Chatroom- SLAM Theatre

Last night I had the pleasure to see Chatroom by Enda Walsh, by SLAM Theatre, I went along, as a friend of mine was the rehearsal stage manager, so I’ll try to not be biased.

Chatroom is about a chatroom funnily enough. It’s an exploration of the problems a lot of teenagers face, and their different reactions to it, through the use of social media. This production by SLAM Theatre, produced by Andy Patterson and Anthony Papamichael, and directed by Hector Moyes, was produced in the charming etcetera theatre. The set was simplistic, which allowed the audience to focus on the acting. The use of the movement was a nice break from the intense story.

IMG_5686Pictured here, Anthony Papamichael, Emily Pearce (Rehearsal Stage Manager), Hector Moyes and Mark Teale, from left to right. 

The whole cast were brilliant, the acting was subtle, but intense, which was very effective in this small theatre space. I’d love to go into detail on all of the cast’s different characters, like how I hated Mark Teale’s, William, from the minute he came on stage (which may have to do with how insulted one of my childhood memories); and how Eddie Chamberlin’s Jack, was endearing, but well-meaning. Nick Pearce’s Jim, was nervous, and easily influenced, but also really likeable. Charlotte East’s Eva, had a lot more to her character, than what her lines revealed, very similar to Tania Van Amse’s Laura, who’s last speech, definitely had a lot of the audience in tears. Susie Barton’s Emily, had an air of innocence, and sweetness. I really liked her chemistry with Pearce.

The whole show dealt with very serious issues, and it would be great to do at schools, and after talking to the cast they told me that they have done a workshop with a school, and are hoping to take it around schools. Anyway, I’m hoping for big things- they’re a great emerging theatre company with lots of potential.

Top productions of 2016

Another year has passed, and despite this one being particularly bad, there was still lots and lots of theatre. So here are my top five productions of 2016, excluding the fringe- it just became impossible to narrow down to five, if I included the fringe. I may do another post describing my top five fringe productions.

5. Lazarus at the Kings Cross Theatre

08lazarusjpsub-master675Now this may be, that it is the last production I saw, but at No.5, it’s Lazarus. The new musical, written by David Bowie, another icon we lost this year. It was a melancholic and thought-provoking story, with suitable music, and a very dystopic production. The visual images created were something to be in awe of. As I said a beautiful chaotic mess of a show.

 

4. I am Thomas at the Lyceum

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Politically charged and hilariously funny, it’s I am Thomas from the Lyceum, which I saw in March. The Direction and the ensemble’s work pulled off a fantastic show with a great vision, all about freedom  of speech, in the height of the Je Suis Charlie movement. The music was brilliant, adding another layer to this piece- it was like an onion…

3. The Shakespeare Trilogy at the Donmar.

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Okay, so I know I’m cheating a little bit, but I struggled picking just five shows, and they did have the same cast and director- basically. The Shakespeare trilogy consisted of The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and King Henry IV. It was an entirely female cast, and set in a female prison. I had some qualms about Julius Caesar, however the production was made clear, when I saw Henry IV. The Three shows worked as an entity, but also separately. The productions were creative, heartfelt and sorely needed. Setting Shakespeare in a modern environment was something that needed to be explored in mainstream theatre, also with a diverse and female cast it broke the stereotype of an old white english man performing Shakespeare.  The productions were fantastical, mythical and scary at some points. Definitely some of the best Shakespeare I’ve seen.

2. The Glass Menagerie at the Edinburgh International Festival.

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I wasn’t actually going to go see this, I absolutely  hated the play when I studied it – it was boring and nothing happened in it. The ending was not satisfying, and I just didn’t get the characters, except maybe Tom, though I even found him to be a bit of a lad. I even wrote an epilogue for it, which was how unsatisfying I found the ending. (It was a terrible epilogue by the way. When I was younger I was under the delusion I could write scripts…) Anyway a friend convinced me to go with the one sentence ‘there is such beauty in the mundane’  And he was so right. I managed to snap up one ticket for the last night- I may have left work early for it… oops, but I decided I had to see it. And I am so glad I did. It has to be one of the most poignant and beautiful productions I have seen this year. The set was unbelievable, the direction and acting was brilliant, and I saw the beauty in the mundane. In the characters I hated, I found redemption, and the ending turned from unsatisfying to almost hopeful. The music was amazing. The whole production was poetically serendipitous, showing these damaged characters as fragile as glass. It brought meaning to the meaningless. And a quote – “Time is the longest distance between two places” , has earned a place on my laptop.

 

Drum roll please for my top production of 2016…. (It won’t come as a surprise I assume…)

 

  1. In The Heights at The King’s Cross Theatre

In the Heights

In the Heights is at my No. 1. spot, as  I said is probably not a surprise. I saw this back in February, and I managed to get tickets for £15. In The Heights was written by Lin Manuel Miranda, and it set in the lower east side of Manhattan, in a Latino community in Washington Heights. The main selling point of this show, is of course the music. I watched it in February, and I am still listening to it constantly.  The complex lyrics, with Latino roots was the perfect way to show the core of the inspiration, as Lin Manuel Miranda is an immigrant from Puerto Rico.  I’m absolute sucker for Lin Manuel Miranda, but that is not the only reason. The actors were brilliant, and lovely as well. The youthful charm and energising tone to the performance made it an incredible night. I felt a part of the cast and the community. For once I didn’t want to run up and perform with the actors, because I was already up there. I cringed at what the characters said, and cried when they cried. I could not stop smiling, except you know, when I was crying.  The political connotations came through the comedy, and identity and immigration, were the core aspects of the show. It was full of life and symbolism, and I absolutely loved it.

 

Notable few:

Okay, so I said top 5, but here a few notable ones that I couldn’t just not mention. –

Aladdin: Full of colour and childlike imagination.

The Libertine: The writing in this was brilliant. The characters and story was so sad, but it was shrouded in comedy.

A Night in Miami: The political statements made in this were amazing, and heartbreaking. Along with a beautiful rendition of ‘A change is gonna come’ 

Kinky Boots: An extremely fun night, with fabulous costumes, and an amazing message to help change society for the better.

 

This was a longin. And this is without Fringe productions- eek.  There may be a post coming soon for that. But all in all. I hope 2016 has been great, and here’s hoping 2017 will be even better, and here’s to less loss in the arts world next year.  See you all in 2017!

-Charlie

 

“The Theater must always be a safe and special place”

“The Theater must always be a safe and special place” – Donald J.Trump (via. Twitter) 

I type this, as I sit in an LCP seminar discussing this particular quote from the President Elect Donald Trump. This tweet followed the Vice President elect, Mike Pence’s  trip to see Hamilton, where he was booed by the audience, addressed at the end of the production by the cast. Brandon Victor Dixon addressed Pence, after the curtain call, as he tried to make a speedy exit.

“Vice-president elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us, just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen,We’re all here sharing a story about love. We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”

Pence reacted, not in anger, but instead asking whether this was appropriate, and called into question the position of Theatre in our society. Is it a place for political debates? Were the cast of Hamilton right to call out Pence in the Theatre?  As much as I dislike Pence, his reaction was commendable. He told his children, that the booing was the sound of freedom and complimented the cast. Trump reacted, oppositely, through his usual media, a rant on Twitter.

“The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior” -Donald J.Trump (via. Twitter)

“The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” -Donald J.Trump (via. Twitter) 

There are so many things that make me angry about these statements. Firstly that the president elect is so petty, about some one respectfully calling out his administration, with their fears, that he will insult their career and art. Secondly, his definition of a ‘safe space.’ According to Trump, a safe space, in college, to stop women from getting raped and sexually assaulted, is political correctness gone mad, but the minute a middle-aged, straight, white man, is respectfully called out, it’s a necessity. Trump, was not the first person to call the Theatre a safe and special place.

In recent history, Theatre, has been considered a safe, special space, especially for minorities, with many mainstream performances having political roots. The production, that I think of, when discussing this, is RENT. The characters of which are made up of Black, Gay, Straight, Queer, Trans Americans in New York. A story that would have been hard to tell at the time, through other mediums.

Theatre is now used to challenge that norm. Trump wants it to be comfortable, to not invoke change. The statement felt drenched with irony, and made me uncomfortable. Who is he to say, what the theatre, can or can’t be? Broadway has always generally been democratic, rather than republican. Yes, the Theatre is and should be a safe and special place, but his definitions of safe and special, are not ones I agree with. It shouldn’t only be safe for the straight, white man. Which I and many others, think that Trump’s administration will lead to. How dare he use a phrase, so commonly used, in protecting minorities, when his campaign and his policies be so heavily rooted, in racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and everything else.

The other question raised, is, were the cast right to get involved in Politics? Since the dawn of Theatre, it has always been used as a way to inform people, and discuss politics, from Greek Tragedy to Brechtian to Contemporary Theatre. I think the cast, of a show about politics, especially a cast made up of minorities, had a right to an opinion, and using their platform was admirable.  As I said, Broadway has never shied away from it’s democratic tendencies.  Addressing the issues of Trump’s policies, at the end of a show, which glorifies, and rightly so, immigrants, was particularly powerful, and amplified the core aspects of the show. Especially as Trump’s policies tends to target immigrant. I am constantly drawn back to the line ‘Immigrants. We get the job done’, which the reaction, to that showing, according to reports, was very lively.  The cast addressed Pence respectfully, and kindly, better than how Trump treated the cast.

Scrapping GCSE Drama?

First we began with the idea of scrapping A-level History of Art, which as an idea was a travesty, but still went through. However in the aftermath of National Youth Theatre leader, Paul Roseby, suggesting that GCSE Drama is irrelevant, it is now being reconsidered as part of the GCSE syllabus .

Reservations about art subjects as part of academic qualifications have always existed, with some universities not accepting certain arts subjects as part of an application. The suggestion from Roseby, is to integrate theatre into the more academic subjects, I have to question how? And what use is that? The best example of that for me, is English. But I still have to disagree, If my only experience of Theatre were the plays that we studied in English, Shakespeare, Priestly, Tennessee, I would have never come to study Drama at University.

As someone, who studied the Scottish equivalent of GCSE’s,  National Five, I am not sure, if I am outstepping my place discussing this, however, I can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that I would never have come to study Drama at University, if I did not have the access to studying Nat 5 Drama, or the teachers that supported and encouraged everyone’s passions in our school, be it theatrical or otherwise. For me studying Drama at school became such an important aspect of school for me, socially, academically and basically everything else. Without Nat 5, I would have not pursued Drama, it was so important in introducing me to the world of Theatre, and the idea that I could have a career in it, or at least further my studies in it. Without it, I would possibly be studying a degree that I didn’t want to do, or I would be completely lost.  And of course for that, I have to thank my school for having such a fabulous Drama department.

However of course that is not to say the GCSE Drama course is flawless, earlier this year, they dropped the requirement to see a live Theatre performance and analyse it for an assessment, this was replaced by a recording. As good as recordings are, you do not get the same effect, if you are sitting in the audience. I for one, generally think that a good performance will make you feel like a community with the other audience members. You do not get the same atmosphere watching a recording, and it will effect how you analyse a production. And some people, may think the content is irrelevant, or the fact that people see it to be soft or easy, are arguments enough to justify those people thinking it should be scrapped.

It would break my heart, if GCSE Drama was scrapped from the syllabus, people seem to consider it to be a soft subject? I don’t understand this, I think it requires the most of amount of work, from teachers and students alike. If GCSE Drama is scrapped, it would be the beginning of scrapping all drama in schools. Creativity and passion must be nurtured, so it can bloom, not cut at the root.

 

The Libertine

I wanted to write something about the writing of The Libertine. A collective of my favourite lines and monologues, because the writing is truly beautiful. The Libertine is based on the true life of John Wilmot, the earl of Rochester, and his relations with the actress Lizzie Barry. 

Mrs Barry: I want the passionate love of my audience. I want, when I make a sweep of my arm, to carry their hearts away, and when I die that they should sigh for never seeing me again. 

Mrs Barry is asked what she wants from the theatre, and she retorts very passionately, almost in a daze with this line. 

Rochester: I cannot feel in life, I must have others do it for me here

Mrs Barry: You are spoken of as a man with a stomach for life

These lines I feel, don’t need a caption. They are melancholic. 

Rochester: But in the playhouse, every action good or bad has its consequences; drop a handkerchief and it will return to smother you. Outside the playhouse there are for me no crimes and no consequences. 

I liked this bit, because I felt it showed the true tragedy of a man who has lost his love of life, who can do whatever he wishes. It showed the truth of the theatre. Everything has meaning, everything has consequence. 

Rochester: Here in this Theatre we can pretend that our lives have meaning…. The theatre is my soothing drug, and my cynic’s illness is so far advanced that my physic must be of the highest quality. 

This just has so much truth to it. To anyone, theatre people or not. 

Mrs. Barry: You gave a divine talent. And yet you choose to see only what is base and mean. You are one-eyes. You look at humanity and you see the monkey, but you close your eye to the angel. When I am on stage, I give wing to the angel, I let her soar over the rowdy Pit creatures until I have silenced them with the flapping of her wings. That is why they have begun to listen to me. Because they leave the theatre with a larger idea of themselves and they become more noble in their daily lives. You show them to be a scrawny monkey in a shabby coat who shits and mounts its mate and they go on their way meaner. 

This monologue is beautiful, revealing of what truly happens when the audience leaves a theatre. Of the effect Theatre has. 

Rochester: I love theatres. They remind me of ships, great rocking galleons floating into battle. 

Because society and life is a battle. And the theatre is your weapon

Etherege: Love gilds us over and makes us show fine things to each other for a time, but soon the gold wears off and then again the native brass appears. 

Love is nothing but an illusion, designed to lure the human spirit out of it’s hard exterior.

Rochester: I am nature and you are art, let us see how we compare

Art imitates life, and life imitates Art.  

Rochester: When I poured away the last bottle of wine I saw the blood of christ streaming onto the floor and it took all my effort not to throw myself on my face and guzzle. But I desisted and my mind cleared and I made an inventory of my life and found much wanting: injuries to divers people: want of attention to my affairs: a lifetime spitting in the face of God, and I knew I was to be cast down. I had long ago discarded the layer of formal politeness with which we negotiated the world, but now I had to wade through the slough of my licentiousness until I found level ground underfoot, a ground of true sensibility and love of Christ. Now I gaze upon a pinhead and see angels dancing. 

A man faced with losing his vice, and facing the darkest part of his life, begins to see God in his life. A gorgeous monologue, and a perfect ending- not really a spoiler.  Continue reading The Libertine

Shakespeare in our society

Since it was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday, I thought it might be appropriate to write a little thing about him to commemorate his work.

I love Shakespeare, as a pioneer and founder of British Theatre. A playwright who has influenced countless generations of practitioners. His work still stands strong in today’s society. I thought I would work through my experience of Shakespeare, and his work in theatre. The first interaction I had with Shakespeare, was my end of primary school production, my teacher wrote a musical, based around Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was set during one of the final live shows of the X-factor, and it was 80s night, so all the music was from the 80s, I played the equivalent of Lady Macbeth, a pushy mother of the main contestant of the show. It sounds better than it actually was, and that is saying something, because it sounds terrible.  It’s funny that now, Lady Macbeth is one of my dream roles, when I played her 7 or so years ago. I then went on to study ‘The Tempest’ in my first year of secondary school, then ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Macbeth’ again, in my third and fourth year. In those two years, I also performed in the Shakespeare schools festival in ‘Midsummer Night’s dream’ and ‘The Winter’s tale’. The most vivid things I can recall from those past five plays of his, is that I hated Romeo and Juliet, and still think it is one of his worst plays, despite it being one of the more famous ones. I love the others though. Macbeth is still one of my favourite plays of his, along with Hamlet, which I saw in August last year. Now Hamlet, for me is my favourite tragedy of his. I love the characters, and the story, but the thing that stands out for me, more than his others plays his the language. The metaphors and imagery provided in the piece is so vivid and beautiful. Throughout all his work, the writing is iconic. And something must be said for his insults, which is a work of genius, exhibit a: Villian, I have done thy Mother, and exhibit b: Away, you starvelling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish! His work is full of sass and is just brilliant.  And then there is the more recent stuff that I have done recently, helping out with Macbeth and Midsummer Night’s dream,  my audition pieces and playing ‘Beatrice’ in Much Ado About Nothing. Every piece I have seen or been a part of, has influenced me as a practitioner, and as a person. I have chosen to go study Drama at Queen Mary, because the head of Drama there, is renowned for her work in Shakespeare, and I cannot wait to go study under her guidance.

Bu, I don’t want to talk about myself for 500 words or so. I wanted to explore his work throughout contemporary theatre, however that will be near impossible. Shakespeare is seen in almost all aspects of theatre and our society. Take for example, King Charles III, not my favourite play, however you can see Shakespeare’s influence embedded throughout the piece, or if you walk down the royal mile during peak season you can see wide assortment of different Shakespeare or Shakespeare related pieces, one notable one that has just transferred to the west end is ‘Shit-faced Shakespeare’. His work is surprisingly relevant, when it is staged the right way. And is iconic, in almost every sense. When people think of theatre, and British theatre, usually the first thing they think of his Shakespeare. And it’s not just plays Shakespeare has inspired, if you look at the lyrics to ‘Take a break’ from Hamilton:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
I trust you’ll understand the reference to
Another Scottish tragedy without my having to name the play
They think me Macbeth, and ambition is my folly
I’m a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive pain
Madison is Banquo, Jefferson’s Macduff
And Birnam Wood is Congress on its way to Dunsinane

You can clearly see how Shakespeare’s ideas have been woven throughout this piece, and all theatre really, and society. And his words have been an inspiration to people everywhere, especially aspiring theatre practitioners. One of my favourite quotes, from Hamlet,  which I have on my favourite mug remind me to keep going.

‘We know not what we are, but we know what we may be’

Signs and Doubts

I had been feeling really tense and stressed today, probably because I’m back at school and the impending doom of exams is looming. But there were a few things.

Firstly, as usual, after I’ve seen a couple of good productions, I go into a whole existential crisis. Wondering if I am following the right path, if I am talented enough, determined enough to follow that path. When I see extremely talented people on stage, all I want to do is perform with them, however I never know if I ever will. I came back to my boarding house yesterday, and left my family for a few weeks on Saturday. I wasn’t feeling the best on Saturday, and when I arrived in Edinburgh, I just wanted to sleep and do nothing else. And I had a mini-existential crisis, as I didn’t have one after In the Heights or Jersey Boys. Plus a couple of other things, just made me tired.

And today, I just felt like nothing was going right, I couldn’t revise, I had a list of things to do. And I got some of them done, I got my Drama dissertation in, so that’s the end of AH Drama for me. The second/third thing on my list was to order, Hamilton: A Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda from the drama bookshop NYC. He is going there for a signing, and I thought there might be a chance, if I could ask the staff to ask him to sign a copy before they post it. But, when I tried to order it, it wasn’t working, the website. I couldn’t get it delivered, and when I called the shop they explained that they do deliver, and then the call dropped out. It sounds ridiculous, but it felt like a sign. I thought that if I could get a copy of the book, signed by one of my heroes, it would almost be like a sign, that if I tried hard enough I could do anything, for example get a signed copy of a book, from half way across the world, even though I won’t be there for the signing. And I couldn’t get it, I couldn’t even order it. And it feels like a sign. I am constantly doubting if to go into the theatrical route, if I should, what pathway do I take? I want to perform on stage. To be in the west end- but it seems so ridiculous and far away. And my backup subject (non-creative one)- Biology? It is just going terribly. It just all feels a bit distant. I work hard in drama, but I feel like it’s never going to pay off. I know it’s ridiculous to feel like the fact a website didn’t work is a sign and now making me rethink my whole future, but it does. Anyway, I’m just rambling and, I just needed to write this down and get it out.

-Charlotte

Hamilton

Hamilton: An American musical, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is about the founding father Alexander Hamilton, who is an 18th century immigrant. It is about Hamilton’s rise up from his illegitimate birth in poverty, in the Caribbean, to George Washington’s aid-de-camp and the first secretary of the treasury. Barack Obama said that Hamilton was “a striving immigrant who escaped poverty, made his way to the New World, climbed to the top by sheer force of will and pluck and determination” The music entirely consisting of the hip-hop genre, contrasting with the time period. For example, the cabinet debates are presented as rap-battles, encouraging an audience interest into mundane topics – such as the national debt. I love Hamilton. I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! I, unfortunately, have not had the pleasure of seeing it , however if and when it transfers over to the west end, I will be first in line to see it.

Now the reason, I brought it up, is that I read an article in The Observer about Hamilton providing insight into the parallel of the musical to the politics of America at the time. Especially now. Having an article such as this across a double sheet, in a mainstream form of media, brought me hope and happiness . It compared Alexander Hamilton to Donald Trump. When Michelle Obama was talking about how much she loved Hamilton, on the other side of America, a Trump rally was going on, ranting about a wall to keep out immigrants. The culture gap could have never seemed so wide. The liberals on one side spoke for inclusivity, and on the other, thousands of angry, frustrated and defeated Americans, putting their faith in a businessman with a flashy show of promising to make America great again.

The show has become a world-wide phenomenon, and more people talk about it than have actually seen it. It is also going to be used to assist education – the soundtrack becoming a tool in the classroom. Last year The New Yorker published an essay: Why Donald Trump and Jeb Bush should see “Hamilton”. “With its youthful, almost entirely non-Caucasian cast, and its celebration of the possibilities inherent in building a new nation, the poetry of Hamilton is a reminder of the gleaming sense of hope that the election of 2008 engendered,” the essay read.  The essay highlighted two lines from the show which mirror this bonkers election season. “Ya best g’wan run back where ya come from” This is said to Hamilton, however is refuted with “Immigrants, we get the job done.” There is something so empowering about that line. It is sung with such pride and truth in a time – reflective of now – where immigrants are shunned and shooed away. Obama remarked about the writing of Hamilton from Miranda “Lin-Manuel saw something of his own family, and every immigrant family.” I don’t really need to explain the politics of Trump, I’m sure. His racism, sexism, bigotry speaks for itself. One of the most worrying policies of his, is the wall that is to be built across the border of Mexico to keep out immigrants. However back at the White House, Miranda performed a freestyle rap with the first black president in the Rose garden. It could not have been a more vivid symbol of a modern, diverse, inclusive, creative and idealistic America.

“Trump’s ability to stir emotions around the wall and Mexicans is the opposite of Hamilton, which has this hopeful message that immigrants can do anything,” said Amy Austin, president of theatreWashington. “That’s what America is. Hamilton is so aspirational. Trump doesn’t have anything aspirational for the whole country.” When Obama was elected, there was optimism, and hope for change and progress forward. However Trump’s candidacy has depleted that hope and optimism. There is so much more I could say on the matter, but I fear it will become even more political. I love Hamilton, and I’m amazed by the support it gathers and how it parallels America’s political scene. How it’s getting people interested in theatre, politics and history.  It just makes me very happy, for it to be so popular to someone so deserving. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who loves theatre with a passion and works so hard, and has achieved so much. I just love it and I can’t wait to see it (hopefully).

Unfortunately, yesterday, we lost one of Britain’s icons in Theatre and Film. Alan Rickman was an amazing actor, on stage and film, using his art to change the world. Alan Rickman trained at RADA and worked at the RSC, where is career took off. His work there, giving him a stereotype of a classically trained Shakespearean British actor. Before his cinematic career took off, some of his most famous roles of Hans Gruber (Die Hard) – where he has been considered to have redefined Action films, and Professor Snape (Harry Potter) – where in the last film he gave an absolutely amazing performance, embodying one of J.K Rowling’s most memorable characters. He has spent a huge time directing, in films and Theatre. In 2005 he produced and directed My Name is Rachel Corrie a political play looking at a corrupt political infrastructure in Israel, and how the underdogs often get beaten and beaten. His repertoire is endless, and the words from the people who knew him and worked with him are nothing but words of love and kindness. Describing him as loyal and kind and an actor above all.

Emma Thompson wrote in a statement “Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye.What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom and kindness. His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word. The intransigence which made him the great artist he was – his ineffable and cynical wit, the clarity with which he saw most things, including me, and the fact that he never spared me the view. I learned a lot from him. He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.”

“If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust”

He was, for me, the embodiment of an actor that I aspire to be; Supportive of his fellow actors in such a harsh business; loyal to the people he had worked with; Kind; Intelligent; Ridiculously talented; Politically active. He gave everything he had to Theatre and Film. His life, his commitment, his love. And he used his talents to try and change the world into a better one.

“Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.”

 

Top Productions of 2015

There were so many good productions of 2015, and I wish I could have seen them all. But money and time are limited. Unfortunately….These are my top 5 of what I have seen this year. I may have missed some, because I’m not at home and I don’t have all my tickets ect with me.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird. – King’s Theatre

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To start off this list. This classic novel that was transferred to the Stage. I saw this back in February at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. I loved the whole atmosphere to the piece, quite playful and childish at the start and took a more serious tone in the second half. Presenting the prejudice shown in that time period very well. The acting was very good from Atticus and Tom Robinson, showing intensity and creating the perfect tone for the piece.

4. The Driver’s seat. – National Theatre Production

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Next is The Driver’s seat. I saw this as part of the Edinburgh Fringe at the Lyceum Theatre. It tells the story of the investigation of the murder and the final few hours of a young woman. I loved the way they presented this piece of theatre. The multimedia aspect of it was brilliant. With videos, moving maps and projection after projection onto the cyclorama. It was something different and it worked really well. It was also a well written play with extremely complex and developed characters.

3. Barbarians. – Young Vic.

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Barbarians at No.3. I have said repeatedly how much I loved this piece. A play, with absurdist qualities, about 3 young men from the east of London, set in the 1970s. Brilliant piece of theatre. Entertaining and thought provoking. With intense acting, and amazing directing from Liz Stevenson . Darkly comedic and very relevant, with great music and lighting. Definitely one of my favourite pieces of this year.

2. The Caucasian Chalk Circle – Lyceum.

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At No. 2 it’s Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. I saw this at the Lyceum in March. They bring this classic political piece into the new age, by making it still completely relevant. It was hilarious and extremely thought provoking. I laughed, when I probably shouldn’t have been, and cried when I probably should have been laughing. But that’s how it is with Brecht. The staging was inventive and admirable. And the piece was brought into this century with the accompany of rock / punk music. I was so lucky to see this, this year.

1. Hamlet – Barbican.

 

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And of course at No. 1. – Hamlet. The play which managed to get everyone talking about Theatre – which is never a bad thing. I mean, you can’t fault shakespeare. Nor Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting. The set, staging, costume were amazing. The acting was so intense and brilliant, by the whole cast. The relationship between the actors and the audience was so intimate and close. And I loved it. I had such an amazing night to see one of the actors I admire most, perform one of my favourite plays. That is why it is my top Production of 2015 for me. I was so lucky to see it, and I enjoyed it immensely.

So those are my top productions for this year, and I can’t wait for the theatre I will see next year. Happy New Year, and I hope 2016 is as full of happiness, success and of course Theatre, as 2015. Or better.

-Charlotte