Tag Archives: trains

Before, During and After

21 Dec

In a similar fashion to those who have welcomed a new baby into the world, we will look back in years to come and recall events as Before Out of Joint (oJo) or After oJo.

We’ve already done a lot in a short period of time as Off the Fence with twenty nine productions to our credit together with the creation of Upstairs at the Western, Leicester’s first pub theatre and our official residence.  But we want to extend and share our work further – we must pack our theatrical sponge bag and go on tour.

Before oJo we had always been admirers of the company founded and led by Max Stafford-Clark, and believe in their ethos and their work. Formed in the early 70s which, like now, was a time of challenging economic circumstances, oJo are still producing theatre that ‘broadens horizons and investigates our times’.

Finsbury_ParkMeeting your idols is never easy. How did it go? Artistic Director Gary Phillpott describes the initial meetings: “I love the vibe of going to London so it was an enjoyable train journey. However, and hopefully not prophetically, we took a wrong turn out of Finsbury Park station and had to re-trace our steps. For our next visit on a bitterly cold March day, the boiler at oJo had broken so we sat huddled around a paraffin heater in our coats drinking soup.  We laugh about it now.”

During this initial and important process of getting to know each other, what are the expectations of developing a play to tour and working with oJo? Producer Verity Bartesch said: “It’s about the things we wouldn’t know until we do it, and by doing it alongside oJo it makes the whole experience much more worthwhile and valuable. To be around people who are so enthusiastic about the same things as us is going to be great. They get what we’re about and whilst we are unique in Leicester with what we do, it’s nice to share ideas and talk really specifically about our kind of work.”

Gary adds: “Society has moved on since oJo began and we hope to learn from their experiences, test their working practices  with a view to adapting and developing our own template. Leicester is very different to London but it is important we forge relationships there. Having a link in London is fundamentally important for us going forward.”

So, we’re now in the During oJo period. Verity said: “So far, it was useful to understand there isn’t a magic way of doing things that makes everything easy. They still have to rethink strategies and constantly change what they are doing in order to be successful. It’s so helpful to talk to people who have been through the situation we are about to go through and I know even more than before that we made a great choice in asking Out of Joint to mentor us – and delighted they and the Arts Council agreed.”

Off the Fence Theatre Company will be developing Stranger in the Kitchen by Azma Dar for a national tour in early 2015.

Sally Jack