquarantine @HIT_CPH #theshowmustgoonline @robmyles

Ok, so before I begin this, there is no questions that this C-19 and lockdown is horrendous for the arts and for actors, musicians, theatre makers and so on. BUT I want to try and think of some positives so that is what this is about.

I have been speaking to a lot of people recently about how “this” will all affect things in the future. These have included how will it effect the way we work – will we all work from home more? How will it affect the views on home schooling?  But the one which is the most interesting from our point of view is how will we consume culture and make theatre in the future? I guess much of this is being considered with the view that we might be in lock down for a while longer. But what about after that? How will, this affect theatre long term?

The new normal for theatre?

The other reason I began thinking about this is because last week I attended a fabulous reading of a play, Night of the Living by Dave Lankford, performed by House of International Theatre (HIT)

Afterwards there was a Q&A to get the audience talking about how it worked, how it could be developed for the future and what would make the experience of theatre in this format better. 

Continue reading “Seeing the positives – the things I hope theatre will take from lockdown! #staycreative #cultureinquarantine @HIT_CPH #theshowmustgoonline @robmyles”

Dinner with a side of Immersion

immersive 1The age of immersive, interactive, innovative and imaginative dining is well upon us.  You want to just eat your food, without accomplishing or experiencing anything else while doing it? Well that’s unfortunate because immersive eating and drinking experiences are popping up everywhere and it looks like they’re here to stay!

Immersive theatre, which I expect many people thought would be a passing phase and has in fact lasted well over a decade, has become increasingly widespread. Alien incursions,  1920s  underground secret bars, escape rooms, overnight Macbeth, interactive cabaret, and of course the productions from the Kings and Queens of immersive theatre, PunchDrunk and You Me Bum Bum Train are just some of the available options. But perhaps it is now at the point that the companies creating such events have decided they need something more to compete with their rivals, draw in the crowds, make it different and make it a truly immersive experience.

Continue reading “Dinner with a side of Immersion”

Easing back in gently? I don’t think so…

#Tweetingit – A week back and 20 shows booked in to review. I don’t like to make my life easy.

WOW – it has been a busy week – not seeing shows but booking them in.  I have 20 shows booked between now and the middle of June – most of which are in the next 6 weeks. As a result of the crazy number of things I have booked in, I have hired/persuaded/forced two people to do some writing for the blog – Brian and Joe. Reviews and blogs will be appearing from them soon.

The upcoming shows are everything from plays, to cabaret, comedy to immersive theatre. In the coming days I will begin posting previews on all of these productions to give you a few titbits of information about them and get you excited about the shows and the upcoming reviews. Hopefully just this post alone will give you all an idea of the vast variety of things which are available to watch in London and the South East – it’s not just plays and musicals – there is SO much more.

Coming up as of 2nd March 2016

Single Spies at Marlow – 8th March

Land of Our Fathers at Found 111 (temporary space in Charing Cross) – 10th March

How do you solve a problem like murder? A Kickstarter project at the gastro pub Paradise by way of Kensal Green – 10th March

Lady Chastity Handmade Mysteries at People’s Park Tavern – 12th March

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot at the Rose and Crown – 14th March

Brute at Soho Theatre – 15th March

BU21 at Theatre 503 – 18th March

The Tick Tack Club – 18th March

Lifes a drag – The Cellar Door – 21st March

The Gin Chronicles at Barts Brewary – 24th  March

Henry V at Middle Temple – 30th March

Russian Dolls at The Kings Head Theatre – 8th April

Leicester Square Sketch Off – 11 April

Comedy night at Secret Comedy Club, Covent Garden – 13th  April

Closer at Udderbelly – 14th April

Mind magic and hypnosis at The Ivy House – 15th April

My mother said I never should at Iris Theatre – 18th  April

Blue on blue at Tristan Bates Theatre – 21st April

Merchants of Bollywood at Sadlers Wells – 25th  Mary

Twist of Lemon at St James Studio – 1st June

Reviews and press notices on these to follow.

What to add to my list? Email me on playhousepickings1@gmail.com

Rhiannon Reflects on 18 months without theatre and BEING BACK!

#Tweetingit – Rhiannon reflects in 140 characters – What on earth have I done for 18 months? Some fun things, but the theatre void was odd. Get to the theatre and enjoy everything it brings!

Since 23 August 2014 The Roman Catholic Church beatified Pope Paul VI, Cuba and the US re-established diplomatic relations, ending 54 years of hostility, Princess Charlotte was born. Richard Attenborough, Joan Rivers, Leonard Nimoy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman died, Lip Sync Battles became a thing, I’ve been a bridesmaid 3 times, got three new jobs, and I haven’t written a single review. In fact, I have only seen a couple of shows in that time!

But as you will have seen, as of Monday, I AM BACK. I took a bit of an hiatus from theatre, and reviewing but I am back into the swing of it, ready and raring to go with a diary full of shows to see and lots of ideas for things to write about and I am a bit overly excited about it!

So, this is me reflecting on what I have been filling my time with, and, mores to the point, what it’s been like not going to the theatre in 18 months.

Now, I know I am incredibly lucky to go to the theatre so regularly and that the majority of people  don’t go to the theatre so often –  that 18 months without the theatre is a normal thing, and so I don’t want to make a big deal out of it but a number of people have asked me what on earth I am filling my time with, that prior to my last blog post, my answer to “what are you up to tonight” was always “I am going to a show at x.” and then it stopped.  In reality, it is my main hobby; the thing I talk about most, and love talking about, the hobby which results in me getting to spend one on one time with my friends, pre and post show, allows me to see a selection of amazing (and some not so amazing) shows with them, chat about them afterwards and then spread the word afterwards to colleagues, family and, sometimes, complete strangers. I love it and part of why I write here is to encourage others to try out something new, go to see something they wouldn’t usually choose to see and explore all of the amazing little theatres around London.

So, what have I been doing? As I said above, I have been a bridesmaid 3 times; three hen dos to plan, three dress shopping trips to do, and three of everything else that comes with being a bridesmaid! This has taken up a lot of time and was amazing to be involved in! And the person I was bridesmaid for prior to stopping blogging has had a the first baby if it friendship group and I try to see him as often as I can!

Phototastic-24_02_2016_7b2354bf-2eca-4beb-a6cd-8974ea4ec501(1).jpg

I have also changed job a couple of times. I moved to the Ministry of Justice and had two jobs there and have just started at TfL. This most recent move is allowing me slightly more time to get back to this

I have also watched A LOT of TV. For starters, Making a Murderer took over my life for a month while I binged watched it and then raved about it to anyone who would listen! Serial was basically the same (if you haven’t watched/listened to these shows, DO – go now, you won’t regret it!)

But ultimately, I have missed theatre. I have avoided Time Out so that I didn’t see what was on or what I have missed. I neglected Twitter for similar reasons. When you’re at the theatre seeing a show, whether that be a play, musical, ballet, cabaret or whatever else floats your boat, you’re not thinking about the world outside beyond the curtained off auditorium doors; you’re focussed purely on what’s going on stage; sucked into the world created by everyone involved, whatever else is going on, no longer matters for a couple of hours. And it isn’t just the show itself, it’s the whole experience; drinks prior to the show, discussing it after, recommending it to people,  fondly remembering it later. Ok, so there are shows you will see which you will remember for them being awful, but in the main, there’s always something good you can find in all theatre trips – even if it’s that you found a great new restaurant next to the theatre or got thoroughly drunk and had a giggly time with the friend you’re with to get through it.

And so, after my 18 months of no theatre, I would like to encourage everyone else to not leave it that length of time and experience everything that the theatre brings with it. I have been chatting to some colleagues who told me they didn’t go to the theatre often because they aren’t “educated” enough in theatre; they don’t know what to go to, where to look or where to begin choosing. I explained to them my views on it –the problem is that people go to the theatre as a treat, spending 100s of pounds on a huge West End show which ends up not quite hitting the spot or that they feel wasn’t worth the money and then another year goes by before they go again. Yes, West End shows are fabulous but why not find some of the amazing studio or pub theatres which are scattered around London and go to an off west end show which will cost you the same as a couple of pints? Often, they’ll be the best show you’ll ever see (see Translunar Paradise which I saw in the studio at The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury and continues to be the most incredible production I have ever encounteredhttps://playhousepickings1.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/translunar-paradise-november-2013/)

Have a look in Time Out or www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/whatsonor designmynight.com  ( no sponsorship here, they’re  just my go to for everything that’s coming up in and around London) and just pick something at random. You’ll soon find a theatre you love or a genre you didn’t know you would like.

So that’s me – I am so happy to be back and looking forward to all the incredible shows I have booked in to review.

News: To Kill a Mockingbird at The Marlowe Theatre

To Kill a Mockingbird was my favourite book at school. My English teacher leant me her copy from her own book collection and I instantly fell in love with it and now it comes to the stage!

THE CRITICALLY-acclaimed production of To Kill A Mockingbird starts its UK tour in Canterbury in September.

Directed by Timothy Sheader, it originally opened Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2013 season to critical acclaim and sell-out performances. Due to popular demand, it returned to conclude the 2014 season.

Proving its success across every art form, the 1960 novel by Harper Lee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, followed by the film adaptation in 1962 which won three Oscars out of the eight it was nominated for.

Set in America’s Deep South, racial injustice envelops a small town. Through courage and compassion, lawyer Atticus Finch seeks the truth and Scout, his daughter, brings new hope to a neighbourhood in turmoil.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

Daniel Betts will play Atticus Finch, alongside Zackary Momoh as Tom Robinson, Christopher Akrill as Boo Radley. Original cast member and composer Phil King will

Betts is an accomplished stage actor whose previous theatre credits include Skylight (National Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (Royal Shakespeare Company), Dial M For Murder (UK Tour), Sweet Bird Of Youth (Old Vic), The Great Game (Tricycle, NYC and US Tour), and The King’s Speech (Wyndham’s Theatre). Daniel’s previous television roles include Criminal Justice, Law And Order and A Touch Of Frost.

Akrill began his career as a dancer and has worked with companies including Scottish Ballet, Northern Ballet and Hannover State Ballet. His theatre credits include Dr Dee (Manchester International Festival) and Waiting For Godot (Munich). He has appeared on screen in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, The Muppets Most Wanted and ITV’s Mr Selfridge.

Momoh has recently appeared on stage at the National Theatre in From Morning To Midnight and Sir Nicholas Hytner’s critically-acclaimed production of Othello. His other stage credits include Palm, Wine And Stout (UK Tour) and The Bay (Young Vic). Momoh has also appeared on screen in Holby City, Doctors, and Travel Express.

Reprising his role for 2014, King composed and performed the critically-acclaimed score for the 2013 production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. King has composed music for television, film and theatre and has released two albums. Many of his tracks have been played on BBC Radio 2 by the likes of Bob Harris, Steve Lamacq and Alex Lester, as well as on regional BBC stations.

To Kill A Mockingbird is at The Marlowe Theatre from Tuesday 16 to Saturday 20 September, with performances at 7.30pm and matinees at 1.30pm (Wednesday and Thursday) and 2.30pm (Saturday). Tickets, priced from £19 to £34.50, are from The Box Office on 01227 787787, or at marlowetheatre.com.

There will be a British Sign Language-interpreted performance at 7.30pm on the Thursday.

Do’s and Dont’s of going through the RIFT Macbeth

How to make it through the RIFT in one piece…

‘Tweetingit – post in 140 characters – Want to survive the RIFT? Just a few tips from someone who (just about) made it out alive

macbeth

 

Dos and Don’ts of The Rift – Macbeth

  • Do put some effort into your passport. Don’t worry, you are not going to be picked on for writing something interesting, it just makes passport control more fun.
  • Do get to know your theatre family. It is a long evening with times where you are left on your own in your flat. If you don’t chat to one another, it is going to be an even longer night and particularly uncomfortable when you bed down together.
  • Don’t eat any of the skinny peppers unless you have plenty of water in front of you or are fond of a vindaloo. I was nominated to test them to see if they were hot, the first one was just a sweet red pepper. I dove in, grabbed the green one – which promptly blew my head off.
  • Do chat to the cast members when prompted. When you’re in the bar, it is usually a time to relax and natter to your group, the actors in there and you guide. Make the most of it. It really creates a fun atmosphere – a wonderful juxtaposition to the murder and tension you’re about to witness.
  • Don’t be uptight. Relax, lose your grasp on reality and have fun. For much of the evening, you are almost a passive participant and so if a witch grabs your hand or you are moved into a room to hide, go with it. I promise, nothing scary is going to happen. If you are one of the few who is led off for one reason or another, it will be for a very short time and you won’t miss a thing. You’ll also not be put in any uncomfortable situations (unless you end up in bed with Lady Macbeth that is) there are no blind folds, no bags on heads and no-one hiding in the cupboards.
  • Do take a bottle of water for the night. Unless your RIFT family have finished a glass of wine or other beverage while in your flat and left the glass behind, you’ll struggle to find a receptacle to drink from.
  • Don’t forget to go to the loo before you get there. There are no toilets when you arrive and you’ll have to wait until you get to your flat to go. There will also not be many opportunities to smoke. My tip would be to wait until the siege. You will be spending a long time watching the Breaking News on the TV – this is the perfect time to head outside, look at the stunning view across London and have a sneaky fag.
  • Do eat something before you go – especially if you don’t like borscht. I was pleasantly surprised by dinner and would now happily have it again (maybe Uri – the border controller – can get me the recipe) If you are a hardcore carnivore or used to a big meal, you will want to take a sneaky snack in your bag for before bed.
  • Don’t wear skinny jeans or anything you’ll be uncomfortable sleeping in. Many of my group had been sensible and brought with them some PJ bottoms to change into.
  • Do get caffeinated – it’s a long evening and you don’t want to start to wane, miss anything or not enjoy it because you’re too tired.
  • Don’t have anything too strenuous planned the following day, you will be tired. You will not be up for mountain climbing or entering the Brain of Britain
  • Do be prepared to be cut off from the outside world. I managed to keep hold of my phone (sorry Uri) so I could call home to say I was safe when I went to bed. However, you’re supposed to hand it over to be locked away and they will try to persuade you to do so (so if you want to contact home before bed, take a tablet or other device with WiFi for this purpose.

AND FINALLY

  • Do enjoy it. There is nothing like this experience anywhere else and if you are one of those lucky few who have managed to get themselves a ticket, make the most of it. And if you haven’t managed to get a ticket, make sure you do for the next RIFT production.

See the full review here: https://playhousepickings1.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/review-macbeth-rift-secret-location-london/

 

News: Playhouse Pickings’ first quote

#Tweeting it – news item in 140 characters –EEEEEEEEEEE Playhouse Pickings’ first quote on a theatre poster for Thriller Live in the Metro

Computer copy in the Evenign Standard
Computer copy in the Evening Standard

and Evening Standard

So, I have to say, I am a bit excited – as you may have gathered from my #Tweetingit! As you will see from the picture below ( I have been unable to upload all four pictures for some reason…to be done later), Playhouse Pickings has been quoted for a Thriller Live poster in the Metro and Evening Standard this week.

Thank you to the PR company for picking my quote and hopefully, this will not be the last.

 

News: Overnight Macbeth? Tonight at an undisclosed location

Rift – Macbeth

#Tweeting it – the premise in 140 characters – An audience immersed into Shakespeare’s classic for a full 12 hours in a secret location? Anything could happen

building

“OVERNIGHT MACBETH?” This is the reaction I have had from nearly everyone when I have told them about this new ground-breaking production of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays by RIFT.
We will be immersed, for 13 and a half hours, in a disused tower block somewhere in east London – I, as yet, do not know exactly where I am bedding down tonight.
This undisclosed location will play host to this “visceral experience” where we, the participants, will feast with the Macbeths, meet the witches in an underground car park and sleep (for at least some of the evening) on the 27th floor.

Writers and Directors Felix Mortimer and Joshua Nawras are known for their remarkable productions such as O Brave New World and a one-to-one retelling of Kafka’s The Trial which was told across four locations.

A little bit of me is scared about the prospect of a 12 hour performance, what on earth kind of state will I be in tomorrow? But it is also very exciting; will I be confided in about a plot to kill someone, will Lady Macbeth befriend me before going crazy or will I be woken in a strange location by the ghost of Banquo? However, the idea of waking up to the London skyline and having breakfast while discovering whether the battle has been lost or won something which I am very much looking forward to.
A review will follow (although, I may be in a dazed state in the morning so I can’t guarantee how clear it’ll be….the website says you will leave questioning ideas of space and status; dystopia and utopia; waking and sleeping so along with the sleep deprivation – even though you do have time to sleep, I can’t see that it will be good sleep – my review could be …interesting)

More information: http://macbeth.in/collections/macbeth

Bathhouse! The Musical extended by popular demand

Good news folks!

The extremely popular Bathhouse! The Musical has had its time at Above the Stag, Vauxhall extended until the 9th August 2014. Tickets will be on sale shortly.

Playhouse Pickings’ review can be found at https://playhousepickings1.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/review-bathhouse-the-musical/

Tickets can be found at : http://www.abovethestag.com/

Rhiannon Reflects on…immersive theatre

#Tweetingit – Rhiannon’s reflections in 140 characters

Immersive theatre – however we got so immersed, give it a go, there’s something out there for everyone

I blame Deirdre Rachid. What was is about that storyline that got the nation so riled up and wanting to actually get involved in the show?

Over the last decade or so, we have been given control over all forms of entertainment which we partake in. We vote for the next pop stars, the next person to appear on the Royal Variety Show, what dish someone is going to have cooked for them or the outcome of a storyline on a soap. Computer games “remember” the decisions you make and these decisions affect what experience the player has in the next edition of that game.

Just like in these games, in immersive theatre, everyone can have a different experience depending on how much is expected from them and how much they are willing to put into it. Every person who plays these games, has a slightly different experience.

Has it been decided, or have we decided, that we must have control, some sort of interaction, over the entertainment we are enjoying? We must be completely immersed in it, we can’t just sit back and watch what is going on in front of us.

When I was younger, there were much more simple versions of this immersive style -“pick your adventure” books – “turn to page 15 if you want to take the blue drink, turn to page 84 for the red one.” And then the drama unfolds depending on your choice. I was always concerned, however, that the more exciting option was available on the other route. Is this the problem with immersive theatre too? What if you choose “incorrectly” and you don’t see the best. Would it be better for a writer to tell you what the “right” option is and let you experience it?

Now, I have to say, I love immersive theatre and, in my book, there isn’t enough of it, but I do understand why some people don’t. You never know what you’re going to be faced with, how much you will be expected to do or to what extent you will be immersed. Youmebumbumtrain have done a show where you are the star; going around the rooms on your own and experiencing various different situations; being interviewed, running an exercise class, getting thrust into a working kitchen. What is the theme, the story, the point? What if the situation you are faced with, completely throws you?

I guess it depends on the type of immersion you experience.

Immer_city immersed their audience in their show, Wyrd, weeks before the “real” performance began. Facebook and Twitter profiles were set up for the characters, “pre show” events such as hen and stag do’s as well as false websites with clues about what you were going to experience. And then on the day, the performance began in the pub, meeting the cast to have your palms read, learning the backgrounds of each of the characters – if you were willing to question them.

wyrd

It wasn’t necessary to have read everything or even to throw yourself in at the deep end and join in fully in the performance, but it certainly helped and really made for a fantastic couple of weeks of entertainment.

My review of Wyrd: http://the-void.co.uk/theatre/wyrd-487/

http://www.immer-city.com/wp/

The Drowned Man has been incredibly well received but there are still a handful of people who just don’t get it – possibly not helped by the fact that one person might say that they were involved in a naked rave, that they found the roof top bar, that they were hurried away into a caravan to watch someone put their make up on.…. and yet what did you see? None of this? How can you possibly have got the same experience, did you miss some of the show, something important which made the whole thing make sense?

Some immersive/promenade shows just ask you to walk around and look into theatre spaces and watch what is unfolding. The immersive bit here is just that you are moving around. This was the case at St Pauls Church in Covent Garden where Iris Theatre put on various shows including “Alice in Wonderland” and “Julius Caesar”

My review of Julius Caesar : http://everything-theatre.co.uk/2013/07/julius-caesar-st-pauls-church.html

http://www.iristheatre.com/

So what are we in for next, how can these companies go even further? Upcoming immersive shows include an overnight performance of Macbeth where the audience get to eat with the Macbeths, sleep in their rooms and watch as the story unfolds overnight. Rehearsals have begun and everyone who is going has started to receive their passports for the event. There are still some tickets left and I truly think this is going to be one of the most interesting immersive shows that there has been for sometime. Get your tickets before its too late. http://macbeth.in/collections/Macbeth and follow them with #RiftMacbeth on Twitter.

Also, part of the Festival of Theatre (LIFT 2014) is  “Roof”. Occupying a purpose-built ‘panoramic performance space’ on top of the car park opposite the National Theatre, it has been conceived by the mastermind of the incredibly successful “Ring”, David Rosenberg. Ring used clever panoramic headphones to create an incredibly unique  and almost  hallucinogenic experience, and set completely in the dark. Roof is set to be just as exciting.

My review of “Ring” http://www.whatsonstage.com/off-west-end-theatre/reviews/03-2013/ring_868.html

So back to the start of this reflection, to explain my first comment. I don’t know when this immersive theatre malarkey began. What it with Deirdre Rashid going to prison in 1998 in Coronation Street? “Free Deirdre” placards and protests being carried out by viewers. They wanted to get completely involved, have a say in what happened and immerse themselves in the storyline. Have we created this phenomena of immersive theatre ourselves?

deirdre-rachid

Some people think theatre is becoming “too immersive” whatever that means. I have to say, I disagree. There is still plenty of “straight” theatre out there if that’s what you want and you needn’t attend these sorts of shows if they aren’t for you. Don’t like ballet? Don’t go. This is exactly the same – just another genre of theatre. As I said, I absolutely love immersive/promenade theatre and think everyone should at least give it a couple of tries. I cannot wait for my next installment (Rift’s Macbeth)

Let me know what you think.