In January we sent a call-out asking for expressions of interest from artists based in the Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire areas, who have an idea in the early stages of development, that they would like to test over the course of a day at Reading Rep.
We have invited 5 directors and theatre-makers to use the space and they are now looking for collaborators to join them as part of their exploration.
The invited directors and their projects are:
Sabrina Richmond- Manologue
Michael Gerard- The Bench
Adam Radford-Diaper- The ‘Stageability’ of Lord Byron’s Cain
Adrian Tang- New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner (年夜飯)
Alix Cazalet- Mums! The Musical
The development days will take place from Monday 8th – Friday 12th April at Reading Rep. For more information about the projects, including dates and times please see below.
Routes to Collaboration aims to facilitate new opportunities for connection between creatives based regionally, as well as allowing new ideas to be practically explored within a rehearsal space. It is an artist led project, facilitated by the JMK in association with Reading Rep, Wiltshire Creative and Nuffield Southampton Theatres.
There is no level of experience required to join an event and the call-out is open to all creatives, regardless of discipline, including writers, producers, actors and designers.
If you are interested in joining one of the above research and development days, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest as soon as possible. Please include a short bio about yourself and a brief description (no more than a paragraph) of why you are interested in the project. Please ensure that you are fully available for the date specified.
You are welcome to register interest for more than one event. Collaborators will be selected in conjunction with the lead creative of each day.
If you have any questions or require any additional support, please contact Nik Partridge, JMK Director Practitioner at the above address.
Monday 8th April, 10am-6pm
Key Question : How to use live art, installation and movement to explore how men and boys are impacted in the current climate where they are labelled as toxic
About the Project: A few years ago, my nephew bust open his lip in a terrible fall. I was astounded how throughout that day from the taxi drive to A&E and in the hospital, a 5-year-old boy was told to be brave and not cry. As a woman, I am increasingly disturbed by the language used about men when discussing how we prevent the discrimination and violation we can experience in spaces where our power is usurped. I am concerned with the direction of conversation that suggests that men are naturally predatory. We are using the same paradigm of stereotypical thinking used to subjugate women. My premise for the exploration is that men are also victim to the patriarchal system, that though they are primary beneficiaries, it is the flip side of the same trap to carry the weight of a set of expectations.
About Sabrina: I’m a performer & writer growing into directing with a background in journalism which drives my interest in issue-based storytelling. I love new writing and have performed in theatres across London. As a theatre maker, I enjoy exploring the themes of; identity, heritage, migration and I am very curious about transgenerational trauma. I am passionate about using movement and music in my practice. My first play An African in the snow – a migratory experience of loving and living in the cracks of identity across 5 countries has an upcoming short residency at The Pleasance (Islington) Theatre’s LABS programme.
Tuesday 9th April, 10am-6pm
Key Question: What can we learn about someone from simply watching and listening? Can an unexpected encounter leave us with a profound sense of who we are?
About the Project: Through my work as an actor and director, I’ve developed an interest in the power of simple, truthful engagement. We are each full of life, energised and intuitive. Carrying with us a rich tapestry of knowledge and experience, what we might call character.
Over the course of the day, I hope we can permit ourselves to relax and prepare a safe and comfortable environment, in which we can bring truthful and honest engagement with each other. In doing so, we can discover the natural and powerful stories that live within us all.
About Michael: Michael has spent many years in the industry, crossing performance boundaries that cover musical theatre, acting for stage and screen and voiceovers. Some years ago, an intense study of modern acting techniques, led to an interest in research and development projects and the creation of original contemporary work.
Launching Step Up Drama in 2007, Michael has run a variety of workshops and development projects with actors and writers and continues to do so with the help and support of respected organisations that include Oxford Brookes University, Oxfordshire Theatre Makers and Stage Directors UK.
Wednesday 10th April, 10am-6pm
The “Stageability” of Lord Byron’s ‘Cain’
Key Question: How might Romantic Poetic Drama most successfully be staged?
About the Project: Confronted only with the rhetorical acting styles and elaborate sets of 19th century theatre, Lord Byron never sought to stage his 1821 verse-drama, Cain, but, instead, classed his work as ‘mental theatre’. Yet, the play is intrinsically theatrical, its poetic richness and intellectual daring stemming directly from the compelling struggle between its conflicting characters. In a day of R&D at Reading Rep, we will seek to discover whether, two centuries later, today’s theatre-makers are better equipped to grapple with and present Byron’s provocative drama of disillusionment and aspiration, rebellion and murder.
In the morning, we will first address the demands of speaking Byron’s verse with several activities often used in the rehearsal of Shakespeare, before then experimenting with how best to depict and embody the tortured psychologies of Byron’s characters – drawing on approaches from Stanislavski, Lecoq and Laban. In the afternoon, we will tackle the challenge of staging Cain’s metaphysical second act, in which the protagonist is led on a cosmic tour through time and space by the fallen angel, Lucifer. Taking our cue from the rhythm and sound patterning of Byron’s verse, we will explore how the play’s interstellar settings might be evoked physically and expressively by performers.
Expressions of interest for collaboration on this project are open to all theatre-makers willing to engage both their bodies and minds; but performers with experience of verse-speaking or of dance and physical theatre are especially encouraged to register interest.
About Adam: Adam is a fledgling theatre-maker, based in Hampshire, and a graduate of Oxford University, where he acted in and directed many student productions. He has staged both new writing and modern classics – most recently Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls – but has a particular interest in the production of rarely performed historic works that can simultaneously illuminate and challenge modern preoccupations, values and discourses. Adam has spent time shadowing award-winning director, Jonathan Kent, and has worked as a rehearsal assistant at Grange Park Opera and as a dramaturg for Winchester’s Woolly Hat Fair. He has undertaken short courses at RADA, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the RSC and with Ariane Mnouchkine’s ‘Ecole Nomade’. He is currently preparing a fringe production for performance later this year.
Thursday 11th April, 10am-6pm
New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner (年夜飯)
Exit Pursued By Panda / Adrian Tang
Key Question: What ritual or habits (spiritual, religious or superstitious) are part of every day life?
About the Project: I’m writing a play that centres on a Chinese family coming together on Chinese New Year’s Eve and how they cope with the struggles of living in the UK. The dinner on CNY’s Eve is considered the most important family gathering of the year and I would like to explore how other rituals are part of life and what commonalities there are between different cultures. This could either be based in finding spirituality, through organised religion or old-fashioned superstition. The zeitgeist topic in the BEA theatre community recently is all about identity (Citizens of Nowhere? by Ming Ho/ Gwei Mui by Jennifer Tang) and I would like to continue this conversation to show that whilst habits between cultures are different, the struggles of life and people’s coping mechanisms are very similar. This can be explored through brainstorming, improvisation and telling stories of people’s previous experiences. This should resonate with all audiences whilst still showing British Chinese identity in a different way.
About Exit Pursued by Panda: Exit Pursued by Panda exists to promote the interests of British East Asian (BEA) actors and artists by looking to produce plays by and about British East Asians. It was created back in 2016 and the call to action came in 2017 when the Print Room staged In The Depths of Dead Love with an all Caucasian cast despite the play being based on a Chinese fable, set in Ancient China about Chinese people. However, my interactions with people in the BEA theatre community has been very limited, my first being in July 2018 at an event called Pulling No Punches – East Asian Voices. Ideally, I would like to use this day to work with as many BEA actors and artists as possible. However, if that is not possible, then having a range of people outside of the BEA experience will also be of benefit.
Friday 12th April, 10am-6pm
Mums! The Musical (working title)
Alix Cazalet (Director): Stuff ‘n’ Things Theatre
Key Question: How best to approach and explore this idea from a musical theatre point of view and how can we develop this, keeping the original seed of a vision intact?
About the Project: Mums! is the exploration from a predominantly female view point about becoming a parent for the first time and follows one woman’s journey and her experience of becoming a mum, which isn’t the idyll she expected. I want to discuss this idea openly (particularly with composers, writers and producers), and to explore, share, and listen to/read different musical/writing styles to see where we could take this project potentially. I want to approach it in a lighthearted way and I have a clear idea of what I would want this project to be, which first and foremost, is funny, ridiculous and very much tongue in cheek. However, I am still keen for the characters to be real, to have substance and to find those moments of real poignancy. This is loosely based on real life experience after all. So, meeting with collaborators/creatives who may be interested in this idea and who have a similar mindset/outlook would be brilliant!
About Alix: I originally trained as an actor and (since having my family) have spent the past 18 years, training and directing young actors in performing arts with various companies/theatres in the South East. I have directed numerous shows, ranging from Macbeth to Hairspray and I’m particularly keen to work in musical theatre. Stuff ‘n’ Things is my new venture, a platform from which to create my own work for the mainstream and Mums! is my first project.