Theater

Words don’t do justice to Sam Steiner’s Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons. Set in an almost dystopian future; combining a deeply political play with a love story is not an easy feat, but Steiner captures the complexity perfectly. Lemons explores a world where a 140-word limit, the ‘Hush Law’ has been enforced and demonstrates the effects it has on a couple, Bernadette (Jemima Murphy) and Oliver (Charlie Suff). The play jumps around in time, made up of very short, fast-paced scenes, but it is easy to follow. It is set over a potential time span of years, flitting back and forth between pre-word limit and present day and shows the deterioration of love and trust between Bernadette and Oliver. Although the play’s first performance was back in 2015, it is more relevant than ever. Testing the limits of freedom of speech, the Hush Law creates cracks in social class and introduces discussions that could be real life scenarios. It is scary to realise how identifiable it is to disagree with close friends and family over the future of the country.Hamish Clayton’s direction opens new ways to define the importance of communication. Bernadette and Oliver are forced into finding alternate methods to speak to each other; Morse code, warped language, physical touch and eye contact, to name a few - which is heart-breaking and tense to watch at times. Clayton explored subtle ways to represent the importance of words and values to show how significantly their lives had changed from something so simple. The basement theatre is small but the space was used effectively, the set being only a shelving unit with several props, two chairs and two lights. The lights switched to red when one of the characters had used their word limit, this was harrowing at times (mid argument, for example) and exceptionally powerful.Murphy and Suff have impeccable onstage chemistry. Their ability to portraylove, frustration and even aggression towards each other was compelling and raw. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Accompanied by an excellent soundtrack, Lemons makes you ponder about how you would react in these situations, what your priorities would be and how far you would go for someone. I cannot recommend seeing this play highly enough, it is thought provoking and completely unique. Steiner has hit perfection with this play and leaves you feeling a mix of sadness, fear and hope. Truly fascinating.Review by Hannah StoreyRating: ★★★★★Seat: Unallocated | Price of Ticket: £15
May 15, 2019
Wise Children’s adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, co-produced by York Theatre Royal in association with Bristol Old Vic, will star Rebecca Collingwood as Gwendoline Lacey, Mirabelle Gremaud as Irene Bartlett, Vinnie Heaven as Bill Robinson, Izuka Hoyle as Darrell Rivers, Renee Lamb as Alicia Johns, Francesca Mills as Sally Hope and Rose Shalloo as Mary Lou Atkinson. Adapted and directed by Emma Rice, the musical opens on 25 July 2019 at The Passenger Shed in the company’s home city of Bristol, before embarking on a national tour to Cambridge, York, Exeter, Manchester and Oxford.Rebecca Collingwood has previously appeared in Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labour’s Lost for the RSC at Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket. Mirabelle Gremaud has worked for dance-theatre and circus companies in Switzerland and England and was cast in Emma Rice's first production of her new company, as Young Nora in Wise Children (Old Vic and UK Tour). Vinnie Heaven is a non-binary trans performer. They are an associate artist of Strike A Light who produced She’s A Good Boy, written and performed by Vinnie, which toured nationally in 2019. Vinnie’s recent performance credits include Pingu in Cuckoo at Soho Theatre and Imaginary Friend in the national tour of Half The World Away. Vinnie is also the co-artistic director of Raised Eyebrows Theatre, which is touring Charmane, a family show written by Vinnie, autumn 2019 to spring 2020. Izuka Hoyle has previously played Emily Davison in Sylvia (Old Vic), The Boy in The Selfish Giant (Royal & Derngate / Vaudeville), Catherine Parr in Six (Arts Theatre) and Selina in Working (Southwark Playhouse), as well as Mary Seton in the Working Title film Mary Queen of Scots. Renee Lamb has previously played Armelia in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Southwark Playhouse, Mercury Colchester), Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors (Regent’s Park Open Theatre) and Catherine of Aragon in Six (Arts Theatre). Francesca Mills has appeared most recently in The American Clock(Old Vic), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sheffield Crucible), Pity (Royal Court), The Two Noble Kinsmen (Shakespeare’s Globe), A Tale Of Two Cities (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), and she was nominated for the 2017 Ian Charleston Award for her performance in The Government Inspector (Birmingham Rep). Her television work includes seasons two and three of Harlots (ITV) and film work includes Zoolander 2. Rose Shalloo has previously played Little Boy in The Selfish Giant(Vaudeville Theatre, Royal & Derngate), Margalit in To Paint the Earth (Southwark Playhouse), Chava in Fiddler on the Roof (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Shannon in A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer (National Theatre). Her television roles include Ellen Maccoubrie in Holby City (BBC), Tasha in The Five (Sky), Hannah Commander in The Scandalous Lady W (BBC) and June Colter in Call the Midwife (BBC) and her film credits include Hannah in Emma (Working Title).The windows shone. A green creeper climbed almost to the roof. It looked like an old-time castle. My school! thought Darrell, and a little warm feeling came into her heart. How lucky I am to be going to Malory Towers!Nostalgic, naughty and perfect for now, Malory Towers is the original ‘Girl Power’ story, filled with high jinks, high drama and high spirits, all set to sensational live music and breathtaking animation. Darrell Rivers is starting school with an eager mind and fierce heart. Unfortunately she also has a quick temper! Can she learn to tolerate the infuriating Gwendoline Lacey, or value the kind-hearted Sally Hope? Can she save the school play and rescue terrified Mary Lou from the grip of a raging storm? If she can do these things anywhere, she will do them at Malory Towers!Adapted and directed by Emma Rice, this is a show for girls, boys, and all us grown up children who still dream of midnight feasts and Cornish clifftops. With set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, sound and video by Simon Baker and original music by Ian Ross.This production is generously supported by Bristol City Council Culture Team and Sherborne Girls School.The show is officially licensed by Enid Blyton Entertainment, a division of Hachette Children’s Group (HCG). Karen Lawler, Head of Licensed Content at HCG, says, “Enid Blyton created incredible female characters at Malory Towers: strong, capable and always, always kind. ‘Women the world can lean on,’ in Enid’s own words. We share Emma’s passion for these characters and we couldn’t be more excited to see Emma’s vision of Malory Towers come to life.”Emma Rice on Malory Towers…I’ve always been drawn to the years that followed the Second World War. It’s a time that feels close enough to touch, as I vividly remember my grandparents and how the war affected their lives. My Mum’s parents - poor and largely uneducated - decided that their children would have access to all the things that they hadn’t. I don’t know how they managed it on a railway worker’s pay, but my mother was sent to a remote grammar school in Dorset: Lord Digby’s School for Girls. Whilst not a boarding school, Lord Digby's was an extraordinary place of learning that changed my mother’s, and by extension my own, life. The tendrils of passion and education that Lord Digby’s stood for reach out across 60 years and more. They reached out over my inner city comprehensive education and have shaped my own beliefs and choices to this day.My adaptation of Malory Towers is dedicated to the generation of women who taught in schools in that period. With lives shaped by the savagery of two wars, these teachers devoted themselves to the education and nurture of other women. It is also for the two generations of men that died in those same wars, leaving us with the freedom to lead meaningful, safe and empowered lives. And it is for Clement Attlee and his Labour government of 1945 who looked into the face of evil and chose to do what was right. These people changed the political landscape in their focus on care, compassion and the common good. Malory Towers was written at the heart of this political revolution, and embodies a kindness, hope and love of life that knocks my socks off. 'Long live our appetites and may our shadows never grow less!’ the girls cry.My mother wrote to her teachers at Lord Digby’s until they died and is still friends with many of the girls she met there. And when I see my Mum, born into the poorest of rural backgrounds, enjoying Dickens and Almodovar and speaking French to her childhood pen-friend, I am stopped in my tracks. She went on to dedicate her life to the NHS and the helping of others whilst never losing her appetite for life, culture and hope. I salute her, and I cheer the education that threw this mind and soul into the air and said, “be a woman that the world can lean on”.So that’s why I am making Malory Towers, with gratitude, hope and sheer pleasure! I call it my ‘Happy Lord of the Flies’ and it is joyfully radical to its bones. Imagine a world where (left to their own devices), people choose kindness. Imagine a world where difference is respected and arguments resolved with thought and care. Imagine a world that chooses community, friendship and fun. Now that’s a world I want to live in and, at Malory Towers, you can!
May 15, 2019
Children's Theatre of Annapolis Tia NorrisWhether it’s for a professional show or your school play, auditions are a difficult and panic-inducing process. Throughout my 14 years of experience within the world of theatre I have had countless auditions for everything from professional touring musicals to Am-Dram (the British term for community theatre) plays and pantomimes, encompassing acting, singing, dancing and even juggling once! No matter what the audition is for, I always find I have that shaky, butterflies feeling leading up to it, though I must admit I have much more control over my nerves than I did as a child. Within this article I am going to lay out the top tips I have picked up for keeping your cool and acing that audition! Although most of my experiences are more applicable to children/ teens/ young adults, I’m certain these tips may come in handy for adults too. 1 – Prepare This doesn’t just mean preparing your piece(s) for the audition, but preparing yourself, physically and mentally. No matter how polished and well performed your song, monologue or routine may be, if you aren’t mentally and physically prepared, your audition will not go well. There are a few main things you need to prepare: your body, voice, mind and your plan for the audition day. First of all, preparing your body. Generally, as actors we should all aim to stay in good shape, in order to keep up with any physical demands of a role, however, if you are going to be attending an audition featuring dance, it may be time to get a few classes in! If you intend to partake in dance or musical theatre auditions, it is a good idea to have some basic jazz ability and competency with choreography already, however the most important thing leading up to an audition is rest. You don’t want to overwork yourself and burnout before or even during an audition – yikes. Rest is equally important for the voice, especially if you are performing a scene, monologue or song. In the weeks leading up to an audition, ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids and protecting your voice. I recommend avoiding dairy and particularly sugary foods which coat the throat, and trying to get some herbal teas, I particularly enjoy lemon, honey and ginger tea, which is great for the throat as well as combatting any symptoms of a cold, and honey, which can easily be purchased is a squeezy bottle which you may want to keep in your audition/ rehearsal bag! Preparing your mind is perhaps the hardest. Auditions are a draining process and can be very difficult, especially if you give your all and still do not make it. Over time and audition experiences you will learn how to deal with this, but it is always a good idea to avoid growing too attached to the show/play/whatever you are auditioning for. It is also important to prepare your mind for the actual audition, practicing remaining calm as best as possible, and ensuring you can still perform to your best under pressure. The last thing to prepare is for the day itself. Ensure you have transport to and from the audition, you have timings worked out and you have everything you need. You should have any sheets/ scripts you may need, sheet music or a backing track (depending what has been asked for; if unspecified, have both prepared), appropriate clothing and footwear (including dance attire if required), lots of water and a snack – it could be a long day! 2 – Focus This applies to your preparation as well as the audition itself. Be focused on your piece(s) whilst preparing, so that they become like second nature by the audition. Focus on the audition day is incredibly important, you mustn’t let other people distract you no matter what. The time you are3 waiting to go in for your audition should be spent warming up, recapping lines and going through blocking and/or choreography. My best tip is to have headphones with you and listen to music to help you focus and get into the zone, without distraction from other people. Personally, I like to listen to music and even have a pre-auditions playlist, however some of my friends prefer ambient or classical music, or even perfect silence before an audition. I would encourage you to find what works best for you and use it to help you focus, so that you can maintain that focus and perform to your best in the audition. 3 – Have Confidence in Your Ability I will be the first to admit that I’m guilty of looking around an audition room to size up the competition and compare myself to them. This is something that stresses me right before an audition, and something you should definitely avoid doing. Every performer has different strengths and abilities, and you need to have confidence in your ability – you wouldn’t be there if you weren’t good enough! So many people, especially teens, fall victim to self-doubt, which ultimately affects their performance and prevents them from showing all of their talent. Remind yourself why you’re there and just how good you really are, and then bring all of that talent to the panel. If you believe in yourself and your ability, they will too, and your talent will shine through! 4 – Be Yourself Although you should be bringing a character to each element of your audition, when talking to the panel just be you! They want to see you and your passion for theatre, not a façade of what you think they want. They are people just like you and they don’t want you to fail or be uncomfortable, so let them get to know you. Some of my most successful auditions have been those where I let my guard down and bought 100% me to the panel when not performing. This is especially important for things like youth theatre, community theatre or school theatre, as these are companies where you are likely to spend a lot of time together and really get to know one another, if you’re honest and open from the start you will find it much easier and have so much more fun! 5 – This Is Not the End Rejection is a horrible feeling, and no matter how many times we experience it, it doesn’t get any easier. No one wants to be rejected, but it is inevitable that not every opportunity can be given to us. This does not reflect upon your talent or ability, and many times an unsuccessful audition is to do with many other factors including the casting for another character or the suitability of a character. You mustn’t let a knock-back throw you off – everyone who has ever worked in theatre will have experienced it! It is not the end of the world, no matter how awful it may seem in that moment, and one day something better will come along. If you’re struggling after an unsuccessful audition, talk to someone who will understand, and try to find a new project to take your mind off it. Eventually it will get better and you’ll understand why it wasn’t meant to be. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, I hope you find it useful. Please remember this is not an exhaustive list of audition tips, but it should hopefully help. Break a leg!
May 14, 2019
was started by the , who are in their 70th year, in 2001. Combating issues such as stress, relationships, loneliness, altruism, sleep, alcohol and friendship with this years theme being body image. Here at we put some feelers out to some of our friends who responded with such bravery and pride. Working in this industry we call 'show business' is tough at the best of times, is our chance to educate people and help us understand one another. Our mission as people who are in and adore this industry is to support and help everyone in it. To promote we have been joined by a few of our friends who have written some wonderful guest posts for us. The more we speak about this, the better. We'd like to introduce you to Gregory Hazel, a London based performer who has recently performed as Vivienne De Vil in the of . He has very kindly shared his story with us. ________________________________________________This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and have asked me to share my story, as someone in the industry who has both suffered from mental health problems, but also benefited massively from the support that is available. While I am by no means an expert when it comes to mental health (the good, the bad and the ugly), my battles have left me with a wealth of experiences, and I make a conscious effort to be open and share my story, in the hope that it will show others that they are not alone, and that help is available to them.As a child, I was always sensitive, and I’m no different now. World events play on my mind, the diatribes of Hopkins, Morgan and Trump upset me, and I could win awards for my ability to over analyse every single conversation I’ve ever had with anyone who has walked the Earth. Anxiety was something that entered my life during secondary school, and although I can’t remember any particular triggers, it’s possible that general ‘stress’ was to blame. Despite being a generally healthy young man, I’d be struck down by a mysterious plague once a year without fail. This would usually result in a visit from the paramedics and 24hrs in hospital, leaving doctors baffled when test results came back showing absolutely nothing wrong with me. “It’s seems like you’ve been under a lot of stress recently” was a phrase I grew to loathe.Let me clarify – I cope very well with stress at work. I actually perform better when the stakes are high but the problem has always been personal stress; fractured relationships, confrontation, arguments. It has taken me years, but I am now at a point where I can confront my problems head on.By the time I got to drama school, there was no denying that I was living with full-blown anxiety. Panic attacks were my new normal, and it never occurred to me that living without them was possible. I was also diagnosed with depression, but wasn’t offered any treatment other than medication, which I refused. Flash forward 10 years and things are very different, and there’s a plethora of way to combat mental health problems.Two years ago, I had a breakdown. Game over (or so I thought). However I try to describe it now, it sounds contrived, a cliché. After so many years of ignoring my unhappiness, my body and mind surrendered, and I was completely overwhelmed. I hadn’t cried properly for years, but now the floodgates opened, and every suppressed emotion, abusive relationship (I could write a book about partners I allowed to treat me like dirt because I had no feeling of self-worth), and regret burst forth, and I had no choice but to let them.I’d considered therapy a few times over the years, but had never gone through with it because I knew it meant actually admitting there was a problem. Finally, I was ready. Sink or swim. I immediately contacted a private therapist and arranged a consultation a few days later. It was clear to us both that there was a lot of work to do, but luckily I found it very easy to talk to my therapist, and although she gave me a list of options and alternative organisations I could seek help from, I chose to continue working with her. As well as the immediate and obvious reasons for my anxiety and unhappiness, she asked about my sleep, concentration, energy levels (“I’m just a naturally tired person”), and my yearly hospital visits. It was profound moment when she said to me “you’re not tired, Greg, you’re depressed, and you have been for a very long time”. I opened my mouth, and without realizing it said, “I know”.So what next? First things first – I arranged to see my GP to discuss a course of antidepressants. I mentioned earlier that I’d refused meds when I was younger, but this time I was desperate, and willing to try anything that would help my recovery.My GP was wonderful throughout my treatment, and restored my faith in the NHS. Before I could start my antidepressants, it was vital that I understood the gravitas of the situation – you take them for months even after you are feeling better, and coming off them has to be done very slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. My GP also went through the possible side effects (and there are lots), and both she and my therapist talked at length about which ones should be tolerated (loss of appetite, for example), and which should not (night terrors). It was really important to keep the dialogue going, so I was seeing my GP fortnightly, and also having telephone appointments, too. Plus, I was booked in with my therapist twice or three times a week, to get to the root of the problem. Antidepressants deal with the chemical imbalance in the brain, which then makes it easier to work through the issues. Where does my anxiety stem from? What’s started my lack of self-esteem? These questions took weeks to answer, and just using medication wasn’t enough; I needed the talking therapy, too. For me, the two went hand in hand.It takes a while to acclimatise to the medication, and sometimes a stronger or weaker dose is required. My dose was upped after a couple of months because the GP could see I wasn’t feeling the benefit, and for a while things were much better. Later, however, I started experiencing side effects that were dangerous, like agoraphobia and night terrors. Again, my therapist and GP came to my rescue, but that did mean switching to different medication altogether, therefore starting the process all over again.I always felt worse first thing in the morning, so my therapist gave me a few exercises that helped beyond measure. The first one was to get out of the house as soon as possible in the morning. Wake up, pull on the nearest clothes I could find, and go out. Sometimes I walked around the block for 10 minutes, other days I was out for two hours. This meant that I was getting out of the house before the anxiety had time to kick in., and generally made the rest of the day much easier. Some days were harder than others, but I found it incredibly beneficial.It was clear that I also needed a hobby, because I was going to be off work for a while. The novelty of watching Netflix wore off very quickly, but it also wasn’t stimulating enough and I was struggling to concentrate, which often led to a downwards spiral. Instead, I spent hours playing video games, baking and building Lego. Each model or cake took a couple of hours, and meant I had to follow set instructions, something I’ve always found therapeutic, so this was also very helpful for me.Now that I was off work and had plenty of time on my hands, I signed up to BorrowMyDoggy.com, a website which pairs dog owners with dog lovers who can’t commit to having one full-time. Premium membership, which enables you to contact other users, only costs £12 for a whole year. Within 24 hours I’d met a lovely neighbour and her gorgeous Miniature Dachshund, and we agreed that I’d dog sit one day a week. This was also great therapy. It’s something that is in its infancy in this country, but emotional support animals have been a big part of treatment for mental health problems in the United States for years. The unconditional love from Steve the sausage dog, and the purpose he gave me (walks, play and general attention) helped me immeasurably.I was very lucky that throughout my recovery, my employers were incredibly supportive. I was off work for three months in total, with a sick note from my GP for a few weeks at a time. I’d email my boss once a week with an update on my progress, and they responded time and time again with messages of support and reassurance. At one stage, I even received an email from my boss, explaining that she’d told her superiors about my situation, and that they were willing to offer financial assistance towards my therapy. Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed. I had no idea this help was available, and it just shows how much things have changed in recent times, and that people are taking mental health more seriously. I was also offered a phased return; reduced hours to ease myself back in. It’s very easy to run before you can walk, and I did that at least once, returning briefly before being signed off again. Having the relationship I do with my employers, and keeping the dialogue open made things so much easier.Like a lot of my colleagues in the industry, I used performance as a coping mechanism. It never really helped me deal with any of my problems, but it was a pretty good distraction. It’s no surprise that I was unable to sing a note during my depression, nor that auditioning or performing was far from my top priority, but as I came out the other side of it, my voice changed, and my performances became more genuine. Suddenly, I was singing with a voice I’d been dreaming of for years, but had been trapped behind anxieties and stress. I now have a far better understanding of the physical and emotion connections to the voice, and when my voice falters, I know that there’s something playing on my mind, which forces me to take better care of myself.It would be foolish of me to think that I will never struggle with my mental health again; it’s something that takes work every day. The difference now is that I’m armed with methods to combat those issues, and take better care of myself on a daily basis. I’ve recently started running, using the NHS ‘Couch to 5K’ app, which builds you up from running for 60 seconds intervals, to a 5K or 30 minutes, three times a week. I’ve always hated exercise, but I’m really feeling the benefit, and definitely have more energy. I’m also a big comfort eater, so I have to keep an eye on that. A truckload of chocolate and biscuits doesn’t do me any favours, so if I’ve had a few treats, I know that a really good meal with plenty of vegetables and protein will get me back on the right track. I’m also about to start a course of group therapy via the NHS, to help keep my anxiety at bay long-term. I had no idea, but there are so many different therapies available, and you can self-refer. Performers – don’t panic if you aren’t registered with a GP in London, it made no difference to me!As I said before, I’m no expert, but I am proof that things get better. I never believed that my situation would change, that I’d be able have healthy relationships, and live without paralysing fear. Now, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, the years of depression and the breakdown, because it has shaped who I am today. Attitudes are changing, and everyone I turned to for help (my GP, 111, out-of-hours GP, my therapist, IAPT staff, friends, family, colleagues) were incredibly supportive. Nobody told me to ‘man up’ or ‘get a grip’. I hope that in sharing my story, it will reassure others that you’re not alone, help is available, and things do get better.
May 14, 2019
Ginny KangAbout a year ago, pop sensation Ariana Grande sang Carpool Karaoke with Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane where she explained her heavy musical theatre background, after which she and her duet partner had sung “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot. If you know pop culture, you know Ariana Grande and that she’s a belter; she has the range and she proves it. That was why it came as a shock to me when I heard her sing in this beautiful operatic voice, because this whole time, I had boxed her in as this pop singer who always belted because she was a diva. As someone who is not a fan of her music, I will admit that, in another world where she chose a path to sing opera instead, I would be an Arianator. Unfortunately for me, she chose the pop angle—which is perfectly fine, since that was the vocal sound she wanted to build for herself— but because of this decision, she has a huge fanbase now and makes millions. As a singer, I was never aware there was any controversy over how flexible a person’s singing voice should be, and maybe there actually isn’t. I just assumed people wanted to try out different things in their respective careers, because they wanted to evolve. I grew up singing choir as a soprano, always got the descants seeing as how I was one of the few kids who could reach the E6, and afterwards, started singing more belty songs since I was bitten by the Broadway bug. Because of my upbringing, it strikes me as odd that there are still people who would actively advise other singers to stay in their own lane. Trying to understand their way of thinking, I am literally Googling reasons why it is best to stick to one genre of music and all my results are irrelevant, and if they do have some connection, it’s in support of the variety in a person’s vocal training. Here is a handful of professional singers with mixed musical coaching—vocalists whom I’ve grown to respect and adore because of their ability to switch voices: 1. Kristin Chenoweth 2. Marin Mazzie 3. Audra McDonald 4. Brian Stokes Mitchell 5. Megan Hilty 6. Aaron Tveit 7. Sierra Boggess 8. Nick Jonas (not sure if he was “trained” to sing like the Jonas Brother he was before they broke up, but his Broadway voice seems much classier than his initial “rock star” voice) 9. Charlotte Church (transitioned from classical to pop) 10. LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA!!! Being able to provide vocals in more than one genre—especially in musical theatre—is not a sin; it’s an asset, because it strengthens the vocalist and hones their skills. Learning how to sing in another style teaches versatility. If you still don’t believe me, look at Robin Williams for a moment: he was known for his comedy, but his knack for drama was just as impactful in his performance as an actor. To that same respect, if Ariana Grande had stuck to whatever potential she could have had in an opera career, she wouldn’t be the superstar we all know today. Moral to the story: how can you expect to grow as an artist if you are not willing to deviate from the plan just a little bit?
May 13, 2019
Abbie HarrisI can’t be the only one who has opened their script, stared at the first page for what only felt like ten minutes, and then looked up at the clock to find a full hour has passed me by.When your script has become your comfort blanket, despairing at the thought of letting it go before show week will do nothing to reduce all the other stresses that come with being part of a production.So, I would like to share a few tricks that, in my experience, have been incredibly helpful when starting to learn my lines.1) Write the lines out by hand.It may be a pain, but it’s worth it. If there is a line that is causing you trouble, write it out a few times. The act of repetition will cement the line to memory.When I was in primary school, I was given L.A.C.A.W.A.C. spelling homework every week, which stood for Look And Cover And Write And Check. This idea could be applied to line learning. Write out the line, study it for a moment before covering it, write it out again and then check to see how well you remembered it. Doing this a few times should get you used to even the trickiest of lines.2) Say the lines out loud.Just reading the lines repeatedly would do nothing more than make me fall asleep on my script. While I would be hoping that the words get absorbed into my brain through osmosis, I would inevitably wake up feeling even worse than I did before.I recommend speaking the lines out loud because you can learn the words at the same time as figuring out how you’re going to say them on stage. This method provides a two-for-one deal; master the words and the expression together. You may find that understanding the emotion in the scene behind the lines makes it easier to remember what your character should say.Maybe jot some notes on your script as you go, to remind you of your character’s emotional journey.3) Get someone to help you.Probably the most obvious tip on this list. Have someone else read in for the other characters in the scene you’re learning. Learning your lines is one thing but learning when to say them is another. Having someone read in your cue lines will get you used to performing the scene with other actors, and cue lines can also give you a huge clue as to what your next line should be.Hopefully these simple tricks will alleviate some stress, and secure your place in your director’s good books for getting off-script before anyone else!
May 13, 2019
was started by the , who are in their 70th year, in 2001. Combating issues such as stress, relationships, loneliness, altruism, sleep, alcohol and friendship with this years theme being body image. Here at we put some feelers out to some of our friends who responded with such bravery and pride. Working in this industry we call 'show business' is tough at the best of times, is our chance to educate people and help us understand one another. Our mission as people who are in and adore this industry is to support and help everyone in it. To promote we have been joined by a few of our friends who have written some wonderful guest posts for us. The more we speak about this, the better. Click here to view them all. Upon recommendation, we got in touch with the wonderful and at to ask them to share their wisdom. Since launching in 2018 they have already provided so much help to those in the performing arts industry. Check them out on and visit their . ________________________________________________Over the last few months since we began Industry Minds, we have discovered many avenues that can help boost and support mental health. As we are all different, below we have listed a range of these avenues as we possibly can that we think could help. Some come with a cost and some with no price tag at all but all offer the same outcome: boosting and helping mental health.1. Therapy.Therapy can be incredibly beneficial to anyone who may be struggling or in need of a chat and gaining some advice. There are many services out there but our top picks has to be and our Having a therapist/counsellor who understands the arts can be very beneficial and both of these people specialise in the arts and both offer discounted prices to those in the arts. Trevor is a physiotherapist and Mary is a counsellor.Many people avoid therapy for various reasons so we have asked our Industry Minds Counsellor to write up some advice below for those who may have some questions around what counselling is.“The first question most clients ask is, “what is Person Centred Counselling?” (PCT). It is often referred to as “talking therapy”, which can lead to a comment around - “well, I can surely get the same result by talking to my flat mate , best friend etc”. Of course counselling has its limits and is not a panacea for everything that is wrong in a person’s life, so what difference can a counsellor make, that your best friend can’t? In true PCT style, let me help you decide for yourself. A counsellor will help the client make the CHANGE they want to make: that may be a change in how they see, think, feel about things or themselves or a change in behaviour. While a friend might offer advice on a problem (be that good or bad advice), a counsellor will facilitate that self discovery in an environment that offers certain therapeutic conditions including congruence, non judgement and empathy. Studies have shown that counselling works and clients improve, which leads me to the final favourite question from clients -“when will I be better?”There is no definitive answer to that: everyone is different, but the counsellor role is not one of “curing an illness”, or “fixing something that is broken”, but is the facilitator for a process of growth that is already there within the client. PCT recognises that you, the client are the expert in your own life and so can be trusted to explore and ultimately find any change - sometimes we just need a professional to help us on that journey of change”2. Applause For Thought.AFT is run by Raffaella Covino and the work she has created is incredible. This non-profit organisation provides free and low cost mental health support, talks and workshops to those who work in the entertainment industry. There is nothing else like this in the arts and provides a safe and educational space. The events run at The Other Palace (Victoria) and cover various topics. You can keep up to date on AFT by following them across their socials (LINK) AFT also has a fantastic collaboration with Drew McOnie for Mental Health Awareness Week which everyone should check out! ()3. Fitness/ExerciseExercise has to be our biggest top tip! Exercise can be challenging but very fun and is great to do this for our brains and hearts that work so hard for us. We have put a list below of various classes/apps below:- “Couch to 5K” - App- - It provides a fantastic and safe atmosphere to learn and develop confidence and skills, has a supportive judge free atmosphere, brilliant routines and is a lot of fun. - - A class specifically aimed at Singer/Actors who may still have to go to those dance auditions or who just want to dance and have some fun! A judge free/supportive environment, graduates go for free and run by two wonderful performers Blythe and Danny! - - Provides a space for people in the arts to stop and re-fuel in a guided meditation class. These classes run every Tuesday morning 11am - 12pm at Buddha on a Bicycle. - Yoga - Yoga is so accessible, from YouTube videos (cost free) to various classes all over London or around your area if you are out of London. If you are a gym member look at your gym timetable as classes may run for free or for a small fee. Jessica Louise Parkinson runs which is yoga for creatives which everyone should check out! - “Happy Not Perfect” - App- “Headspace” - App- “Nike running” - App- “1 Second Everyday” - App- “Calm” - App4. PodcastsYou can listen to our Podcast which talks openly to various creatives in the arts on Mental Health, in order to open up the conversation! We are on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud. However, there are several fantastic and brilliant podcasts out there for many different purposes! Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place - Go to podcast! Some wonderful stories with a strong focus on mental healthThe 98% - The podcast which discusses openly and honestly about The Actors Life! Funny and truthful! ()GEMA Collective (Gender Equality Movement for Actors) - Everyone should check out GEMA, not only their podcast but the other incredible work they offer! ()My Dad Wrote a Porno - We all know and love it! Laughing is important!5. King Manual Therapy restores function to body and voice and offers various treatments for creatives including the famous pain free vocal massage, vocal coaching, body and voice connection therapy, myofascial release and full body massage. Or you can keep up to date with KMT and keep your eyes peeled for discounts and offers here - Looking after your body especially those in the arts is very important, and we love KMT and they work they are doing. 6. Talking Talking is completely free of charge and one of the most beneficial things you can do to open up the conversation and support mental health. If its in person or via the phone/skype - it all matters. There is always someone to listen and there is always someone there to help. Below we have listened some contact details to people who are always there to listen, help or offer some advice.Samaritans - 116 123 Mary Burch (email to book in for your free phone/counselling session) - maryindustryminds@gmail.comSANEline - 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day)MIND - 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)Recommended Books: Depression In A Digital Age - Fiona Thomas ()The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k - Sarah Knight ()The Secret - Rhonda Byrne ()The Universe Has Your Back - Gabrielle Bernstein ()
May 13, 2019
Tony TarganActors have a long association with alcohol. There are many famous actors with a history of alcohol abuse, including Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Errol Flynn, and Humphrey Bogart, to name just a few. Gerard Depardieu once famously claimed that he could drink up to 14 bottles of wine a day! But famous actors often live by a different set of rules. I wondered how community theater or regional actors would answer the question: Have you ever rehearsed or performed on stage while "under the influence"?Mainly, I was interested in motivations. Why did people drink before or during a show? How did it affect their performance, for better or worse? Did other actors or directors know or care? Personally, for me, the adrenaline I get from acting in front of a live audience is better than any drug. I can’t imagine needing any more stimulation. Some theaters have their own traditions – an opening night toast, a passed flask at intermission – and I have played along with that. But for the purposes of this article, I’m focused on actors who were actually impaired on stage. (For that reason, the names have been changed to protect the guilty.)“Rachel” told me that she first performed Midsummer's Night Dream when she was 21. In her words: “In the forest scene where both men are enchanted to fall in love with me, the director wanted the men very sexually amorous. I had a hard time with this scene, being younger and less experienced. One day, during break, we had some drinks. Unintentionally, I was rather tipsy. That day the scene went better and the director said she ‘didn't care what we had done, but whatever it was, keep doing it because the scene was so perfect.’ So, every day at intermission, they gave me a bottle of juice mixed with alcohol and I drank it. It never interfered with my ability to say my lines, and it made me looser on stage. … In my older, wiser days I would never do that; I have techniques and abilities to get myself where I need to be, safely. I also would now have no problem letting a director know I was uncomfortable and ask for help.” In fact, I have seen Rachel perform a topless scene, and she appeared totally at ease and had no more need for “liquid courage.”“Jim” was on stage in a bar scene when a fight broke out. During the fight, “my character grabbed a bottle of tequila and took some deep swigs for free. One night, the bottle was filled with vodka. So I ended up getting a triple shot. The very next scene was a dance number. I had no idea that the bottle had been tampered with. Given the heat of the spotlights and dancing in costume, it was a disorienting experience, but made for a fun story.” Similarly, “Mike” never eats prior to a performance but he “indulged in a glass of wine during intermission. Not a good idea! Although I got through the performance, I almost lost my balance taking bows.” Which was the last time Mike ever drank during a show.“Frank” admitted to me – years after the fact – that he and “Lila” occasionally were high on pot during performances of a show that I directed! (Had I known at the time, I would have been very upset, but it would have been too late to fire them.) He explained that, “It’s not something you want to try unless you’ve rehearsed that way.” Frankly, I had no idea they were high at the time, and it did not visibly affect their performances. Was I just naïve not to notice? What would you do if you noticed that another actor is impaired? “Steve” sees no distinction between the stage and any other workplace: “In a hardworking environment like a film set or a theatre, where you’re in close contact with people, in cramped quarters, a drinker is obvious. You can smell it. It’s atrocious. If I found someone was drunk on my set, I’d send them home. And most likely they would be fired. I’d be clear from the start that no one should arrive at work intoxicated, and drinking or etc. on the job would be grounds for removal. It’s not at all common. Drugs and alcohol simply don’t belong in a workplace.”So, while this is far from a scientific survey, my anecdotal evidence suggests that acting and alcohol generally don’t mix. And I’ll drink to that … after the show! Tony Targan is an aspiring playwright whose short plays have appeared in Midwest regional and community theaters. He is also a director and actor in southeast Michigan community theater, mostly with the Farmington Players Barn Theater. By day, Tony works as a technology attorney in Detroit.
May 13, 2019
Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club is a raunchy cabaret, hosted by the ‘gin-soaked’ woman herself. The show has little narrative but is a collection of freakshow- type acts to get the audience laughing, gasping and exhilarated in the versatile Spiegeltent at the Underbelly Festival Southbank. The opening song was off to a surprisingly slow start and didn’t represent the rest of the spectacle. Close your eyes and you’ll feel like you’re at a Lady Gaga concert, Dieter and Gaga’s vocal resemblance is uncanny. Dragging men onto the stage (by carrying her), she set the tone with hysterical observations, flashing dick pics and belting out their original songs, all the while not taking herself too seriously. No one in the audience is safe from Dieter and her contagious energy. The five other artists brought their own talents to the table. Each act was completely unexpected almost faultless. Aerial and Contortionist Beau Sargent blew me away. He was breath-taking and dripping with confidence. Nearing the end of the show, his aerial performance was particularly poignant and added depth to this otherwise light-hearted performance. Phenomenal. Kitty Bang Bang certainly gave Little Death a different vibe, the ‘Bearded Lady’ – I won’t tell you where the beard was- being a less tasteful but equally entertaining act! Bang Bang’s fire-breathing was nothing less than astonishing and I could happily watch her wide-eyed all night. Mime artist Josh Clanc is a natural comedian. A complete contrast to the previous acts, the mime scene did lose some pace but was enjoyable nonetheless. Myra Dubois was truly a ‘siren of South Yorkshire’, her voice can surely be heard for miles! She is hilarious and feisty - I look forward to seeing more of her.Lastly, Fancy Change, described as the ‘Hair Hanging Dynamo’ is a uniqueperformer and had the entire audience on the end of their seats. The risk she takes for our benefit is most certainly appreciated.The band; Mark Elton, Jonathon Kitching, Ed Bussey and Matt Isaac brought so much liveliness to the stage, they were cleverly integrated in yet did not distract from the performances. Being in the round, it is occasionally difficult to balance the sound around the venue and at times (such as the first song), the music drowned out Bernie Dieter from where I was sitting. Some acts could be fine-tuned to perfection, but ultimately, it is a magnificent cabaret. If you’re a fan of the Greatest Showman, but open to nudity, then you’ll love The Little Death Club.Review by Hannah StoreyRating: ★★★★Seat: Unallocated (Standard seats) | Price of Ticket: £21.50
May 12, 2019
Nailah MathewsPre-Casting sticks in the craws of every unprofessional theatre artist, and probably in a lot of professional ones, too. Spawning drama that makes every stage manager worth their kit roll their eyes into next weekend, pre-casting somehow manages to worm its way into any given conversation about theater. High school and undergraduate university productions, regional theatres, children’s theatres alike, all seem to struggle with this one concept that actors all loathe somewhat equally. Of course, being pre-cast is flattering, but no actor is happy knowing someone else got a part we were right for, too just because somebody knew somebody else; our egos are too big to allow it. But how do we survive pre-casting and all the evil that comes with it?By calming down for two seconds, and thinking critically about why it happens. Theaters are places where art happens, that much is true. But what art happens, where, and by whom is determined by the theater’s bottom line. Money makes the world go around, and until an economic revolution happens, we kind of just have to deal with it. Pre-casting happens because theaters need to pay their artists. It’s been a long time since we’ve had anything even remotely looking like a federally run program designed to bolster the arts in trying economic times (this article is absolutely a love letter to the Federal Theatre Project) and theatres have to pick shows that they know will make them a decent amount of money. One way of doing that is by considering what actors they currently have in rotation, and who could play what. It’s not personal; it’s economics. A theatre has to look realistically and who’s around so that they can know which shows they can afford to/expect to produce in a season. If they picked shows blindly out of a hat, then a predominately white theatre does ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grille,’ and then we’re all unhappy.Even in smaller theatres that have to work with specific budgets are victims of their bottom lines. Having recently graduated from an undergraduate theatre department myself, I know how much it stings but also why it has to happen. But as one of only three black girls in my department, it’s difficult to feel flattered when the role you’re pre-cast for is a formerly enslaved woman. And despite how beautiful the part is, and despite the fact that the part is the emotional linchpin of the play, it’s difficult not to feel insulted. Pigeonholed. Chosen for tokenism. Playing a black woman whose entire role in the play is to provide emotional support and tongue-in-cheek sexual advice to two other white women in a play written by another white woman; I’d rather a department pick something classical and cast it color-blind than have to get stuck in a situation where I feel I may have to compromise my own morals just to enjoy making theatre with the people I love. But I know that choosing that show was my department’s attempt at giving me an opportunity to dig hard into a part, and show off my abilities as a dramatic actor. So why does it still sting? Pre-casting tells actors that our talent either matters entirely or not at all. That their work, their drive, their dedication to their practice, is either the only deciding factor in whether or not they cast, or it’s bullshit. Nobody wants to think that their work is bullshit. You survive pre-casting by realizing that it happens for an important economic reason. Plenty of theatres use the money they make from big-budget musicals, for example, to furnish the smaller productions that enforce the theatre’s mission. Those big shows need names that crowds know and love so that they make the money that these theatres need so that they can take chances on actors that no one has ever heard of before. But it’s similarly important to take a good hard look at the way pre-casting effects students and actors of color, both emotionally and professionally. There are plenty of stories where black women are the architects of their journeys and not props to help the white leads stand on their own two feet. Theatres nationwide need to step up, and especially those in predominately white environments, so that the actors of color that do exist in those spaces are seen and heard and celebrated as more than just the token background Asian, or the Latina nurse with red nails and a lousy attitude. Pre-casting happens to us because it’s how theatre remakes itself. It doesn’t have to define you as an actor. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough, or that your face is the wrong shape, or that you bombed your audition. It’s a necessary evil that is entirely possible to overcome, provided you’re patient enough to wait until musical season is over.
May 11, 2019
Despite closing after just two weeks on Broadway, Amour, a beautifully sweet piece, garnered several nominations at the Tony’s. Endlessly romantic, this musical adaptation of Marcel Ayme’s Le Masse-Muraille follows the tale of Dusoleil, a nobody who becomes the talk of the town when he develops the ability to walk through walls.Amour harnesses a perfect balance of romance and comedy, with some of the funniest lyrics hidden within delicious ballads. Michel LeGrand’s score is meticulous, with constant changesof time-signature and style, and lyrics that rival that of Sondheim. It takes a while to acclimatise, but by the end of the show we are left yearning for more of its twists and turns.The entire company is a joy, expertly assembled by Danielle Tarento. This is a real ensemble effort and Hannah Chiswick’s direction allows every cast member to shine throughout. She and choreographer Matt Cole ask a lot of their cast, cycling and climbing walls, all whilst delivering stunning vocals.Gary Tushaw’s vibrato can be coarse at times, but his performance as Dusoleil/Passepartout is sublime. Dusoleil is shy and retiring amongst his colleagues, but in his own space, he blossoms, and Tushaw really soars when the score allows for it. His material is tricky but delivered expertly, and the audience is behind him all the way. There was a communal sigh when, finally meeting Passepartout, Isabelle (Anna O’Byrne) says “you are not what I imagined”.Claire Machin delivers yet another wonderful turn, both as dull office-worker Claire and the Whore. Her duet with Elissa Churchill – soaring ballad and ode to the incarcerated Dusoleil packed full of double entendre – is one of the highlights of the show. Later, Machin delights with “Whore’s Lament”, swinging from a ladder whilst recalling the woes of being an older lady of the night.Jordan Li-Smith leads the band masterfully, and special mention must go to Andrew Johnson for his sound design. So often Fringe and Off-West End productions suffer from poor balance and drowned-out vocals. Here, we need to hear every single lyric, and we absolutely do.Everything about this production is carefully calculated, and it is abundantly clear that this creative team are a tight unit, working in harmony to bring this hidden gem to life. The staging is a treat in itself, and we very quickly forget that this is essentially just a collection of chairs. I particularly loved the use of bunting lights, which swell as Passepartout moves through physical matter to finally be with his love. This, coupled with a gorgeous arpeggio from the band sent shivers and escalated the romance to another level. Other shows currently running in London (some with a considerably bigger budget) could learn a lot from this production.Amour is an unexpected treasure, and it thrills from beginning to end. I implore you to see it.Review by Ian MarshallRating: ★★★★★
May 10, 2019
The cast has been announced for the first UK and international tour of The Book of Mormon as the show extends its run at Manchester Palace Theatre.The musical, which will open in Manchester in June, will be led by Kevin Clay as Elder Price and Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham, who both played their respective roles in the Broadway and US touring productions of the musical.Joining them will be Nicole-Lily Baisden as Nabulungi, William Hawksworth as Elder McKinley, Ewen Cummins as Mafala Hatimbi, Johnathan Tweedie as Joseph Smith and Thomas Vernal as the General.The company will include Sanchia Amber Clarke, Jed Berry, David Brewis, Melissa Brown-Taylor, Chinasa, Tre Copeland-Williams, George Crawford, Jordan Lee Davies, Jemal Felix, Patrick George, Isaac Hesketh, M-Jae Cleopatra Isaac, Evan James, Alex James-Hatton, Nicole Louise, Fergal McGoff, Jesus Reyes Ortiz, Lawrence Rowe, Lukin Simmonds, Chomba S Taulo, Brad Veitch, Tommy Wade-Smith, Sharon Wattis and Jacob Yarlett.First staged in 2011, Parker, Lopez and Stone's piece follows two Mormon missionaries as they try to convert the citizens of a remote Ugandan village to Mormonism. The show had its West End premiere in 2013, going on to win four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical. It is co-directed by Parker and Casey Nicholaw with design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting by Brian Macdevitt and sound by Brian Ronan.The production will continue to Sunderland following its run in Manchester, with the show now booking until Saturday 10 August at the Palace Theatre.
May 08, 2019
Liverpool’s Royal Court is a creative hub for new, Scouse* writing, that attracts audiences from all around the city. As writer and executive producer of the theatre, Kevin Fearon’s new production, based on Lerner and Lowe’s 1956 musical ‘My Fair Lady’, certainly fits this bill, but does this story need a somewhat makeover, not too dissimilar from the lead protagonist herself?Set in our modern day of 2019, Lizzie Ripon, and her feisty co-worker Steph, run a posh florist in Liverpool One, in desperate need of some financial gain. On the flip side, the McDermott family are about to lose the mother of their family, Julie, and are leaving son, Higson, a large sum of money if he can find himself ‘a good Scouse woman’ to settle down with. Lizzie and Higson hit it off, but Lizzie needs to convince the family that she’s a ‘proper Scouser’ to win the jackpot, which friend and expert, Steph, helps with.The cast include some Royal Court regulars, including Michael Starke as Alf MsDermott and Helen Carter as Steph. Both actors give a classic zest of the Liverpudlian charm to this show, packed in nicely with some real and touching moments. This is shown in particular from Starke in the latter stages of the story. Carter provides drops of comic relief, which is delivered with confidence and a punch. Unfortunately, Danny O’Brien as Higson lacks energy and power for the stage with his portrayal. His direction seems stilted, with him placed in the middle of the stage on a number of occasions, with no real purpose or objective- a real shame considering the calibre of work he boasts. Love interest, Jessica Days as Lizzie Ripon is a touch of class amongst the Scouse chaos. She takes her character on a journey, showing both the comedic side, balanced nicely with her truthful portrayal of a woman in crisis. A highlight is the final scene in Act 1, in which Lizzie is transforming into the caricature she’s been asked to be. Her comic timing and commitment to the scene is commendable, and reads well to the audience. The set is a highlight within this production. The modern, sleek revolve, allowsactors to swap from the hospital room, to the florist and further afield. The idea is good, but the execution needs work. The revolve causes for lengthy scene changes, as the set has to be moved upstage to land on the turn table before it moves, helped by stage hands dressed in relevant costumes- slightly less slick than initially planned. In addition to this, a sound bite of a wordless melody line sung by some of the actors is played as set is moved, which seems disjointed and a far cry from the story itself. This breaks up the action, and takes audiences out of it completely. Although this story is resolved in the end, and the relevant message of ‘be yourself’ strongly sent out to its audiences as they leave the theatre, it still, however, lacks depth and integrity. Some of the areas that are brought up within the show are truthful, but it is shunned with a blanket of cheap gags and unrealistic ideals. This could work within the artistic world its being placed in, however by setting it in such realistic circumstances, its hard to believe that this story would actually be a viable one to not only tell, but stand as credible. If you’re looking for a cheap night out, a Liverpool’esque story, and some Royal Court regulars, My Fairfield Lady is a good way to spend your evening. However with elements of truth disguised in a masquerade of Scouse humour, it doesn’t quite match up to the highly acclaimed and successful musical it took its inspiration from. *Scouse: the dialect or accent of people from Liverpool, short for Scouser.Review by Victoria Morris Rating: ★★Seat: Stalls L3 | Price of Ticket: £19 per ticket
May 02, 2019