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”

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.

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.

 

Rhiannon reflects on……..my biggest theatrical disappointment

 #Tweetingit – Most disappointing theatrical moment. (6 year old me + Jason Donovan crush) + (“Joseph”- Jason Donovan)  = tantrums and lifelong scaring

It was 1992, I was I was 6 years old and completely in love with Jason Donovan. For my brother’s birthday, our neighbours had given me an unbirthday present – a prized possession which I believe, somewhere, I still have: A Jason Donovan video. I probably drove both my parents and brother insane, constantly watching it, making up dances and learning the songs off by heart. Every time I saw him tap Kylie on the nose during “Especially for you”, a pang of something which, which now as an adult, I understand to be jealousy, coursed through me. I also had the Joseph and the “Any Dream Will Do” official video and was desperate to be one of the “aher ah”-ers.

But all was to end well – I was going to go and see him In Joseph. Dad had organised a trip to London and my crush would be but feet away from me (ok quite a lot of feet…and quite a distance down as we would be in the upper circle but closer than a cliff in Australia in the “Too Many broken Hearts” video)

Jumping from foot to foot, I waited for my dad to finally be ready to leave the house ( this is a continue theme with my dad) and proceed on the, seemingly, never-ending journey to London from Littleport.

When we finally got there, I was rushed into the theatre,( almost certainly running late) probably because my parents were trying to ensure I avoided seeing the posters. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a program. And that was it, my life was over. Six years old and it couldn’t possibly get any worse. I was not here to see Jason Donovan at all – the person who would grace the stage would be that man in broom cupboard who spends his time talking to a gopher.

Little did I know
Little did I know

Now, obviously, I took this very well. As a child, I was nothing but a complete angel and would never have a full-blown tantrum at something which, in retrospect, wasn’t that much of a big deal. After all, this was a treat, we were in London at the theatre – not many of my friends had been given that opportunity at such a young age.

That is clearly a lie. I seem to remember – although my dad and anyone else who was in that theatre and had their experience ruined by the huffy child behind them – I threw the biggest of diva strops. Why on earth would I want to see Phillip Schofield rather than Jason Donovan?  I was not a happy bunny – and worst of all, my parents knew it wasn’t going to be Jason Donovan. To be fair to them, there is a possibility that when they had booked the tickets, it still was going to be Jason Donovan as he left suffering from exhaustion however, at my tender age, this kind of reasoning was not going to help the situation. I don’t know when the grumpiness stopped or, as I am writing this now nearly 22 years on, whether it ever did, but I seem to remember both the show and Phillip Schofield were very good.

The title of this post is a little misleading as, looking back now, I am very pleased I got to see Mr Schofield in Joseph as I am now a big fan. But I was only six and so  had few theatrical experiences, let alone disappointments so at the time, this easily made the top spot. I  still wish, however, that I had heard Jason Donovan sing “Close Every Door” live and I am not sure that this will ever be a possibility.  Finally, on the topic of Jason Donovan, I am still horrified that he was kicked out of Harrods. How could they do that to Jason? Unbelievable!  Clearly as a six-year-old I was rather sensitive