Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Okay, so this is my new theatre blog I am keeping to keep track of the plays I've seen, to keep on top of writing and hopefully for other people to enjoy.

I'm going to start looking back at 2012, a year of vastly expanding my knowledge and getting involved with some great projects myself. I've been very lucky this year to get to some great little shows, some huge spectacles, a few festivals, great Youth Theatre projects and some bits in between.
 I have moved from York, to London, so the range of theatre I have available has changed dramatically, from Theatre Royal dominated York, to the big city, where I am constantly stuck between choices and worrying about my wallet.

At York Theatre Royal the season started with an underwhelming Anne Frank, in partnership with the  Touring Consortium Theatre Company, maybe due to the fact I chose to detach myself from a inevitably grim ending I took little away from Anne Frank. Over the spring/summer season there was little to intrigue me in the build up to the York Mystery Plays but I did catch an in-house production of Blue/Orange a topical play about a failing health system, which was beautifully designed, well executed and perfect in the little intimate studio at YTR.

In June was the third Takeover Festival, a two week theatre festival based in York Theatre Royal, where under 25's take over the theatre and run the building, from the marketing to the programming. Although I didn't see as many shows as I'd have wished, on opening night I saw the stark production Crave/Illusions, a double bill of controversial Sarah Kane and Russian playwright Ivan Viripaev by the Actors Touring Company. This brave, no nonsense production had little in the way of staging, Crave performed with actors stood in neutral, on stage, facing out, in blacks, performing an all vocal/no movement production to a sporadic audience, so that in the second half, the audience could sit on the stage, with the actors as they told 'Illusions' in a soft and personal manner. I also caught a fun As You Like It, directed by the Artistic Director, with a huge amateur ensemble, who all shone and kept Shakespeare's language upbeat and easy to follow.

Then there was the Mystery Plays, a hugely ambitious spectacle in the Museum Gardens. With 500 actors
across two casts and 1700 volunteers, it was a huge ask of none-professionals and professionals alike. It can still be watched on The Space (another great addition to theatre in 2012)  in 6 camera angles, including backstage and under the stage. Needless to say, set on the abbey, in the dark, it was truly beautiful, and a huge success.
I believe it brought lots of new people in to the theatre and hope it created a community that the theatre will use again (maybe in Blood and Chocolate 2013).

In 2013 I saw more children's theatre. Children's theatre is a real treat for me, firstly because I love making it, and secondly because it can be so charming and fun. Over Little Feet I saw Hiccup's Owl and the Pussycat, a wonderfully playful telling of the poem, using few words outside of the original. The music is one of the things that really sets Hiccup apart from other theatre companies, the live music, composed by Ivan Stott is perfectly pitched (no pun intended) at the youngen's and forms an enchanting underscore to the play. Towards the end of the year I saw them at The Albany (my new local theatre in London) performing an adaptation of Rumplestiltskin, again it was magical, and the kids really enjoyed it.

Shortly before my move to London I went to the Edinburgh Fringe, without a doubt my favorite bit of theatre viewing all year, even if its just because its lots of theatre concentrated into days and I never really know what I'm going to do and most importantly because most fringe shows are an hour long (the ultimate length for theatre). There's no way I can remember everything I saw, nor can I face writing about it all, however I got to see a wider variety of stuff on the Free Fringe this year. Although I have attended free fringe shows in previous years, this was the first time I'd seen more theatrical stuff there, rather than straight stand up comedy. Fragments of Monotony/An Audience with Sir Dickie Benson was a great character comedy double bill featuring wheelie bin enthusiast Johnny F. Monotone and dryed up actor Dickie Benson. I saw a great storytelling show, a musical double act and some poetry on the Free Fringe alone.
Things also good, but not free include:
 Henry Raby's  A Letter to the Man (from the Boy) - one of my favorite shows of 2012 (seen it three times, cry every time)
Rash Dash's Ugly Sisters - a wonderful theatrical cabaret about magazines and reality shows and Cinderella, another fave of this year
Dorian by Hinge -  an adaption of Will Self's film adaption of Dorian Gray at Hinge's own venue on Hill Street

In London so far I've largely got theatre a bit wrong, I bought cheap National Theatre tickets before I came on the Entry Pass scheme, but have found most of it a bit blah. This House was interesting, a mini history lesson in 1970's politics, but not terribly exciting, or politically resounding, which seems strange considering the parallels with today. The Animals and Children took to the Streets was charming, beautiful, easy to watch and an hour in length(!) but lacked something engaging, again apolitical where it shouldn't be. Apathy theatre all round maybe?

However I was very glad to see Kate Tempest's Brand New Ancients, an incredible storytelling poetry show with a quartet, set in South East, very close to where I now live. It was one of my favorite pieces theatre ever. I kept an eye on her since I stumbled across her, hiding from the unbelievably strong sun in the poetry tent at Glastonbury Festival, she had a huge following already then, I'd definitely recomend any show with her in at all.

In this blog I've not touch on the awesome Youth Theatre shows I've seen, and the great young people's projects at all. I feel my blog is now long enough, so this will have to come at a later date!
I would have also liked to touch on exciting things in 2013, but again, it can wait.


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