Get shit done.

Well 2014. You absolute storm. 

Who would have known this year could be so absolutely wonderful when it has also been scattered with so much upset and loss.

What has become prevalent to me this year, is the capacity you have within yourself to achieve the goals you strive for if you really commit to them, despite everything else that’s going on.

Firstly Poleroid. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in a project or supported us this year -whether our smaller projects like Timebomb and our Write It : Mic It’s in Hackney, Manchester and Edinburgh or whether you came to see Free Fall by Vinay Patel at the Pleasance Islington and helped make our first full length run in London a success, we are hugely grateful. We were also really thrilled to get nominated for three Off-West End Awards, it was such a surprise.

timebomb8 FreeFallRehearsals3Poleroid Theatre Rehearsals ©RWD14_Write it Mic it_010

Please do keep an eye out for our 2015 projects.

We will hopefully be returning to Wilderness Festival after the fun we had with 2014’s show which included short plays written by Luke Barnes (Chapel Street / Bottleneck) and Phoebe Éclair-Powell (Wink / Royal Court Young Writers Programme).

We also have our new play by North-East writer Andrew Thompson which we’ve been developing with the support of the Arts Council, Live Theatre Newcastle and the Old Red Lion which we are hoping to take into production and we will also be relaunching Write It : Mic It at some point.

Wilderness Festival

Now, in my last blog (8 months ago.. oops) I said I was going to invite some guest bloggers to share their Poleroid experiences. Well, we finally have one and what a perfect person to start us off!

 Man

Chris Mann. Actor and Photographer, was a founding member of Poleroid Theatre and has done all Poleroid’s graphic design work from September 2011 until now. Without Chris Mann: his belief, enthusiasm for Poleroid and our aspirations, and our ridiculous photo-shoots where he attempts to decipher my vague ideas for images and promotional stuff, Poleroid wouldn’t have the brand it does today.

So here’s what he has to say:

“I remember bumping into Molly at The Actors Centre just after she had graduated from the Guildford School of Acting. We had the usual talk about how hard it is to get seen for stuff and I did the usual ‘older graduate thing’ and suggested she make her own work. 

This was on a Friday.

Molly calls me on Monday and says ‘I’ve booked a theatre, what shall we do?’

Part of me thinks she’s a loony and I need to pretend I’m really busy working on my general American, but then I think, anybody who has this kind of drive to create theatre, is probably worth sticking around for.

We had our first meeting about it all with another GSA graduate Ben Riddle in a pub somewhere in Clapham.

The Poleroid name was born and I volunteered to be in charge of ‘visual stuff’ (a technical term) along side acting in whatever project we came up with. 

Molly being the task master decided we needed some marketing, a poster – ‘but a poster for what?’ I said. ‘It just needs to be EDGY Chris’ replied Molly.

And there is the heart of it: One woman striving to use the word edgy (despite its lack of actual meaning) at every possible opportunity.

The next bit is a bit of a blur but it resulted in a show at Theatre503 with a lot of heart (a little edginess) and a great starting point for what has become a creative hub for performers.”

 

At the end of 2014, three years on from our first show, Chris and I are still working together.

A particular day earlier this year comes to mind in summing up our relationship, when we got the train to Dartford Town Centre in order to reach the Dartford Crossing. This may not sound like much of an event, but it is a MUCH bigger feat than you might imagine, as the town and the bridge are NO WHERE near each other and resulted in Chris and I walking MILES, through various housing estates, over a motorway and me getting changed in an underpass all in an attempt to take some promo shots in arctic conditions. Yes, I am still pretty vague with my photographic ideas and will go to lengths to get what I want (whether than includes stamping hundreds of Peanuts all over Chris’s living room or setting fire to things) but I am trying to use the word edgy slightly less – I think I’m just about out of that phase. Edgy doesn’t always win through.

Although sometimes it does…

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Most importantly, three years down the line from graduating, I understand more than ever that only you have the power to change the direction you are headed and achieve the things you want. You have the option to surround yourself and give your time to good, genuine, positive, talented, inspiring people, young and old, old and new, who, if you support and are thoughtful towards, will also support you in doing the things that make you happy and which might get you to where you want to be. We are lucky enough to have these options, and are able to try and live our lives the way we want, but so many people, societies & countries that are struggling for so many reasons and we hear about in the news every day, do not.

Whether it’s… Going to New York… by yourself (and having your first margarita with some bloody awesome people)… Successfully completing a Black slope skiing (terrifying)… Learning how to drive (which you genuinely never thought you’d do)… Take up jogging (ha!) and running 3K (doesn’t sound like much, but MY GOD it is!)… Getting a new acting agent (who are lush) and making sure you act as much as possible in the hope it will pay off (and it does)… Being brave and standing up for what you want… Seeing some inspiring art / theatre / places… Seeing some dreadful art / theatre / places… Deciding to write a TV sitcom with your best friend (www.flat32.com)… Working with and building relationships with companies and people you admire… Listening & giving time to people properly (without looking at your iPhone)… Starting to practise the Violin again… Climbing to the top of a Volcano.

Thank you to everyone who has made 2014 amazing.

You’re brilliant.  Merry Christmas.

13 ed

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PS –

I read this article written by Ideastap recently… I don’t think it’s exclusively true, but I rather like it.

“A quick look over your friendship group will probably bear this out – the people with cosy homes and loving partners may very well be happier than the single people. I mean, come on, there are wheelie bins more happy than single people. But the single people will be busier – they will be free to say yes to every opportunity, be able to change their plans to suit work demands, be used to socialising with near-strangers and more likely to devote their attention to their own achievements. They get shit done.”

Happy New Year

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We meet again

Hi! Remember me? My last post was in June LAST YEAR. I can only apologise for the shocking irregularity of this blog, but so much has happened in the last 10 months, that every time I thought about writing a new post, all I could think was:

“But WHAT do I talk about?!”

“How can I even start to express what has happened of interest lately?”

“I’ve left this too long now, I’m actually NEVER going to be able to write another blog entry. EVER.”

“This is ridiculous. Molly get your arse in gear.” 

So this is me, attempting to blow the dust off this web page and try to continue what I started. 

Now, for those of you who read my last post, in June 2013 I was pretty much tearing my hair out with frustration at all things performance related. I can now reveal that I did in fact “Ride The Wave” and now as I sit in the Camden Collective on a Sunday evening (Poleroid’s super cool new warehouse office space – check it out) that I seem to have found myself in a pretty blissful land, where everything is starting to fall into place and 2014 – thus far – is panning out pretty excitingly.. Which is a relief it has to be said, but it has given me faith that in times of upset and struggle, often the best things can appear – 2014 seems to epitomise this and I for one have found a new focus, drive and inspiration that I genuinely thought had died a death last year. I’m thrilled and relieved that it has reappeared and carry me through what was a pretty full-on emotion filled, surprise start to the year – for good and bad.

ANYWAY, enough vague waffling, and I am going to attempt to sum up this year with Poleroid and other THRILLING creative projects so far…

JANUARY – TIME BOMB!!

Poleroid’s first 48 hour play was a resounding success as we returned to the White Bear Theatre for the first time since the company first started. In an manic, musical, new writing filled 48 hours a fantastic ensemble of emerging creatives devised and crafted a truly thrilling piece of theatre which performed to a packed house. I genuinely had not felt so exhilarated in a very long time. We are hoping to do another 48 Hour Play very soon!

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FEBRUARY – ARTS CLUB!

This February I Assistant-Produced the Nabokov Theatre Arts Club which was truly epic. Rumbling under Waterloo Station, we took over the Vaults for 2 nights of extreme theatre and partying.

I had the absolute luck of seeking out some of the best of London’s emerging talent for the Pit Space which was all my remit! The bill ranged from established spoken word artists Sabrina Mahfouz and Rachel Parris, to more underground, emerging performers Tara Hodge and Tom Gill. We also had comedy from Matt Lacey, best known for his youtube sensation “Gap Yah”, and new talent from up-and-coming sketch sensation Omar & Lee and brand new work by playwright Luke Barnes, the hilarious Lolly Jones and music from the wonderful Harriet Starling.

I met some great people, on the performance weekend, got 5 hours sleep in 3 days and had my own walkie-talkie. All in all, it was pretty excellent.

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MARCH / APRIL – Mugs Arrows, #Fall, Write It : Mic It, Live Theatre

Now just to sum up the last few months, I have been in the opening stages of producing a brand new play for Third Man Theatre called MUGS ARROWS which is happening at the Old Red Lion in June (more info to follow).

Write It : Mic It has been truly EPIC which two packed nights at the Hackney Attic and our first ever night at the Castle Hotel, Manchester which was a STORM!

Poleroid have just been given a Research and Development residency at Live Theatre Newcastle (Gan back to me roots like!) for a new play by emerging North-East playwright Andrew Thompson in July, which we’re all very excited about. We had a little read through of it this afternoon actually and it already sounds cracking! Watch this space!

And finally I’m developing a brand new play by HighTide Escalator Playwright Vinay Patel which is hitting London this October for a month. This is Poleroid’s first 4 week run and yes, we may have bitten off more than we can chew, but we think it’s an awesome script so we’re giving it a go!!!

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ONWARDS

SO that’s me pretty much summed up for now… keep your eyes peeled for all developments on the above. It’s all a bit nuts but hey. More announcements coming soon. 

Ok, enough updating, so I’ve been trying to think of a way to keep these blogs regular and interesting, and my plan is to have a guest blogger each week! (So you don’t get bored of my self-obsessed ramblings…) 

These guests I have hand picked from all the people I’m currently working with and hopefully they will provide insightful, witty, inspirational blogs about creative things. 

I am also going to intersperse these with observations of my own as usual – I’ve seen a lot of good theatre and interesting things recently which I need to tell you about!

Oh, I also now have a website – Check it! http://www.molly-roberts.co.uk

 

Our first Guest Blogger hitting your screens next week is CHRIS MANN – actor, photographer, general edgy mofo, who also designs everything Poleroid image related. 

Lovely to be back and thank you to everyone involved in my 2014 so far – friends, colleagues, supporters, twitter followers you are just brilliant.

I’m going to leave you with a photo from my trip back to the wilds of the North-East Coast this Easter. Pretty much sums up my mood right now I think.

Sunny times ahead.

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RIDING THE WAVE

I went to a talk earlier this year with a group of wonderful creative companies about failure. (A funny topic for a talk you might think!)

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Now, as a huge over-achiever, being brought up with the motto that “hard work equals results”, I never really allowed the idea of failing to enter my mind, if anything, it has become a bit of a demon sitting on my shoulder, biding it’s time and providing a suitably ominous presence in all my actions – particularly with Poleroid.

Because our first few projects were so successful, I have told myself that there is no option than for the next one to also succeed and be even better – a good attitude to have, some might say, but not necessarily the healthiest one. However, in the Spring this year, my worst fears came true and a project I had put my heart and soul into, for numerous unforeseen reasons did not go as much to plan as anticipated – I wouldn’t even go as far as to say it failed, just a mixture of venue cock ups, application refusals and an actors busy schedule meant that what looked like a fantastic future of a successful London run in a quirky new venue, a potential trip to HighTide festival for a two day takeover and a transfer to the Underbelly in Edinburgh, didn’t quite happen. Despite having put a lot of work into achieving these things, not having anything to show for it ultimately is frustrating (I really think it takes a strong person to just be happy in the knowledge of what you’ve personally achieved.) So instead of being able to cope with this as most normal people would, I saw this is as the most major set back of the century.

Before I launch into this blog full out, I’d better say hello! It’s been almost 6 months since my last blog post. Apologies for that, but life has been extremely busy, and it’s been a rather odd time! For the first time since graduating from drama school in 2011, I have actually had the cliché crisis that most actors or creative’s go through at some point – What on earth am I doing? Who am I? Why is nothing going to plan?

Over the last 6 months amongst producing the aforementioned play ‘Peanuts’ and several humorous Write It : Mic It’s and Insta-Dates through Poleroid (see details on my website), I have been in a bit of an internal turmoil and had underlying unhappiness that I have found incredibly difficult to shake off. It wasn’t until June, when slowly I was becoming more and more negative and bitter about other peoples – most importantly my friends – successes, that I felt the need to stop, take stock and work out exactly what on earth is going on!

The first 18 months out of drama school was a whirl-wind of achievement, with the setting up of Poleroid (in order to give some acting exposure to myself and some friends) leading to a lot more recognition that I ever could have hoped for and my constant drive for acting work (initially in my own productions) leading to numerous interesting jobs.

At this point I would like to point out, that I have never been the sort of actress who expected jobs to land in her lap or even to get auditions with the top casting directors or theatres at all, but after hundreds of emails (almost to an obsessive point) to industry professionals and constant badgering of my agent, this year, I have been slowly but surely becoming a tad disillusioned. Gosh – doesn’t this sound dramatic and only 2 years out of drama school?!

More importantly than all this, the time I spend on Poleroid is now completely out weighing my focus on acting.

Like many emerging actors, juggling 4 part time jobs to try and live in London and beginning to see Poleroid as a business, plus attempting to be pro-active on the acting front, has lead to me, in recent months, to come to a complete stand-still.

So, I am reaching out to those of you who may have been in the past, or are at this very moment in the same position as me. I am going to share with you a few things I have learnt recently, in the hope that it will enlighten you, as it’s enlightened me.

I am the worst person for comparing myself to others. To me, everyone is doing better, coping better and achieving more than me, but I think the most positive thing you can do, and something I am learning to do, is to stop comparing yourself, as you really are being utterly cruel to yourself. You have taken the path you’ve taken, and that path has been taken for a reason.  It’s all very well thinking – oh, why hasn’t my college given me the contacts I need, why aren’t I getting the opportunities other people are, but essentially what is this doing to help you?

A few weeks a go, my mother made a very good suggestion, that the reason I’ve got into this state, is because I have perhaps lost inspiration. There are certain people who inspired my first Poleroid projects, and a reaction to my training which sparked the fire which set it alight, certain theatres whose productions drove me to want to act, and in the last 6 months these lights have pretty much totally died. From going to the theatre pretty much every week, I had taken to having no desire to go at all or even want to know what is going on. (This has, in the last month been rectified and I am already noticing the effects).

I am a firm believer that if you’re focused on something, you will definitely achieve some success, but over the last 6 months, despite thinking I was, I don’t think I’ve really been focusing on either Poleroid or acting properly. Instead I’ve just been stressing myself over why I’m finding life so bloody difficult and why I’m achieving so little in the same amount of time I had to achieve so much last year!

So lately, it’s finally dawned on me, that I’ve got years to hit London with a tremendous show which will run for months and receive rave reviews and give both my company and myself some success, but perhaps I don’t need to achieve this right now. If this marvelous acclaim does come my way, then wonderful – that’s a bonus!

What is more important than anything, is that you don’t lose yourself. On top of that it’s also important for me that I don’t lose the essence of what Poleroid is and what I want to gain from it: A company to give young, emerging creative’s (myself included) opportunities in their desired field.

So when you are in moments like this, do you keep on wallowing in your negativity, or are your honest with yourself?

It’s all very well friends saying “oh just snap out of it”, but I actually don’t always think it’s possible to click you fingers and make yourself feel better. If anything, it can often make you feel worse as the more you try to feel happy the more miserable you become (!)

First you must realise what is wrong, realise what you’ve got and then go out there, find the inspiration you’ve been missing, make some changes to your priorities, start doing things you hadn’t been making time to do and subsequently make life better for yourself.

And more than anything, I’ve realised you must try to stop relying on other people and situations outside of working life to give you the happiness you should be able to find in yourself.

I recently met an extremely interesting actor who was recently performing in a production created by a New York company called The Team at the National Theatre Shed space. His enthusiasm for life, and absolute love for his craft was completely inspiring. He spoke to me about the way his company worked – a group of people creating an ensemble production which is completely unique. They build their script from films, books, places they visit and workshop it over numerous months. They not only founded and run the company, but perform in the work they produce and show no shame in working this way. I also recently backed Zach Braffs new film on Kickstarter and find his way of working, and sheer joy for his work and unapologetic attitude towards his achievements a constant inspiration. I’m sure I’ve talked about him in a previous blog so I won’t go on.

So this brings me back to the title of this post – “Riding the wave”.

Everyone encounters failure, but the most important thing is to make a decision and not be scared of it. In the talk I went to a wonderful analogy was used for this exact moment of deliberation: If you’re surfing and a huge wave comes, do you let the wave crash on top of you, do you duck under it and wait for the next one, or do you ride that wave?

I have ducked under several waves recently and ridden a few – none of these things should be classed as failure, more than anything, it is (to use the most iconic drama school saying) all part of your ‘journey’ (yuck) and it will ultimately get you somewhere – even if it isn’t where you thought you’d end up.

I hope you’ve found this post in some way useful. I think, in an era of Facebook and Twitter where everyone is desperately trying to prove to the world how happy they are, through the millions of photos that are posted on the internet every day, you can sometimes forget that the reality might not be as wonderful as is shown. In the mean time, it doesn’t help those looking at these status’s and photos and thinking “oh gosh, why is my day not as good as theirs today” or “why am I not achieving as much as them” when we should actually be trusting in our own achievements and self worth. 

I heard this little quote the other day, and it’s thought I’m definitely going to try to carry with me from now onwards (and hopefully upwards)!

“Happiness is learning to accept the position in which you find yourself”.

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Making a den out of blankets and boxes

Happy New Year one and all!

It’s certainly been a busy one getting everything organised for the next Poleroid Theatre production (poster for which can be seen below).

This week I have made a den out of blankets and boxes, acquired a new love for Elvis Costello and had the pleasure of making a brand new trailer for the next Poleroid Theatre production of PEANUTS which I’m producing.  

Made by the wonderful High Six Media, the trailer has finally been released and I hope you enjoy…

Poleroid Theatre PEANUTS TRAILER 2013

Peanuts Poster

TRISTAN BATES THEATRE TICKETS HERE

LAST REFUGE TICKETS HERE

I’ve always liked the number 13.

I’ve always liked the number 13 (possibly because it’s the day of my Birthday) so 2013 in my mind has rather a good ring to it.

I often wonder if people who believe in star signs and good ‘feelings’ towards certain days or events (which then lead to them being successful in what they do on these days or at these events), actually achieve their goals (being love, work or money related) because of some greater force beyond our comprehension, or because they go into them with a better, more positive mind set. I have often pondered on the subject as I sit on the tube in the morning reading my horoscope in the Metro (which I can’t help but envisage some young woman in the Metro headquarters sitting writing and probably having a good laugh at what she comes up with).

This being said, my father (who isn’t a wishy washy star gazer at all but a bit of an arty musician type) came to visit our Poleroid office before Christmas and proceeded to plonk various newspaper clippings on my desk from different horoscopes which he thought were particularly suited to the situations I have found myself in at the close of 2012. I scoffed and said : “Aw that’s nice Dad, I never knew you were such a romantic” to which he replied by telling me that his father (a journalist and publisher) always liked to follow star signs for the comfort of it, and I suppose the idea of something out of our control forging our destiny or at least giving us a helping hand, is rather a comforting thought rather than the cynical idea that it’s a pile of rubbish. Anyway, I thought that was a nice idea, so I’ve decided to follow their lead. Even though I’ve now forgotten what the articles actually said,  at the time I seem to recall that yes, they were pretty relevant and what harm can having a good feeling for the year ahead actually do? (Famous last words…)

Back on topic now and gosh, I have just realised that I’ve not written a blog for pretty much three months (!) so this might be a bit of a long one… A LOT to squeeze in…

Apologies readers – life got the better of me and it completely slipped my mind, but as another year comes to a close I thought this would be the perfect time to round up the high points of 2012 and tell you all about the excitement of the year ahead!

Poleroid wise we’ve had a smashing time.

It all began with…

JANUARY 2012

 BACK2BACK – which included two plays: Our developed version of FLICKBOOK and another play KILL THE VOICES by Adam O’Brian which we teched and dress rehearsed (in a rather hung over state) back on the 1st January 2012 at the White Bear Theatre!

Back2BackBack2Back Poster

MAY 2012

We then went on to pack out the Cockpit Theatre for our one-off celebration of emerging talent and eclectic extravaganza of new writing and music – BREAKOUT  in May 2012 which was super duper and we all had a lot of fun doing!

Breakout

Breakout Poster

OCTOBER 2012

And then of course after a Summer of fun and frivolities pursuing other theatrical projects we launched our Open Write Night event at the Hackney Attic.

WRITE IT : MIC IT

Peter Write It :  Mic It

This event is actually RETURNING IN ONE WEEKS TIME – JANUARY 6th 2013!

Make sure you GET YOUR TICKETS HERE, as we’ve got an absolutely stella line-up for you all – monologues, duologues, poetry and stories all in the comfort of the picturehouse! Photos from our October event are now up on our website too!

Write it : Mic it Jan

We have also got some very exciting news for you all which is catapulting us into 2013…

NOVEMBER 2012

We recently partnered with IDEASTAP (a big arts organisation in London for those of you who don’t know it) and secured their Creative Space Bursary and full support behind our company which gives us and some other talented creative types an actual office within their headquarters at London Bridge.

So, if you want to find me or anyone else from Poleroid in 2013, you’ll know where to come! Woopey! (I feel rather grown up now.)

Check out this page for more information on the companies and people working within our office – they are up to some extremely exciting stuff so get in touch with them!

Ideastap

We have also recently been included in an article published by One Stop Arts discussing 4 new theatre companies in London – it’s an interesting one so have a gander!

http://onestoparts.com/article-passion-and-drive-four-new-companies

PHEW!

It’s been a pretty hectic year. But, we’ve got some extremely exciting stuff coming up in 2013… More info to follow of course, but as a quick insight as to what I’m in the process of producing –

2013 for Poleroid at a glance.

“PEANUTS”

The beautifully comic debut of bold emerging playwright Ashleigh Packham (RWCMD acting graduate).

“Is that selfish?

I don’t know if that’s selfish.

To want to be something extraordinary.”

PREMIERING AT

TRISTAN BATES THEATRE, Covent Garden – 18th FEBRUARY 2013
Before transferring the extremely exciting new warehouse venue
THE LAST REFUGE, Peckham from 26th-31st MARCH.
More information here.

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“BREAKOUT : 2013”

Our eclectic night of new writing fusing live music and visual art returns!

7th & 8th May @ THE COCKPIT THEATRE
With a brand new cast, brand new writing and brand new music.

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As an Actress I’ve also had a pretty busy Autumn and had the absolute pleasure of being in INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY for BBC 1, before taking the role of Mary in the UK premiere of SNOW, AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Mathew Foster for Writers Bloc at The Old Red Lion Theatre and Liz in the fantastically funny and poignant play ME, AS A PENGUIN with Guildford Fringe Theatre Company by superb young playwright Tom Wells, which premiered in 2010 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. The Guildford Fringe (fronted by Niall Bailey and Nick Wyschna) are certainly worth a watch – producing some brilliant original and new productions of plays and musicals in unusual venues across Surrey. They’ve got some big plans for 2013!

Me, As A Penguin

Well, I think that’s just about it for now.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something and apologies again for the rather long blog! I hope it was insightful. Do keep an eye on Poleroid in 2013 and have a look at our revamped website, we’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up and lots of opportunities for for actors, writers, musicians and directors to get involved with!

I wish you all the best with 2013, work hard, strive to reach your goals and stand up for what you believe in.

I’ll leave you with a short quote from our upcoming 2013 play Peanuts and a little picture from a visit to the beach I went on today. Despite it being rather breezy and cold, after a couple of races down the (steeper than anticipated) sand dunes with my lovely writer friend Peter Groom, it seemed to be the perfect way to end 2012.

“I think, you know, maybe, if you want to be an astronaut, then you probably have to try just a little bit harder.”

Last day of 2012

A couple of reviews what I wrote.

Hello all. As you may or may not know, I now have the pleasure of being a fully fledged reviewer for Bargain Theatre London, so I thought I’d post a few of my latest reviews here for your perusal.

Lot’s of exciting news coming your way re. Poleroid in my next blog post. It’s going to be an epic one so get ready for it!

MISS JULIE @ THE BUSSEY BUILDING, PECKHAM

REVIEW 2/11/12.

Miss Julie is a personal favorite of mine, so I was keen to see director Vernon Douglas’s version when it popped up, having missed the Young Vic’s production earlier this year. It might be seen as a bit risky to attempt to put on a classic play on the London fringe scene, due to the current fashion for new writing on fringe and classics being given their time at more established venues. However, Odd Man Out Productions have squashed this pattern and added their production of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie into the mix. I was initially a little surprised to see this play being produced at Peckham’s wonderfully atmospheric and quirky Bussey Building, due to the venue’s recent links with the Royal Court’s “Theatre Local”, however the old-fashioned, warehouse-esq feel lends itself perfectly to the servants quarters of Miss Julie’s house where our play is set. A violinist, who, from the start, provides a dark, mysterious atmosphere, serenades the audience as they enter. He then continues to under score throughout the play. In general I find music used during dialogue to be a little bit of a cop out for the actors involved, as the music often forces a particular emotion on to the audience rather than the actors having to work hard themselves, however in this case it works, and the music, improvised beautifully by Jose Gandia, gives a lovely tone to many of the more poignant moments in the play without being over powering or distracting.

Miss Julie is a challenge for any young actor as it deals with the complex but universal themes of love, power, idealization, equality, inequality, class, money and status (to name a few), however the cast do well at telling the story clearly to a receptive audience. Lydia Orange provides a beautifully, posed and at some points vulnerable Miss Julie, and drives the bulk of the play with vigor and energy. However, her relationship with Jean (Nicholas Clarke) isn’t entirely clear and she sometimes comes across as more of a spoilt teenager rather than the manipulative lady of the house. The lack of chemistry between the pair and her lack of provocation towards Clarke makes it hard for the audience to invest in the power shift later in the play.

Clarke seems a little hesitant at times, stumbling over the text slightly which immediately detaches the audience from what’s going on onstage, however he begins to take control of his role and provides a delightfully sinister Jean as the play progresses. The performances are a little safe throughout, and as the text is so full of extremes and opportunities, they could do with playing with these more. The play is directed simply but clearly, allowing the audience to focus on the relationships between the actors rather than the esthetic’s of the production, however at times Douglas’s directorial choices are a little odd and obvious – particularly noticeable in Christine’s (Henriikka Kemppi) movements which are often a little distracting. We do glimpse some passion from Kemppi in the fierce revelation scene with Clarke towards the end of the play, however again we need more clarity and meaning in the couple’s relationship from the outset in order to empathise with Kemppi’s plight later in the play.

It also isn’t entirely clear what period the play is set as we get little indication from the set and the costumes are perhaps a tad generalized and confused. I couldn’t help but feel that more of a sense of setting could have been evoked throughout, as I didn’t really believe their was a party going on in the other room, or that it was Midsummer’s eve – not helped of course by the cold auditorium!

In all, this is a pleasing production of a complex and beautifully written play, given life by the young cast, and it is worth a watch, however it lacks a certain amount of maturity and depth, which Strindberg’s piece perhaps needs to do it real justice.

SEALAND @ THE ARCOLA TENT.

REVIEW 24/10/12.

Before seeing this production, I had no idea that the world’s smallest nation, Sealand, is an island just north of the Thames. In a pocket-sized programme shaped like a passport (“This passport is for marketing purposes only” written on the back just incase anyone was mistaken into believing they could actually leave the country with it), I was fascinated to read that there is! Sat waiting for Luke Clarke’s play to begin, focused on a small, square, wooden platform in the middle of the intimate, unique and atmospheric auditorium of the Arcola Tent, I couldn’t help but feel that I had indeed stepped into a different world, far removed from the whir of the Dalston traffic and trains which can be faintly heard outside.

The show certainly gets off with a bang as the cast of five crash on stage with torches in the midst of a storm dramatically created by some excellent sound effects, which makes a thrilling opening sequence. We are quickly introduced to the two families that the play centres around, who are guided by island owner Ted (Adam El Hagar) a man who has come to Sealand to escape from a broken Britain, obsessed with creating a perfect nation seven miles out to sea.

From the minute Jessica Stone steps on stage, she is totally convincing as the provocative, bolshy, twenty-first century teenager Sarah, daughter of up-tight painter Liz (Janut Etuk) and alcoholic husband Gary (Seamus Bradford). Stone’s energy and excellent comic timing means it is hard for the audience to take their eyes off her, as she reacts superbly to the situations that unfold. Clad in a grey boiler suit, she wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Misfits. The scenes between Jessica and Ed Pinker who plays Ted’s son Alex, are very engaging as the pair bounce off each other with a series of hilarious dialogues, mainly focusing around Alex’s lack of experience with the opposite sex. The dialogue is snappy and there are some very funny, cleverly staged physical sequences between the young actors who have a refreshingly good rapport, although the character of Alex seems a lot younger than Sarah.

Unfortunately, I am less convinced by Ted’s obsession with utopia, which is supposed to drive the play. The humour that underpins the more serious scenes is enjoyable, but I just wish the discourse was a little less domestic, actually dealing more with the main subject which, when addressed, is written in slightly uninteresting, preachy chunks, instead of supporting the situations playwright Luke Clarke has put his characters in.

The script as a whole, is a little flat, so it seems hard for the actors, particularly Adam El Hagar, to get the stakes high enough for the audience to really invest in the dramatic twist in Act Two. Similarly the sub-plot of alcoholic father Gary forced into the basement by his wife, due to the effect his drinking was having on his family, is almost entirely solved and forgotten by the end of the first half. This being said, I think El Hager, Etuk and Bradford all do well playing characters which are a little out of their age range.

Overall, an enjoyable piece with some convincing and charged performances by the young cast, who manage to give life to a slightly bland and unsatisfying script. It does well to showcase the emerging talent coming from the Contemporary Theatre course at East 15 Acting School, where this play was conceived, and I look forward to seeing the accomplishments of their future graduates.

 

The Correct Combination Of Words.

Well, it’s getting closer… and closer… and closer…! If you’ve been following Poleroid on twitter or facebook you will most definitely know what I’m talking about because we haven’t stopped banging on about it…..

WRITE IT : MIC IT

of course!

It’s happening 2 weeks on Sunday! How thrilling. We have been inundated with submissions to get up on the mic – so much so that we’ve had to turn some people down! Shock-horror. It does however look like it’s going to be a very very fun night! We have monologues, duologues, poetry, prose, witty-monologuey-song-things and I can also announce that we’re being joined by two brand new comedy sketch groups – THE HUNGRY BIRDS and MIXED DOUBLES who are going to try out some of their new material on our lovely audience… as well as live music from YOUNGBLOOD.

AND we now have a super duper trailer for your perusal if my rant hasn’t persuaded you to get your tickets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCUQO1VIPNw&feature=youtu.be

If that doesn’t sound better than sitting at home on a cold Autumn Sunday night then I don’t know what does…

SO get your tickets please! NOW! Right now! Go! Stop reading this for a second and go and buy them.

http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Hackney_Picturehouse/film/Poleroid_Theatre_Present_Write_It_Mic_It/

Phew. Now you’ve got your tickets I can talk about something else! 

I’ve been to see two very interesting pieces of theatre this week at The Yard Theatre in Hackney as part of their Heaven Is A Place On Earth festival. The first was Sisyphus – a contemporary re-telling of the greek myth and the second The Evolution Of Eve – a musical retelling of the story of Eve.

What really struck me about both of these pieces was how thought-provoking and simple they both were. I often neglect the shows that the Yard programme, and then kick myself because I miss the most interesting stuff!

Sisyphus written and directed by Alex Rennie was an extremely unique re-telling of a story which I knew nothing about beforehand. The over-all story-telling really gave the piece momentum, achieved through a clever mixture of physical theatre and some thought-provoking text. I particularly enjoyed the touching and ‘trauma-ed’ performance given by the main actor (whose name I can’t seem to find anywhere) and the dance-based ensemble work was very strong. However, I thought some of the text work was a little bit sweeping and vague at times. This potentially allowed the audience to lose their connection with the piece and miss some very poignant sentences if they weren’t listening very hard, but overall it was a great piece of contemporary theatre and I’d like to get the script myself so I can have a read again!

The second piece of this double-bill The Evolution of Eve by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian was simply mesmerizing. I don’t really know how to describe it… It wasn’t musical theatre – not in the conventional sense, but more of a beautifully developed song cycle. The piece was hosted by the very charismatic Cevanne, starring Björk’s percussionist Manu Delago (who was brilliant). It was totally different to anything I’ve watched before, and although I didn’t completely understand all the stories they were telling through their songs, the music itself was spine-tingly and I felt very lucky to be sat on a cold Autumn evening in the bare space of the Yard listening to it.

All in all get down to see both of these shows tomorrow before they close! 

FINALLY, before I sign out, we’ve had rather a lovely review for our piece Waterwings by Isley Lynn which was performed at the Old Red Lion’s Writers Bloc last month by myself and Rebecca Tanwen – directed by Adam Reeves. It was a great night, so definitely get yourself down to see the next one or join in yourself if you get the chance!

“The acting talent on display amongst these young artists is also not without merit. Molly Roberts and Rebecca Tanwen do a splendid turn winning the audience over as two young students moving into their halls of residence for the first time in Isley Lynn’s Water Wings. Both are delightful to watch and brought a much needed sense of energy to the proceedings.”

Go team Poleroid!

I’ll leave you with a very good quote this week from a brilliant book I am devouring at the moment called “And Then You Act” by Anne Bogart which I think is particularly apt to the feel of this months theatrical work…

” Doors that seemed shut will open with the correct combination of words. Your own words may not arrive easily or immediately but eventually, with stubbornness & sweat, they will appear “

Anne Bogart.

” WRITE IT : MIC IT ”

 

Well, A LOT has happen this week for Poleroid, and we can now officially announce that our very first OPEN WRITE NIGHT will be launching next month! (Hurray!)

 

We have had an influx of submissions from Actors and Writers who want to get up on the mic and perform! But we want even more, so here are some details on the night in full below, then it’s up to YOU to GET INVOLVED!!

” WRITE IT : MIC IT “

Poleroid Theatre present their first ever ‘OPEN WRITE NIGHT’ at the Hackney Attic dedicated to lovers of the young, quirky, new writing theatre scene in London.  

Poleroid invite actors and writers to step up to the mic, try out new material or read an absolute literary gem you’ve put on paper but never dared to show to the public… Monologues, duologues, poetry (and even the odd song) – perform them yourself, palm one off on an actory-type or just sit back and take in all the wonderful creativity in the comfort of the Picturehouse!

There will also be LIVE MUSIC from the awesome (and rather dashing) band YOUNGBLOOD

For full info on the set up of the Open Write Night, how to sign up to take part in this months event and further info on Poleroid, please visit our website…

www.poleroidtheatre.co.uk

Tickets will be available online ASAP! 

Christian Walkers Guest Blog : “For The Fun”

Ciao folks!

I have taken the liberty of inviting a ‘guest-blogger’ to write for me today – I’m sure you’re all completely bored of me chuntering on by now…

So, let me introduce you to CHRISTIAN WALKER – a professional Actor (ex-Guildford School of Acting), co-producer for Poleroid Theatre and a superb, VERY humorous and observant writer. If you’ve seen any of Poleroid’s past work – most recently Breakout – you will know what I mean. 

I won’t spoil his blog for you – but it’s a good’un – and isn’t he a dapper chap?!

Happy reading.

***

Last week, I returned to my old drama school for an open day in order to pay tribute to Ian Ricketts, a man who has become synonymous with the college and nothing short of a legend in the eyes of anybody fortunate enough to have had him as a tutor in the forty-two (yep, forty-two) years he has been teaching. The fact that I am still at it (acting that is) a few years on, has as much to do with Ian Ricketts teaching me how to be a man, as how to be an actor. Having dug out my original notebook from the early days at the college, and scanned through a mountain of “Thought of the Day” manuscripts I began to notice the correlation: the extracts, be they by Marcus Aurelius or Alan Bennett, were all designed to steel the soul to withstand – or at the very least understand – the variety of pressures the world had thrown or would soon be throwing. They were aimed at fulfillment and how to keep a healthy mind. They were aimed at longevity.

 

Ian Ricketts (left) in the new GSA facility for the cutting of the Ribbon

I was put in mind of another GSA graduate who found mainstream success later in life:

“People used to say all sorts of negative things to me about acting; I just thought it would be better than working.”

That was Bill Nighy speaking to a journalist from The Independent (who also, incidentally happens to be my brother) back in February 2012. Obviously a quote such as this, taken out of context could be massively misconstrued by anyone without half a brain or who has never seen an interview or even a movie with the man. But, despite no doubt having been delivered with the trademark Cameron Foster-esque glint in the eye, there is an essence to the statement, which would resonate on some level with most professional actors. Great acting is hard work and for the most part the best performances come from those who have found their process and are prepared to put in the work to reach the peak of their cognitive and perceptive faculties.

But it’s fun. That’s where it started, right? Let’s not pretend it isn’t. That’s why people want to get into acting in the first place. And the reason that we know this is that there isn’t much evidence of amateur banking societies in country villages across the land. People don’t respond to an accountant telling them what they do for a living by leaning in to say “you know, I’ve been known to do a bit of maths in my time”. Even if one was to achieve instant success straight out of college, it is unsustainable without an appreciation of what it means to work hard at your career. But we should never lose the fun. Ian is all about the fun.

“I know it’s going to be very, very difficult but I’m an actor – I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else” is a line I have heard, almost word for word, from two different actors on two separate occasions in reaction to the obligatory ‘Talk of Doom’ that every drama student receives at some point in a vague effort to keep their feet on the ground. Quite apart from the irony of an actor incapable of imagining themselves doing anything else, it strikes me as a slightly unadventurous attitude for someone entering into such a sensory experiment of a profession. “The actor is always learning” Said Ian Ricketts when addressing the class in an uncharacteristically concise moment in my very first term at drama school “And if that’s the case, every experience, good or bad, should be cherished” (okay, I may have paraphrased that one a little – my class notes are barely legible).

This was one of Ian’s many lessons: that we are always learning, we are always growing, and we will never know everything. So… you know… chin up.

Success in the acting profession and indeed any purely creative aspect of an industry is relative and abstract and shouldn’t have a monopoly on our personal happiness. Enthusiasms outside of theatre are important. Sport. Painting. Gardening.

Back at the open day, one of my peers had tried to characterise ‘success’ as: “noted respect for your craft from within the industry” which admittedly sounds like it was lifted from a pamphlet in a brewery.

A mildly inebriated older gentleman, also a former student, cut a rather bleak figure as he put it altogether more simply: “Fame, dear boy. Fame. Do everything you can to be famous”.

“Are you famous?” one of the younger alumni asked.

“I was never a famous actor.” The old boy replied, “But I was a very famous gardener…”

We had been coaxed down to Guildford on the advisement that Ian Ricketts the legendary tutor of the GSA, part of the brickwork, the glue that holds the college together was going to be retiring imminently and permanently. Brenda Blethyn, another former student of his had very thoughtfully paid for a bronze bust for the lobby. And as we stood there listening to an array of speakers eulogize on their various experiences of the man himself, latecomers could have been forgiven for thinking they had accidentally walked in on a funeral. The school has moved into new facilities in the last couple of years and it was widely assumed that Ian would not be moving with it. The arcane rules and regulations of a university campus seemed too much to ask of a man so steeped in tradition and common sense, the building itself too sterile and functional to contain him. But as we were about to leave he revealed, with a slight look of mischief, that due to the hunger and eagerness to learn which he witnessed in the eyes of the new intake being as strong as ever, he would in fact be staying on

“For the time being”.

Ian is all about the fun.

CW

Whilst daring greatly.

So, it seems Autumn is finally upon us, after what seems to have been an extremely LONG (not so hot) Summer.

If truth be told, I was thoroughly excited when I put on my first woolly jumper and scarf. I have tried to keep up the scarf trend all Summer as I have rather a fetish for them… however a tartan wooly scarf with shorts doesn’t quite go, no matter how hard you try.

I realise it has been pretty much 2 months since the last blog entry, but these endless Summer days somewhat got the better of me. I believe the Olympics were in town… but other than Danny Boyles spectacular Opening Ceremony and a welcome return of the Spice Girls they have had very little effect on me… I think I managed to briefly catch the diving (yes, I succumbed to the hype about Tom Daley) but that was about it.

I can’t really complain – amongst work work work and reading reading reading, I have been lucky enough to have been working in Italy with the internationally renowned company ELAN Frantoio on their new project BURN directed by Firenza Guidi.

Based on the classic novel Fahrenheit 451, it was a truly unique, eclectic, site-specific theatrical experience devised by a cast of 30 performers from Acting, Circus, Musical and Dance backgrounds and a fantastic technical team. I only wish more of you in England could have seen it! I don’t think any description of mine could quite do it justice, other than to say that it was an incredibly challenging but rewarding process and the show itself was pretty magical – set in the ruins of a Castle in the hills of Tuscany. It has been the highlight of my little Acting Career so far. For more information on the project, company and Firenzas UK based projects check out their website and video blogs!

Aside from BURN, I have still been hunting for that perfect play to produce with Poleroid in London next year – as mentioned in my previous blogs. After numerous meetings and a lot of play-reads with some fantastic young writers, I have narrowed down our choices and am very excited about the announcements we will be able to make soon. In the mean time, I am thrilled to reveal the brand new event which I am opening in London and I hope many of you will be able to get involved in…

POLEROID LAUNCHES “OPEN WRITE NIGHT”!

This Autumn, Poleroid Theatre will be launching their first OPEN WRITE NIGHT.

This new monthly event will function much like an Open Mic Night (hence the title) but will be aimed at theatrical young folk who have monologues/duologues/poetry they’ve written and want to try out on a mic in front of an audience in a really chilled out, non-rehearsed, script in hand, non-theatre environment.

Anyone can show their work as long as they submit it in time to make the running order or you can just come along and watch. We will also have a couple of slots at the end of the night for anyone who decides they want to try something out last minute (or perhaps writes it then and there…)

You can either perform your own material or get someone to read it for you. I hope this will be an opportunity for established writers to try out new material or for those of you who (like myself) fancy putting pen to paper but don’t have anything suitable for one of the classic ‘scratch-night’ short play evenings which are all over London.

More details on the date and venue of our first night to follow!

EVENTS NOT TO MISS THIS AUTUMN!

Speaking of new writing nights – myself and Rebecca Tanwen (Poleroid’s Breakout) will be performing an extract from WATER WINGS by up and coming writer Isley Lynn, directed by Adam Reeves (Poleroid’s Breakout) as part of the Old Red Lion’s WRITERS BLOC on the 24th September. Tickets are limited but if you want to see some quality new writing then book yours now!

Actress Joanna Bool (Poleroid’s FlickBook, Back2Back, Breakout) is also performing in an evening of 4 new plays called ON A SPREE at The Tristan Bates Theatre. So look out for her in BOY. GIRL. ROOM by Drew Ballantyne directed by Kamaal Hussain.

On a side note – you must try and catch Vickie Donoghue’s MUDLARKS which is playing at The Bush from the 18th September-20th October. After it’s huge success at both HighTide Festival and Theatre503 in 2011, it has succeeded in securing it’s transfer, which I have no doubt will place Vickie Donoghue firmly amongst the leading voices in Britain’s new writing scene. Vickie gives a unique, honest and powerful voice to a section of today’s youth that has yet to be fully addressed by other playwrights. I have been lucky enough to read it, so I personally can’t wait to see it played out and think it’s an absolute gem not to be missed.

Lastly – if you like musical theatre, keep an eye out for TWENTY SOMETHING: A newly established contemporary production company co-founded by Actors Benjamin Vivian-Jones and Amy-Jean Ward, bringing modern writers and talented TwentySomethings to a new audience. Their debut night  TWENTY TWELVE was a resounding success earlier this month and I anticipate there will be some very exciting projects simmering in the pipeline to be hitting London soon…!

I hope everyone has a lovely rest of September (I can’t believe it is nearing it’s end already… mental).  I always find this time of the year tends to be a bit frustrating, especially if no creative work presents itself. However, as the nights darken, we have a lot more time to be productive instead of lying down, succumbing to the sun so I’ll leave you with this speech which I always look to when in need of a ‘kick up the bum’.

It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. 

Theodore Roosevelt