Up and running

 

After an extremely successful first week of shows, I have a moment to sit down and update you on what we’ve been up to since we last blogged.

We’ve put together a great cast for the show, a really strong group of actors who’ve built up fantastic realtionships in a short space of time, allowing us to really push them and demand a lot of the group knowing they have the trust and support of each other to make our ideas a reality. We’ve also had days of cake and celebration liberally sprinkled throughout the process so far, with a couple of birthdays and the news that our youngest cast member, Ronald Nsubuga, has been successful in his audition to train next year at East 15 Acting School, the place you might call the crucible of Misrule, it being where Cerian and I met and started to work together and realise the type of theatre and experience that excite us. It has been a real pleasure to be able to offer Ron, who we have worked with at Theatre Peckham since he was 12, his first professional job and, through coaching him for his drama school auditions, to see his development into a young actor of real promise.

Having regular visits from Frog Stone, our writer, meant that we could adapt, change and request new bits of script as we realised how the piece could work best – and where we might need a bit more text to cover the time it takes to build the beautiful house that Tito Vega and Gozart designed for us. We have also been lucky enough to get regular input from Teresa Early, artistic director of Theatre Peckham, and a group of deaf and hard of hearing students from a Lewisham school who provided valuable feedback on the strength of the visual storytelling in the show – which is key for outdoor spaces where some of the audience will be too far awaty to engage wioth the dialogue. We finished the rehearsal period with a couple of run-throughs in parks near the rehearsal space which gave the cast some idea of how people might interact with the piece – and natural elements they may have to deal with during the course of the run (I’m talking mostly about rain here, obviously!)

We took the show first to Deptford Market last Saturday, which was blazingly hot and a really friendly place to do our first shows. The response was fantastic – people very excited to see something unexpected in their local area and very positive about the show itself – sample quote: “I liked it when the did blow the lady up” – and, barring a broken megaphone, the day was a raging success. Monday morning (very early) and we found ourselves performing after the Olympic torch passed through Deptford – a great atmosphere and fantastic to perform for more than 350 people anticipating the next few weeks of events and entertainment across London, and allows us to get excited about our show at the Lewisham Olympic Big Screen Super Saturday festival next week.

Finally, we have also spent a lovely few days in sunny (and dry!) Manchester at the 24:7 Theatre Festival, performing for people from the ages of about 6 months to about 80 (including a show for a group of about 100 boisterous teenagers, who sat engrossed for the whole thing, shouting out suggestions and comments to the performers, and aside from a few condoms (still in packets mercifully) being flung onto the performance space were pretty much the most positive audience we’ve had so far).

So, more 2000 people have seen Square One so far and we’ve still got two weeks to go!

Yikes, so long since last blog!

So, it’s been a while since we blogged, which is a bit naughty… but it does mean that we’ve got lots of lovely news to update you on.

Looking back on our last post here, it’s really interesting to see how far we’ve come with Square One, with clear ideas now for a ‘set’ (we’re using inverted commas because it’s not really a set in any traditional sense of the word, but then if it was traditional it wouldn’t be the Misrule way – we plough our own special furrow) and a strong story with a despicable villain and some real jeopardy for the characters. We’re fresh out of a period of R&D on the piece and have addressed a lot of the problems that we identified in the autumn, working with Frog and a great group of actors.

We’ve been very busy here at Misrule HQ, with funding applications flying from our fingers, new friendships forged and plenty of fish in the fryer (sorry got a bit carried away with the alliteration there!). As promised, we’ve been putting together a tour of Square One for summer 2012, with lots of venues on board already and a few more to secure, keep your eyes peeled for some surprise theatre in a space near you soon – well, near you if you live in Manchester or Lewisham, if you don’t you will have to travel to see our marvellous show. Check back here for dates, times and venues.

We’ve also been seeing a lot of work by other companies, which is informing our process for Square One. We’ve been particularly interested to see a lot of the Globe to Globe season at Shakespeare’s Globe, with companies from all over the world coming to London to perform Shakespeare’s plays in their own languages. Our favourite so far is Venue and Adonis by the inimitable Isango Ensemble from South Africa, performing the poem in 6 South African languages including IsiXhosa, SoSotho, Setswana and Afrikaans with music, song (jaw-dropping voices soaring through the air) and dance. This brilliant piece of theatre was a masterclass in non-verbal storytelling, with every gesture and movement clear and nothing wasted. This is particularly interesting to us at the moment as we’ve been awarded a grant by Lewisham Arts Service to work with a local deaf and hard of hearing group, specifically looking at our non-verbal storytelling, so watching shows where you don’t understand the language really highlights what works and what audiences need in order to fully enjoy the journey.

We’ve also got the second Footloose and Fancy Free cabaret coming up soon on 19th May at Theatre Peckham. The first one was such a huge success that we thought we’d better give in to the pressure and hold a second event! We’re currently booking acts to appear and will be announcing the line-up soon. The evening starts at 7pm and tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door, email us at info@misruletheatre.co.uk to reserve your tickets. See you there!

Aaah, autumn!

As the weather starts to turn its thoughts to cold and dark (although it seems to have been like this for a while) it’s time to plant and prepare for when spring comes around again to make us all smile. Forgive me if this all a bit Monty-Don-ish but we are metaphorically cutting back our borders, clearing our gutters and sharpening the secateurs in readiness for some brilliant blooming next year.
After a very successful summer trying out ideas for our public spaces/street theatre/flashmob show Square One, we’ve put away the helium, sandwich board and butterflies and we’re getting everything in place to burst into 2012 with a full head of steam. (Let me know if there are too many metaphors going on here. Just so I know you’re keeping up: Misrule is a garden. And a train. How many unnecessary metaphors can you spot children?)
So, at the moment we are starting work on funding bids, approaching potential partners and developing the show itself. Our brilliant writer, Frog Stone, is coming over for dinner on Wednesday to discuss the emergence from the chrysalis (Misrule as caterpillar/butterfly) of Square One. We have lots of ideas about how to develop the piece but two main questions recur: How to make the world of the play clear with no set to speak of, and how to raise the stakes for the characters. One of the things we discovered this year was that we need to be really sure why the characters have followed the mystery map they have acquired, and what they need a solution to. Then of course we need to communicate this to our audience.
So, lots to think about, and to put in place in order to make 2012 a big success. Months of apparent inactivity disguise our desire to make sure every step is perfectly in place before moving on in order to try and cement the long-term viability of the company. We are working hard to lay the foundations of what will hopefully grow into a magnificent edifice.
(Did you spot the final metaphors? Misrule as tortoise not hare. Misrule as house, maybe even palace. Exciting stuff, eh? Must ration metaphor use in future though.)

Welcome!

Well, welcome to our new website, fully equipped with a blog, gallery and all the lovely things one would expect to see on the site of a fledgling theatre company. We’re very excited to have this up and running and would like to thank Paul Howls for his brilliant design, technical expertise and patience.

We’ve been hard at work this summer, trying out the first stage of our production, Square One in various venues, including attending a number of festivals to try the piece out in different settings and locations. We’ve had a lot of fun, some brilliant feedback and have learnt a lot, both about our style and how we’d like to develop the piece in future incarnations. We feel very lucky that we have worked with some brilliant people – actors, writers, movement directors – who have helped us to shape the initial vision for Square One into a strong beginning of what we hope will be a great piece of theatre. The big question is: is it site specific? Is it street theatre? Or is it an indefinable mash-up of different things that is rather hard to pin down? We don’t know yet but we’re looking forward to the next phase of the project where we find out (hopefully!) the answers to this and other crucial questions.

See you on the road to Square Two!