The Stage: Fringe Focus – Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

Fringe picks for 2013

Looking forward into 2013 I thought I would focus on some of the ‘fringier’ fringe venues I think deserve a New Year’s mention.

Where better to start than at The Union Theatrewhich won The Stage’s Fringe Theatre of the year Award. While well known for their superb musical record I hope 2013 will be the year when their line in disputed Shakespearean works – this year kicking off with Fair Em – gets as much notice as their vault-storming hits. To read more

ROLL UP! ROLL UP! To The Stage Off West End Column

Here are links to my two inaugral blogs for The Stage Off West End column.

The beating heart of British theatre.

What defines fringe theatre? It’s such a vast landscape the possibilities are endless. Location, radicalism, financial constraints, the imagination born from those financial constraints – each answer has passionate advocates who constantly use their opinions as barometers to announce either its death or rude healthread more.

Political theatre needs to hit the mark.

As the TUC action of last weekend proves, we are living in protest filled times. More voices than ever are rising up against perceived injustices both at home and abroad. Into this cacophony the theatre can be heard through brilliant endeavours like Theatre Uncut, plays such as The Riots from the ever political Tricycle Theatre and performance art collective #TORYCORE.  This is where the fringe and Off-West End artists come into their own… read more.

Interview: Jon Cooper on A Lady Of Substance

Written for What’s On Stage

Shortly after graduating Kent University, Jon Cooper won a place on The Old Vic’s New Voices company 2006. Subsequently he was chosen to be part of the Old Vic’s US/UK exchange program. His first full-length play For Once I Was was developed at The Old Vic and then went on to have a run at theTristan Bates Theatre. A Lady of Substance was developed at the Manchester 24/7 Festival with director Matthew Dunsterand is currently receiving its London premiere at the Tristan Bates Theatre.

Talk us through the story of A Lady of Substance

It’s about an older poet, early 40s, who has had a relatively tragic experience happen in her life and is stuck in a cycle of self-destruction. She’s left her flat and then comes back one day to find that this 16 year-old girl has broken in and has been squatting. The two of them together have loves, the young girl of hip-hop and the older woman of poetry. Over the course of a 24-hour period the two of them spend time together talking and sharing and learning and writing, while also dealing with the loses that have happened in their lives and also going on a gigantic bender!

So there are some embarrassing hip-hop and performance poetry moments in it?

Well there are a number because I wrote them all! As a young middle class white man I’ve done a sterling job! No I believe that hip-hop is a continuation of poetry in many respects. Hip-hop is the selection of words and the refinement of the English language with a beat placed underneath it to help accessibility. You can learn as much from early hip-hop about the way a particular society was dealt with by the police and what it wasto live in those social conditions as you can from Keats about love. I thought that that was an important thing to be exploring. Also it’s a nice generational thing to have an older and a younger person who are trying to describe to each other why it is that they love what they love and actually finding that they have some common ground.

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May Midnight Matinee: The Curious Case of the Disappearing Audience

Just where was the audience at last week’s Tristan Bates Midnight Matinee? In 2009 it was one of Time Out’s picks of the year garnished with incredibly positive audience feedback.  But there’s no denying that it was both disappointingly flat on Saturday and woefully under attended.  I had experienced a similar feeling at the last one.  Was my experience a freak incident or proof that this initially arresting idea may be losing its attraction through the very gimmicks that it once sold itself on so proudly?

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The Best Of The Rest 2010

We all know the big un’s to watch out for in the first few months of 2010; Red, currently running at the Donmar Warehouse, the West End transfers of Enron and Jerusalem, Peter Brook at The Barbican which also houses the eclectic Bite Season for 2010 and work by the legendary Pina Bausch, Trilogy at The BAC and of course the London International Mime Festival.

But what about the smaller venues – not just the BAC’s or The Riverside Studios’ who consistently punch above their weight, but the truly off-piste theatres – The Blue Elephant Theatre, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern and The Cock Tavern to name but a few.  Unlike the big theatres these small houses can only programme up to 3-6 months so no need to book miles in advance – these are things you can see in the very near future so check your pre-planned nature at the door and get a little trigger happy.

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Periods of upheaval; scary but essential.

So the observant (and faithful!) of you will have noticed that I have been absent from this blog for the last 2 months.  I won’t make excuses, but this has been due to a massive bout of upheaval and hopefully the last move I’m going to have to make for a long time.

Now that I’ve come out the other side, and into a very sexy face lift for this tired old blog, I took some inspiration from Carrie Bradshaw and it all ‘got me to thinking’ – is change destructive or just a necessary part of life?

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