Audience Feedback for Farnham Maltings’ latest show – Brilliance

Farnham Maltings is officially half way through their national tour of Brilliance and are receiving so much positive feedback that they just had to share with you. 

The shining brilliance of ‘Brilliance’

I expect this has been said many times!

Having been moved to tears at the end of Brilliance tonight, I have been moved to write to you, to thank you for brightening up my week, indeed my year!

I have just watched this beautifully intimate piece in New Deer Public Hall, in the North East of Scotland. A simple theme remarkably and imaginatively brought to life, generating a buzz between audience & performers, as if old friends had come together – a hallmark of Farnham Maltings touring productions.

I was first introduced to Farnham Maltings rural touring shows with the Iranian Feast, one of the most moving pieces of theatre I’ve ever seem; then followed  In Praise of Elephants which was an equally engaging, clever, touching and inventive piece of theatre.

It was this track record that led me to tonight’s performance. I have to thank you enormously for creating theatre that works so well in an intimate space. You have an uncanny knack with storytelling and of creating a real bond between performer and audience member …. not in the usual way (that so many theatres companies and their actors strive to achieve) but in a very tangible, connecting, ‘spot on’, ‘getting it just right’, ‘hitting the nail on the head’, unpretentious and communicative kind of a way!!!

I love what you do and I really look forward to your visits… you set the bar high for professional theatre in village halls, and others could learn a lot from you.

“Lang may yer lum reek!” IMG_6806

Translation – Long may your chimney smoke

In other words: may you continue to do what you do, so well, for a long time, and may you always have the fuel to keep your fire burning 👍😃

With gratitude and admiration,

Audience Member

new internationalists: in conversation with Stand and Be Counted (SBC)

 new internationalists offers four companies/theatre-makers a year of support, guidance and seed investment designed to help them internationalise their practice. The artists selected for new internationalists are Dante or DieMilk PresentsStand and Be Counted (SBC) and Lost Dog. We caught up with Stand and Be Counted (SBC) to find out about their experience so far.

 

Q1. What made you apply for new internationalists

As a company, we have worked with many international artists and companies – but have not made or toured our work beyond the UK. We know this is a great time to do it, having established ourselves as a company who can deliver a range of projects; national tours, large-scale outdoor performances with non-English speaking communities, employability and educational work with asylum seekers and refugees, site-specific festival productions with students and durational performances. We were part of this year’s caravan at Brighton Festival, supported by Farnham Maltings – so to continue that relationship to support our work and models of working is really exciting.

 

Q2. What was your reaction when finding out you had been selected?

We were super chuffed. It came just as we were about to launch our latest tour, ‘Where We Began,’ ahead of a 23-date tour – involving an international cast and a show about global warming and global politics, perfect! It felt like a really significant moment as we look to realise some of our big ambitions.

 

Q3. SBC alongside the other three companies selected for new internationalists (Lost Dog, Milk Presents and Dante or Die) you attended a retreat day at Farnham Maltings. What was the most useful thing you took from the 2 days?

It was so, so insightful. We are in great company on this programme – all the other companies are leading the way in their own fields, so it was brilliant to learn and share with them. This network of companies is really important, as we try and reach the next step of our development. I have to say as well that Gary Hills, the mentor on the programme, is wonderful. We have learnt so much already from him and the Farnham Maltings team, who have been so supportive and generous.

 

Q4. What are you looking to gain from the programme as a whole?

We’re definitely keen to establish what our offer to international promoters should be. Working alongside Farnham Maltings and our mentor will enable us to spend dedicated time on how we make strategic plans. It’s also an amazing opportunity to work on our digital platforms and ensure our work and style comes across the way we want it to.

 

Q5. Why do SBC want to make/perform work internationally?

Hannah, Rosie and I have all worked on international projects individually, which have really influenced our work and creative processes. As a Theatre Company of Sanctuary, we would very much like to share our unique model of practice, alongside the work itself, with artists in other countries. Taking work internationally is an ambition we’ve had for some time and we’re sure that now, with the support of this programme, is the time to make that happen!

Little Bulb answer 10 question as they celebrate 10 years of being a company

  1. During your 10 years as a company what have been the high points of your careers so far? 

I mean, in terms of career high points and what we’ve managed to achieve as a company, then probably getting to perform Orpheus at the Salzburg Festival and in the Royal Opera House were definitely times when we couldn’t quite believe how lucky we were and where the show had got us all!  But on the quiet, at the risk of sounding really cheesy I think some of the best times we had are when we’ve often had the least, being squashed up in a tiny car together with props around your ears, doing one-off gigs in the most unlikely of places, even filling in an Edinburgh brochure form in the middle of the night on the other side of world just to meet the deadline; all those times when it’s fun even though, and probably because, it’s ridiculous, I think they’re the best bits.

 

  1. What have been the low points, challenges or obstacles and how did you move past them? 

Whilst doing theatre is unfathomably rich in experiences and a huge privilege in terms of getting to do what you love as a living, it definitely isn’t the most lucrative of careers and so before we really knew how to run ourselves as a business in our very first year out of uni, I have a very strong memory of Alex and I rehearsing in his brother’s spare bedroom at 4am in the morning for a scratch the following day, all of which was for free, because we both had full time jobs in London to pay the rent and so couldn’t rehearse any other time, and I definitely lost my sense of humour about it all just because i was so exhausted and so tired! Plus, ironically, the scratch was a comedy sketch about how hard it was to live in London!  But not long after that we decided to cut our losses and say goodbye to having a permanent base in order to give the art the chance to be our main way to earn a living and lo and behold it paid off.  It was a massive risk, but one that i’m ever so glad we took because it gave us the impetus to just really go for it.

 

  1. What do you know now that you wish you would have known when starting out? 

That it would all be okay in the end, or, maybe seeing as we’re still going that the word ‘end’ isn’t the right terminology but that perhaps there is much to cherish even in the toughest times, and that, given time, you gain perspective about the past and see it as a necessary, important lesson to learn rather than some huge, overwhelming almighty obstacle that you’re never to going to get over.  I still need to remember that even now!

 

  1. What is your favourite thing about making theatre? 

There’s so much to love about making theatre.  Any thing that interests you or excites you about art and about the world can be taken into the rehearsal room and explored in a very free and dynamic way.  The rehearsal room can be an incredibly exciting place full of challenges and discoveries, but probably the best thing about making theatre is when you get to share your work with an audience.  That is where the whole life of a show comes into focus; the pressure of performance gives everything a charge and when the audience are on board it’s thrilling to be able to lead them through a journey that you have spent weeks and weeks crafting.

 

  1. What is your least favourite thing about making or working in theatre?

The worst thing about making theatre is the agony of trying to solve problems that have no easy answers, but that’s also one of the best things, so I guess really the worst thing is all the loading and carrying you have to do when setting up in a new places and then packing it all up again.

 

  1. In the last 10 years who has influenced you as makers and performers? 

Any show might lead us to discover or return to an artist whose aesthetic could become a touchstone as we hone in on the language of our productions.  It could be anything from a well known composer, like Philip Glass, or something very niche like the specific stylisation of an unknown actor in a Barclays advert from the 80’s.  Then there are the other theatre companies that we meet on our travels.  There are so many companies out there making fantastic work whom we greatly admire.  We are big fans of Improbable, The TEAM, and Nigel and Louise to name but a few.

 

  1. What is little bulbs process for making a new show? Do you have one? 

We start every new project by trying to create a unique world that the show will be born out of. This normally involves us immersing ourselves in the music of this world. Learning new instruments and writing compositions. We then expand this out to explore characters and narratives but we always start with the world and style of the show.

 

  1. Tell us one interesting fact about each of the bulbs. 

Dom’s shoulder frequently dislocates – it happened during a show once and he just put it straight back in, then after the show he was telling us about it whilst stretching and it happened again, but this time it got stuck! So we all had to get in a taxi to the hospital with Dom’s arm stuck in the air,  and the next day we had to perform as a plat du jour for the British Council Showcase!

Clare used to work as a florist and Alex has a phobia of Smarties.

 

  1. Do you still get nervous? If so who gets the most nervous before setting foot on stage? 

Well I think we don’t get as nervous as we used to when we were starting out but whenever we make a new show and share it for the first time I would say we all get equally nervous.  Clare often gets nervous about not being nervous, which is ridiculous but also at least its solves it’s own problem!

 

  1. Looking forward to the next 10 years what do you want to achieve?

We love making shows in new and unexplored genres and there’s so many to explore. So we hope that we continue to explore and experiment and try new things

 

Little Bulb’s Orpheus will be on at BAC from the 5-30 Dec 2018 to purchase tickets click here

Little Bulb are produced by Farnham Maltings.

 

Getting to know one of our associate companies – Action Hero

We recently announced Action Hero  as one of our new associate companies and here is a chance for us all to get to know them better…

Can you tell us a bit about Action Hero?

We’re two artists who have been working together for 12 years. We make performances together that come in a bunch of different forms- installation, theatre, durational work working with new forms is what excites us the most.

Who makes up the Action Hero team?

Gemma Paintin & James Stenhouse are the artistic directors of the company  – we do pretty much everything creatively together. Sarah Warden is our company manager, she organises us, produces all our work, generally steers the ship and gets things done.

How would you describe the work that you create?

We sort of try not to describe it at all! All the stuff we make is quite different, so we try to resist putting a label on it, because as soon as we do we break our own rules.

What is your favourite thing about creating theatre/ performance?

The not-knowing, the being in the room together, the way we get obsessed with it. It never gets boring.

Who/what has been your biggest influence/s?

We’re influenced by the world around us. We can be as inspired by overhearing a conversation in the street as by a football game as by an academic text or a show we’ve seen. Inspiration is all around.Finding ways to change and grow and develop can be tricky. We never want to stay the same, we always want to change. One minute we want to make an opera, the next we want to make a video game, then we want to write a play. Sometimes this means we have to start over every time we begin a new project.

How did you chose the company name?

I can’t really remember… Action Hero just sort of arrived!

Can you describe a typical day at Action Hero HQ?

There’s no typical day, that’s one of the best things about Action Hero.

What’s the most useful thing to have with you in the rehearsal room?

The right notebook & pen- between A4-A5, softcover, squared paper and a 0.7mm roller ball.

Getting to know one of our new associate companies – Flintlock Theatre

We recently announced Flintlock Theatre as one of our new associate companies and here is a chance for us all to get to know them better…

Can you tell us a bit about Flintlock Theatre? 

We started the company in 2012 and made our first show in a room above a pub on a shoestring budget. Since our humble beginnings, we’ve strived to make theatre that is at one and the same time both familiar and entirely surprising. We use music, movement, dance, technology, new writing and classic texts, and we try to always put our audiences front and centre of the theatrical experiences we create. The company is jointly run by Robin Coyer and Anna Glynn, with a team of associate artists recruited specifically for each project.

 

How would you describe the work that you create?

Reimagined classics, new writing, verbatim and site-specific work are all part of our work; their common characteristics being a commitment to great storytelling, a love of tall tales and a delight in the anarchic and irreverent. Our theatre making is founded on our sense of the potential of ensemble and a disregard for the traditional barriers between audience and performer.

 

What is your favourite thing about creating theatre?

Working as a team. It all has to start from there, and the process is also at its most satisfying and enjoying with a happy company of people working together.

 

Who/what has been your biggest influence/s?

We try and see lots of live theatre because it’s the best way to keep the creative juices flowing, whether you’ve seen something you loved or hated! Favourite companies are Knee-high, Cheek by Jowl, Complicite… From a theoretical point of view, there’s no bigger influence than Brecht on most contemporary theatre making, we think.

 

How did you chose the company name? 

Well, aside from being easy to remember and to spell phonetically, it’s got a metaphor behind it. A flintlock is a mechanical device that creates a spark strong enough to ignite an explosion. It was invented by human ingenuity through an understanding of simple materials.  (Also known for blowing up in your face – but we don’t talk about that bit…)

 

Can you describe a typical day at flintlock theatre HQ?

When we’re rehearsing… Coffee, games, playful yet focussed rehearsing, a communal lunch which everyone contributes food to, more games, more rehearsal. Then on some nights we might have a trip to the pub or a company curry night here or there…. The communal eating is really important to us as it helps to bind the team together and sustain morale. We really believe the process should be joyful and uplifting, not a kind of artistic agony.

 

What’s the most useful thing to have with you in the rehearsal room?

First, people. They’re the one thing you can’t do without, so we try to make sure we also use the people – their voices, bodies, ideas, skills – as the starting point for everything. Next, music. We often depend on music, whether live or recored, to stimulate the process, help tell the story, and give the style of the show a stronger flavour.

 

Tell us one interesting fact about each member of the flintlock team.

Robin is a sourdough baking nerd. He recently pulled his best loaf from the oven shortly after the birth of his third child (if you know about sourdough you’ll know the hard work had been done a day beforehand and there was a risen dough in the fridge ready to bake, so don’t worry, he was very much present for the birth). Anna has a bizarre ability to count the number of words in a sentence at great speed – say a long-ish sentence out loud at full pace and she can instantly tell you how many words there were.

Post caravan questions with Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas

After a successful 2018 caravan showcase we caught up with Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas to ask them 10 post caravan questions. 

Was this your first time being part of caravan? 

Yes. Although Bert had taken part in the Marketplace before with FellSwoop Theatre.

Why did you apply to be part of the showcase? 

We wanted the opportunity to show our work to lots of international programmers and we had heard about the marvellous opportunities caravan provides to do so.

What was the best part of the 3 days and what have you gained from this experience? 

Performing the show in front of promoters and Brighton audiences was really fun.

We also liked meeting our mentor Gary who was really helpful in guiding us through.

What was the most challenging part? 

We had to change performance space on arrival in Brighton, which was quite challenging! The original space was very noisy and we realised that we wouldn’t be heard if we had performed in it. And while the new space was also quite challenging for us the caravan team made it work as best they could and we felt really supported throughout.

Did you get to see others work, if so what stood out to you and why? 

Sadly not. Our time there was really busy.

What was the caravan atmosphere like? 

Friendly and supportive from the caravan team. Amazing work with the technicians from Brighton Dome (Tim especially! What an amazing guy!). Wished we could have had shared more time with the delegates.

What did you expect before attending and did it live up to expectations? 

Yes, it lived up to expectations. We hoped it would bring together lots of different people from all over the world to see our work and it certainly did.

Would you want to participate in caravan again? 

Yes, of course!

What would you say to others thinking of applying? 

It’s really worth it, and they should give it a try. Especially if their work fits the international circuit. Our show is quite minimal in terms of text – which I think was part of its appeal for the international promoters.

What is next for Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas? (or Palmyra?) 

We intend to make the most of this international opportunity with the show and what is coming next. Eurohouse (our first piece) and Palmyra are the two parts of a trilogy. We are exploring the idea of polarisation and division in the next piece. We are thinking of bringing this political trilogy to an end with a potential reconciliation at the end. We are also starting work on a dance piece about ‘The End’.

 

10 questions about caravan with Gobbledegook Theatre

In the lead up to the caravan showcase we asked Lorna Rees, Artistic Director and artist of participating company Gobbledegook Theatre to answer some of our questions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you attended caravan before in any capacity? 

No – I’ve not, though I’ve certainly aspired to be part of it.

I have performed at Brighton Festival before with another of my shows (Ear Trumpet) and I loved the audiences, so it’s great to be part of it through Caravan.

Why did you decide to apply for the 2018 caravan showcase?

Caravan is really well known in the industry and is a very highly regarded showcase so I was keen to apply. I also felt that Cloudscapes is very much the right piece. Caravan is about new contemporary performance and with Cloudscapes, I’m trying something different – asking the audience to lie back and gaze at the sky with me. I think that Caravan likes to champion work which is built on bold ideas and artists doing something a bit different.

I often take my initial inspiration from landscape (usually my own Dorset landscape and coastline) and I’m very interested finding the human scale in talking about the Earth’s processes. Cloudscapes is about just how international our skies are – how clouds cycle the planet, so the theme of the piece feels appropriate for the Caravan showcase.

3How was the process of applying to caravan?

Thankfully really, really straightforward. I think that the questions asked were clear and helped me to think about why an International audience might be interested in the work.

What do you hope to gain from being part of the 3 day caravan showcase?

Basically – I’d love to make some new friends.

I’m really keen to meet new people who might be interested in my work and to create new International relationships for Gobbledegook Theatre. I see every place we tour to as a collaboration of sorts and I really like building creative relationships with programmers.

We brought Ear Trumpet to South Korea for the Seoul Street Arts Festival late last year (supported by the Platform 4: UK programme run by Xtrax) and it gave me a wonderful taste of working with audiences beyond the UK. That programme has helped us to start building a network of International festival contacts, which we’re keen to keep expanding. In South Korea we worked with the presenting festival to rehearse two locally-based performers into the work – which was a hugely rewarding experience for all of us.

It’s also worth saying that simply being part of Caravan is really exciting in itself – that we’ve been selected to perform at the showcase feels like a huge vote of confidence in our work.

What are you most excited about?

I genuinely love meeting new people and new audiences. Gobbledegook make work which really values the intimacy between performer and audience member and I try to meet every member of the audience at the end of this show. I’m excited about this in every location I work in.4

What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

Cloudscapes is mainly a monologue – so much of it rests on my shoulders, but as the visual are supplied by the changing sky above us I hope that the clouds put on a good show!

Will you try and attend other performances while at caravan? If so what would you like to see?

I’d love to see brilliant Vic Melody’s piece, Ugly Chief, which has had rave reviews, as well as Palmyra. Vic Llewellyn and Kid Carpet will definitely be brilliant as they are both ace performers. I love Stopgap’s work, it’s always inventive and of really high quality and Dave Toole is one of my favourite performers in the world. I used to watch Ursula Martinez at Duckie club nights in the Vauxhall Tavern in the late 90s and she’s a bit of a hero. Sleepdogs are presenting, and I’m a huge fan of theirs…. Oh then there’s Jo Bannon , Milk Presents and Third Angel all of whom make exciting, bold clever work… Actually, can I just say, all of it. Everyone. I’m honestly thrilled to be in such good company.

With not long left till caravan what will you be doing in the run up to prepare?

I’m actually already in preparation. I’m working at the 101 Creation Space in Newbury at the moment, spending the week re-painting the Cloud Trailer, re-rehearsing and making sure that the work is ready for touring. I’ve also got a ‘warm up gig’ on the weekend before I come to Brighton in Dorset (where I live) as Cloudscapes is being performed as part of the BEAF Festival at Boscombe Pier.

I’ve also been talking with Andrew Jones and Gary Hills who are mentoring me through the Caravan process.

5Why should everyone come and watch cloudscapes?

I think Cloudscapes is a very different kind of theatrical experience. It’s a novel thing – to be asked to stop for 45 minutes and lay down and look up and listen. To simply focus on the troposphere and a voice. As adults we’re not often invited to just, well…. stop.

Lots of people have said Cloudscapes has reminded them of being children again, that it’s relaxed them, that they’ve learnt something, or thought about something differently. That’s very powerful to me. Heidi and I (artist Heidi Steller who has been my main collaborator on this project) have made a gentle, careful piece about a subject I find extraordinary, and at times quite scary. It’s a very personal piece too – very heartfelt for both of us.

If you could tour cloudscapes to another country where do you think it would fit nicely?

I’d particularly love to bring it to the land of the long white cloud: New Zealand. Or Australia. Or Canada. I was at the Oerol Festival a few years ago in the Netherlands and still dream about those huge skies. I think Cloudscapes works really well near to water and it was originally performed on a beach, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work well in an urban cityscape on top of a building.

Some of the stories I tell in the show are about my Dad and I driving the Route 66 together, cloudspotting across America – so it’d be grand to take it to Chicago or California or somewhere along the route like Santa Fe….!

10 questions with Robert Durbin of brave folk

Brave folk is a Nordic tale fizzing with humour about love, courage and knowing when to act. The company of five has recently finished their tour in which they performed in 22 venues across the UK.  We caught up with Robert Durbin and asked him about his experience being on tour and being a part of Brave Folk.

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Q1.  Brave Folk originally toured as Yorgjin Oxo, how was it stepping back into the rehearsal room knowing changes would be made to make it Brave Folk?

Exciting! I loved our Yorgjin Oxo tour last year, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to revisit a project. It was nice to know that we weren’t hashing out the same show, but rehearsing with care, and trying to making it a better show – which I’m confident we have done. Also, it’s always nice getting back in rehearsal room with lots of familiar faces, and some new ones.

Q2. How do you think touring to village halls and venues differs from performing in a theatre?FM2

I think the main difference is that you are stepping into someone else’s community, with an audience that usually knows each-other quite well – so the company is very much the outsider!

It’s amazing how different audiences can be, depending on where you are in the country. You have trouble gauging that in a normal theatre set up. It’s so much more intimate and engaging rather than sitting back in the stalls watching a musical on the west end!

Van

Q3. What challenges have you/the company faced during this tour?

The snow! Although, it did give us a few days to explore Newcastle, which was lovely!

Q4: What is your favourite memory from the tour?

Doing the show in a church in Cheshire. There are lots of religious images in the play,and to do it in that setting was really special.Apart from that, it’s a great bunch of people in the cast and I love getting to the pub with all of them after the show.

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Q5: What was your biggest challenge in making Yorgjin come alive?

I actually think I have the easiest job in the cast with a huge amount of text and opportunity to really engage with the audience and make them warm to Yorgjin. He’s a funny, loveable dim-wit that falls from one unfortunate scenario to another, so I guess the challenge is keeping the audience listening so that they are totally rooting for Yorgjin at the end of the play. I also struggle with harmonies…

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Q6:  What advice would you give to an actor about to start their first rural tour?

Make sure you are comfy, and take a little pleasure with you from home – I always tour with my slippers!

I think the biggest thing to say is take advantage of being paid to tour the country – go and see the sights in your time off. It’s a great opportunity to see parts of the country you may not necessarily find yourself in. Get yourself out of your digs and go explore – Netflix can always wait until later

Q7: What do you like about going on tour with Farnham Maltings?

On tour

They really take care of you. The tour always makes sense in terms of where you are going to next, without having to travel long distances after shows. They make sure you are comfortable and if there are any problems with digs or a venue they are usually on hand to help out. It can’t be stated enough how this is an exception in this industry!

Gavin always chooses the most interesting and appropriate pieces for a Village Hall context, and he’s not afraid to challenge the audience with a different type of show, or subject matter. However saying that, the audience always have an uplifting experience.

Q8: Where did you stay whilst on tour and what did you do?

It ranges from Travelodge’s and BnB’s, to self-catering and every now and then you get hosted by some lovely audience members. It’s always good when you get a mix of accommodation!

Last year we stayed in Galashiels with two members of the audience and had great evening working through their whiskey collection. The show the next day was perhaps a little slower than normal.

 

setupsmallQ9: What is the best feedback you’ve heard and how has that impacted you/the company?

Brave Folk is a unique experience, the audience are arranged around tables in the room and we tell the story in and amongst them. They are greeted at the door and given Marshlander tea, and ‘squelch crumpets’ before the start of the evening and are made to feel as though they are as part of the action as us. It’s very intimate and immediate.

The best feedback is when people appreciate this change from the usual form of theatre – and it surprises them in a nice way.

One lady in Cheshire was really positive about the show and was amazed how we ‘created so much, from so little.’ I think that really sums up what we are trying to do with Brave Folk, so that was brilliant to hear.

Q10: What is the highlight of your days when on tour and what makes an extra special evening?YO 12

The best days are when you don’t have to drive too far, you’ve had a good night’s sleep, the promoter is lovely and welcoming and the get-in is quick and easy – and the organisers provide some great food (which is most of the time).

I think the best evenings are when you have a large audience, who have had a few drinks and know each other. Everyone relaxes and warms into the show a bit quicker, and you get that little buzz from the audience reactions. Also, it’s always nice when you have a few children in the audience too – and if you keep their attention or make them laugh, you know you’ve done well.

 

Click here for remaining tour dates.

 

manwatching: q&a with Stephen Carlin

MANWATCHING, presented by The Royal Court and house on tour during spring 2018, explores an anonymous woman’s view of her heterosexual relationships and female sexuality. Each performance of the play is delivered by a different male comedian, none of whom has ever seen or read the play before the moment of stepping on stage.

On 09 February 2018, at the Farnham Maltings, comedian Stephen Carlin was the brave volunteer…

Stephen, why did you agree to take on the MANWATCHING challenge?Karla Gowlett
It was something I hadn’t done before and I always think it is important to get out of your comfort zone. There is also the “dare yourself to do something scary” element. Probably what got me into stand-up comedy in the first place.

What had you heard – if anything – about the piece?
All I knew was that I would be reading the part of a woman talking about her sexual fantasies. And I knew the names of some of the performers who had already taken part in it.  Apart from that I had very little idea about the format or the content of the work and I wanted to keep myself in a state of ignorance. I thought the worst thing would be to half know about it and then try and anticipate how to play it. I felt a blank sheet in my head was far better than half knowledge.

What preparation did you do for the day?
I deliberately didn’t make any. I didn’t think there were any practical preparations I could make, so I decide to keep myself busy with other things. I met up with friends in the morning and I spent the afternoon working on some writing projects. If I didn’t distract myself I would have fretted away the day.

How did you feel in the moment of stepping up on stage; and then halfway through?Karla Gowlett
I have learned over the years to marshal my adrenaline with care. There is no point getting too nervous for an unknown quantity. And this was definitely an unknown quantity. So at the moment of stepping onto stage I was in a no man’s land. I felt uneasy but I wouldn’t say nervous exactly as I couldn’t quantify the challenge ahead. But at this moment I felt a certain freedom, like a condemned man! By halfway through I had a far greater idea of what was required so at that stage I felt the full weight of responsibility and I was also aware of concentrating very hard to try and land every line.

What quality does a stand-up comedian lend to the performance?
A certain resilience and nerve under fire. Over the years in stand-up comedy you get into some pretty tight scrapes and full-on confrontations on occasions. I didn’t think anything in MANWATCHING would get that heated so I assumed that I would be able to cope with whatever was thrown at me.

How did your relationship to the audience differ from your usual shows?
Well I wasn’t in control of the script for starters. In stand-up I am trying to achieve a certain kind of effect and I will select material, vary the performance and ad-lib to try and achieve the desired effect. In stand-up I always have a destination in mind and I am prepared to change routes to get there. MANWATCHING turned all that on its head. I was committed to the route, ie the script, but not the destination. I had no idea where I was heading and also it wasn’t really any of my business. So there was a definite surrender of control which for a stand-up is unusual and uncomfortable.

-®helenmurray Manwatching Royal Court,-3What are your thoughts on the anonymity of the writer?
It certainly stopped me Googling her (I assume it is a ‘her’!) and finding out about her other work. On the one hand the anonymity of the writer added to the overall mystery of the project. But it also strips away preconceptions about age, race, class etc, and you are just left with the words to focus on. So I think the anonymity of the writer lent the words a very powerful impact.

Without giving away too much, what advice would you pass on to the next comedian?
Throw yourself into it, commit to it, enjoy it, don’t worry.

How did you feel in the hours after the performance?
I felt a real mix of emotions. It was a very unique experience. As a performer you are at the centre of the maelstrom. But there is another part of you enjoying the play as an audience hearing it for the first time. There is a strong sense of wanting to do it again. Because inevitably you screw certain bits up and you want another go to do the script justice. The script moves you emotionally particularly as you have never heard it before. Also because you are a man speaking from the point of view of a woman, you realise the negative impact men can have on the lives of women, and that you as a man have been part of that. So it brings into focus the consequences of your own actions in a pretty powerful way. There is also being part of a one-off shared experience with everyone else in the room that will never be repeated. A sense of pride at being involved in a great project. A feeling that, after reading the script, as a fellow writer I need to up my game. A wanting to do it again to remember more of the detail. And simultaneously not being able to quite put into words when people ask you how it was!

February 2018 © Stephen Carlin/house/Farnham Maltings
Photos courtesy of Stephen Carlin

MANWATCHING, presented by the Royal Court and house is on tour from 08 to 24 February 2018
https://royalcourttheatre.com/

Haevichi Arts Festival in Korea

As part of Farnham Maltings’ international strand of work, artistic director Gavin Stride and tour associate Mark Makin attended the 10th Haevichi Arts Festival on the island of Jeju, South Korea.

Gavin Stride and I had the pleasure of being invited to the 10th Haevichi Arts Festival on the island of Jeju, South Korea. The trip was a wonderful way to learn more about the arts infrastructure in Korea, get a better understanding of the artists and cultural needs of colleagues.

The showcase element of the festival was delivered in short, bitesize chunks, which was great for the amount of work we got to see, but we were keen to see them in a more theatrical environment so we could best imagine the full-length work. The work on show was very traditional music, dance and operetta which felt very well placed for a local Korean market but less so for international export.

Gav and I co-delivered an informal introduction to the UK arts scene covering touring infrastructure, programming, audience development and sustainable venue and festival management. I was happy to be able to dispel one of the main myths in Korea around the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (primarily being that if you take a show there, you find fame and fortune!). We were able to give the pros and the cons of visiting the major UK and European festivals and shared how best to get every opportunity out of visiting them.

We enjoyed the opportunities to get off site to go and explore, connect with local people and enjoy the cuisine (very tasty, with the occasional issue that some of our food would try to leave the plate mid-meal).

We got to spend a day exploring Jeju City, visited its expansive food market which was a feast for both eyes and bellies. Whilst walking in the main park we found ourselves included and involved with several groups of elders engaging in activities including croquet, dancing and extremely vocal games of what we believe to be Chinese chequers. Lots of fun and the language barrier didn’t matter as with gesticulation, smiles and laughter we all were able to enjoy the moment and be included for a short time in the daily activities of a very close knit group of friends.

The trip was a great opportunity to connect with companies already scheduled to be at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as broaden our knowledge of the arts in Korea. We found a real appetite and willingness to openly share experiences and working practices and we look forward to some of these new relationships building in the future.

Mark Makin, touring associate, house

Farnham Maltings are acting as Executive Producers on the performance strand of a year-long exchange programme between the UK and South Korea. The programme includes projects by LIFT, Crying Out Loud, Momsori Voice Theatre and Ray Lee, a tour of Factory Girls by Yangson Project and a series of collaborative residencies.

 

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