Archive | April, 2014

What goes on tour …

9 Apr

It’s been a busy few months and for Off the Fence, this meant preparing for our Two Plays for World War I season.

WWI - Clamber up the Crucifix. Jonny McClean by Sean Halidy (6)

Jonny McClean, Clamber Up the Crucifix

Clamber Up the Crucifix by John Kitchen and England Expects by Tom Glover debuted at Upstairs at the Western at the beginning of March. All four shows sold out and we had some wonderful reviews too which, although not the reason to do any performance, are naturally nice to read (links to a selection are provided at the end of this post).

And Azma Dar (writer of Stranger in the Kitchen which we’ll be working on next with Out of Joint) has been rather busy herself. She has re-written her original text following feedback from our read-through way back in Spring 2013 and subsequent discussions with Gary and Max Stafford-Clark. We’re also delighted Azma has been chosen as one of eight playwrights in Curve’s Playwriting Competition and we are sure she will do brilliantly.

So, what next? The idea since before rehearsals began was to tour England Expects as an outcome of a discussion with Graham Cowley during our December meeting.  As it turned out, because both plays were so well-received we will be touring them both this Autumn and that is testament to actors Jonny McClean and Becca Cooper who committed themselves so well to their characters. And it is definitely characters in the plural for them both: Jonny with five and Becca a whopping twelve.

Gary said of the rehearsal process: “This was a big learning curve and fear for Jonny, Becca and me with the question is it possible for an actor to develop and create up to twelve characters at the same time, for them to be believable and not fall into stereotype? How can each character be defined and expressed? It was therefore vital to understand both the text and the physicality of the characters and both actors proved during rehearsals and performance that it was possible to do this successfully.”


Becca Cooper, England Expects

Gary added: “We have now re-cast for England Expects with the next performance at Curve on 19th April as part of their Inside Out festival (tickets available via link!). Becca did an outstanding job as Vesta Tilley (and eleven others) in this play, however, the character is meant to be in her fifties and we therefore needed a more age-appropriate actor. One thing 23 year old Becca can’t do is look thirty years older than she is and it would probably breach numerous health and safety regulations for us to recommend an intense course of 100 fags and 2 bottles of whisky a day to try to achieve this in a very short space of time. We are delighted Teresa Jennings will be taking on the role of Vesta and we are looking forward to seeing how a different actor changes the dynamics of the piece. Teresa has already played Vesta on stage and is familiar with many of Vesta’s trademark songs.”

So, it’s back to rehearsals ready for April at Curve and then out into the world. Clamber Up the Crucifix will be touring initially in East Anglia and Leeds in Autumn 2014 and England Expects will be off to Brockley Jack in London in May. This will set us up well when we begin work on Stranger in the Kitchen ready to tour in Spring 2015.

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Clamber Up the CrucifixThe Public Reviews

England ExpectsHere Comes Everyone

Sally Jack

Image of Jonny by Sean Goldthorpe, Becca by Nathan Human