Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Other Way Works: One-to-One theatre: discuss

I felt moved to reply to Lyn Gardner’s recent Guardian blog on the subject.  Here’s the original article, and below is my comment:

“Interesting article Lyn.

I think its great that this type of work is proliferating to the extent that BAC is holding a high profile festival of one-to-one performance.

Making work for small audience numbers myself (with, I am frequently required to make the case not just for my own work but the form as a whole. I am often told that this work is not financially viable (which of course it isn’t in a traditional bums-on-seats model, but aren’t there other forms of value?), and people accuse us of pandering to the current obsession with individualised experience rather than critiquing it. So I’m excited to see a wider pool of theatre makers experimenting with this form, bringing their own styles to it.

But with this proliferation comes a large diversity in the types of work marketed under the banner of ‘one-on-one’. Not a bad thing per se, but is there a danger of everyone jumping on the bandwagon just because its the buzzword of the moment? We’ve seen this with ‘site-specific’ theatre – people using the term to add excitement to what is essentially a play staged traditionally just in a building that isn’t a theatre.

In terms of Lyn’s final points around the rules of engagement. Nailing these is the job of the theatre maker. Much like the crafting of a good story or the synthesis of design elements in a traditional production, thinking through the audience role, instructional styles and the rules of engagement are key parts of making a one-to-one theatre production. If the audience don’t understand how they are supposed to behave, then it is the responsibility of the artist to improve how they contextualise the experience for the audience (unless the artist’s express desire is to unsettle the audience for some particular reason).

We certainly haven’t perfected this ourselves, but we do strive to learn from our experiences with audiences. We’ve discovered that to get the playful, interactive audience that we desire, we need to set them free from embarrassment and fear by providing clear guidance and plenty of reassurance and encouragement. We’ve found that far from ruining the surprises as we feared, it allows the audience to engage on a deeper level with the experience, and to get beyond ‘am I doing this right?’”

Script Online: Devising for Writers

There’s still time to apply for a place on Script’s forthcoming 3-day development workshop in collaboration with Third Angel. Third Angel are a fantastic company whose work is consistently exciting and innovative; taking simple concepts and exploring their full theatrical potential.  I first came across them when their play Presumption came to The Rep in 2007.  [...]

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: BE more in

It’s probably getting tedious to read about but the BE Festival is shaping up to be really exciting here. The first two companies have just finished their tech set up, one delayed a bit getting out of Catalonia by industrial action. There’s by far the biggest lighting rig we’ve had in the venue set up. The bar is more glamorous and elaborately stocked than we had ever envisaged. Blanch and Shock are back and have had ten new sockets installed in order to power the amount of kitchen kit they’ve hired for all the festival participants (the food is going to be cheap and it’s going to be lovely and it’s served in the interval between shows). There are more sofas than ever. There are decks and vinyl.

It is shaping up to be the kind of festival we have always been in love with whilst performing abroad and always moaned on about not finding over here. BE here, honestly do come and tell everyone else to come as well. There are so many acts there’s bound to be something that grabs you, even if there isn’t the atmosphere will be so brilliant that won’t matter anyway. BE here.

I can rant on banging the drum like this because it’s not our thing.

Script Online: Shop Front Theatre in Coventry

Coventry-based Theatre Absolute are making the most of their new venue; a former chippy in the heart of the city centre, to showcase new work on a shoestring. A topical debate, judging by this recent Guardian article, which champions the movement away from corporate-led institutions.  Personally, I’m in two minds as to how far great [...]

Script Online: Devising for Writers

Sunday 11th July, 10am-5pm Saturday 14th August, 10am-5pm Sunday 15th August, 10am-5pm The Drum, Birmingham As part of TENacity, Script is running a three day workshop exploring writing as part of a devising process; writing that takes place during the making and rehearsing of a performance.  The workshop will focus on rule-based text-generating exercises, starting [...]

Script Online: PILOT Light – Call for Submissions

Call for submissions for… An evening of barely organised theatrical chaos! PILOT Light is a brand new Birmingham event offering a very informal performance space for your untested and unpolished ideas. It’s an opportunity for theatre artists from the West Midlands to test out 5-15 minutes of work that is right at the beginning of [...]

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: BE Festival In

Be In

Things are cranking up @ A E Harris as the BE Festival are setting up. The performance area has been painted black, a dance floor is waiting to be laid, a seating bank is being constructed, things are being cleaned, more power is to be installed for cookers and fridges.

Come Wednesday when festivities open veterans of the venue will be impressed at the transformation, those who’ve never been here before will simply be impressed.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: BE Festival


OK, it feels like crunch time now. Is this City going to allow itself to develop a proper theatre scene or should we just all move to the seaside?

The BE Festival kicks off on 30th June (VERY SOON). It’s @ AE Harris until 3rd July. Each night the Bar opens at 6pm and at 7pm you a series of 30 minute theatre shows starts. There are 15 companies in attendance from across Europe, each with their own show, a cluster of each showing each night. They’re not being paid, they’re there for the love, the glory, a cash prize and a possible commissioning opportunity.

Despite bits of funding from the City Council and the Arts Council this is a seriously Grassroots, Hand-to-Mouth operation. The organizers have 100 tickets to sell each night for £10 each and THEY NEED TO SHIFT THEM.

I genuinely think this is the most exciting theatre event to have happen in Birmingham for as long as I can remember. When do you ever get to see theatre from abroad in this city? How rare is it to see young companies from abroad in the UK outside Edinburgh at festival time? Very Rare. Never. Until now. No one need panic, much of the work is from abroad but you don’t need to be polyglot to enjoy the festival. It’s all visual / non-verbal stuff and they can’t get any local media coverage, which is unfortunately pretty standard. So it’s down to us and word of mouth. LET”S GIVE THESE COMPANIES A PROPER WELCOME. LET”S TURN UP!


Script Online: BE Festival: 30th June – 3rd July 2010

The first ever Birmingham European Theatre Festival is taking place this week at AE Harris. With 15 brilliant shows and workshops from all over Europe, it’s a chance to take part in a celebration of new work being showcased in the heart of Birmingham. Further details and booking information can be found on the website: [...]

Off Stage & On-line: Off Stage & On-line 2010-06-25 13:08:44

Starting to feel like hard work now. It’s been a hot week, and we’ve spent it deprived of sunshine. Whilst the England team were at last making a World Cup mark we finessed Act Two. We can’t open the doors to our rehearsal room because of a plague of flies in the woodland just outside. Everyone seemed tetchy and tired today, and I found myself saying the same thing over and over as one, then another person, asked a question I’d already answered whilst they were doing something else. By the end of the afternoon my temper was frayed and I was glad of an early finish, escaping to my garden to drink a glass of cool wine whilst proofreading the print for the exhibition. Our first full run-through is tomorrow morning.