In March 2015 some of our volunteers took on the mission of writing about the shows in the festival, to bring us a taste of what it’s like to be in the audience. Helen Devonshire (HD) and Robert Mooney (RM) caught most of the festival and had a lot to say, here are the highlights:
HD – “If you’ve been to a play and thought ‘that made no sense… I wish they’d ask me what I thought of it’ then scratch performances are for you.
In a format pioneered by London’s Battersea Arts Centre, writers and/or performers present their ‘work in progress’ to an audience. Then they bravely ask for written anonymous feedback.
At The Quaker Meeting House on Friday night, three new pieces were presented. For each performance, the creators had questions covering the areas they wanted to explore or find out if they were getting their story across. The audience had 10 minutes to write their responses.”
“People create art in various ways but if those creators are brave enough to present the kernels of an idea to a room full of people they don’t know and accept their responses they deserve at least a big round of applause.”
RM– “Among the acts on show, “Wasters”, a show which follows a young disabled girls obsession with computer games … While the performance is evidentially in development, it is clear to see that the story tells a realistic story of how, in the face of tackling disability, many find that online interaction is an easy way to make friends. Further to this, the play also shows that this, despite being meant as a confidence booster, can obviously become extremely addictive. “
“… it was a well acted out scratch night performance and got full marks from me. “
“… Nicola Cameron, writer of the piece said it’s “a bit scary but I’m looking forward to the feedback. I’ve not done it in front of an audience yet so it’s going to be really interesting just to see how people react and whether they understand, sort of, what I’m trying to get across”
LORRAINE AND ALAN
HD– “Is being likened to a seal an insult for an actor? Possibly, but in this case it’s a compliment when all you have to indicate that you’re playing a seal is a brown anorak!
‘Lorraine & Alan’ is a modern re-telling of the Selkie myth. Selkies are legendary creatures from Irish, Scottish and Icelandic folklore and generally are imagined as seals that can transform into humans. This story is transplanted to the Norfolk coast but the essential elements remain – seals, sea, islands and a lost soul.
The performance includes live electronic sound design and singing, and several hundred plastic bottles. The lighting on the water in the clear bottles gave a watery presence to help anchor the play firmly out at sea.”
Nel Crouch, Director of Lorraine and Alan
“Touring is an essential step in the development of any emerging young company… Performances of the same show can feel completely different, depending on where we are and who is watching. Playing a Quaker House in Darlington can turn out to be just as enjoyable as playing a more prestigious venue, and can be more enlightening in terms of how the piece works. It’s about who turns up, not the space we’re playing in.”
“Perhaps our most enjoyable shows have been those that we’ve performed as part of the Collaborative Touring Network… In Hull, audience members on the front row gave a running commentary of the show during the performance (“ooh, she’s got a tin of tuna”). In Darlington, people came up to us after we finished offering their interpretations of what they’d seen (and of the actors’ looks – “no offence Katie, but you look a lot plainer on stage than you do in real life”). Hull gave us audible oohs and aahs that we’d never expect from a more knowing and theatre-savvy London audience. Interpretation of the show and what people find funny is surprisingly different depending upon venue and audience…”
“… For us, it feels like touring is at its most sustainable and satisfying when conversation between venue, performers and audience extends out and around the performance itself.”
Read her full blog here: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/theatreblog/2015/may/11/new-theatre-company-first-tour-bucket-club
RM – “’The Frights’, a play that, while it may live up to Jabberwocky Markets promise of “World-Class, Small-Scale Theatre”, tells the compelling story of the struggles faced by those who have spent time in captivity. It follows the aftermath of coming home from captivity, in the unlikely setting of a bank.”
“…the twists and turns kept me transfixed on the show throughout. In three words, collected from feedback after the show, many said that the show was Enjoyable, Amazing and Inspiring.”
“The play, while being a slight mystery by its name, is a thrilling watch and I would recommend going to see it.”
HD – “The truth, or just another truth, is revealed through flashbacks to phone calls. Again a change of time and place is achieved with a change to colder lighting and positioning of actors away from the central space.
The play tackles questions about being trapped, in a prison or relationship, and whether or not it is acceptable to lie to protect someone you love. And it does it with tension and humour.”