Posts Tagged ‘ venue ’

PROPHESY PRODUCTION NEWS!

PROPHESY

PROPHESY

Dearest Friends

As we gear up to Christmas, Baz can’t wait for 2013 and all it will bring.

Lots has come together these last few months, and we’re delighted to fill you in on our exciting developments in one big go. Here goes!

PROPHESY TICKETS ONSALE!

After announcing our production of Prophesy, opening on February 5th for 4 weeks in the wonderful Blackall Studios on Leonard Street, we are thrilled to announce that tickets are now available, and can be found via TicketWeb.

As with Macbeth, we would like to offer you, our friends, the chance to book directly with us to save pesky booking fees. Please contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk with PROPHESY TICKETS in the subject line if you’d like to find out more. We sold out our final few weeks of Macbeth so please do book early as we’d hate for you to miss out.

CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT!

We are also delighted to announce our talented cast, we’re thrilled to have them join us:

Natasha Broomfield
Leila Crerar
Geoffrey Lumb
Katherine Newman
Mark Weinman

NEW WEBSITE!

Why not visit our new improved website bazproductions.co.uk, where you’ll find info on the show including our flyer, updated pictures and news, and our revamped education arm which will launch in the next few weeks.

PLEA FOR HELP!

Finally, we need to ask you kindly if you’d be able to help…. Call it an early Christmas for us perhaps; it’s the season of goodwill and just think how warm & fuzzy it will make you feel. We are asking you to follow this link and see if you could help make our 2013 even better. We would be utterly grateful.

We look forward to seeing you in February, and many many thanks for all your help and support.

With love for a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

The Baz Team xx

Raising the Roof

There’s something about doing a play outdoors.

  • Rain.
  • Bees.
  • Helicopters.

Also:

  • Sunshine.
  • Sunsets.
  • Magic.

I just did Twelfth Night in Ludlow Castle. Ludlow Castle is REALLY OLD. It was a major base during the Wars of the Roses, Edward IV sent the Prince of Wales and his brother (later the princes in the tower) to live there, and Prince Arthur and his wife Catherine of Aragon called it home for a bit. It has a crumbling mixture of Gothic arches and Norman ones, Tudor chimneys and sensitive1990s timber fixtures to stop you breaking your neck as you wander through its labyrinthine corridors and stairwells. It also features families of pigeons living in chimneys and recesses where floor supports used to be.  As someone in our cast suggested, these are pigeons that might be related to pigeons from when the Tudors were hanging out there. Pigeons with heritage.  Pigeons that can tell their grandchildren stuff.

The DSM’s box framed in a norman arch in the chapel

The thought of performing somewhere with this much history and fame behind it was intimidating at first, but, as with the crypt showings Baz did in April, it makes everyone up their game a bit. It felt like we were on location, in another time and place, where imagination can range further than the back row of the stalls.

We were outside, in the elements, with the bats and the birds and the bees. And the rain. We played mostly in dry weather, but had two particularly rainy nights. One was the dress run, which had to be abandoned before someone slipped over on the ‘black run’ as we lovingly called it (a particularly steep ramp from the stage), but the other wet performance carried on to the bitter end, with only a brief pause whilst the downpour got the worst of itself out of its system. When it rained for the dress run we were scared of our 1930s costumes getting ruined (the director set the play in civil war Spain) and so some of us donned yellow plastic ponchos. This was hilarious and miserable all at the same time. When we encountered rain for the second time, we were more hardy, more confident on our raked set despite the very real threat of aqua-planing, and so no one turned to the poncho for protection (onstage that is – the audience were very well prepared). Instead, a sense of mischief crept in, as the audience and the actors, both in the same amount of precipitation, formed a cohesive bond – and together we shared a massive in-joke.

It was impossible to ignore the rain as we had been sort of doing before it stopped play momentarily. There was a moment when I was looking at my colleague who was playing the Duke Orsino, his light grey suit getting darker as it became increasingly saturated during Act 2 scene 4, a long scene, and I wondered what would happen if I alluded to the fact that we were all entirely soaked. But I didn’t acknowledge it, and chose instead to pretend it was not raining and that it was all fine and keep calm and carry on. A cop out I reckon. “Play the space you are in!” echoed round my brain from our days at the Crypt…

After the break, in which we all got tea and cake and stood next to heaters and wondered how many of the audience 1) would get pneumonia 2) ask for a refund 3) still actually be there when we started again, we started to play a bit more. Andrew Aguecheek took off his straw boater and fanned himself as if it were a sunny day. Fabian, dressed smartly as a driver for Lady Olivia took his driving goggles from his cap and wore them to keep the rain out of his eyes, and after Viola had wished for Olivia that “the heavens rain odours” on her,  the two had a contest about who should sit on the soaking wet seat, Olivia daintily wiping the surface of it to try and convince Viola to sit and listen to her. Malvolio tried to read Maria’s letter as it disintegrated in his hand for the lines “soft, soft” – which became soft, VERY soft”, and for the final song aptly titled “Heigh Ho the wind and the Rain” Feste raised the audience’s spirits and managed to get us the warmest applause of the entire run.

 “When it rains it is good for my game. When it is sunny it is good for my game” Rafael Nada.

 It was so freeing to be outside. It was like being let out into the playground at lunchtime after being in school learning stuff all morning. It was relaxing, alive and fun. When Viola says she would hallow Olivia’s name to the reverberate hills, there were actually reverberate hills to hallow to. Also, doing a vocal warm-up from the top of a medieval look-out tower as you look out on Shropshire countryside was rather inspiring.

The lighting was special too, considering the designer had to factor in both the sun and the night. Even when it rained, the blue remembered hills faded into graduating greys and when it was a matinee the sun made the grass ping out super greens.

 Another rubbish sunset at Ludlow Castle.

Ludlow has beautiful sunsets. Every night. It got a bit boring. One night I tried to capture the view from the castle on my iphone, which did it no justice at all.

The sun set as the play reached Act 5, so we went from being in the same light as the audience, through twilight, to them being engulfed in night. It was magic. Theatre with the lid taken off.

The body in St Andrew

I’ve seen three corpses in my 34 years. One of them was a road accident victim whose life had left him a matter of minutes before I saw him. One of them was a close relative who had been dead for a number of hours.  And one had been dead for at least 600 years when I came face to face with him in the crypt of St. Andrew’s Church in Holborn.

In the summer of 2003 (I think)  I was running a theatre company called Natural Perspectives. We had put on a couple of shows which had been modestly successful and popular, and were looking for a new space to house a show we were developing about the Chevalier D’Eon – Europe’s only cross-dressing, possibly hermaphrodite, Knight (it’s a long story and one we never told fully, or well enough, as it turned out – the story is there if you want it…).  A friend of one of my co-artistic directors knew the then Rector of St. Andrew’s and had suggested that it might be an interesting place for theatre to happen. The problem? The crypt had only been just re-opened and certainly wasn’t ready for the public. Possibly due to the plague victims recently exhumed from the crypt…..

Nevertheless, we made a trip to St. Andrews and were led down the steps into the crypt, through a small door and into the space you are now standing in. The Rector pointed out the strata of London’s history, clearly visible in the walls – shards of pottery, metal and glass, mapping out of London’s past vertically and physically – history made visible, tangible. We were shown the well in one of the corners of the crypt – which had become a Temple to Minerva when the town was called Londinium by the Romans.

“Do you want to see our Resident?”

From what I recall, He had been found when workmen had knocked through a wall in one of the corners of the original site (you know the Church was pretty much demolished by the Germans during the Blitz, right?). He’d been there since the 14th Century – any records of His past, history, position in society, long since lost in the Chruch’s turbulent history.  All that could be said was that He must have been important to have been buried St Andrew Holburnestrate (that’s not a typo – it was called that in the Early Middle Ages.

“Fuck off.” “No Way.” “Er, YES”.

At least one of these responses was uttered, I’m sure.

We crept through the hole in the wall made by the workmen – and there He was.  The head of the (now almost totally disintegrated) wooden  coffin faced towards the hole we entered through, which meant the first view we got of Him was his feet, still wrapped in his funeral shroud and partially encased in what was left of the coffin.  Now, what I remember most was the smell – not decay, but a kind of dry smell – wood, and earth, and dirt. I want to say stale air but that can’t have been the case as the air had been moving around Him since he had been discovered – amazing how the memory tries to re-configure itself to make a story more dramatic.

Moving through the hole and past Him, however, I DO remember  holding my breath as I saw Him in full. Arms crossed, wrapped in his shroud, delicate finer bones poking through. His femur visible where the shroud had decomposed.  And His face. Well, not his face, as the flesh was long gone. But His features. The cloth over His skull remained – and imprinted with his features. Dark sockets where the eyes had been. The ghost of his lips. And the shadow of a nose – aquiline, distinguished, and above all, human.  He was going to be moved soon, we were told.    No, we probably shouldn’t touch Him.

So touch Him we did not. But I did bring my face close to His – about three or four inches away. I remember angling my face until it was level with his, my eyes looking into the dark patches where his eyes had been, my nose the perpendicular with the line of His. And that is the moment I can recall most fully – the one I can still inhabit, remember, feel. And that sensation wasn’t of fear, or awe, or sorrow, or even excitement. It was, quite simply and silently, recognition. And, in a strange kind of way, through that recognition, friendship.

We left through the hole in the wall. We finished the tour of the crypt. We went to the pub (as actors always do).  Conversation never moved far away from Him. Who was He? Why was he buried there? Why did no one know who he was? What did he do?

Later (and drunker):  isn’t it sad we don’t know the answer to these questions? Is this all there is?

The show never happened in The Crypt – too expensive (or, according to the Arts Council, Not Financially Sound).  He was moved – to the British Museum where he could be preserved for further centuries. The Well was walled up. And the Crypt became a (wonderful) performance space.

But every time I watch a show here I think of Him. And the walls of the room you are standing in, full of history, showing us what has been and what will be and what will become of all of us. And when I think of this, for a moment at least, I am not afraid.

Simon Muller

Nearest Tube Chancery Lane

Bolt out of Chancery Lane (the wrong side, came out next to Next).

The luxuriant wide street of High Holborn.

The Prudential Building is here, somewhere, pink and gothic beneath its shroud

It’s a shock not to see it.

.

Down towards Holborn circus

But a pit stop in Smiths

Reveals they sell cigarettes now

Which just seems wrong.

.

Further on past Hatton Garden

With its old-fashioned street sign

How did it survive the upgrade?

I see if I can see a man in black with a big black hat

Too much black for such an oddly warm day.

.

But not today. No diamonds today.

.

Further navigation of the circus

It never seems like a good time to cross

So many angles from where death might strike

.

Watch the road.

.

Ely place is left behind as we approach Pret,

Gleaming and corporate

A direct challenge to the comforting giant of Sainsbury’s HQ on the opposite corner

They trade disingenuous smiles as they prepare for the next round.

.

Being thus benetted round with megaliths

We cross to St Andrew. St Andrew. No possessive ‘S’ at the end of Andrew. Andrew SINGULAR.

I looked it up.

.

We head to the Holborn Viaduct entrance

Not the St Andrew Hill one. That would be like entering Ithaca through the wrong door.

We go the route that mortals are meant to take.

.

Down the steps, up the steps

Into the church and

A dense incense wall greets us.

.

Inside is a man sitting

Doing what people do in churches

Contemplating, in his brown robe.

I didn’t know you got monks in London

So near Sainsbury’s HQ.

.

We walk along the back of the church

Renovated after the Luftwaffe made mincemeat of Wren’s interior

Still protesting 1647 despite its 1960s makeover

“Beneath the wig and false eyelashes I’m just me”

.

Luckier than Christchurch Greyfriars down the road however,

Who succumbed to pavement widening in 1962.

Amen.

.

Along the back wall, we creep

Quietly, trying not to disturb the contemplating man

A Tuesday lunchtime game of Grandmother’s footsteps.

.

And outside again into what seems to be nothing like London.

A quiet courtyard, the sort you’d find in a Deanery in Devon.

No noise, gravel underfoot, where the **** am I?

(No swearing in church)

.

Meeted and greeted we go down to the crypt.

Health and safety is not an option.

I wobble down uneven, Caroline steps

To blackness, dust and close air.

.

The working lights blink and show

Tiny bricks

An unexplained hole in the wall

An explained hole in the ceiling

Nails sticking out of things

Good acoustics

Weird blue chairs

Some leftover church furniture

.

And absolutely no noise from what’s above

Like it had all gone away

And we were down there on our own

In our 17th Century bunker.

Farringdon Without.