Monday, 29 September 2014

Journey's End

 Image Credit: Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Journey's End is currently on at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton.  Written by R C Sherriff, late survivor of World War, it is a humane account about the war from a soldier's perspective and is directed by David Thacker, Octagon Theatre's Artistic Director.  The play was first premiered in 1928 and a year later was performed by 14 companies and translated into 17 European languages.

Journey's End is performed in the Octagon's 'in the round' theatre space with the atmospheric dug out being the main focal point with the soldiers' entering and existing from and to battle.  James Cotterill designed the set in away where the audience is intimately part of the play with the sound scapes of battle and the reclusive dim lighting reliant on just candles, courtesy of Richard G Jones and Andy G Jones.

The play focuses on the soldiers themselves and the humane account on how they deal with the war.  It is set at a critical time in 1918 at the height of two crucial events, Vimy Ridge and the German's Operation Michael.  Sherriff shared how horrific life was in the trenches such as the psychological trauma one endured and yet they had to put those fears aside when they fought.  There were the physical factors such as exhaustion, starvation, pestilences, diseases whilst living in inhabitable conditions.

The main character is Captain Stanhope who leads his men to battle by example.  However his troubled mind is dependent on his whiskey consumption but he defensively denies the psychological strains caused by the trauma whenever he is challenged.  James Dutton, plays an outstanding role as Captain Stanhope, and is a joy to watch! His excellent and very moving acting portrays perfectly the troubles he feels and yet he switches impressively to lead his men and deal with the tragedies he and his team faced even if one can see his fragility.  Stanhope is a certainly a character which Sherriff said about doing the 'hardest task' in such extraordinary circumstances.

Interestingly, a number of themes are raised from Journey's End including psychological trauma, mental health and alcoholism which all link to one another.  It isn't any different today with psychological and mental health issues common to soldiers who have been in combat and the emphasis is about more support being available for soldiers and families.

A very enjoyable, insightful and moving play where life in the dugout guarantees an overall and maximum impact about what life was really like for the soldiers in the First World War.  An excellent cast performs this play very well and it's playing at the Octagon Theatre Bolton on 4th October 2014.

Phoenix @ Home: Tenacity, Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds (For The Public Reviews)

This Review was originally written for The Public Reviews and the review can be accessed here.                            

Phoenix @ Home, Tenacity commemorates 50 years of the Civil Rights Act with a mixed multimedia programme with a selection of legendary pieces. The contemporary dance company is keen to pay tribute to the continuous developments to the Civil Rights Movements.  Sharon Watson, Phoenix Dance Theatre Artistic Director, shares the reasons why when she introduced the evening’s performance.

The programme opens with a short film, Mark Huskisson’s Honour.  The film represent silently the struggles and losses one faced during the First World War.  The beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, sang by Tila and Tavelah Robinson, represents the spiritual strength of those suffering and how the 18th Century hymn has influenced changes worldwide including the anti-slavery movement. Alesandra Seutin’s 1976 explores and narrates the Soweto Uprisings with two dancers who represent the two school children.  Their innocence is suddenly changed to the pain and loss as shown by facial and body expressions.  The clever use of the lighting gives a sinister feel on stage with the silhouettes shadows on the still images.

Jane Dudley’s Harmonica Breakdown shares an insight of America’s Great Depression.  The film represents the continuous movement of those not giving up in the face of adversity.  Dudley refers to “the long road” and believes everyone has a remarkable story to tell.  Sheren Wray dances the movements which represent the continuous struggles of those working in the uncultivated land.  Longevity uses Martin Luther King’s 1963 speech, I Have A Dream.  Gary Lambert’s piece initially reflects the pessimism felt until the energy in the dancers becomes more positive and free on further narration of the speech.  The dance delves deeper with conviction from the Luther King’s speech with unity and freedom.

Warren Adam’s The Audacious One is set against Mozart’s Requiem.  The classical piece represents politically the struggles in which the dancers interpret in order for them to become unbiased.  The piece is inspired by The Audacity of Hope which led to Barack Obama’s climb to becoming president.  This beautiful and moving performance explores some of the Civil Rights struggles in history with optimism shining throughout the performance pieces.  Phoenix Dance Theatre takes pride in humbly addressing these messages no matter how poignant and thought provoking they are and they are relevant now as well as in the past.  Phoenix @ Home Tenacity features an excellent cast of artists whose diverse artistry is helping to make these differences.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Return of the Soldier, Jermyn Street Theatre by Sister Morticia

Sister Morticia saw The Return of the Soldier during its West End run in September and had kindly agreed to review this musical.

The Return of the Soldier by Sister Morticia

 Photo Credit: Sister Morticia

Director: Charlotte Westenra
Music by Charles Miller
Book and Lyrics by Tim Sanders
Musical Director: Simon Lambert
Designer: Simon Anthony Wells

The Return of the Soldier, directed by  is a musical based on the novel of the same name by Rebecca WestSet towards the end of the First World War, Margaret, Kitty and Jenny all wait for the return of a man from the war. They think of him, they worry about him, they prepare themselves for his homecoming.

Margaret is a working class woman, married to William, a man who cannot fight as his health is not good enough. Her life is settled, her routine with William is contented, settled, ordinary...but it is Margaret who gets the letter to say that Christopher Baldry has been badly shell shocked, but not injured, and he is being sent home to England.

Her simple, comfortable life is in disarray. This letter is a shell thrown into her ordered, sensible, unremarkable world of daily work and a husband she cares for.  A letter from Christopher Baldry is a cry from the past, an echo from another life she was not destined to live. She plucks up her courage and takes her news to the grand estate of Mrs Kitty Baldry, wife of Christopher, and his cousin Jenny.  Kitty and Jenny receive this news with confusion and distrust.  They cannot understand why a stranger, lower class and in a cheap yellow coat, has been notified that the man that they love and share their lives with is coming home, while they have heard nothing from him.

When Captain Christopher Baldry returns, it becomes clear that shell shock and the horror of war has wiped out, or locked away, his memory of the last six years before the war; Kitty is a stranger to him, a woman he has never met, a woman he cannot understand, cannot even like and cannot comprehend being married to her.

The story is then the difficult relationship between the characters, how they can try to understand each other, tolerate each, learn to know each other again.

Laura Pitt-Pulford is intensely powerful as Margaret, a working class woman torn between her current life and loving husband, and her first love who has somehow returned to her.  Her character comes alive as the show goes on, bringing back the youth and exuberance of first love. She palpably shows her pain as she feels she is betraying William, a man who loves her and trusts her implicitly. Michael Matus perfectly captures William – a man devoted to his wife, He feels that with her he has won a treasure beyond what he could ever hope.  He relies on Margaret for everything; he cannot tie his tie without her, and, as he sings, she is the one who makes sure there are no spiders in his boots.

Zoe Rainey is elegant and beautiful as Kitty Baldry.  She is devastated and lost to find herself forgotten by the man she loves, her soldier, her captain. Her heartbreak turns to anger and bitterness as she tries to come to terms with the consequences of Christopher's shell shock  Her beautiful rendition of No Man's Land brought the house down.

Stewart Clarke is a fine, dashing Captain – strong, straight backed and brave in his uniform, but vulnerable and confused by his mood swings, his weakness, his fears and at a loss to understand how there is a stranger in his home, pretending to be his wife.  He feels the world conspires against him with confusions and puzzles and he perfectly conveys the joy and heartbreak of a man in an impossible situation.  He has a strong, pure voice and a face that shows all emotions.

Michael Matus returns as a vaudevillian doctor, dealing with his own dilemma of successfully curing patients, only to send them back to the Front to fight again and possibly die.

The cast all have incredibly strong singing voices which sound beautiful in harmony together and every word is crystal clear, making the story easy to follow.  The acoustics of such an intimate theatre as Jermyn Street expand the voices to fill up the entire space, and it's extremely affecting, sweeping up the audience in the heart of the action.

The set is perfectly designed by Simon Wells with beautiful attention to detail. One side of the stage is the Baldry estate, all wisteria hanging on trellis and delicate garden furniture, leading across to the house of Margaret and William, where the wisteria becomes a pattern on the wallpaper, and we are inside their tiny kitchen, with cupboards of cooking utensils, pans hanging from beams above and a stove always in use. Even the milk bottle for William to fill up the cat's bowl is a lovely period detail.

All in all a jewel of a musical, with strong songs, great story and a very good cast, in what is a small but perfect venue.

  Photo Credit: Sister Morticia

Sister Morticia
20th September 2014

 I would like to thank Sister Morticia for reviewing this exciting show!

The Rain That Washes, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax - 26th September 2014

The Rain That Washes
Image Credit: Chickenshed Theatre

The Chickenshed Theatre presents the one man The Rain That Washes at Halifax's Square Chapel Arts Centre.  The play could not be hosted in a better intimate space than at Square Chapel.  It was premiered at the 2013 Edinburgh's Fringe Festival and then subsequently went on UK Tour.

The play is inspired by Christopher Maphosa's true story of leaving Zimbabwe to participate in the revolution for the black majority rule.  The play's creation began from conversations between Maphosa and David Carey and it was decided they would dramatise the Zimbabwean's experiences into a play.  The play, no doubt, is provocative, dramatic and packed with emotions and complexities from how Zimbabwe was and is governed.

The story goes back to the late 1970s where guerrilla warfare and civil war took place until the transition of Zimbabwe becoming an independent state and securing black-majority rule in the 1980s.  Ashley Maynard absolutely throws himself into the role and is able to share fluently with the audience the complex range of emotions, rising high to hitting low, from the fears, losses and shocks triggered from Maphosa's experience.

The simple but effective usage of props, especially the suitcases, which are linked nicely with the story telling.  The introduction of key political players, celebrities, life experiences and so forth by pinning the memorabilia on the Southern Africa map to signify the influences in shaping the Maphosa's life. Excellent use of lighting and dramatic soundscapes, courtesy of Andrew Caddies and Phil Haines, with voices complimenting the compelling and significant story shared.  It feels at times that the audience witnessed first hand the intensity, the excitement, the shocks, the joys and horrors received from this unique individual'.

The Rain That Washes is a play told factually without personal opinions detected at all.  The audience, certainly, is encouraged to judge the story for themselves and form their own thoughts and opinions.  The play presents a challenging story but offers an opportunity for one to try and look at the complexities of Zimbabwean politics espcially the transition from colonial rule to independence with its rooted tribal issues.  It isn't uncommon to see a similar trend across many African counties and probably explains why such political arrangements are just as vulnerable today than before.  A must see play with its hard hitting story laced with truth and raw emotions!

Further information about The Rain That Washes can be found here.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives! Red Ladder Theatre's We're Not Going Back - 25th September 2014, CAST, Doncaster

Red Ladder Theatre's We're Not Going Back
(Image Credit: Red Ladder Theatre Company)

Red Ladder Theatre's We're Not Going Back, is about the lives of three sisters, Isobel (played by Claire-Marie Seddon), Mary (played by Stacey Sampson) and Olive (played by Victoria Brazier). Written by Boff Whalley and directed by Rod Dixon, the sisters' lives link the duration of the 1984/85 Miners Strike.  The agitprop musical comedy shares the story of women's proactive role during the strike in Carston, a fictitious mining village in South Yorkshire.  They set up a women's branch for protesting against pit closures and the focal point is their resilience dealing with the strike, the political and economics stances and the determination for their voices to be heard.  

Red Ladder Theatre's We're Not Going Back
(Photo Credit: Tim Smith)

The circumstances gives them the opportunity to explore their identities.  It is refreshing to see the musical focusing solely on the women who are representing their communities and its values and not solely on the politics.  Their personal journeys certainly move one and all as many, no doubt, can relate to their pledges.  The modern suffragette movement certainly gives an accurate picture how things really were during those battles which were fought as well as those between the miners and the Government.

Beccy Owen musically leads the uneasy journey of the three sisters with some beautiful soul searching and mood catching songs and music,  The songs accurately and movingly describe their plight whenever the sisters face personal, political and financial obstacles with some wit and humour thrown in.  The struggles test the siblings' relationships but their determination and steadfastness focuses on the bigger picture.

Red Ladder Theatre's We're Not Going Back
(Photo Credit: Tim Smith)

We're Not Going Back is the perfect alternative source of information for anyone who is curious about the Miners Strike 30 years ago and how it personally affected the members of the communities.  Red Ladder Theatre Company takes pride in researching and presenting productions about ordinary people with extraordinary lives.  A company worth supporting who will in return give you two hours or so incredible story telling!  A must see play!

#GisMeATenner Campaign can be clicked here and please check out the tour dates clicking on this link.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Opera North's 'Making an Opera' - 23rd September 2014

The Coronation of Poppea
Image credit: Opera North

Opera North's 'Making an Opera' - 23rd September 2014

I attended a Making an Opera event which gave us an opportunity to get to know more about Opera North's production of The Coronation of Poppea.  I have to admit I never heard of this Monteverdi's opera until Opera North's announcement of the Autumn and Winter 2014/15 Season where the new production will be featured.

Members of the creative team including Musical Director, Laurence Cummings, and Director, Tim Albery, shared a contextual insight about this intriguing opera.  The Coronation of Poppea first premiered during Venice's Carnival Season in 1643.  Since then the two original musical scores (in Venice and Naples) have been the subject of adaptations and revivals. 

The versatile musical and libretto score offer Opera North an opportunity to produce the The Coronation of Poppea exclusively in English, libretto translated by Tim Albery, and change the musical aspects towards a more story telling essence.  The opera will focus primarily on Nerone's obsession for Poppea and extra characters are added to the scenes to enhance the story.  As well as the story Laurence Cummings went into detail how the music will feature and assemble in the production.  There seems to be an emphasis of the harpsichord and how the musical chords will reflect the characters and story's mood throughout. 

The cast of 12 singers will have their unique roles in this opera of extremes and contrasts. The staging will have an Italian theme throughout which reflect the cultural and history at the time of when Montevideo composed the opera.

With inherited unclear sources and limited information, Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea gives the creative team the freedom to interpret this unique opera for modern audiences.  I'm excited to see this production later in October (2014) and be given an opportunity to appreciate the production's beauty!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Memories Continue...CATS

 CATS at Birmingham Hippodrome

My fourth and final trip to CATS on the UK Tour of 2013/14 was at Birmingham's Hippodrome, the last UK stop on its two year or so extensive UK and Europe Tour. Please see my reviews of my previous visits to CATS on the tour in Bradford, Liverpool and Llandudno. After being me-wowed so much in Llandudno in June I immediately booked a ticket to see it again in Birmingham.  

CATS is running at Birmingham's Hippodrome from 9th September to 27th September 2014. All the cast principals were on except for the understudy for Macavity/Admetus, played by one of the swings, including Sophia Ragavelas, Zizi Strallen, Nicholas Pound, Filippo Strocchi, Joseph Poulton, Abigail Jaye and company.  

Whoever sits in the front stalls or in the stalls generally receives maximum interaction during the performance.  The cats mingle with the audience; running up and down the aisles, Rum Tug Tugger dances with an audience member during The Rum Tug Tugger, and the audience members are unaware that the cats are besides, or in front, or in behind!

One of the performance highlights must be Demeter, played by Zizi Strallen.  Zizi gives a thorough interpretation of the character with its solid acting and singing.  Her amazing intricate dancing and her facial and body expressions from scene to scene flows nicely to what is happening and intuitively to any potential dangers involving Macavity.

Rum Tug Tugger, played by Filippo Strocchi, plays a proactive and interactive role throughout the show and is a tease to the feline who are attracted to his charms.  Rum Tug Tugger and Munkustrap, played by Callum Train, jointly narrate and introduce its scenes and their fellow feline companions.

Breathtaking energetic dancing from Mr Mistoffolees, danced by Joseph Poulton, is definitely a performance highlight.  Poulton, a ballet trained dancer, is enjoyable to watching during the magical Mr Mistoffolees and the choreography ensures full participation from everyone on stage and in the audience. Truly magical and electrifying.

Sophia Ragavelas's portrayal of Grizabella never fails to impress! Her rendition of Memory is so emotively charged where the character's sad journey is felt.

An entertaining and emotive afternoon at Birmingham's HippodromeCATS will be arriving in London's West End end of this year and it isn't long now! In the meantime, personally, this is probably the best performance I've ever seen at CATS

CATS is playing at Birmingham's Hippodrome until Saturday 27th September 2014.

English National Opera's Otello

Othello is one of my favourite Shakespeare's tradegies and Verdi is one of my favourite composers.  I've seen the Opera North's production last year and I was blown away with the performance! I specially wanted to see Verdi's masterpiece on stage again and I was very confident about how incredible English National Opera's Otello will be.

 English National Opera's Otello
Photo Credit: Alastair Muir

English National Opera's English production comprises of four short acts lasting approximately 30-35 minutes each.  The opera is directed by David Alden and co-produced by The Royal Swedish Opera and Madrid's Teatro RealStuart Skelton stars in the leading role as Otello and he is supported by Jonathan Summers as Lago and Leah Crocetto as Desdemona.  The opera first two acts builds up the tensions and expectations one anticipates in the tragedy between Lago, Otello and Desdemona.  The plot explores the jealously, disbelief and misunderstandings between the lead characters.  Only the final act will tragically reveal.

Verdi's music and Boito's libretto based on the Shakespeare's tradegy are combined powerfully and dramatically for the perfect interpretation.  It is interesting hearing the opera sung in English than traditionally in Italian. The translation, it feels does not compromise the emotional elements expected from the tragedy, with this it is excellently performed by an excellent cast, chorus and company.  

Edward Gardner, English National Opera's Musical Director, as expected commendably and enthusiastically conducts Verdi's masterpiece vigourously and rhythmically to how Verdi wanted one to! Ian Morelli's staging set with a Mediterranean theme is stripped to the bare minimum, which is maximised with Adam Silverman's lighting.  Silverman's lighting focuses on the characters and it is intricately clever to how the characters' shadows give a sinister feel to the tragedy.  It feels more so in the finale build up between Otello and Desdemona whose doomed fates are sealed.

An amazing interpretation of Otello (Othello) from text to libretto and music! A must see! Otello is running until Friday 17th October 2014.

A Fiddle Made in The Great War

Image Credit:
(From Leeds City Varities Facebook Page)

Sam Sweeney, an established folk musician and a member of the folk group, Bellowhead, shares the story of his fiddle.  He bought the fiddle from Roger Claridge who learnt about the incredible discovery where the musical instrument originated from.  The fiddle goes back nearly a 100 years ago and at the time of the First World War.  It's only fitting for Sweeney to commemorate the discovery and its context of the Great War.

Sweeney, Hugh Lupton, Rob Harbron and Paul Sartin opens the first half of the show with some popular folklore music and songs.  Some familiar tunes and some not so are on the bill.  Lupton fittingly links the text to the music which gives a poetic essence as well as raising the evening show's themes.

The second half is certainly the show's highlight.  Audience members are given a multi media inside of Richard Howard's life.  Howard was a Leeds musician and regularly played in the city's music halls prior and during the war.  Some of the music and songs, popular city hall's music numbers, were played and sung.  Poignancy is created on stage when Lupton revealed the news about Howard being conscripted to military service and everything else had to be put on hold including his musical career and significantly his violin making.

The music hall scene then reflects the patriotism and the Government's propaganda for civilians to enlist.  The tone of attitude changed when many learnt of the first hand experiences about those who fight and fought in the trenches as expressed in the music, songs and sketches.  Sweeney, Lupton, Harbron and Sartin focuses on the circumstantial themes of the Great War and reworked the music with traditional folklore. Crucially military music is featured especially the March of Duke of Wellington (West Riding) Regiment where Howard had served.

A well structured combination of music, story telling, and film.  This gives a moving story of Sweeney's fiddle and its contextual history.  The use of video footage enhances and commemorates Howard, the fiddle, and the events of the First World War.  A touching moment is when Sweeney plays a beautifully piece of music which is a perfect tribute to the fallen war hero and his original violin maker, Richard Howard.

An entertaining and remembering evening at Leeds City Varieties about a fiddle that had begun its journey and who knows? Howard could have been on a Leeds City Varieties musical programme.

Further information about the show can be found here.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Interview with Flying Cloud Theatre

I, on the behalf of the Local Theatre Blogging Community, recently had the pleasure interviewing Flying Cloud Theatre, lead by Leandra Ashton, Marta Rizi and Jennifer Kidd, and the company is renowned for their creativity and empowerment on and off stage!

 Photo Credit: The Flying Cloud

Please could you tell me a bit in your own words about Flying Cloud Theatre and its theatre aims?

With Flying Cloud we’re trying to do things differently. When we say on our website, Flying Cloud aims to break down barriers and link up the world in previously unimaginable ways’ – we mean it and work hard to make that happen. We take inspiration from The Flying Cloud – a clipper ship in the 1800’s that defied the status quo, blazing a trail around the world and making the seemingly impossible, possible. We try to live up to the daring pioneer spirit of that ship and it’s young female navigator, Eleanor Creesy.

We want to break down barriers and reach for new horizons not only in theatre but also in our outreach work, business workshops and within ourselves.

When it comes to our theatre work we write daring new plays which collaborate across art forms, mixing music, spoken word and movement.

Our outreach work is integral to our new plays and is offered free in every venue we perform in. Underpinning all Flying Cloud’s work is our motto: ‘empowering through creativity’ and we want to offer that experience to as many people as we can.

We also push the limits of theatre outside of the rehearsal room and auditorium. We believe there is so much potential in unleashing the creative skills you find in a theatre company in contexts outside of theatre: in business, communication, education, politics, relationships… The type of collaboration, energy and creative problem solving you find in a theatre company is a potent recipe for any organisation. The popularity of our business workshops is proving that people want that fresh perspective and reinvigoration of process.

And finally all that combines to mean we really push ourselves as artists and challenge any limiting beliefs that come up, just like Eleanor Creesy did. Someone once said you have to be an artist of your time. In our time, we can’t just be actors waiting for the phone to ring – we’re also writers, directors, and businesswomen… We’re all creating our own lives.

How did you feel Flying Cloud Theatre production 'The Book' went when it toured earlier this year?

We loved our tour! It’s hard work being on the road, driving from venue to venue, unloading the set, setting up, performing in different spaces, sleeping in different beds, packing up… and then doing it all over again but it makes it worthwhile when you play in beautiful venues and get to meet such lovely audiences. We met a lot of people through our free community workshops which we ran alongside our play. The workshops went down a storm! We’re really proud of our outreach work and how it fulfills our ambition to link up the world and break down barriers. You can see a whistle-stop tour of the workshops on our website.

We toured to 6 venues in the North (York Theatre Royal, Stephen Joseph Theatre (in Scarborough), The Maltings (in Berwick), Hull Truck, Richmond Georgian Theatre Royal (in Harrogate Theatre) before a short run in London at RADA.

The play really developed as we toured. That’s one of the challenges of being an emerging company. Nothing beats a run of a play to develop it but sometimes it can be hard to get theatres to offer you more than one night. Luckily we’ve built up some great partnerships with York Theatre Royal and Harrogate Theatre. We had nice little runs at both venues and they also helped out with the development of the piece with feedback from York Theatre Royal’s artistic director, Damian Cruden and Harrogate’s producer Kevin Jamieson. A run of a new play means you get to know the rhythm of it, what needs cutting or changing, plus your audience gives you feedback in Q+A’s. The more you perform the more you get to feel your character’s journey and know what’s driving them scene to scene. A run means you get into a sense of flow with the words, the other actors, and the set… and suddenly you’re all feeling the heart beat of the play. That makes things very special. We think we got there on the last performance in London. It was a cracker. That’s why we need to do it again!

Flying Cloud prides itself with its outreach work with an aim to explore the themes and beliefs raised from the productions.  Please could you share any feedback from the workshops Flying Cloud have been involved with at schools and in the communities?

People genuinely seem to love our workshops which makes our job very satisfying. Here are a few comments from the workshops we ran alongside The Book:

“We all have different stories and beliefs that people don’t know about us and they’re all completely different – no one’s exactly the same but they quite often have some common ground and that’s what connects us.” York Theatre Royal participant

You just have to let your fears go away and be you.” Hull Truck participant

“Drama is such a good way to know people. We are from such diverse backgrounds but when we had to come together they all look like they’ve known each other for all their lives.” Georgian Theatre Royal Participant

“It might be raining outside but in here there’s been a lot of laughter and sunshine.” Darlington participant

What have been the organisation's highlights to date?

Perhaps the biggest achievement is that we’re still here, still friends, still up for it and still wanting to make a difference to our own lives and the lives of others. One big stand out moment was when we got our first ‘yes’ from the Arts Council to develop our debut play NAPOLI at West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was a bit of an X factor moment – opening that letter, screaming, then crying and then falling over!! It’s always a big moment when you get the thumbs up for your next project. We work project to project, funding ourselves in between through our business workshops. We don’t have a regular income from The Arts Council so it’s tough. You have to be resilient and practical. But we’re lucky because we love doing our Business workshops and we can reinvest the profits into the shows and community work. We sold out in York because of all the business contacts we’d made over the last few years – they all wanted to come and see us in our ‘natural habitat’. That’s was very satisfying and really what we’re about – introducing people to experiences or other people they might otherwise not encounter.

How are your future projects and plans?

We’ve had the summer to take things easy and recharge after The Book – it was almost two years work to get to the touring stage so we were all in need of a rest. We’re meeting this week to discuss the next steps. We’d like to bring The Book back for another tour, perhaps with some dates abroad. We think the play and workshops would be very pertinent in so many places like Northern Ireland, Gaza, The Ukraine… there’s a line up for you! We’re also thinking about bringing our first play, NAPOLI back to life which we premiered in 2012. Our business workshops with York University are selling well and we’ve got more in the pipeline with old and new clients, so we’re keeping busy! We’ll be sure to give you the exclusive on the latest news!

I would like to say thank you for Flying Cloud for the interview.  I saw The Book at York Theatre Royal earlier on in the year and please check out my review of The Book's three journeys!  Please follow them on Twitter, @FlyingCloudT ,to check out latest news on their current and forthcoming projects on their website.

By Dawn Smallwood
On behalf of the Local Theatre Blogging Community