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Nov 20 13

The Writers’ Relay

by Catherine Edwards
Typewriter

Tomorrow (Thursday 21 November) sees the launch of our Writers’ Relay, an exciting performance installation taking place in the foyer of the Hexagon Theatre at the MAC in Birmingham. The actors have been cast and will be revealed tomorrow morning. There are still slots available for writers to book a place and contribute to the creation of this unique play.

The Writers’ Relay is half performance installation, half collaborative play. A typewriter will be set up at the mac in Birmingham from 21-23 November, with the aim of creating a play within three days. Writers will be able to book slots at the typewriter from 10am-6pm, taking turns to tell the story. The pages will be pinned up on the wall, showing the play as it unfolds. It’s a chance for writers to work together in creating a new performance piece, and for the audience to see the writer at work. Email relay@capitalplays.co.uk for more info and to book your slot.

Writers Relay – Guidelines

  1. Each writer is allocated an hour slot.
  2. Each writer will endeavour to complete at least one page of dialogue or action within the hour on the typewriter provided.
  3. Each writer will be given the list of the 4 characters. The first writer may decide not to introduce all characters at once. Subsequent writers can then introduce the remaining characters. However, writers cannot introduce any more characters than the 4 stipulated. All character information etc will be provided at the start of the writing slot.
  4. The first writer will decide setting, scenario etc. Each subsequent writer can shape this as they see fit or necessary
  5. Please don’t kill characters off as this may cause a lot of confusion when they magically get reintroduced!
  6. The writer can only read the last page of text created and agrees not to read the previously completed pages displayed for the audience.
  7. When the writer is finished they should leave their completed text by the typewriter for the next writer to read. Once the incoming writer has read this and is satisfied, the text will be displayed for the audience.
  8. The writer should feel free to adopt any usual habits when writing e.g. listening to music  (Try to keep it family friendly!)
  9. The writer agrees not to discuss their own contribution with other writers
  10. The writer agrees that Capital has the rights to display, produce and perform the work jointly created during the relay on Sunday 24th November only
  11. Copyright for the work produced during the relay remains with the writers

Email relay@capitalplays.co.uk to reserve your space.

Volunteers: If you would like to volunteer to oversee the Writers’ Relay and help set up the installation, please email writers@capitalplays.co.uk

Nov 12 13

Meet the writer: Stephanie Ridings

by Catherine Edwards
Steph

Stephanie Ridings is currently on the REP Foundry programme and her new play Unknown Male received a work-in-progress showing at the latest Foundry Night in October. She is an Associate Artist with Capital Theatre Festival and is managing our Writers’ Relay initiative. You can find out more details about how to get involved by emailing relay@capitalplays.co.uk

How would you describe yourself?

A Writer/Theatre maker

What was the first play you saw?

The first play I saw which had a big effect on me was an adaptation of the Fall of the House of Usher whilst at 6th Form

Where do you like to work?

I prefer to write at home, alone. Usually in a comfy chair or in bed rather than at a desk.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Always an actress which I did for a while but got distracted by making and writing theatre. Writing has over taken acting as my preferred activity.

What inspires you about theatre?

How every performance is a unique experience for everyone involved.

What is your greatest wish?

That my work connects and resonates with an audience

What is your favourite thing about Birmingham?

How unassuming it is. How it often doesn’t realise how brilliant it is.

What do you see when you look out of the window?

A place I don’t always understand

Nov 8 13

How to get involved

by Catherine Edwards
Scissors NOTEXT

The festival is happening in just two weeks time at mac birmingham - there’s a huge amount going on and we’re keen to get as many people involved as possible.

Here’s how you can take part:

WRITERS…

We are launching an exciting project called the Writers’ Relay, which is half performance installation, half collaborative play. A typewriter will be set up in the foyer of The Hexagon Theatre from 21-23 November, with the aim of creating a play within three days. Writers will be able to book slots at the typewriter, taking turns to tell the story. The pages will be pinned up on the wall, showing the play as it unfolds. It’s a chance for writers to work together in creating a new performance piece, and for the audience to see the writer at work. Email relay@capitalplays.co.uk for more info and to book your slot.

We are also running a series of workshops throughout the week, linked to the main productions. If you want to refresh your skills, or come along and learn something new, have a look through what’s on offer:

Playing with Words, led by Hannah Silva (20 November, 2-5pm)

Re-drafting Plays, led by Caroline Jester (21 November, 10am-1pm)

Falling into Place, led by Deborah McAndrew (22 November, 10-1pm)

Writing for Performanceled by Francesca Millican-Slater (23 November, 3.30-5.30pm)

ACTORS/ DIRECTORS…

We are delighted to be taking part in the national event that is Theatre Uncut on Sunday 24 November, a mass theatrical response to the question “do we all get more right wing in hard times”. Theatre Uncut commissioned seven short plays from UK playwrights and we are looking for actors and directors to come together for a day’s (paid) rehearsal and present the plays in an explosion of spontaneous political verve. Email writers@capitalplays.co.uk with your CV.

VOLUNTEERS…

If you would like to volunteer for the Festival, please email writers@capitalplays.co.uk. We are particularly looking for people who will be available during the day, Thursday-Saturday, to oversee the Writers’ Relay performance installation.

Audiences…

There is a host of things to see and do at the Festival, from full productions to rehearsed readings and new ventures. We are offering a ticket deal on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th – 3 shows for £12. See mac website for details.

We very much hope to see you there.

Nov 8 13

Meet the writer: Lorna French

by Catherine Edwards
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Our “meet the writer” series continues with Lorna French, whose play City Melodies will be showcased as a rehearsed reading on Sunday 24th November at 2pm, directed by Tanja Pagnuco of Stone Crabs Theatre.

How would you describe yourself?

At times talkative and wildly enthusiastic (sometimes too much), at other times self-conscious, nervous and doing a good impression of someone who has completely lost the ability to say anything at all.

What was the first play you saw?

Elizabeth Rex

Where do you like to work?

In bed or on the sofa.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

First a paediatrician, then a journalist and then, after going to the theatre for the first time, a playwright.

What inspires you about theatre?

The idea that a really great play can affect an audience in so many ways; emotionally, intellectually etc. Theatre can make you look at the world that little bit differently, make you question things you may not have even considered before.

What is your greatest wish?

To write a really great play.

What is your favourite thing about Birmingham?

The sense that Birmingham as a city is never static but is always being developed further and moving forward. There is always some kind of large building project going on, which I think, gives me a sense of Birmingham as city of motion, advancement and endeavour. I love that about Birmingham.

What do you see when you look out of the window?

Lots of back gardens; many with a ridiculously large variety of flowers that seem to have been in bloom all summer but are now beginning to droop and look a bit sad as we have moved into autumn. However, the ceramic meerkats that are dotted around my back garden keep me smiling each time I look out of my window, despite the sad looking flowers.

What is your favourite ever theatre production that you have seen?

Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge starring Ken Stott.

Nov 8 13

Full Programme Announced for 20-24 November

by Catherine Edwards
Calyx in action

“Investing in talent.”

Capital Theatre Festival is delighted to announce its 2013 programme of inspiring new plays and performances, taking place at mac birmingham from 20-24 November 2013.

Bringing together writers, artists and theatre-makers from Birmingham, the West Midlands and across the UK, the Festival provides a unique opportunity for audiences to sample the eclectic range of new work currently being developed throughout the region and beyond.

Production Capital is our flagship performance showcase, comprising of new shows by exciting writers and theatre-makers. We are delighted to host Ugly Duck, a new comedy by acclaimed playwright and former Coronation Street actress Deborah McAndrew; The Disappearance of Sadie Jones, a contemporary dream play by poet and playwright Hannah Silva; and A Conversation With My Father, an autobiographical piece about politics and protest by theatre-maker and performer Hannah Nicklin.

Development Capital is a packed programme of readings and works-in-progress – a place for playwrights to test out their work with in a supportive, creative environment. Plays include Joy Child by Royal Court writer Christopher Adams (in a pioneering collaboration with Birmingham’s Theatre Exchange) and City Melodies by Birmingham writer Lorna French (in partnership with Stone Crabs Theatre Company). There is also a chance to see sneak previews of new works by solo performers Francesa Millican-Slater and Jonathan ap Emrys.

Workshops will run throughout the festival, offering writers the chance to develop their Industrial Capital – looking at the nuts and bolts of building a career. Hannah Silva will explore the use of sound and language in Playing with Words, Deborah McAndrew will tackle the issue of place and regionality in developing a story in Falling into Place, while dramaturg and director Caroline Jester will look at the thorny issue of Re-Drafting Plays.

Social Capital will play host to a series of networking events, including a Discussion Forum exploring the topical concerns of contemporary British theatre, and a talk with playwright, blogger and theatre campaigner Fin Kennedy, author of the In Battalions report into how Government cuts to the Arts Council are affecting new play development in the UK.

Venture Capital offers a space for experimentation – of new ideas, scratch performances and cross-art form collaborations. Acclaimed Birmingham poet Ben Norris will curate an exciting quadruple bill of spoken word meets theatre in Biting Tongues. Local writers will have the chance to chip in and create a brand new play across the space of three days in our performance installation, the Writers’ Relay. And the festival will culminate with a celebration of local creative talent as over 30 actors and directors tackle the question of “do we all get more right-wing in hard times” in Capital Festival: Theatre Uncut.

Join us for a programme of exciting and inspiring new work. Tickets will be on sale from the mac website very shortly.

Capital Theatre Festival is hosted and supported by mac birmingham, and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

www.capitalplays.co.uk
@capitalplays

Box Office: 0121 446 3232; www.macarts.co.uk

Nov 2 13

Meet the writer: Jonathan ap Emrys

by Catherine Edwards
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Meet the writer provides a snapshot intro to the people involved in this year’s Festival.
Today’s writer is Jonathan ap Emrys, who will present a work-in-progress showing of his latest work, 2 Degrees on Saturday 23rd November at 3pm.
How would you describe yourself?
Bizarre at times. Mad and over-the-top at times. Talkative. Often singing, even in public. Slightly geeky. Passionate. And…Welsh.
 
What was the first play you saw?
The first one I can remember seeing is the theatrical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.
 
Where do you like to work?
Somewhere that’s not too quiet. Somewhere with other people. Somewhere with lots of light.
 
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A pop star first and foremost. I then went through phases of wanting to be…a doctor, chef, solicitor, hairdresser, architect and actor and probably some others I can’t remember.
 
What inspires you about theatre?
The people. And the way in which theatre can speak in so many different ways and create universal images and messages. There are very few boundaries.
 
What is your greatest wish?
To have some sort of impact. 
 
What is your favourite thing about Birmingham?
The convenience and the various artistic communities. It’s lively and interesting but it’s never ‘too much’ – I never feel like getting away from Birmingham.
 
What do you see when you look out of the window?
Literally, a car park. Metaphorically, opportunity. 
Oct 25 13

Spotlight: UGLY DUCK

by Catherine Edwards
Ugly Duck image

Capital started life in late 2010 as a week of rehearsed readings at the Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre. We showcased a number of plays at an early draft stage, to test out the work in front of an audience and to gauge responses which would inform the future development of the plays.

One of the pieces selected was UGLY DUCK, by Stoke-based playwright Deborah McAndrew. Rooted firmly in the Potteries, the play grew out of the sense of community created by the unique structure of the region. Stoke-on-Trent, I discovered, is made up of six towns: Stoke, Burslem, Hanley, Tunstall, Longton and Fenton, each with their own identity. The fractured nature of the area is mirrored by the devastation of the job losses from the closure of the Wedgwood factory in 2009.

The play follows the story of Dennis, a life-long Port Vale fan who is rapidly declining in middle age and slowly sinking into the ranks of the long term unemployed. A Burslem boy through and through, he struggles to come to terms with the changes that life has thrown at him. In desperation, he answers an advert in the local paper for an artist’s life model, and soon finds himself exposed in more ways than one…

We are very pleased to be able to present the play as part of the Festival this year, and to complete the journey that was started three years ago. The production also marks Deborah McAndrew’s first project as a writer-producer, and we’re delighted to support her as she embarks on this new chapter in her career. She writes:

Capital Theatre Festival first picked up UGLY DUCK to develop back in 2010, and the work done then was invaluable in finding the play we’re finally presenting in 2013.
In bringing a full professional production of UGLY DUCK to Capital Theatre Festival 2013, we’re completing a virtuous creative circle that began in 2010 with a workshop and rehearsed reading. That’s what Capital is all about and it’s very satisfying to demonstrate how far an initial idea can go, if you have a supportive and creative forum through which to develop.
Here is a short video taken during the initial workshop in November 2010 (please note – the dates at the end refer to 2010).

UGLY DUCK will be presented as part of Capital Theatre Festival from 21-23 November at mac. Tickets are £10 (£8 concession). Box office 0121 446 3232.

You can find out more about the play, and Deborah’s new company, by visiting claybodytheatre

Oct 24 13

Theatre Exchange Play Selection Announced

by Catherine Edwards
facepic

We are delighted to announce that Joy Child, by Christopher Adams, has been selected for a full rehearsed reading, to be performed as part of the Festival at mac birmingham on Saturday 23rd November at 4pm.

Earlier this year, Capital Theatre Festival teamed up with Theatre Exchange to offer one writer from the monthly scratch nights the chance to workshop their play over a couple of days, culminating in a full rehearsed reading. Everyone was very impressed by the quality of the submissions, and the Theatre Exchange events have proved a successful and welcome addition to the Birmingham theatre calendar. The next event will be held on Monday 18th November. Read the submission guidelines here.

Joy Child  stood out for its originality, its black humour, and its potential to develop into an exciting and significant piece of theatre. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to present the work to a wider audience, and to support Chris at this stage in the play’s development.

If you are an actor, and would like to be considered for this, or other readings, please email your CV to writers@capitalplays.co.uk.

Here is a brief outline of the story and the playwright:

Joy Child

Two brothers, their wives, and their young sons share a small flat with their dying mother. When tragedy strikes, the after-effects take an unusual form. Joy Child, a stage adaptation of a short story by Chinese author Yu Hua, explores the nature of revenge and the promise of ‘the future’.

Biography

Christopher Adams attended the Royal Court Young Writers Programme and Studio Writers Group. He was a 2011-2012 US Fulbright scholar to Shanghai, China, where his play Shelter was produced by the Shanghai Repertory Theatre. His short plays have been performed in London, Dublin, and Birmingham.

We are asking all the writers and artists involved in the Festival to complete a short questionnaire to offer a brief snapshot of their life and work. Here is Chris, in his own words:

How would you describe yourself?
Awkward and introverted, except when I’m awkward and extroverted.

What was the first play you saw?
Of Mice and Men. When I was ten. Absolutely traumatised.
 
Where do you like to work?
On the sofa or in bed, often with a cup of tea and/or a G&T close at hand. I can’t concentrate when there is noise around, so I tend to avoid writing in cafes or public areas.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
The President of the United States (I’m American, originally). Then a lawyer. Then a bibliographer. Now a playwright.

What inspires you about theatre?
Its capacity to make an audience feel alive.

What is your greatest wish?
After much consideration: to write one truly good play.

What is your favourite thing about Birmingham?
The friendliness of the people.

What do you see when you look out of the window?
The British Museum.
Oct 11 13

Rep Foundry Opens for Applications

by Catherine Edwards
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What is REP Foundry?

Do you have a theatre vocation, but need support to establish yourself? The REP Foundry programme – Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s artist development scheme – is now open for applications for 2014.

The REP is supporting emerging Theatre Makers, Writers and Directors, who have a commitment to producing theatre. This is your chance to work with The REP  during a new chapter in our history. We are committed to developing artists with new and unique stories to share regardless of their backgrounds.

Now in its second year, the 12 month programme beginning in February 2014 will give 18 participants professional development through a series of workshops, mentoring and masterclasses – alongside monthly scratch nights. You will receive free tickets to all REP shows and have access to the expertise and resources within the REP and support from external theatre practitioners and companies.

REP Foundry is generously supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

Foundry Surgeries at the REP100 Open Day

There will be an opportunity for potential applicants to meet The REP team in person to talk about what support is available and to meet artists currently on the programme at the theatre’s open day on Sunday 13 October.

Feedback from participants in REP Foundry 2013

“The REP Foundry programme brings emerging artists together and opens up doors to a wide range of opportunities: an artist with initiative can walk in, look around and think ‘Yes, I can use that’ and the REP will support them as far as possible in making ‘that’ happen.” Polly Tisdall, Director, Foundry 2013

“The REP Foundry presents an exciting creative environment for its artists, encouraging future work and collaboration, and I have utilised the contacts and opportunities available.” Joe White, Writer, Foundry 2013

“The programme also offers mentoring which has proved invaluable in terms of shaping both the creative and professional processes.” Stephanie Ridings, Writer, Foundry 2013

Eligibility

This programme is open to you if:

  • You are an emerging director, playwright or theatre maker
  • You are starting out, but need support to establish yourself as an artist
  • You are based in the West Midlands
  • You are not in full-time education
  • You will be aged 18+ when the course begins in February 2014

How to apply

The deadline for submissions is 6pm Friday 29 November 2013

To apply, please download and complete the Application_Form and Equal Opportunities Form, then email foundry@birmingham-rep.co.uk or write to REP FOUNDRY, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP with the following materials…

Writers:

  • A completed cover sheet
  • A CV
  • 500 words about yourself
  • 500 words on why you would like to take part in The Birmingham REP Foundry
  • An original full length script, minimum of 10 pages (no adaptations)
  • A completed equal opportunities form

Directors:

  • A completed cover sheet
  • A CV
  • 500 words about yourself
  • 500 words on why you would like to take part in Birmingham REP Foundry
  • 1,500 words on a play you’d like to direct including: (i) a short synopsis of it (ii) why and how you want to direct it (iii) how you would approach the rehearsal process
  • A completed equal opportunities form

Theatre Makers and Companies:

  • A completed cover sheet
  • A CV
  • 500 words about yourself
  • 500 words on why you would like to take part in Birmingham REP Foundry
  • 1,500 words about a piece of theatre you’d most like to make, why and how you would approach the rehearsal process
  • A completed equal opportunities form

For more information

If you have questions about the programme or the application process, please email foundry@birmingham-rep.co.uk

Oct 4 13

First Shows Announced for Capital Theatre Festival 2013

by Catherine Edwards

We are delighted to announce the first two productions for Capital Theatre Festival 2013, which will take place from 20-24 November 2013. We are very excited to be supporting these plays from two West Midlands-based writers. Keep your eyes peeled for further news in the next couple of weeks.

The Disappearance of Sadie JonesThe Disappearance of Sadie Jones
Written & Directed by Hannah Silva
20 November 2013
Foyle Studio, mac birmingham, 8pm
£10 (£8)

Sadie Jones wants to disappear. She walks a tightrope between reality and imagination; a chaos of words and silence. Sadie leads her lover and her sister into the strange landscape of her unconscious, a place filled with games and memories. This contemporary dream play is a unique blend of language, image and physicality.
‘This brave and powerful play confirms Hannah Silva as a truly original voice’.
**** Exeunt Magazine
Supported by The Jerwood Charitable Foundation and using public funding from Arts Council England.
Box Office: 0121 446 3232 or visit the website.

Ugly Duck imageclaybody theatre presents:
UGLY DUCK!
A new comedy by Deborah McAndrew
21-23 November 2013
Foyle Studio, mac birmingham, 8pm
£10 (£8)

Stoke bloke, Dennis Hancock wouldn’t win any beauty competitions. A life long Port Vale fan, Dennis is rapidly declining in middle age and inexorably sinking into the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

In desperation he answers an advertisement in the local paper for an artist’s life model. But when troubled young artist Kat Drosdzowski begins to paint him, Dennis finds himself exposed in more ways than one…

Warning – contains nudity not of a sexual nature. Age recommendation 14 +

Supported by The National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Box Office: 0121 446 3232 or visit the website.

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