Monthly Archives: March 2012

Fierce Festival: Fierce Press Gang: Good Boy

Simplicity on stage is sometimes much more effective than a visual bombardment of lighting and effects, it can speak to audience with a truth and honesty that is breath-taking. A beautiful example of this is a piece of work titled, Good Boy by Joseph Mercier which I saw at the Fierce Festival Pilot Event on Thursday the 29th of March.

The performance was part of a set of three short performances taking place in the main theatre, we had already seen Slap Talk by Action Hero and Commonwealth by a smith and didn’t quite know what to expect next…the expectation of Fierce Festival has always been that anything can happen.

After some time a technician entered the stage carrying a microphone, complete with stand, and a portable CD player and placed both on stage- he then left smiling to laughs and applause from the crowd. We waited. A young man, dressed simply in a white polo shirt and jeans, bare footed entered the stage- Joseph Mercier. He bent and pressed a button on the CD player.

Joseph’s performance was exquisitely simple, a series of personal monologues presented from a microphone in the centre of the stage interspersed with small sequences of dance. He discussed issues of homosexuality and how this makes him feel like an outsider from society but didn’t care; he likes being an outsider and being separate. Joseph rebels against boundaries and openly questions authority by speaking about his sexuality and sexual experiences openly. A woman sat behind me repeatedly gasped loudly throughout and although Joseph’s work was shocking it was also incredibly refreshing. There was no disguise.

The Pilot event programme stated that: ‘The performance is an ode to French writer and radical thinker Jean Genet and his position as an outcast of society. Using images from Genet’s wring and his short film ‘Chant d’Amour’, Joseph dances a solo that explores Genet’s profound ability to question authority and to find alternative ways of living, thinking and loving.’

I was completely drawn into the quiet rebellion of Good Boy and was able to connect to it because Joseph let the words speak for themselves. This was brave, impressive and deeply moving. and I hope to see his more of his work again soon.

Birmingham Hippodrome Blog: Theatregoers recall the best of Birmingham Hippodrome…

Following the recent appeals in our programmes and Friends’ brochures, Caroline Davis – Strategic Projects Manager, reports back on the donations that she has received from loyal patrons over the past few months… Through my work with building the Birmingham Hippodrome archives cataloguing everything the theatre owns, starting with programmes and moving on to posters, [...]

mid * point: Digital Edge – Call for Proposals

Growing live theatre online


How can you create characters and situations using social media and digital technologies?

How does audience participation influence and shape the story?

How can you build multimedia narratives which resonate within a live theatre space?

We are looking for innovative approaches which respond to the way in which digital interactions are now an intrinsic part of most people’s social existence, and which explore how social media can support creative interaction between practitioners, and between practitioners and audiences.

The Brief

Edge Hill University, North West Playwrights and Capital Theatre Festival 2012 invite proposals from writers and theatre practitioners for projects which explore the relationships between virtual and live spaces.

We encourage pitches for dramas which develop narratives over multiple platforms.

Your project must culminate in a live performance of approximately 30 minutes duration, to be shown at The Rose Theatre in autumn 2012.

The Process

Project proposals should be no more than 800 words in length and submitted online at by Tuesday 1 May.

Up to 6 proposals will be selected and the shortlisted artists will be invited to pitch their ideas at Capital Theatre Festival at mac birmingham on Thursday 24 May before a panel of judges and a live audience. Support for travel costs will be available.

Candidates are encouraged to be as imaginative as possible in approaching the pitch – to explore innovative ways of creating an entertaining theatrical experience for the audience.

Up to two proposals will be selected, and will receive practical, dramaturgical and financial support to be developed towards a live showing at a special event at the Rose Theatre, Edge Hill, in Autumn 2012.

Support to include:

Space to work at Edge Hill

Dramaturgy/mentoring provided by NWP and Edge Hill staff

Travel costs


Production costs – to be agreed.

If you would like further clarification, or an informal discussion about the project, please contatct Chris Bridgman at North West Playwrights – or 0161 237 1978.

Further Reading

For ideas, provocations and previous work in this area, see:

Off Stage & On-line: Off Stage & On-line 2012-03-30 08:51:21

My name is Sam Wood, currently assistant director for the New Vic's upcoming show, Where Have I been All My Life. Wow. What a two weeks it's been. Rehearsals are moving rapidly forward, so much to say, don't really know where to start but nonetheless I shall make a bold attempt to condense a busy two weeks of very fruitful work into this short blog.

Week 2 saw us without Alecky, both an exciting and scary prospect, however having left us in good stead after an intensive week one we were very much ready to stand the play on it's feet. By this point in an 'ordinary' rehearsal process the actors are still burdened with a script in hand and lines to learn, so putting a structure of movement in as well usually means this is the most time consuming part of any process. This however is no 'ordinary' show however, having all their lines fed through earphones has meant there is no script to speak of and no lines to learn. Being without this burden has not only been a refreshing change but ultimately very liberating for all involved and meant we have moved forward at breakneck pace. In fact I have never been a part of a process that has got up on its feet so quickly.

It's not all roses however, this play has presented some very unique challenges indeed. The most apparent, being able to successfully represent some 25 different locations in a single theatre space and some 37 characters with a mere 9 actors to play them! We're by no means running scared however, exciting challenges like this can produce some of the most creative, watchable and dramatically interesting theatre. We have had to look at ways of transforming an actor from one character to another in the blink of an eye using simple techniques that if executed correctly are a joy to watch and show off the true dexterity of these performers. Realising all these different locations has meant we are using the theatre space in new and interesting ways with scenes dotted throughout the whole auditorium. A mammoth undertaking by any standards, however in two weeks we have rehearsed the whole play, with very useful runs in the auditorium and we've still got another two weeks to go!

The show itself has sparked a huge amount of interest both locally and nationally and over the past two weeks we have been visited by all sorts interested in the production. We've had creative writing students and young people on work placements come to sit in on rehearsal. The actors have had interviews with Radio Stoke, BBC Radio 4 and last week when we invaded the auditorium for our first run of the whole play we were visited by The Today Show. Brilliant to have them there, if not a little scary as they broadcast to an estimated 8 million listeners everyday!!

We've had the pleasure of a visit from The New Vic's Ages and Stages group. The company are currently making their own documentary celebrating the New Vic Theatre through the eyes of people who have been linked to it over the past 50 years. The group is comprised of theatre employees, volunteers, audience members and people involved with the theatres previous pioneering documentaries and so where too valuable a resource not to utilise. We held an open Q&A session where the actors were able to ask any burning questions and moreover gain a better understanding of how this show fits into the the theatres already illustrious history in the documentary genre. John Morton, our head of marketing, both long time employee and resident, provided further context about the theatre and local area by taking the actors out on a road trip. The performers got to see each of the six towns that make up Stoke, visit general land marks, pot banks and some of the places actually referenced in the documentary. And to top it all off, even with such a manic schedule we've still managed to plough on with Far From the Maddening Crowd rehearsals. In fact last week we even managed to rip ourselves away from the documentary for a whole day! Devoting it instead to exploring physical world of Hardy's masterpiece, then finishing with a rather wonderful read through, giving us all the opportunity to hear the play spoken for the first time by the actors.

An all round top two weeks I have to say. Next week we head into the technical rehearsal, where all the other elements of lighting, sound and design will be added to the production. Expect an update then!

Capital Theatre Festival: I love it when a plan comes together

Reports have been coming in thick and fast from our readers this week, in preparation for the final selection meeting on Monday. We’ll discuss the plays with the highest scores, and will make a decision on the final three plays to be programmed in the Festival. Watch this space for further details.

Our Writing for the Stage course came to an end this week at the mac. Very positive feedback from the writers, and definitely something we’ll be looking to do again, and possibly expand, for next year.

Otherwise, the last bits and pieces of the programme are gradually coming together. Here’s a sneak preview of what’s going on, before the announcement proper next week.

Birmingham Rep are offering writers a first look at their online playwriting zone in a brand new workshop.

The University of Birmingham’s MPhil in Playwriting students have written five, 10-minute site-specific plays which will be performed in spaces across the mac building.

Stan’s Cafe are running a workshop looking at the writer’s role in the devising process, which will segue into a topical discussion on the crossovers and distinctions between “new writing” and “new work”.

Coventry theatre company Talking Birds host an evening of short plays based around the theme of “High Jump” as part of their 20th Anniversary “Decathlon” project.

From further afield, we’re delighted to welcome Soho Theatre and North West Playwrights, who’ll be, respectively, running a workshop and a “Pitch Party” (further details on applying for the latter can be found here).

BCU and the Screenwriters’ Forum have teamed up for a TV Drama Shoot Demo, where audiences can drop in and see a TV drama shoot in action.

We’re rounding off the Festival on Sunday 27th with a new spin on the global phenomenon of Pecha Kucha – inviting writers to come up with 6-and-a-half-minute plays in response to 20 images.

Alongside the main programme, there’ll be opportunities for writers and artists to drop in and have one-to-one surgeries with producers and practitioners, plus a dedicated networking event run by Red Teapot “sort of an Open Space with a cup of tea.”

We hope you’ll make some space in your diaries (24-27 May) to come and join us for some, or any of the Festival events. We’ll be putting together a Festival Pass for the intrepid amongst you, which will offer access to all the performances, rehearsed readings and panel discussions across the four days.

Full details will be available shortly on the mac website. We look forward to seeing you therein May.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Fierce Stuff

Hopefully it hasn’t escaped people’s attention that this year’s Fierce Festival is up and running. The 2012 programme looks really strong. We are particularly excited to be hosting Mehmet Sander @ A E Harris. His show is on Friday night and it promises to be spectacular. It has also been lovely to meet up with Graeme Miller again. His beautiful piece Track is on over the weekend under Spaghetti Junction.

So please, come to see Mehmet, visit Graeme and check out the wider Festival Programme there’s loads to see and do.

mid * point: Rednile Factory Night – Burslem Branch Canal

Factory Night @ Bed of closed Burslem Branch Canal
Including a canal boat ride, visit to historic wharf, loading warehouse and surrounding Middleport community.
On Saturday 21st April, 11am-3pm

Calling artists and creative people with an interest in industrial heritage, regeneration and the changing landscape – This Factory Night will start with a canal boat ride from Westport Lake down to the start of what was the Burslem arm of the Trent and Mersey canal. The artists will then hike along the bed of the canal which was closed by a major breach in 1961 viewing the old Cooperative buildings, recently uncovered walls of the canal and the natural valley adjacent to the site. This tour will be lead by the knowledgeable Burslem Port Trust who are working on an exciting project to bring the Canal back and activate the site. The walk will end with time to explore the historic whalf, loading warehouse and surrounding Middleport community currently undergoing major development. We aim for this Factory Night to provide an insight into the rich history of the Burslem Port site and for artists and creative people to be involved in the future visioning of the site.

More info at

mid * point: Trigger seek writer for Heliotrope

Triggerare looking for a professional writer to join the Heliotrope team.

Heliotrope is about seasonal affective disorder and the impact of the sun on our health. We are working with a collaborative team of artists, designers & scientists including DO Architecture, sound artist Hanna Tuulikki and psychiatrist John Eagles.

This summer the team will develop Heliotrope at a creative lab at the CCA in Glasgow. During this lab we will explore concepts for an immersive light & sound-filled space, informing designs for a prototype installation at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens in November. We plan to tour Heliotrope during the winter of 2013/2014.

We are looking to commission a writer to create one piece of fiction for use in the printed programme and online in a complementary digital space. The completed work must deal with the themes of Heliotrope, and can be prose or verse. We would like you to explore some of the issues surrounding our relationship with light to create a piece that engages our audiences with the project. We’re open to suggestions as to how best to achieve this. We imagine your piece will be between 500 and 2000 words long (to be confirmed once an approach has been agreed.)

Your work will be accompanied by factual prose written by SAD experts who will explain the medical and historical contexts of the disorder.

During the commission period, you will have access to all the creative & scientific members of the Heliotrope team who will be able to talk you through what they’re making and why.


Deadline – 1 April 2012
Appoint writer – by 30 April 2012.
All written content completed – by 30 September 2012.
Heliotrope and all associated content live – by 23 November 2012.

We don’t expect you to base yourself in Glasgow. However, you will need to join us for at least three meetings between now and the end of the year.

£1,500 inclusive (to include VAT if applicable, all travel and associated expenses.)

Who can apply?
Before you apply, please make sure you meet these criteria:
1. You are able to join the Heliotrope team in Glasgow for at least three meetings between appointment and installation weekend in November.
2. You have achieved one or more of these milestones
a) Your writing has been published.
b) Your writing has been performed in a professional context.

How to apply:
Please email the following to producer Suzy Glass on

1. A biog / CV (including evidence of the milestone/s you have achieved to meet our criteria, see above.)
2. A short extract of your writing (up to 1000 words.)
3. A paragraph explaining why you’re interested in this opportunity.
4. A paragraph outlining early stage ideas of how you might approach the project.
5. Details of two referees.

mid * point: Live and Local seek Marketing Assistant

Live&Local are looking for a Marketing Assistant…

The Marketing Assistant will join a team of five in Warwick and assist the Marketing Officer in providing publicity support for all Live & Local activities with specific responsibility for print management. They will also provide general administrative support within the office in conjunction with the Administration assistant. You should be an efficient and enthusiastic person with good organisational, communication and computer skills, a friendly personality, good written English and numeracy abilities and an interest in the arts.

Deadline: 11th April