A Leap in Time


imageWearing the same T-shirt, but having shed several skins. ‘ Nipper’from Class Enemy, performed at the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, May 1985, gets a makeover.



Production shots taken by Nicola Young of Vampomime!, which opens this week at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Written and directed by Nick Walker, with Jack Trow, Miriam Grace Edwards, Katy Stephens and the voice/vapes of Connor Nolan. Vampomime! Runs through until 2nd January ’16.

I confess I find van-loads and get-ins energising; even exciting. Whilst it is arguably the hardest, most arduous part of gigging and something oft to be dreaded, Stan’s Cafe prides itself on an history of everyone mucking in. There are plenty of jobbing actors who might balk at the idea of emptying a truck or shifting set, but if you’ve made your own work with co-operative principles then you know that the energy of a team comes from shared responsibilities. “All things commensurate with small-scale touring” was the phrase I remember from Red Shift contracts.

The sight of a loaded Paul Matthews artic leaving A.E.Harris last month made me immensely proud of the company’s achievements, because getting this show up and running at all, let alone abroad, is a huge undertaking.

Three days later Robbie (the driver – fresh from travelling with DV8 and a recent tour of Italy with our friends at Imitating The Dog) arrived in the Car Park behind Klub Stodola, Warsaw. Assisted by a shaven-headed Polish crew looking like paramilitaries, we unloaded the trailer and brought “The Cleansing Of Constance Brown” to audiences for the first time since Tanztage Potsdam, back in May 2011.

I’d been wanting to record a timelapse of the get-in since we started the project back in 2007. Thanks to the power of iPad, the task was made simple. Above is a rough, low res documentation of the get-in / bump-in / fit-up followed by a dress run of the show, prior to it opening as part of the XXII Crossroads Festival of Live Arts.

Office Party

When you’re changed and ready, enter in doorway of F pissed. Start solo dancing US.

JP (Alex) comes up and starts flirting, then others come US, congratulate the birthday boy. JO handslap, CS twirl.

Count in 4 beats for start of the dance.

Dance DS in unison, then freeform as lads get matey and show you the surprise lurking in door B. Grab bottle of wine, from watercooler and enter B.

When cake is brought in sing Happy Birthday!

When B2’s starts run US and round to door 4, take orange (preset) and place it in crook of neck. Stand in doorway with GB playing pass the orange.

When GB moves out of doorway continue dancing US, watch CS and JP getting frisky, then start up conversation with GB about party etiquette. “Isn’t Stephens married?” etc.

GB gets personal. Then CS interrupt conversation and bundles you into door B.

Get changed into underwear (vest socks and pants).

Keep trousers to hand. Dump remainder.

When BR enters as stripper, grab bra and knickers (preset on props table or hanging from lx stand)

Take truncheon and beat yourself 10 times (shadow of raised arm appears on inside of door). Simulate strip by throwing bra then knickers into the corridor over their heads.

Crudely apply lipstick and eyeshadow. (pour wine bottle over head for bedraggled look if necessary)

Put handcuffs on and conceal key either in sock or on props table (you’ll need it later!)

When CS takes photo, throw him the trousers.

Put your handcuffed hands between your legs.

When mix of Two Tribes becomes muffled enter door B, slowly step fwd pissed, revealing the make-up and cuffs to the audience.

Attempt a pathetic escape from the cuffs, then stumble slowly US, pausing as Gar walks (unseen) from SR to SL.

When you get US to wall CS grabs and turns you, marching you DS where you collapse fwd onto JO body.

It’s time to brush the cobwebs off an old classic. The Cleansing Of Constance Brown will be performing in little more than a week’s time at the Crossroads Festival of Live Arts, Warsaw, after 4 and a half years dormant. Like many of the ensemble-devised works in the Stan’s Cafe repertoire there is no definitive script. Without an audibly spoken text the show exists principally in the body-memory of those who have had the pleasure of performing it. Individual notations exist for each performer-role, as compiled in the event that an original deviser became unavailable for a gig. As it happens – with the show proving to be one of the most successful in the company’s history – no single performer has performed at every destination. Infact the only member of the team to have been present at every gig has been Nina West, intrepid composer and sound op.

The above extract is from my personal notes, prepared for Chris Corcoran in advance of shows in Koln, spring 2010. Combine this with six other simultaneously-performed, task-based scripts and you end up with a spreadsheet which resembles a definitive log of the show.

Kiln ensemble (the artists formerly known as Kindle Theatre) return to Summerhall, Edinburgh this August with The  Furies; a brash, glammed-up retelling of the revenge narrative of Clytemnestra against brutish husband Agamemnon. The show takes the form of a rock gig, with The Furies as girl-band, driving the story along with songs and extended voice – all accompanied by enslaved rhythm-section, Donna & Blitzen (aka. Phill Ward & Russell Collins from Sylvia)

This will be the first appearance of KILN ensemble at The British Council Showcase, which is held every two years as a showcase for the most innovative and exciting new work emerging from the UK.

The Furies performs in the Dissection Room, Summerhall, from monday 24th to friday 25th August, nightly at 11.55pm.

Link to the Summerhall Box Office

THE FURIES from Mathew Beckett on Vimeo.

J&H_IMG_1430 copy

A still from Jekyll and Hyde, Chung Ying Theatre (HK) / Red Shift (UK), Platform Theatre, Central St. Martin’s, UAL, London, July/August 2015.



Hong Kong actor Anna describes the unusual musical orchestration that is Jekyll & Hyde

chun chun


Chung Ying actor Chun Chun describes the experience of collaborating with Jonathan Holloway and the UK team on Jekyll & Hyde. The show transfers to the Platform Theatre, London 28th July – 8th August 2015.