THE BLOG

06
Oct

The next big thing

The Generation of Z

The Generation of Z

The down time of Summer 2015 has granted us here at AFOAF HQ with an opportunity to look ourtward and experience theatre without the pressure of looming production deadlines. As supporters and aficionados of new work, we have watched, and indeed taken part in, a wide variety of performances this year, ranging from the small and intimate, to the grand scale epics. We’ve seen everything from Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre and McQueen at Theatre Royal Haymarket, to The Generation of Z, the immersive post apocalyptic zombie experience at a dingy warehouse in East London, to Secret Cinema’s The Empire Strikes Back, short play festivals at Waterloo’s Vaults and the Lost Theatre, and comedy gems like Flick and Julie: Pop Up Penny Pinchers at Leicester Square Theatre. We even ventured into Russian theatre with Pavel Pryazhko’s flirtatious and fruity The Harvest, as translated by Sasha Dugdale for Soho Theatre.

The point is, we’ve had a busy summer. A busy, inspiring and invigorating summer. We’ve cheered on writers and actors from our previous productions and celebrated their successes with every curtain call.

So what have we learnt?

Ushers the Musical

Ushers the Musical

2015 has seen a fascinating climate for the Arts. New Musical theatre continues to struggle and excel in a teetering balance (we’re talking the likes of Made in Dagenham vs. Sunny Afternoon) whilst the success of new plays has raised the new battleground of gender imbalance (the summer has been generously dusted with articles quetioning this theme, find a few of them here) . Theatreland can be a fickle place, and for every boundary that is breached, a new horizon is sought out. Site specific and immersive theatre companies have been creeping to the forefront of the public eye in the last few years, with Punchdrunk’s incredible The Drowned Man and Secret Cinema’s Shawshank Redemption serving to permanently alter how audiences interact with the art form. Expectations have been raised, and the minds have been opened. The possibilities are limitless; in Ushers, the front of house staff sell you programmes, show you to your seats, and then burst into song, seamlessly blending reality and crushing the fourth wall. Last year, The Jetty in Greenwich hosted Shunt’s surreal The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face and returned this summer with Heartbreak Hotel, a show that continued the trend of luring audiences away from the safety of a proscenium setting, begging the question, “If audiences are comfortable with being taken out of their comfort zones, then what’s next?”

When Theatre Delicatessen and diferencEngine invited groups of eight to pull off a Heist, the result was a sell-out run and an outcry for more tickets. When You Me Bum Bum Train confirmed their return to London, the frantic demand for tickets crashed the servers, proving that audiences don’t even feel the need for ‘safety in numbers’ and are keen to literally dive into the unknown and go it alone.

 

As 2015 draws to a close, we continue to wonder what the next big thing will be. In what direction will the boundaries be pushed in 2016?

We might have had a glimpse of this courtesy of The Showstoppers, who are two weeks into their run of The Improvised Musical at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. Now that audiences have acclimatised to becoming a part of the cast, the next frontier seems to be the “Choose Your Own Adventure” of theatre, where we cease to be participants but instead blur the lines between creator and spectator. Delirious with power, the audience is captivated by the undeniably talented cast. And best yet, for two hours straight, not one person feels the need to play on their phone and check their social network feeds (an achievement that should not be taken lightly, as even Cumberbatch will agree).

We’re eager to know what you think, what’s the next big thing in theatre?

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04
Oct

What we’ve been reading

Do strong female roles in theatre make audiences feel uncomfortable?

 

By Mark Shenton and Liz Hoggard via The Guardian

 

“…female playwrights aren’t being produced with as much frequency as male playwrights: it took over 30 years before a female playwright had an original play debut at the Olivier – Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Her Naked Skin in 2008. The situation is even more striking in musical theatre: of 21 musicals playing in New York, only three are composed or have books written by women. Only two are directed by women. So women are still, for whatever reason, being denied artistic opportunities….”

 

[read article]

 

 

The economy according to the theatre business

 

By Mark Shenton via The Stage
“There’s a lot of love and not a lot of money in the arts – it has ever been thus. (You can’t make a living, but you can make a killing, is one of my favourite mantras about working in the theatre; a rare few hit the jackpot with a long-running West End or Broadway show, but for the most part, there’s a lot more money lost in those arenas than made.)”

 

[read article]

 

 

Rose McGowan Is Starting A Revolution

 

by Kate Arthur via Buzzfeed

 

“The difficulties women have had navigating Hollywood permeate every part of the business, from writers rooms to directors’ chairs to below-the-line production jobs — and, of course, to acting, which can be rife with the most corrosively age-obsessed, looks-conscious, and sexualized aspects of film and television.”

 

[read article]

 

 

Here’s what happened when we asked audiences to set their own ticket prices

by Annabel Turpin via The Guardian
“This immediately made our theatre programme more accessible to those who couldn’t afford to come, but we believed it would also encourage people to come who could afford to, but chose not to because the risk seemed too high.”

[read article]

 

 

Cameron Mackintosh pledges £25k to London fringe theatres
by Matthew Hemley via The Stage
“Smaller theatres of London provide an irreplaceable training ground for creative talent both on and off the stage. They are a major reason why British theatre is the envy of the world and the West End stage delivers so many brilliant productions.”
[read article]

 

“My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me, Catherine.” Author receives eight times more offers with male pseudonym

by Catherine Nichol via Stylist

“If we had to stack the number of books in history where female authors, from Louisa May Alcott to the Brontë sisters, adopted male names to combat sexism and prejudice at the time, they’d be collapsing over us, which is what makes Nichol’s findings even more dispiriting. Has really nothing changed in the last two hundred years?”

[read article]

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22
May

Be right back

After a marathon 18 months, we’re taking a little down time while we work on other projects and get some R&R. Watch this space, and we’ll be back before you can say “Miss you already”!

Patrick Sooz Another Day promo

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07
Apr

Review: LOVE IN THE PAST PARTICIPLE

“Hamilton May’s writing is both beautifully poetic and detailed as modern and witty”

 

Playmakers at Tabard Theatre presents six new plays among which is John Hamilton May’sLove in the Past Participle. After a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival this is a play that I’m curious about even before entering the theatre – a new play is an exciting event and I am hoping it adds a new perspective to the well-discussed subject of love.

REVIEW TheatreFullStop LIPP

 

Four actors in a cosy and intimate office-like space deliver monologues to the audience as if what they are saying is what we could read in their private journals. It is their love lives that they are sharing and though they seem disconnected at the beginning we soon realise they are intertwined and not in a conventional way. The play portrays a lesbian and a gay couple in different points of their amorous relationship – one at a peak point, ready for marriage, the other at a saturation point, ready for rupture. Always in this narrative setup and not acknowledging each other, the actors successfully keep us engaged with their energy and great characterisation and this makes us empathise and care for the characters in a short period of time. Special mention goes to the actresses Ashley Beckett and Tamaryn Payne – they bring such beauty and tenderness to the words describing the characters’ love for one another that it makes the ending more poignant.

Hamilton May’s writing is both beautifully poetic and detailed as modern and witty – both amusing and endearing, always in the past participle. However, the connection between the two couples in the end feels a bit forced and rather short. I would say the audience wants more by the end of it. Maybe there should be a Love in the Future Tense so we can learn more about the lives of these brief characters.

I am not exactly sure what the conclusion to be grasped is rather than merely restating the plot: there are two couples, in or out of love, who have lost that love they once had – If we are going to speak of love and relationships I would enjoy a bit more detail so one can learn something new from it. 3.5/5

By Sofia Moura

Love in the Past Participle was shown at the Playmakers Festival at the Tabard Theatre from Friday 3rd to Saturday 4th April.

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06
Apr

Review: LOVE IN THE PAST PARTICIPLE

“Five stars: I was hooked from the start.”

 

2015 is the inaugural year for the ‘Playmakers Festival’ at the Tabard Theatre where over the course of 6 days, six new plays were given their London premier, and I was lucky enough to catch one of the shows “Love in the Past Participle” presented by A Friend of a Friend Productions.

A long table, with all sorts of ordinary detritus dominated the room as the audience took their seats. After a while and with no particular rush, the actors (Ashley Beckett, Joshua Diffley, Philip Honeywell & Tamaryn Paynes) come on, sat down and started doing ordinary things, never acknowledging each other. As the lights went down, they started to talk, each delivery interlinked monologues giving their own version of how they had arrived at the place they were at relationship-wise today. Individuals they may be, but it is soon made clear that the lives of the stories of these four are closely related and will eventually come together in a most explosive way.

 

REVIEW LIPP LondonTheatre1

 

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