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Lazarus Theatre Company

Classic Theatre Reimagined

Lazarus in Lockdown

The curtain has been bought down, our rehearsal room closed.

Our rehearsal room blog will now showcase Lazarus in Lockdown, a chance to find out more about our process and those who create our work. 

November 2020

Digital R&D

We re-entered the rehearsal room at The Jack Studio Theatre for some much needed research and development.

Our Digital R&D explored how we might use digital technology within our own practice, the project allowed us to explore a new technique and storytelling approach, forge new creative collaborations as well as establish a Covid secure method of creating ensemble work. 

14th October 2020

 

This week our spotlight focuses on Puppetry... Director / Designer Matt Hutchinson who we collaborated with on A Midsummer Night's Dream takes through the world of object animation! 

Tell us a bit about your work.

It’s possible for me to have many different job titles, at the root of all of them is using puppetry and objects to create performance and tell stories.

 

Let’s say I’m a badly defined hybrid of a theatre maker/puppeteer/designer/director/puppet maker.

 

What is puppetry and object led work?

Puppetry in its purest definition is the animation, manipulation, or control of one thing (a puppet) by another (a puppeteer). There is something rather brilliant about this definition as it covers a whole spectrum of possibilities and things we may not think of as puppetry. 

Object led work is a fantastic grey area that falls between a number of different theatre disciplines. It’s looking at how a “thing”, that is not a human performer, can work in a performative manner and the possibilities with it as a performing onstage element. That can mean on its own, in use by performers, or can it be a player alongside performers.

 

A big subject we know but tell us a bit about your process.

As basic as this sounds it’s about listening and responding, and then a lot of trial and error, and sometimes being serious about being playful. Every project is essentially a big evolving jigsaw or a symphony with everyone else putting in their “bit”; you have to work out what yours needs to be - both on a micro level as its own thing, and then on a macro level alongside and amongst everything else. I love looking at all sorts of different inspiration or working out how we might do something.

 

The listening and responding dictates quite a lot of my design and making work too. It’s great to create things that have inherent, useful qualities to them to help give you a performance. Therefore there’s a lot of time thinking about ergonomics and functionality, choosing the right materials etc. It’s really satisfying to give performers things to play with that are helpful and like a really good dance partner, that it does the work for you. You can allow them to trust what they are working with, relax and just respond to what is there. 

What was your first theatrical experience?

I can’t remember which of these came first but I have distinct memories of all of them:

  • Seeing a show called something like “Witch in the White Mountain” which was a show made with a lot of bedsheets. I think I had to come home and recreate it.
  • Seeing a one man version of Tom Thumb, and the whole thing being in the style of a toy/paper theatre. All the characters were flat sandwich board illustrations that were worn over the top of the man’s shoulders. I don’t remember recreating this one.
  • No idea what this show was called however it was two clowns as a husband and wife set up, one of which was Emma Chambers who went on to play Alice in ‘The Vicar of Dibley”. I remember buying a t shirt from her afterwards and her explaining that backstage was “where she lived”.

You collaborated with is on our 2018 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream with The Sprites being balls of light, could you tell us a bit about how that all came together?

Ricky and I chatted back and forth about the approach for the show, and the other ideas that were being brought to the table by the rest of the creative team.

 

What it distilled into was having a way that allowed for very obvious ensemble multi-rolling, having something that could be magicked up/discarded quickly, and allow for some lo-fi illusion making where you could choose to expose the seams. I also remember us laughing about shows where everything is on stage and you’re waiting for something to be used. The balls of light just look like a stick when not in use: there is something transformative and playful about them when you activate them. They don’t draw an audience’s eye if waiting on a prop’s table or in an actor’s hand.

 

I turned up one afternoon at Greenwich theatre with a box of things that I know play well with light, but actually we became more interested in the high powered LED lights in our phones that we were using as impromptu light sources. 

What would you say have been some of your career highlights so far?

That’s a hard question to answer as one of the best bits of my work is the variety. The obvious highlights are the big, one of kind, “sparkly” projects, like the London 2012 Olympics Ceremonies. On the other hand I’ve loved being in a room with a great group of people and you’re trying to work out how to do something very out of the ordinary but totally necessary for that circumstance. Things like: is treacle the right thing to be using here as an object, how can we stage a play in a ball pit, what can be done to keep that pretend cat in your arms alive whilst your character gets steadily more drunk throughout the scene, or how do we fit a life size giraffe on this very small stage?

 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about going into a career in puppetry?

It’s vast and so rewarding, but like a lot of creative professions there aren’t necessarily clear routes through that as a career and a job, and that’s tougher and more complicated than it looks. Ask for advice. Keep an eye on the bigger picture too and think about how you develop a creative practice. Lean into what interests you. Never stop learning.

 

What would you say are the top 5 do's and don’ts in puppetry?

  • Wander into your curiosities, you’ll be surprised where they take you.
  • Don’t become a disciple of a certain school of thought, technique, approach etc. Use these as springboards and safety nets to help you explore what’s there.
  • Become a magpie; See things. Take notes. Borrow ideas later.
  • Think about the layers of storytelling in place. How do the audience read and understand what is in front of them?
  • Discover what you’re working with likes to do. 

What were you up to and how have you remained creative during the closure of the theatres?

Before lockdown hit I had just finished two very different projects: a small scale touring show for for younger audiences in community spaces, and some design and making commissions for a comedy piece. Conversations had started about how to solve a puppetry based element in some new writing, and then design aspects for a large scale opera for upcoming Autumn. Then everything stopped dead.

 

Theatres may be closed but creativity exists in every walk of life. The past few months have been a welcome pause to learn some new skills and investigate some new technologies, materials and techniques. It’s things like this that you don’t get the chance to do when you’re in the midst of actually working. Admittedly, there has been some guilt that I haven’t “made anything” during this period; people have been brilliantly brave and experimental during all of this. This has been a bit more of a consuming and incubation period for me to hopefully be creative later on.

 

When theatres reopen what are you most looking forward to.

I love going and seeing work I am unfamiliar with. A new venue, a new take on something, someone’s work I haven’t ever seen before, a new combination of people working together.

 

We are also going to be faced with a different landscape and possibilities in how/what we programme and make. A big challenge is how we reconnect with audiences, but one that could create some brilliant things in the process.

 

And finally, what do you think is the best thing about theatre?

It’s a congregation of people in that moment, experiencing that thing. That, in this day and age, is a rare thing. It fulfils the need we have as humans to interact with stories and each other.

 

The arts overall allow us all to go to the emotional gym and have a good workout. Be that through laughter, tears, or understanding the world around us and each other a little better.

30th September 2020

This week we have a double whammy, two spotlights shine bright!

Firstly we catch up with Designer Cristiano Casimiro and then Actor Rob Peacock! 

Tell us a bit about your process: what does a Costume Designer actually do?

Well for me it all starts with a story and trying to understand who these characters are. There are usually conversations with the director to define who these people are and in turn I can start deciding what they should be wearing based on their personality traits. At the same time I try to understand what is the overall aesthetic for the production so that the costumes make sense with the set/ production design, lighting and sound.

What's your favourite part of your process?

Definitely the pre production is the most fun for me. Understanding who these characters are and then helping bring them to life is rewarding and exciting every time.

Photograph of Cristiano Casimiro 

What was your first theatrical experience?

It was actually during University in Lisbon. I was asked to design the costumes for a play called Fashion Store written and directed by David Silva. I was studying Fashion Design at the time but that was the first time I started considering moving into costume design.

What are your theatrical or creative influences / inspiration?

To be honest I love a load of different things. I wouldn’t consider myself the most knowledgeable person over theatre but I love discovering things. Research is one of my favourite things to do and love discovering books, especially antique books with interesting illustrations. Also music is a big part of my process, I tend to hear the same playlist while working on a project because I find that it reflects the mood in the work being created.

You collaborated on our 2017 and 2018 productions of Marlowe's Edward II, what can you tell us about that process and how you came to design choices.

Well after talking with the director and understanding the mood or “vibe” we were going for it all started making sense. It was very fight club in a masculine way, but also had a lot of period references, almost like times change but royalty remains the same. For instance, if you say royal crown everyone tends to see the similar image in their brains straight away.

You work a lot in dance and physical theatre, how does that differ from say a more classic or traditional play?

Well from a practical point of view it can be a bit different but in concept is pretty much the same. Of course with dance and a lot of physical plays the only thing that you really need to pay attention to is body movement and make sure your work doesn’t compromise that but rather helps it or enhances it. But I believe that is not an excuse to compromise design choices but rather an opportunity to research how to achieve the same idea and make it work with the body movement that is required

What were you working on before the theatres were closed and what have you been up to since then?

I was designing Robotology at the Unicorn Theatre which was sadly postponed. During lockdown I tried to use that time to update my website and do my film showreel. After lockdown rules eased I have been doing some short films and commercials

Film / TV or Stage?

Good stories and even better characters.

Cristiano Casimiro's Costume Design of Marlowe's Edward II 2018 cast, photographs by Adam Trigg

Tell us a bit about how you got into acting.

I had always enjoyed singing and performing as a child but mostly the opportunities would only come during school. When I started studying Drama at GSCE level some classmates told me about a Amateur dramatic society who performed in the town’s theatre and they thought I would love it. And they were right! I joined Abergavenny Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (AAODS) and played the role of Arab in West Side Story. The following year I was playing the lead in My Fair Lady. That production opened my eyes to doing acting professionally.

Photograph of Rob Peacock taken by Martin Lomas

The "acting process" is often shrouded in mystery or misunderstood, give us an insight into your process and how do you go from being offered the part to opening night?

One of the most important things for me to do first on any production is to learn the script. My short-term memory isn’t the best, so it takes me a long time to learn my lines, so I like to know most of them before the first rehearsal. That way I can explore more with the character and with the cast without having to have a book in my hand. After that it becomes a case of having as much fun within the script as you can. A play isn’t a play unless you play.

What were you up to before lockdown / theatre closing?

I was auditioning and preparing for a show that was going to the Brockley Jack theatre (funnily enough!). I had performed with the company, “So It Goes” theatre company last year in their production of Moby Dick and was going to take part in their new show this year.

What has been your top 3 ways of staying creative / artistic?

Through lockdown I was making silly short films for a weekly WhatsApp competition with other creatives. I would act and edit it myself before sharing on a Sunday Afternoon. Each week would have a theme or a sentence to work with and we would go from there. One of mine was a Lego stop motion short of a Boris Johnson Speech, another was a recreation of a scene from Disney’s Hercules which included a Hydra Sock puppet. I had done some editing before but not quite on this scale.

I also found myself getting into a bit of gardening, and started growing some veg in containers. I found it really useful to find something other than acting to keep my mind fresh and occupied.

You played Azdak amongst other characters in our 2016 production of Caucasian Chalk Circle, tell us a bit about what you remember from that time.

I took on the role after another cast member left the production halfway through rehearsal, so I remember really trying hard to learn as much as I could in a small space of time. We would rehearse 10 until 5, then I would go to work as an Usher in a West End theatre and bring parts of the script into the auditorium with me while the show was on. I would sit in the dark going through lines. I was very scared during previews that I would forget complete scenes, but we had a fantastic cast who were really supportive which made everything easier. Lazarus has a great talent when it comes to creating an ensemble of actors and we didn’t have a rotten one in the bunch.

Has "doing a Brecht" had any influence / impact on your acting process?

I’ve found that with Brecht, you can push your character a lot further than you would in other plays. You can exaggerate characteristics and really ”Go Big”. So the most fun I’ve had on stage is in a Brecht play.

Ensemble work isn't everyone's cup of tea, how would you describe the pro's and con's to this process?

The pros really come from the imagery that you can create when everyone is aware and listening to each other. Choreography can be really snappy and tight and appear out of nowhere. Songs can bounce around a stage without a moments breath. But if one cast member isn’t listening or concentrating the ball gets dropped, and the audience will pick up on something being missed, and then it is twice as hard to win them over.

If you could play any role in a classical play who would it be and why?

I like the idea of playing Faustus but I think it would mostly depend on the director’s vision for the piece.

RSC or NT?

RSC

Rob Peacock in rehearsal and performance of Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle 2016, Photographs by Adam Trigg

19th September 2020

The Spotlight has been switched back on! This week we focus on Actor Fred Thomas who played in our 2020 production of Macbeth.

Tell us about your first theatrical experience, what do you remember of it.

My grandparents took my sister and I to see The Lion King. We weren’t very old. We had balloons with us we had just got from Pizza Express, I remember that as we entered the theatre, an usher came up to us and told us that we couldn’t take them into the auditorium, we gave them to him and he took them away. I looked up at my grandparents, I asked about getting the balloons back at the end of the show, I have a vivid memory of the worried looks that crossed their faces as two popping sounds were heard from the other room – my first taste of grief. The initial sadness over the loss of my balloon had soften by the opening bars of The Circle of Life.

Fred Thomas, Photograph by Henry Harrison

How did you get into acting?

My Grandad took me to an amateur dramatics group to be part of the pantomime, it was Cinderella, I was 5 years old, I played a mouse and insisted on wearing a wizard hat – magic mouse. That was my first time on stage in a theatre – the Conquest Theatre in Bromyard. I can remember my grandad scheming ways of getting me a line (a joke he’d heard somewhere years before) in a scene where the magic mouse had to sweep up the stage in preparation for the ball, I swept the broom into my grandads feet, when he asked ‘what are you doing?’, I replied, ‘just sweeping up the rubbish’ – classic.

You collaborated with us on our last production to reach the stage before theatre's were closed what were the difficulties / highlights of Macbeth?

Highlights:

  • The apparition scene. It was fun trying out different things in the rehearsal room and then working in time with the tech in the theatre.
  • Walking through the wreckage left by act five to deliver Malcolm’s final speech.
  • Working with the cast and creative team, what a delight.
Difficulties:
  • Paper cascades, they can be visually striking and fun to do. But just when you think you’ve got the technique down, after you’ve had a few runs with a perfect fluttering spread, the clump goes up and the clump comes down, no flutter, thud. They can be unpredictable. There are many factors that determine the success of a paper drop, some are within your control, these are the pile and the throw. The pile of paper should be finetuned, not too small, not too large, the size of a pile can make or break your cascade. With the throw, its all in the wrist, flick the wrist and if the piles right you’re on your way to a good cascade.

Actors have so many "ways in" or "approaches" to their craft, do you have a formalised process, or do you go with the company's flow? Tell us about your approach / process.

50/50 – There are a few things I like to do, but I like to go with the company’s flow, learn something new. Ricky introduced me to some new techniques that I will definitely continue to use in my approach to text. Specifically paying close attention to punctuation in the early stages of text work. On Macbeth, the first thing we did to our scripts was break the text up into thoughts and sub-thoughts, with a pencil dash at commas to indicate sub-thoughts and a double dash at full stops to show thoughts. Having the text visually broken down allowed me to see how Malcolm was speaking and thinking.

Performing Shakespeare is often much debated, especially "how to" do it, what's your number one "acting Shakespeare" tip.

To keep going back to the text, there’s always more to discover. It’s beautiful, rich language, something else sticks with me after each reading. I look at the words and make lists of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The types and choices of words paint a picture of the character, how they’re feeling and what their opinions are.

Get the words into your mouth and body, feel the individual sounds, see where they resonate, physicalise the sound, play with your vocal range. Enjoy speaking it.

If we could offer you any role in any classical play right now, what would it be and why?

Orlando in As You Like It. That would be fun. Break social distancing with a bit of a wrestle – or choregraph a socially distant fight. It would be nice to get out of the flat with a trip through the Forest of Arden.

What's the hardest / most difficult of being an actor?

For me, the old adage, you are your own worst critic.

What's the best / most fruitful part of being an actor?

Those moments when it all works, when the company comes together after a show and goes ‘yeah, that was it’.

Cats or Dogs?

Dogs. My family have always had dogs. For as long as I’ve been knocking about, there has been dog on the farm (apart from a brief moment in 2017 between the lose of Belle, a terrier, and the arrival of Olive, a Hungarian vizsla). I love dogs. I’m not anti-cat, but I’ve had some hairy encounters with them in the past. This one time I was at a party and my friends cat had to be removed from my leg with an oven glove. So, dogs. I’m sure there are some lovely cats out there, but dogs.

Fred Thomas in rehearsal and performance of Macbeth 2020. Photographs by Adam Trigg

17th July 2020

The "Spotlight On" feature shines on actor Lakesha Cammock who played as part of our 2017 productions of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Edward II. 

How did I get into acting?

I’ve always loved performing. The school play was my favourite event! Drama class and theatre studies were the subjects that brightened any day. After sixth form I wanted to do it professionally so decided to audition for drama school. 

What is the best thing about being an actor?

Creating and telling stories. I suppose that’s why I love fantasy films so much. Being transported to a different time and place and being able to tell those stories. 

How have you been filling your time since theatres closed? Any tips on staying creative?

I’ve been completing my personal training course- I love fitness. I’ve also stayed connected to my actor friends and theatres I’ve worked in to keep creative juices flowing. Mini projects or just group classes or readings have kept me connected. 

Lakesha Cammock, Photograph by Jennie Scott

How did I approach Edward the second in comparison to the Caucasian chalk circle?

Because of how complex Chalk circle was, I remember my process being very much in the body. I remember walking the space over and over to ‘feel’ where it is I need to be after what moment. We had to really tune in as a company. In Edward, Being the only female was a powerful and exciting dynamic. I remember LOVING the journey of plugging in to the fierce energy around me. 

You are going to be stranded on a dessert island’ what three items would you take?

Phone

Soap

Deep conditioner- the Afro needs to be maintained 😂

What would you say are the main challenges facing actors? What advice would you give to those thinking about becoming an actor?

Insuring a stable financial situation. I would suggest investing in a part time career you enjoy than can see you through your months without acting work. 

If you could play a role in a classic play what would it be and why?

Lady Macbeth- intriguing and electric. Discovering those layers is a journey I want to take. 

Cat or dog?

Dog. German shepherd to be exact. 

Lakesha Cammock in Caucasian Chalk Circle, Edward II and in Rehearsal 2017. Photographs by Adam Trigg

10 July 2020

The Spotlight turns and shines on Georgina Barley this week, and actor and writer who has played with us on two occasions, firstly in the original company of Lord of the Flies and secondly in The Tempest in 2019.

Georgina Barley as Caliban in The Tempest 2019, Photograph by Adam Trigg

How did you get into acting?

Is it too predictable to trace it all back to a kindergarten nativity play? They’re a pretty potent catalyst for the young budding actor. I had a flawless track record of being cast as the Virgin Mary all throughout my Catholic primary education – much to the chagrin of my classmates, who thought that since I hadn’t been baptised I was a godless heathen and therefore disqualified. But what can I say - I looked really good in blue.

You also write, tell us about how you got into writing.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, I couldn’t say when that started. I guess it was the Chaucer-esque chronicles of Kitty and Doggy I wrote when I was five. When I was in the National Youth Theatre, my friend Gabriel introduced me to poetry and spoken word, and I self-published a book of poetry last year to help raise money for my first play, ‘Lovesick.’

Do you find those two roles cross over / inform each other?

I was getting tired of sitting round waiting for the phone to ring. Actors are so often at the mercy of the people who create the work, because – obviously – without the work there’s nothing for us to do. So when no one is offering you anything, you have to make your own. ‘Lovesick’ was due to be staged at the White Bear Theatre in April this year. We were set to start rehearsals right when London went into lockdown and all the theatres went dark. So that was pretty disconcerting, but it’s still there, ready to put on its feet as soon as we can. Feel free to check out our trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoPr4MFonM8

You collaborated with us on a number of projects now, share with us some of your highlights.

I loved Lord of the Flies. Those movement sequences were *chef’s kiss*. The music always gave me goosebumps. Every performance was so physically draining, but so satisfying – you really felt like you worked for it. When it was staged the following year with a different cast, it was such a weird and unique experience to also be able to see the show from the audience’s perspective. I could finally experience it from the outside, not on a recording but actually there in the theatre. I don’t think we’re given that opportunity very often.

You were of course in our 2019 production of The Tempest, what are the positives and pitfalls of playing Shakespeare?

I think the biggest challenge is the weight the name carries. Shakespeare. The Guy. His plays are performed so frequently, studied so extensively, pulled apart, reimagined, held aloft (or not, depending who you talk to), it feels like you’re signing up for an immense undertaking, even before you actually step into the rehearsal room. And you want to bring something original to it, but sometimes it feels like you’re battling against the tide of everything that has come before. But there’s also something special about being part of history. Another notch on the belt of all the Tempests that have been staged before. Another Caliban in the Hall of Calibans, stretching back four hundred years.

If we could cast you in any classical role now, what would it be and why?

I’d like to play Iago. You can tell the audience right to their faces exactly what you’re up to, and know there’s nothing they can do about it. Though part of me would wish someone would have the balls to try and stop me…

Theatres are closed, how have you been keeping creative?

My creative concentration is a fickle beast. I’d like to say I’ve been writing non-stop, but sometimes it’s very difficult to put pen to paper (‘fingers to keys’ doesn’t sound as poetic). But I’ve kept creative in other ways – I’ve set up a couple of Etsy shops for some of my handmade things: teacup pincushions and hand-embroidered jackets. I find stitching very meditative, particularly when I’m feeling anxious about the world.

Give us your top three tips for lockdown.

Try to keep some sort of routine, go for walks, tend a houseplant. I have to remind myself of these every day. Especially to tend my houseplant.

Fish and chips or curry?

How could you ask me such a question? Fish and chips, obviously.

6 July 2020

This week we focus the 'Spotlight On' actor Hamish Somers and ask him; Musical or Shakespeare? 

Tell us a bit about how you got into acting. Why did you want to be an actor?

My older brother is an actor. I think when I was about eight my mother asked me 'Do you want to go to drama club? Just because your brother goes doesn't mean you have to.' After that I was hooked. Joined as many after school amateur dramatic groups I could fit into the week, as well as a speech and drama class. Spent as much time in school in the drama department as I could get away with. I just loved it. Other than the fact you get to tell stories and play games, I think it was the camaraderie that kept me hooked. I was seriously bad at football so this allowed me a way of being a part of a team. Something nice about being a part of a collective. 

Hamish Somers, photograph by Michael Carlo

Do you have any particular theatrical hero's / inspirations?

Gary Wilmot. I was lucky enough to see him in a few touring musicals when I was younger and what a show man! He had the audience in the palm of his hands the whole time. I remember meeting him at the stage door of the Liverpool Empire after seeing him in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and asking him to sign a photo of me and him from years ago after seeing him in Half A Sixpence in Aberdeen. As he's doing this, Alvin Stardust gets into his chauffeured limousine. Gary then starts his uphill walk to his hotel, anorak on and rucksack on his back. I knew I wanted to be that guy. 

You recently played in our company of Macbeth, tell us a bit about your Lazarus Debut!

It was a dream gig really. Being in a room full of people who want to be there, are willing to get a bit silly and care as much as you must be treasured. If I could recreate that cast feel on every project I work on I would be a very happy actor. Also, first theatre gig after drama school being 'the Scottish play' being Scottish did tick some box in whatever careerist checklist I have in my head. 

If we could cast you in any role in any classical play, what would it be and why?

Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. It's one of the few Shakespeare comedies that I've seen that can make me laugh without too many gags. I also just think it would be so much fun working out a rapport with my hypothetical Beatrice that we can then play with and bring the audience in on. I'm also a fan of his growth of character throughout the story - boy to man in some aspects.

You are going to be stranded on an island, what three items would you take with you.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (I'll never read it otherwise), a guitar and a Swiss army knife.

How has it been for you in lockdown, how have you been filling your time / staying creative?

All things considered it's been a fairly comfortable lockdown - some treasured time with family I wouldn't have had otherwise. Other than big books and box-sets to spark the imagination I have got myself involved in some play readings. All of them so far have been Shakespeare texts I've not encountered before so it's been a great exercise in keeping myself sharp(ish) for when theatre comes back.

If you had any advice to anyone thinking about going into acting what would it be?

Make sure you love it. Sometimes in can be scary and uncertain whether you're in a rehearsal or not but your love for it will always prevail. 

What's the best thing about being in a rehearsal room?

It's a playpark that is socially acceptable to use as an adult.

Shakespeare or Musical?

Musical. Sue me.

29th June 2020

This week we explore the work of another Designer, this time Reuben Speed. He was due to be Costume Designer on Hedda Gabler which sadly never made it to the stage, but in this "Spotlight On" he takes us through his process and talks about life in lockdown.

How did you get into theatre and specifically design?

From an early age I have always been transfixed by theatre. It is the collaboration of the performer, the sets, the costumes, the lighting, all of the elements working together in a unison, it's blimin magical. In primary school, I would often pester the teacher about the end of term show, then in highschool and college I was really interested in the art and english. It was only really in my art foundation degree at college did I realise I could actually be a theatre designer, what was so fantastic about that is that the job role encompasses so many mediums that you learn on the course such as illustration, 3D, fashion, fine art etc that it helped to lead to this career pathway.  

What was the first theatrical experience?

I can't remember my first experience. It was no doubt ‘Annie’ or ‘Cats’ from a tour that my twin sister would have urged us to see. However, I do remember when I was younger seeing a production of Pinocchio at The New Vic, my local producing theatre in Staffordshire. I remember disliking it at first, because its a theatre in the round and I didn't understand why there wasn't a backdrop. It didn't make sense. However, I will never forget the moment they created the whale from a vom (an entering and exiting tunnel), and how effective it was. I can now, gladly say, I grew up, matured and totally adore the theatre and the medium of in the round. I can't wait to be back there watching a show soon.   

Tell us a bit about your work, how would you describe it?

I think as a young designer you are still very much feeling your way around in the industry, with how to impress and show off your authenticity. My work, normally is my response from the text and the directors brief. The brief can be in a lot of detail or very little, but either way it is the starting point of the design process. Also depending on how I respond to the text, sort of indicates in how I will work. For example I designed the costumes for 'Whistle Down The Wind' at The Union, as it was very rural and wholesome, so I hand drew the costume drawings and painted them with watercolour, whereas with Hedda, it felt modern and explosive, so I created them, digitally. I have also realised since graduating my work really is all about being resourceful and styling, as a lot of my productions have been small budgets, so if you can style the set or costumes with effective resources from around you, you're onto a winner.  

Take us through your design process, how do you begin?

All designers probably start the same way, with the text and the discussion from the director. I normally jot down my initial responses and 'doodles' that really aren't too far from the end product. Obviously, your ideas will go through stages of development, but usually they comeback to the initial idea, which can be frustrating with how much time you spend on it. I work quite systematically at first, with doing excel sheets for costume blocking, scene changes, and doing breakdowns of the scenes and characters. I think then, that is how you know the piece well enough, it also starts to sow the seed of ideas for the incredible journey of going from page to stage. 

What styles or practitioners influence your own work?

I literally have so many people I look up too. I am weird, I seem to store all the names of productions designers have done in my head. I can reel off shows someone has done, it would be quite useful, if my chosen subject on 'Mastermind' was theatre designers. However, I am in awe of my peer group of designers, the resilience and work ethic of these young theatre makers, making stunning performances out of small budgets, should be applauded and sometimes isn't commended enough.  

What were you working on before Coronavirus and how has the virus effected you and your work?

So I had just opened a show, a week before we were 'strongly advised' not to go out. It was just in previews and we were expected to go into Press that week. I was also in the final week of designing 'Hedda' at the Greenwich Theatre, with the fab Lazarus team. We had just done the costume parade, when I heard on the radio what was happening and the industry shut up shop in less than two hours. This has meant that future productions have been cancelled, on hold or postponed for now. I was also in the process of talking about other productions which would have meant a busy summer, however that has all been on hold. 

Whats the element or event in the design process you enjoy most?

I love the research of designing and learning something new. I also love the process of the costume designing. Sometimes, I will discuss with the actors their characters and I love the collaboration it can bring. The sketching and drawing of the character and the mood board references to explain your ideas to the company, gives me such a buzz. With this you are bringing your findings and own stance to the production which can be a really useful tool for the actors and directors, especially with portraying their character. Clothing, is a character in itself, and when the actors has the right costume, it elevates them in the process of being that story teller.   

From your time as a designer, share with us some of your key productions / designs.

I have been so fortunate with my career so far. Some career highlights have been 'High Flyers' which was a new verbatim musical at The New Vic, it was the first time I worked there, and what a joy. It has always been on my bucket list and luckily I got to, and to work on such a profound piece of theatre. The young performers from the outreach company created the show, so things would be changing and I learnt about being adaptable. It was also great to work with everyone in the different departments, from costume with dying hoodies to the scenic painters, making the floor look like a cracked concrete. It was really impactful as it was meant to represent the fraction this generation was going to face.

I also recently designed the Off West-end revival of Lionel Bart's 'Blitz!' it was fantastic to be working with the team at The Union Theatre and working with legendary director Phil Willmot, it is a musical that is so endear to many people, so it was important to get it right. We were trying to create a multifunctional design in a small space, with a big company for that size. And, I think we got there.

When its safe to do so what are you most looking forward to when theatres reopen?

I can't wait to be back in the community, the community of audience and the community of creators, makers and storytellers. Oh boy, won't there be some stories to be told. 

Red or white wine?

Anyone who knows me and probably, the team at Lazarus will vouch, if it is alcoholic, I'll drink it. Yet the mature 2020 me, would say, white wine at the moment. 

22nd June 2020

This week we chat with Composer Bobby Locke...

How do you go about composing for an ensemble Shakespeare play?

Tell us a bit about how you got into composing.

After performing in a show directed by Ricky Dukes, he approached me about writing songs for his next Lazarus production, The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Before this I had only written simple piano pieces and musical theatre songs, so I was a little apprehensive in taking on such a different project.

The show was key in kick-starting my career and I look forward to working on my sixth Lazarus project next year, Peter Pan.

What sort of work / projects excite you?

From experience, creating work that moves people into feeling a certain way has always interested me. To be able to give someone goosebumps through music means I’ve done something right!

Making an impact on a younger generation drives me forward too. I remember sitting in the audience during a packed-out performance, full of school groups; it was ‘the-play-within-a-play’ part of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and we had re-written it as this bizarre operetta. I remember worrying about how they might react to it, and then being amazed by their crazed reaction.

Composer Bobby Locke. Picture taken by Kim Hardy

Give us an insight into your process, how do you begin to work on a project.

I do find that every project requires a different approach , but general speaking the process usually starts from reading the script. Even if I think I know the play (if I’ve read it at school), it’s still important to get a feel for what the text says to me now.

From there, I’ll note down what I believe to be the core themes of the play (Chalk Circle - War, Tempest - Family). Sometimes my initial thoughts might differ from the director, but given that composition takes place months before the production starts, it’s good to have a starting point for myself.

With those themes in mind, I then move to the piano and work through ideas that lend themselves to the play. From this improvisation, I can usually record a number of demos for the director, for them to weigh-in on what’s there so far.

You have worked with us on a number of projects now, what has been the highlight so far?

Two moments from each production I’ve worked on stand out as highlights;

  • the first time I hear the cast sing as a whole, finally hearing the songs in real-life and not just through my headphones!
  • the first sound-check we do in the theatre: I remember working on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and we were running the music for the transition into the forest, the first magical moment of the show. What had once started as simple improvisation at my piano was now filling every space of the Greenwich theatre; strings, timpani, glockenspiel, and a choir transforming the roughness of the auditorium into something far more imaginary.

Working with an ensemble and in such an intense and short space of time can be tricky, what is the hardest part of composing for theatre?

One of the things I admire about the Lazarus casting process is that they audition with an ensemble collaboration in mind, rather than putting focus on the individual.

I’ve found that, although I may not be the best musical director, working with a committed group of people who are willing to adapt to my way of teaching helps considerably.

It also helps that an ensemble is often ready to jump in with suggestions that I may not have thought about. For me it makes that imaginary gap between performer and creative that little bit smaller.

How do you stay creative during the lockdown?

It’s hard. As a composer, my work is usually only worth the visual that it’s attached to; theatre, film, dance, etc. So trying to keep that creativity going through lockdown has been frustrating.

My way back into a regular creative routine has been through exploring my piano-playing. Not necessarily having a goal in mind, but just to have fun with it and find that enjoyment in playing without any pressure.

Who would you say is your biggest influences / inspiration were?

I could honestly give lists and lists of musical influences, completely depending on what mood I was in!

From a theatrical perspective, the reason I became interested in writing songs and music for theatre was through the work of Stephen Sondheim, although that may sound fairly cliche. But unlike other musical theatre composers, Sondheim’s focus on form and structure has always been important to me in writing my own work.

What's the one thing you are most looking forward to when theatre returns?

Moments sat around the piano in the rehearsal room, hearing the cast (and director) sing some songs!

Brecht or Shakespeare?

One of the first theatre productions that I vividly remember was Brecht’s Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui at the Liverpool Playhouse. It stuck with me as theatre that gets us thinking, theatre that has a reason to it. Shakespeare doesn’t quite have that same accessibility for me.

A draft version of Yo Ho from our forthcoming production of JM Barrie's Peter Pan. Composed and played by Bobby Locke with vocals by Larissa Teale

Caucasian Chalk Circle 2017, Beggars Opera 2016, The Tempest 2019

15th June 2020

We chat with Company Photographer Adam Trigg about life behind the lens, and what does in his opinion make for a great production shot. 

How did you first get into photography and specifically theatre photography?

Photography has always played a big part of my life. I was always entering competitions and was beginning to achieve some success in that area. To kick start my photography career I started out with some formal training (not only in photography techniques but also in running a business) and studied with the Open College of the Arts. Some of my early commissions were working with actors on their portfolios and it was through these contacts that I became involved with the theatre industry. As an avid theatre goer, it is no surprise that I was instantly hooked! 

Give us an insight into your process for a shoot.

Apart from working out the logistics (locations, kit requirements and so on) the process starts with talking with the director to establish exactly what is required. One of the best things about working with Lazarus is that I will often work on the early promotional images, long before rehearsals start, and I can pick up lots of valuable pointers in our talks during this time. As rehearsals start and the production run gets nearer, I familiarise myself with the play - even if it is a well-known Shakespeare a little revision work is always useful. On the day of the production shoot (almost always during the final dress rehearsal), I will arrive early to work out the best vantage points and have some final discussions about the play’s lighting, effects and key scenes. After the shoot I’ll shortlist the images which best tell the play’s story and show each character’s strengths. Then the job of editing starts with a 24-48 hour turnaround in time for press-night.

What is the hardest / trickiest part of taking rehearsal / production photography?

The hardest part of taking the production photographs is anticipating which parts of each scene to concentrate on and, of course, where to stand, what lens and camera settings to use and then adapting them to frequently changing lighting. Production shoots can either be short set pieces played just for the camera (here I can have some control of the action if needed) or, more often than not, they consist of a single dress rehearsal run from start to finish during which I will shoot in the background as the play progresses - I love the challenge of working this way.

Rehearsal shoots are quite different. They are usually a couple of weeks before the production goes live and the challenge here is working completely unobtrusively with all the actors, the director and other key people (e.g. the choreographer) all together in a relatively small space.

The 2018 Company of Edward II, shots by Adam Trigg

Having worked with us for some time now, what has been your favourite production to shoot and why?

That’s a difficult question as so many have struck a chord with me and been a real treat to watch. If I was forced to choose one, it has to be your 2018 production of Marlowe's Edward II. This was the second release of Edward II for Lazarus. The first one in the previous year was stunning but the 2018 version had a further sense of maturity from the whole cast and I loved Timothy Blore’s emotional portrayal of King Edward II from the moment his fate was sealed at the beginning of the play. It also looked fantastic from behind the lens and the play scaled up to the large space at the Greenwich Theatre perfectly.

After a shoot you often express a vibe or a feeling about the rehearsal room and what the production will be like, what informs that feeling?

I think it all comes down to the chemistry between the actors. If they are really involved in the text of the play, their characters and each other’s roles at such an early stage of the production I know it should turn out well. I can often tell if this is the case during the rehearsal room shoot as I will find it easier to ‘become invisible’. This not only means I know the vibe is good but I will be able to take better photographs. A model example of this was at the last rehearsal session I attended before we all had gone into lockdown, Hedda Gabler

If you had any advice for anyone interested in theatre photography what would it be?

Remember you are working for the company and trying to show their vision in the best way you can. This means conveying the look they have worked so hard on achieving. So whilst you will have to use all your skills (angles, composition and camera techniques) from behind the lens you shouldn’t expect to be stamping a strong style of your own on the final images - you need to show the visuals as they were meant to be shown. So the practical advice is to be able to adapt and treat each commission individually in order to meet the company’s needs …. oh and, if you can, invest in an invisibility cloak!

Shakespeare or musical theatre?

I have fond memories of James Millar’s ‘The Hatpin’ with Lazarus back in 2012…. but it has to be Shakespeare for me.

Explore more of Adam's work including his ten year retrospective here.

Promotion shot for Tamburlaine by Adam Trigg featuring Prince Plockey.

8th June 2020

We chat to Designer Sorcha Corcoran about her process her influences and initial design ideas for our brand new ensemble production of JM Barrie's Peter Pan...

Peter Pan will be staged in our 2021 Greenwich Theatre Season.

How did you get into design?

I have always been interested in making things and drawing, sketching. When I finished my BTEC in ART and Design, I wanted to start a career in which I could use these skills. Once I started my BA in Theatre Design, I realised how much I enjoyed telling stories through set and costume design.

Designer Sorcha Corcoran. Picture taken by Michael O'Reilly 

What would you say was your style / influences?

I take a lot of inspiration from installation art and design, a lot of the work I do is on an open stage and the audience walks straight in and sees the set straight away. I like creating spaces in colour and structure that evoke an atmosphere that gets the audience immersed into the space immediately. If you can get an audience to feel something with just the space that you create, it can amplify a performance to higher heights of experience.

How did you begin the process of designing Peter Pan?

Colour. Colour is such a strong tool within stage design, and especially in a space like the Greenwich theatre which is so large and stark, the moment you throw a block colour on to the space its exciting and it begins to evoke a sense of magic and location. Magic is also something to focus on with Peter Pan, the play is mainly located in Neverland which is an entirely magical and absurd place, so it is really exciting to be able to come up with this ever changing colourful magical world. Right now we are finessing which colour to which scenes; early on Ricky and me agreed that it should be very bright block plastic colours, and materials. For example we will be having this large blue polythene sheeting flying down to floor from the grind to be the mermaids lagoon.

Whats it like working with such a hands on director?

Working with a hands on director is about building on a their initial ideas rather than going away and coming back with a design. Having worked with Lazarus for a few years you get an idea of what kind of ideas they are going for and your job is to make it achievable but without squashing the impact. You want the design to have an epic effect on the space, and its about working out how you can do those ideas in a way that gets the effect across whilst being practical and possible.

A very important aspect with working with a hands on director is giving a lot of space to the rehearsal room. I like to get as much set, props, costume and furniture into the room as soon as I possible can, so that the director and the actors can play and work with the items, and everyone knows sooner rather than later if that item is working out or not. A lot of unusual and exciting things come out of the rehearsal rooms so its important to give it the flexibility it needs.

What is the moment in the production thats proved the most difficult to design so far?

So far we are still fairly early stages of design, so everything is possible and exciting. What will be tricky is when we start looking into the logistics of how we can transform the space seamlessly between scenes. 

Design sketches and images of inspiration collated by Sorcha Corcoran.

There will be a lot of pulleys and rigging points, plus a lot of trying things out and adapting as we go. I love seeing scene changes, we will definitely want to make them a beautiful part of the story, highlight all the rigging and lights so that everyone can the mechanics of the theatre. It will take a lot of practice and we have to be completely prepared for tech. All hands on deck!

What are the pitfalls and the most exciting aspect about designing for the Greenwich Theatre stage?

The Greenwich is a fantastic void space, the potentials in there are unending, you can create so much depth all the way back to the back wall, and properly play with the enormous height of it. From working a lot in smaller fringe venues to the vacuum of the Greenwich is really exciting.

It can be difficult to fill the space, and once you start putting pieces of set and furniture in you realise the impact can be a lot less than if you were in a smaller venue. This has to be carefully considered with the director and lighting designer so we can make the areas we want to highlight seem epic rather than small.

Lost boy or Pirate?

Definitely Lost Boy

1st June 2020

The Future? 

In the initial weeks following the closure of theatres we were bereft and a totally lost, how long would we be out, when could we return, what did this mean to our artists and audience of which we have worked so hard to develop over the last two years as resident company at Greenwich Theatre. Questions!

Our minds turned firstly to our company of Hedda Gabler who were in the final week of rehearsal, the show paused indefinitely. So much of a project is working collectively to deadlines, to that first performance, then press night and a successful and rewarding run. Those in production ten continue working up to closing night, get out and sometimes up to several postproduction weeks. That had been taken away.

Depression due to the lack of "closure" is real.

The rehearsal room had to be cleared away, scripts, props, furniture all left as they were the night before. Something eery about the Greenwich Theatre being empty, quiet, ghostly. Saying goodbye to staff, not knowing when you would see them again was emotional, trying to suppress that emotion under the stiff upper lip positivity that it will all be ok and that we would be back, haze machine in hand before they knew it.

After a few days we knew we had to plan, and plan big.

We now have four working scenarios for our return, all based on three very basic red lines all connected to Government guidance. Scenario A sees us present a production in Jan 2021, B in March 2021, C in June 2021 and scenario D where there is no 2021 season, this also relies of the Greenwich Theatre’s own activity and fitting in postponed projects.

Scenario D is a real possibility. In the meantime we have thrown our creative net across those artists with whom we had already collaborated to see what they want / need and what we as a company might offer.


Suggestions have been varied, ranging from some wanting to do a full digital production of that lost play no one will ever stage through to those who can’t bear the thought of another zoom reading. We are now in the early stages of a digital project and plan our famous Friday Night drinks albeit virtually, a series of workshops and discussions planned and possibly most importantly of all, the invitation to get in touch.


We are still accepting suggestions and ideas of how best to keep creatively engaged with all our collaborators, so please do get in contact if you would like to join in.


Following Government guidance and details issued by SOLT we will be ready to return as soon as its safe to do so.

I for one can’t wait to be in the auditorium on that first performance.


Ricky Dukes

Artistic Director

The company of Macbeth in rehearsal, shots taken by Adam Trigg.

Hedda Gabler

in rehearsal...

Over the next few weeks we shall sharing our Hedda Gabler rehearsal process with you. From initial thoughts through to exploring and researching the play to staging and tech, right up through previews and into our run, the cast and creative will be sharing their work, their collaboration and production. 

60 Seconds with... 

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Jonathon George, Yorkshire.

2. Who are you playing in Hedda Gabler?

George Tesman.

3. What’s your favourite play?

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. But that can shift pretty frequently.

4. If you could play any role in any play who would you play and why?

Iago in Othello (when I’m the right age); because he’s the bad guy you hate to love.

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Hedda Gabler?

How the characters will interact when the play shifts up a gear.

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Off stage: seeing Billy Elliot back in the 90s. On stage: playing an anonymous cloaked figure in Man of La Mancha.

7. Who is your inspiration?

In life? My fiancé (I know, sappy. Get over it). Theatrically: Bryan Cranston.

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

Pretending to be far more interesting people than myself.

9. What did you see the last time you went to the theatre?

Dear Evan Hanson. The cast are incredible.

10. If you were going to destroy Lovborg’s manuscript how would you do it?

With fire. I think Hedda has the right idea.

60 Seconds with... 

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

My name is Bony Fonseca and I’m from Ivory Coast, Cape Verde and Portugal.

2. Who are you playing in Hedda Gabler?

Eilert Loveborg

3. What’s your favourite play?

Blue orange

4. If you could play any role in any play who would you play and why?

Richard III , would love to play a charming villain , who falls from power

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Hedda Gabler?

I’m excited to see how far we push the boundaries of Ibsen

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Sucker punch at the royal court when I was 13

7. Who is your inspiration?

My mum

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

The Freedom to do anything

9. What did you see the last time you went to the theatre?

A week ago to see Death of England

10. If you were going to destroy Lovborg’s manuscript how would you do it?

Shred it and spread it across London

60 Seconds with... 

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

My name’s Edd, and I’m originally from Nottingham.

2. Who are you playing in Hedda Gabler?

Judge Brack.

3. What’s your favourite play?

My favourite play that I’ve read is ‘Our Boys’ by Jonathan Lewis, but my favourite play I saw was ‘1984’ by Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke. It’s the play that made me think ‘I want to be an actor’.

4. If you could play any role in any play who would you play and why?

Probably Hamlet. It’s such an incredible role and would be a huge challenge for a number of reasons, but it’s always really appealed to me. I think the play is timeless, and it touches on some really important issues.

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Hedda Gabler?

It’s such a brilliant play, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this version works in a modern setting.

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

I think it’s when I saw Fireman Sam in Panto when I was a kid, but the first play I was in was Bugsy Malone at school. I had the tiniest role, but that’s where my love for theatre started.

7. Who is your inspiration?

River Phoenix inspired me to become an actor when I was younger, but I recently saw Ian McKellen on stage at the Nottingham Playhouse. He was so captivating and looked like he was having the best time. I think if I can have even a fraction of the longevity and variety that his career has done I’d consider myself very lucky.

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

It’s so much fun! There’s a lot of rejection and hardship, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. I love the rehearsal process and working on the piece with the company, and I’ve always craved the adrenaline rush of the live shows.

9. What did you see the last time you went to the theatre?

I saw ‘An Enemy Of The People’, directed by Adam Penford (and also written by Ibsen!)

10. If you were going to destroy Lovborg’s manuscript how would you do it?

Feed it to my dog. He eats anything and knows how to keep a secret.

60 Seconds with...

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Bethan, from Cardiff.

2. Who are you playing in Hedda Gabler?

Thea.

3. What’s your favourite play?

Table by Tanya Ronda.

4. If you could play any role in any play who would you play and why?

King Lear – Aside from the excitement of being able to explore such a complex emotional journey, I would love to see how the character’s behaviour and choices throughout the play leading up to his penultimate breakdown would feel as a female actor, and how an audience would receive it in this way.

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Hedda Gabler?

A way to turn the predictable qualities of each character on its head and portray them in a way we haven’t seen before; finding a whole new way to explore the piece without losing the traditional essence of the play.

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Cats in London when I was 3 (I was ill, took all my clothes off and invited everyone to my birthday party) but I still remember the magic of the cats coming up to me and thinking, ‘I want to have an affect on people like that one day!’.

7. Who is your inspiration?

Viola Davis for her fearlessness in her performances and Maggie Smith…because she is simply hands down wonderful in every way.

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

Never knowing where I’ll be or what to expect from each day. I’m very lucky!

9. What did you see the last time you went to the theatre?

RSC’s Kunene and The King – awe inspiring.

10. If you were going to destroy Lovborg’s manuscript how would you do it?

Burn it on the barbecue, using his hair gel as fuel lighter.

60 Seconds with... 

1. Whats your name and where do you come from?

I'm Tracy Coogan and I'm from County Meath, Ireland

2. Who are you playing in Hedda Gabler?

I play Julia Tesman

3. What's your favourite play?

I have so many favourites both old and new. Medea, Macbeth, Anna Christie, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

4. If you could play any role in any play who would you play and why?

It would have to be Medea. I think it is probably one of the most challenging roles for an actress to ever play. The idea of taking on that thrills me beyond words.

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Hedda Gabler?

Ohhhh, I can't wait to get into the underbelly of this play and Ibsen. What cages we put ourselves in? The same cages exist today? Society? Why?

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Juno and the Paycock, Séan O'Casey

7. Who is your inspiration?

Tristan and Lucian, my children. Gena Rowlands, Cate Blanchett, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Michael Haneke and many more.

8. Whats the best thing about being an actor?

Playing all the time. Losing myself in my work. Living all these incredible lives. Learning, constantly.

9. What did you see the last time you went to the theatre?

I just saw Nora: A Dolls House at the Young Vic and I saw the sublime Dame Margaret Smith in A German Life last year that I'm still thinking about, Amazing!

10. If you were going to destroy a Lovborg's manuscript how would you do it?

I would, over time remove pages from his manuscript so that it would never be complete. (That's the first thought that came to mind, so mean)

60 Seconds with... 

1. Whats your name and where do you come from?

I’m Sophia McLean and I come from Grampian in the Scottish Highlands.

2. Who are you playing in Hedda Gabler?

Hedda Gabler

3. What's your favourite play?

Tricky! Anything by Tena Štivičić or Chekhov.

4. If you could play any role in any play who would you play and why?

Mrs Hardcastle in ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ as she’s a total fruitcake and love her for it.

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Hedda Gabler?

The shifting power dynamics.

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

The Royal Lyceum’s ‘Beauty & The Beast’ in Edinburgh. I was 7 and the idea of going to Edinburgh

was pretty exotic, then being met with such magic, I completely fell in-love with theatre.

7. Who is your inspiration?

My Grannie Vera; Middlesbrough Spot-Welder, not to be messed with. And Patti Smith.

8. Whats the best thing about being an actor?

Getting to jump inside other folk's heads and end up researching the oddest/ most brilliant things.

9. What did you see the last time you went to the theatre?

David Greig’s adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s ‘Solaris’ at Lyric Hammersmith.

10. If you were going to destroy Lovborg's manuscript how would you do it?

Dowse it in lamp oil and burn it in a fire-pit.

Dig the ashes into the flowers, and then something good’s come of it!

Macbeth in rehearsal...

Over the next few weeks we shall sharing our Macbeth rehearsal process. From workshop and initial thoughts through to exploring and researching the play to staging and tech right up through previews and into our run, the cast and creative will be sharing their work, their collaboration and production. 

We are also very proud to be part of #Macbeth2020 which aims to share resources and discoveries by educators, artists and students while exploring Shakespeare's bloody play.

Join the conversation and follow 1623 Learning, use the #Macbeth2020 to stay up to date.

Curtain down.

A truly special production has come to an end. Huge thanks to all of you who supported our Macbeth. 

Day Eleven...

We have begun week three.


Next week we are in tech, and also begin performances. It's all flying by so quickly.


I had hoped that, when we were just about to begin rehearsals, that I was going to be challenged and that I would learn a lot from being in this show.


I'm happy to report that I got what I wished for.


To be in a room with people who are, quite frankly, better than me and much more disciplined than me has been such a learning experience. It's revealed to me how I work in the rehearsal room and it's pushed me to be better.


Gotta continue to be forensic as we begin to stage this beast.

Gotta be bold.

Gotta be fearless.


Onward and upward.

Mikko Juan - Ross

Day Ten...

This process is bloody fantastic! French sceneing is a sure way of demonstrating whether your dialogue in the scene is clearly communicated to the audience (in our case other cast members and creative team). We as observers shout back what is being said in a literal factual sense. It is bloody brutal but liberating! The actor in the scene will speak the thoughts and parts of thoughts until every member has imputed and understands exactly what is being said. If it is not clear the actor must continue to repeat the line using variation in musicality, intonation, space and all devices in their actor tool kit until it is definitively clear what they are communicating. It is a sure way of illustrating whether it will be clear to the audience too, or not. It is also ridiculously exhilarating and tiring as after each french scene (entrance or exit of a character) the assigned mr DJ aka our company manager will play a song (some classic cheesy 90s hits the spot) as we all run round the taped off arena like playing stage space and dance and sing until the music stops and the next scene/episode precedes, or in this case french scene continues. It is raving mad! But aren’t we all, so you roll with it and inject as much energy as possible without keeling over and we all walk away with an even deeper understanding of everything being spoken in the play. An epic end to an epic week.

Luke Ward-Wilkinson - Duncan

60 Seconds with...

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

David Clayton, Germany originally

2. Who are you playing in Macbeth?

Macduff as well as Witch 2!

3. What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

Is Macbeth cheating?

4. If you could play any role in a Shakespeare play who would it be?

Iago

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Macbeth?

The murders!

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Being a shepherd in my primary school nativity play; clearly I was destined for greatness.

7. Who is your inspiration?

Gordon Ramsay

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

Meeting new people.

9. Duncan or Macbeth?

Duncan

10. Macbeth or Malcolm?

Malcolm.

Day Six

We have found our heart beat. It sounds wanky (sometimes you’ve just got to go there) but walking around the space as individuals and unconsciously syncing as an ensemble blows my mind a little. I never trained at drama school so am quite new to these type of exercises, but it really hits home the importance of being a unit, an ensemble, of working as one while looking out for each other in a production. It’s an immense feeling and almost hypnotic when we all move, breathe and feel as one. Sometimes that is something that seems to be missing when you see productions with huge ensembles.

Luke Ward-Wilkinson - Duncan

Rehearsal room images of inspiration

60 Seconds with...

Ross – Mikko Juan

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Mikko Juan, Seattle WA. But I live in Ilford now

2. Who are you playing in Macbeth?

Ross/Messenger/Doctor

3. What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

It's cliché but Hamlet

4. If you could play any role in a Shakespeare play who would it be?

Hamlet/Iago/Orlando in As You Like It

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Macbeth?

How each leader communicates differently

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

A musical version of Charlotte's Web

7. Who is your inspiration?

My mother and my father

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

Telling stories.

9. Duncan or Macbeth?

Macbeth.

10. Macbeth or Malcolm?

Malcolm.

Day Five

Clear, concise and definitive communication is key. But do we all communicate clearly with each other or are we so used to self checkouts, commuting lost in our headphones forgetting everyone around that we forget to acknowledge, interact and even thank people as we go about our daily lives? A simple (or not so simple) exercise involving throwing multiple balls around the room in fixed patterns (character names, items, play titles eg) to each other highlighted how essential it is to be absolutely connected in a scene and in a group. Otherwise the ball is easily dropped, literally and figuratively. It’s brought us all closer together, and the intensity of our communication and listening as an ensemble has been ramped up! A weird and wonderful way to kick off the day before continuing the textual analysis!

Luke Ward-Wilkinson - Duncan

‘Between the acting of a dreadful thing

And the first motion, all the interim is

Like a phantasma or a hideous dream’.

- Brutus, Julius Caesar (Act 2, scene 1)

Fred Thomas - Malcolm

60 Seconds with...

Duncan – Luke Ward-Wilkinson

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Luke Ward-Wilkinson, I grew up in cambridge and now live in London.

2. Who are you playing in Macbeth?

I’m playing Duncan, Murderer 1 and Apparition

3. What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

Romeo and Juliet, I’m a sucker for love!

4. If you could play any role in a Shakespeare play who would it be?

Hamlet

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Macbeth?

Hmmmmmm

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Dancing on stage as a bubba (possibly 4) got the bug early!

7. Who is your inspiration?

Many people. My family and friends who spur me on, the great actors to big wall climbers, martial artists, musicians and extreme athletes. You can borrow and use it all and apply it to acting!

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

Getting lost in the process and learning and growing with each experience, there’s nothing that challenges or drives me more.

9. Duncan or Macbeth?

Duncan, but I’m biased.

10. Macbeth or Malcolm?

Obvs not Macbeth, he ends it at page 14. Malcolm just seems calmly more badass!

Day Four

"In my mind's eye..." Roller coaster of a day. 

This past weekend I had to deal with the unexpected death of my cat, and the grief from that snuck up on me this morning.

But being in the rehearsal room today was exactly what I needed.

We started exploring physicality and became very forensic with how our bodies worked. Joints, breath, flexibility.

We then started playing games that heightened our communication skills, and it made me realize just how little we as human beings in today's society actually CONNECT with one another. 

If you think about it, taking an acting class is essentially a class on how to be an empathetic and gracious human being.

We finished the day off with some text work, and lots of different "Eureka!" moments bloomed today.

I think I'm starting to get somewhat of a grasp of this Shakespeare thing. I've learned so much from this first week alone. My brain is already fucked, but I'm excited to keep making discoveries.

Mikko Juan - Ross

...In these cases we still have judgement here...’ - Macbeth (Act 1, Scene 7)

With our brains satisfyingly fried after four days flicking through thesauruses, it’s lucky that ‘in these cases we still have judgement here’. O, How we batter the grey matter.

(That ‘O’ could be expressing pleasure, but could it also be expressing pain?)

We’re all human, and so are the Macbeth’s. Each day they have become more and more recognisable as people we might know or walk past on the street.

Fred Thomas - Malcolm

60 Seconds with...

Malcolm – Fred Thomas

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Fred Thomas, a village called Pencombe, in Herefordshire.

2. Who are you playing in Macbeth?

Malcolm and Apparition

3. What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

Henry V

4. If you could play any role in a Shakespeare play who would it be?

Hamlet

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Macbeth?

I haven’t worked in a Brechtian style before, so I’m excited about that

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Primary school nativity

7. Who is your inspiration?

Mark Rylance, David Tennant, Johnny Flynn, Dame Judi

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

People

9. Duncan or Macbeth?

Macbeth.

10. Macbeth or Malcolm?

Malcolm – maybe I’m biased.

Day Three

‘The World Widens’ 

As Macbeth ‘unseamed’ the ‘merciless MacDonald’, we have continued to take apart the text.

Before rehearsals began, we were put into groups with individual research topics to broaden our understanding of the play and widen the world we’re playing in.

Today, with our fact packed brains filled to bursting, each research group had ten minutes to share their findings before Lata’s demonic duck quacked us quiet.

Tucked away at the top of the Greenwich Theatre, we had a whistle-stop tour of Scotland, travelled through time and met Billy the Bard.

Fred Thomas - Malcolm

60 Seconds with...

Lady Macbeth – Alice Emery

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Alice Emery from Watford in Hertfordshire

2. Who are you playing in Macbeth?

I’m playing Lady Macbeth (and it’s a dream come true!)

3. What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

Henry IV part i

4. If you could play any role in a Shakespeare play who would it be?

Richard II, because he’s just so funny

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Macbeth?

How villainous the Macbeth’s truly are. Are they acting out of grief? Regret? Desperation? Vengeance? Or is it pure ambition?

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Going to see Cats when I was five. My Dad had to tell me to stop singing along.

7. Who is your inspiration?

Anna Maxwell-Martin. Judi Dench. Kristen Scott Thomas. Fiona Shaw. Nicole Kidman. And my husband.

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

The exploration of motivation and the actions it can trigger in any and every kind of person.

9. Duncan or Macbeth?

Macbeth. Duncan is feckless.

10. Macbeth or Malcolm?

Macbeth. Malcolm is immature.

Day Two

‘An unnatural war’

Walking into the Drummond room, Ricky had covered the table with images. Images of war torn ground, carrion birds and blood, all the things we could except to encounter on the road to Inverness.

We began approaching the script episode by episode and thought by thought, collecting our first impressions and observations. Something unsettling lurked between the lines, an unnatural war. A time where the sun moves backwards and brother murders brother.

Fred Thomas (Malcolm)

Smashing any assumptions I may have had about the play itself and meanings in the text, my Shakespeare glossary is filling up rapidly and scenes find new energies with every read. Bring on presentation time! 

Smashing any assumptions I may have had about the play itself and meanings in the text, my Shakespeare glossary is filling up rapidly and scenes find new energies with every read. Bring on presentation time! 

Luke Ward-Wilkinson (Duncan)

60 Seconds with...

Donalbain – Cameron Nelson

1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

Cameron Nelson, from Bishop's Stortford

2. Who are you playing in Macbeth?

Donalbain/Witch 1/Murderer 3/Scottish Doctor/Young Siward

3. What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

Timon of Athens

4. If you could play any role in a Shakespeare play who would it be?

Hamlet

5. What are you most excited about discovering in this new production of Macbeth?

How the use of movement will be able to distinguish between characters

6. What was your first ever theatrical experience?

Going to see Wicked when I was young

7. Who is your inspiration?

Jake Gyllenhaal

8. What’s the best thing about being an actor?

Freedom to explore and play different characters.

Every day is different

9. Duncan or Macbeth?

Macbeth.

10. Macbeth or Malcolm?

Macbeth.

Day One

‘The Journey Begins’

As I changed from the central line to the DLR, I had a sense of anticipation, a feeling I imagine most mountaineers feel as they board the helicopter to base camp. The actor/explorer nerves set in, “did I leave my crampons in the car?”, “have I been pointing the end of every thought?”

Looking up at the purple and white sign that reads ‘Greenwich Theatre’ and stepping through the door on Nevada Street, seeing the poster, ‘Macbeth’, with Jamie’s face blown up to A2 proportions...’this is going to be fun’, thought a fresh faced Fred. Well, as fresh faced as he could feel with a months attempt of beard growth dirtying his cheeks.

When Ricky kicked off the text work, I remembered that it’s a mountain we’re here to climb. Mt. Macbeth. A mountain/play that some believe they know well, but it’s a widow maker, riddled with preconceived conceptions as treacherous as deep crevasses. 

Fred Thomas (Malcolm)

Ensemble member Mikko Juan (Ross) shares in his Vlog on his initial thoughts of Macbeth as well as his own experience of Shakespeare. 

Images of inspiration... 

One my first tasks when exploring a play is to gather imagery. I take key imagery from the play and hit google images and pinterest, I also have a huge library of images some architectural, some scenographic that can often inform visually how we might tell the story. 

Very rigidly I avoid images from other productions of the play, but try to immerse myself and the creative team in a world stimulated by the text. 

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