An Interview with Stewart Schiller

Stewart Schiller.jpg

Attune Theatre are just about to take Alan Bisset’s ‘The Ching Room’ on a mini-tour. The Mumble managed to catch a wee shpiel with Attune’s artistic director, Stewart Schiller

—————————————————

Hello Stewart, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speak?
I’m from Glasgow and still stay here.

Which paths did you take that led to becoming a theatrical artistic director?
I worked with Fablevision in Govan for a year. I learned about a lot of training in Theatremaking and Fundraising. I saw lots of ‘issue-based’ theatre and became passionate about it. I think that passion is what fuelled my desire to become an Artistic Director and form Attune.

Can you tell us about winning the IdeasTap with the BBC Writersroom?
Yeah, that was a really great experience. After winning I got to meet the head of the Writersroom and take part in a workshop explaining the BBC Commissioning Priorities. I got to meet a lot of other writers, at a similar level, from all over the UK, which was a lot of fun. I think the main lesson I took home was how the Specific can be Universal. For instance, look at Doctor Who it has very distinct ‘Britishness’ but is a huge worldwide success.

What does Stewart Schiller like to do when he’s not being theatrical?
I love Wrestling (purely the fake kind), Rugby, and Gaming in particular.

You are just about to bring ‘The Ching Room’ to Glasgow – can you tell us about the play?
The Ching Room’s one of these plays that just jumps off the page. I try to read as many plays as I can and, after awhile, they can start to blend together. The Ching Room though is really arresting. It describes seedy acts with beautiful language, whilst also being really funny. That’s a rare combination that gets me really excited.

alan-bissett.jpg

Alan Bisset

How do you find Alan Bisset’s writing?
It might sound daft, but I find there’s a sincerity to it. In that, you feel like each play is a window to where his head was at at that specific time. So if you look a series of them, you can see his evolution as a writer and the Scottish Independence Referendum effected this psyche.

Not every play from the PPP system makes it back to the stage, But this one did. Why do you think that is?
Because it’s been printed. Unless I’ve missed something (possible). I don’t think a lot of a Play, a Pie, and a Pint scripts are printed so that greatly reduces the chances of a Director or a Producer finding the play. The play obviously stands out on it’s writing alone, but I feel that pragmatic issue has a huge influence.

Finally, what does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Stewart Schiller?
Well, on the 23rd of June I’ll be directing another piece for this year’s Tron 100 Festival. Other than that, it depends how successful we are with the Pay What You Decide model we’re using for this show. If it proves to be successful, we can go straight into Production on another show. If it doesn’t, we will need rethink things.


THE CHING ROOM WILL BE PLAYING @

Dram 10th June 2:30 pm & 7:30pm
Broadcast 12
th June 8:00pm
Canal Station 13
th June 8:00pm

An Interview with Liz Richardson

Gutted - courtesy of Chris Payne.JPG

Hello, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

I’m originally from Cumbria but now live in the Peak District, having moved from London a couple of years ago.

 

When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?

 There wasn’t an awful lot of access to the Arts on offer when growing up on the West Coast of Cumbria, so when my school teacher told my parents “I think she could be more than a clown in just the classroom” I joined the local Am Dram group and before you know it, I’m 17 and driving down to London with my Dad to audition at East 15 Acting School…the rest is history.

 

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?

A lack of elitism. An all-inclusive piece of art which can also be inspirational – I love to feel moved when I leave the theatre, both in an emotional sense but also from having been educated or taken on an unexpected journey. But then I also love to laugh – providing moments of relief where the audience can laugh out loud is a gift.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not being theatrical?

I love to be walking and running in the fells, mostly with my young daughter and dog. As much as I loved my 15 years in London and all it has to offer, the pull of the mountains (like where I grew up) brought me to the change of lifestyle and also allowed me to start a family.

 

What can you tell us about your role running the ‘Mothers Who Make’ group at Home?

Mothers Who Make is a wonderful outlet for mums who have, at some point, taken time out to have children but still want to be around those who, like them, are creators in the Arts. The sessions (which originate from London-based Matilda Leyser of Improbable Theatre) bring together such a huge range of talented mothers who, not only continue to grow their skills and build their careers within the industry but also grow and nurture our next generation. I co-facilitate these sessions with another actress/theatre maker and each month we are blown away by the incredible women we meet, their stories and their work. It can be an incredibly lonely time being self-employed and raising children and you can often feel like you’ve lost the essence of ‘you’ on the way, but Mothers Who Make allows you to share these experiences and often encourages you to keep ‘making’ and keep talking in order to achieve all that you want to. Being a parent is the most important job in the world and this is something that I think is still not recognised enough for there needing to be more support, especially in the arts.

You will be bringing Gutted to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about the play?

Gutted is a one-woman show about my life since being diagnosed in my early 20s with Ulcerative Colitis (an Inflammatory Bowel Disease). It takes the audience on a journey from partying hard, boyfriends and denial to building relationships with hospital patients and medical staff and my surrounding family. There are moments of tears and moments of laughter, free cake and beer and I leave my dignity at the door!

 

Do you find comedy develops well from adversity?

Yes absolutely- quite often this is when comedy is at its best. If you allow an audience to laugh at your expense, if you tell them how it was or is but allow them to see that it’s ok or can be, then you will have a much more receptive audience. Setting it up so you give permission to the audience to laugh rather than stifle the joy in the scenario, I think, warms them up to a lovely room temperature level…and then you can come crashing down on them with some terrible scene of tragedy where they’re left weeping.

Gutted - courtesy of Chris Payne_10.jpg

In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in Edinburgh in August.

It’s like eating chocolate digestives- at first you’re looking forward to it, then after the first indulging moments you start to regret starting but then you think a little more won’t harm you, and then you think what the hell am I doing and before you know it you’ve finished the lot and swear you won’t put yourself through that again, despite the highs. The next day you go to the shops and then do it all over again.

 

What will you be doing after the Fringe?

Eating. I can never eat before a show, I feel sick and anxious with nerves, and then quite often I forget to eat after a show as I’m usually propping up the bar. Sleeping too, although I’m hoping I can do a bit of that whilst I am off child minding duty. In-between eating and sleeping I’ll also be continuing work on my next piece of theatre making which I am starting to develop at the moment.

RCS & the Dundee Rep

 

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland joins forces with Dundee Rep

To stage annual musical theatre production

——————–

RCS's 2018 Musical Theatre production of Spring Awakening in association with Dundee Rep. Pic Julie Howden..jpg

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will join forces with one of the UK’s leading theatre companies for its 2018 musical theatre production — the first to be staged in association with a professional company. Scotland’s national conservatoire, one of the world’s top three performing arts institutions, will partner with the award-winning Dundee Rep to bring the Broadway hit, Spring Awakening, to audiences in Glasgow and Dundee in March 2018. The venture will create a unique educational experience for Royal Conservatoire students who will work alongside and learn from the only permanent acting ensemble in Scotland and the theatre’s design and creative team.

As a cross-Conservatoire production, Spring Awakening will bring together students from the Musical Theatre, Music, Production Arts and Design and Production Technology Management programmes. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is ranked in the world top three for performing arts education and is number one in Scotland for graduate employability (97%). Scotland’s national conservatoire offers the only arts education of its kind in Europe, with specialised teaching across music, drama, dance, production and film.

5776299690_aa7c97b1fb_b.jpg

Hugh Hodgart, Director of Drama, Dance, Production and Film at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, told the Mumble; ‘The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has had a very warm and collaborative relationship with the Rep for many years and past interactions have proved to be mutually beneficial to both organisations and our audiences — BA Acting students’ involvement in minor roles in the award-winning 2007 production of Peer Gynt being a shining example. That was an invaluable learning opportunity, not only for our students but for the members of the ensemble who seized the opportunity to act informally as mentors as well as welcome the students into the company as equals. This new joint venture is not merely a continuation but a step change in our relationship, being the first Royal Conservatoire of Scotland production to be staged in Scotland in association with a professional company, and with their actors playing key roles. There is an equally strong partnership planned for our production students who will be fulfilling key roles behind the scenes. I am absolutely delighted and most grateful to our friends at the Rep for joining us in this exciting venture. I hope it will be the first of many.’ 

Spring Awakening opens in Glasgow on March 13 2018 for four nights which includes an exclusive gala performance on March 16. It will transfer to Dundee Rep Theatre on March 22 for three nights. Both venues will include matinee performances. Students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s BA Production Arts and Design and BA Production Technology and Management programmes will create, build and operate the spectacular sets, costumes and stage effects that have become a signature of the Royal Conservatoire’s musical theatre productions. Around 20 first and third year technical and stage management students on the BA Production Technology and Management programme will work on Spring Awakening. There will also be input from around 30 students from all years of the BA Production Arts and Design programme during the construction period, who will work on set, props, costume and scenic painting.

Winner of eight Tony awards, four Oliviers and a Grammy for best original cast album, Spring Awakening redefined the boundaries between music and theatre when it debuted on Broadway in 2006. It’s a raw portrayal of adolescents on the brink of adulthood, who are trying to make sense of their strong new feelings. Desires, emotions and hormones rush to the surface in this hard hitting punk-rock musical. Professor Andrew Panton, Artistic Director of Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the newly-appointed Artistic Director of Dundee Rep, told the Mumble: ‘We took our 2017 production of Chess to a new city for the first time, to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, and we wanted to build on that as the students loved transferring to the professional stage.Working with Dundee Rep will give our students phenomenal industry experience. Our musical theatre students and musicians will share the stage with some of Scotland’s leading actors while our production and technical students will hone their skills not only in their ‘home’ theatre, the New Athenaeum in Glasgow, but in one of the country’s leading arts venues. Our students will perform in two great, creative, Scottish cities where audiences have the chance to support the next generation of Scottish, UK and International performance and production artists.’

 

Tron 100 Festival Announced

059_303__1004vresizedforweb_1494236163_standard.jpgTRON 100 FESTIVAL
20 – 24 JUNE 2017

The Tron 100 Festival is entering its second year with a week of new short plays written, performed and directed by members of the Tron Theatre’s professional development initiative, the Tron 100 Club. Spanning from new writing to devised work over five nights of performance, the Festival will celebrate the talent and creative collaborations established by the artistic community of the Tron 100.

Each evening of The Tron 100 Festival week, four creative teams, comprising some of today’s most exciting breakthrough playwrights, actors and directors, will present a line-up of fifteen-minute performances. Audiences will see a different programme of work each night, making every evening of the Festival a premiere of brand new theatre pieces.

For the Tron 100 Festival, members of the Tron 100 are being mentored by theatre professionals in the creation of their new works, receiving support and advice from Philip Howard, Lesley Hart, Susannah Armitage, Dougie Irvine and Lisa Nicoll to help bring their projects to the stage.

The Tron 100 Festival gives participants the chance to apply skills and practices they have developed throughout the Tron 100 workshops season in collaboration with theatre companies including Random Accomplice, Theatre Gecko, Bush Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Paines Plough, Puppet Animation Scotland and Frantic Assembly and with individuals such as Stephen Greenhorne, Philip Howard, David Hayman, Gary Lewis, Joe Douglas, David Leddy, Gareth Nicholls, Morag Fullarton, and Rob Drummond

Glory on Earth

Lyceum, Edinburgh
20th May-10th June
————

a.jpg

Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: four-stars 

As spring and summer waltzes with flourish into the streets of Scotland’s capital, we are being given the wonderful opportunity to witness Linda Mclean’s adaption of the youthful adventures of Mary Queen of Scots. As a varied audience take its seats, the lone figure of John Knox (Jamie Sives) is standing clutching his bible, eagerly awaiting the arrival in Leith of Mary. With a moderate, but appealing, set design of chairs, arches and a central moving platform, the mood was set. Know was the only male actor, and his place amidst seven female roles was a fresh breath of theatrical air. Of these, Mary is of course the most important, & she is portrayed through different channels as her life is unveiled.

b.jpeg

The delicate subject of Queenship and Religion is smoothed over with injections of modern humor and chart- topping songs, allowing the audience the chance to revel in unexpected laughter. Meeting after meeting, the intensity of Mary and John Knox”s relationship is apparent. The tone strengthens, the words tighten and the facial expressions twist. The tension is clear to see and feel; emotional , intriguing, moving, with the dramatic reliefs paced expertly, the consummate creativeness of this play is more than obvious.

Flowing like a fast river with an imminent dam at the end, this hollowed friendship is cursed by belief and religion. The tale of Mary Queen of Scots is well known to be full of sadness and difficulties, but this particular plays conveys a lighter and more graceful queen. To take a historical part of Scottish history and tell it with a twist and splash of humor was entertaining and genius. A journey of true feelings and satisfaction engulfed the auditorium as Mary said goodbye. Well crafted, scripted and acted, this is a definite one to see this spring.

Reviewed by Raymondo Speedie

four-stars.png

Small World

A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor
Glasgow

IMG_6030i Jimmy Chisholm, Daniel  Cahill.jpg

Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars 

Impoverished and exiled in Scotland, old King Maximilian of Octavia (a land of mud, turnips and toxic waste) slumps in a seedy armchair with a tartan blanket round his legs, telling unlikely tales of his imperial past to his son, Crown Prince Pauli. Max’s reduced circumstances are made worse by the food his son insists on bringing home. Goji berries, green lentils and brown rice do not delight a royal palate, descended we are told from Charlemagne. Despite fears for his safety, Max daydreams of returning to his homeland. He makes plans for an international airport that will never be built and practices speeches that will never be heard. He swears there are riches hidden in lead lined trunks, buried high up an Octavian mountain but for now, he has only a wealth of ancient stories to pass on.

IMG_6053i Jimmy Chisholm, Daniel  Cahill.jpg

The script by Sean Hardie invites us to wonder if Max, (Jimmy Chisholm) is of noble lineage or a deluded senior citizen being humoured by a compassionate Pauli (Daniel Cahill). This is very much Max’s play and the excellent Mr Chisholm, at times fragile then positively Puckish, uses phones, windows and the audience itself to deliver yarn after entertaining yarn. Watch out for the hand jiving!

Reviewer : David G Moffat
four-stars.png

 

An Interview with Adrian Berry

This August a certain play called ‘From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ shall be winging its way into the Edinburgh Fringe. The Mumble caught up with writer/director Adrian Berry for a wee chat

————————–

download.jpg

Hello Adrian, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

From: Nottingham, where a folk legend taught us to steal from the rich and give to the poor, an ethos I still live by. At: Helsinki, sitting on a harbour, waiting to meet a circus performer. Clear blue sky, aggressive seagulls and a shrimp on rye sandwich – possibly why they’re so angry at me.

When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?

I did the sound effects for The Dracula Spectacular on my Juno S60 synthesiser at school, aged 13.  I bought it from my mum’s catalogue with my paper round money. I didn’t want to perform back then but loved making weird scary noises to back the show.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?

 Anything that breaks through that audience/artist divide, draws you in, makes you feel active as opposed to passive.  Great stories, physicality, visceral energy, focus, heart. Not Chekhov or Ibsen. My absolute turns-offs. Bit unfair maybe, but I find that classicist stuff so dull.

IMG_3650-e1474016240754.jpg

What can you tell us about your role as Artistic Director of Jacksons Lane contemporary circus theatre?

 I get to create exciting programs of circus, theatre, art, cabaret, and travel to thrilling places to bring artists to the UK. I have a wonderful team who love and support the work and live for it. And I love our quirky old building and the diversity of our audiences. I wake up inspired, for which I feel so lucky.

What do you like to do when you’re not being theatrical?

I play bass and write songs and sometimes tour in the band Alberteen, I cycle to random places, I explore London on foot, I listen obsessively to vinyl, currently 80s west coast hiphop, Angel Olsen and Finnish blues (as of last night when an artist gave me a record).

You will be bringing From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about the play?

 It’s three stories that converge – a tale of our capital city and things that are lost, about a boy with mental health problems who escapes through his fantasies, and the amazing birth, childhood and journey of David Bowie. It all comes together at the end, and people seem to love it, happily.

As a musician yourself, is the play somewhat autobiographical?

 In parts, yes. Less so the Bowie bit as that came later in life, but the claustrophobic working class upbringing, escapism through glamorous androgynous pop stars and the excitement of music….yes there’s a lot of me in there for sure.

How does your own experience in the band Alberteen influence the play?

 Oh you knew about us. Ummmm…no I cannot say there is a comparison. Well actually maybe there is, as me and the boys went to the same school and I joined an early version of Alberteen as a creative outlet aged 14. It was everything I wanted to be – I still feel the pull of the band, more and more so. Everything I write has a musical influence- it all gels as part of my creative life I guess.

What has been the typical audience response?

Tears, joy, gratitude, loss, letters, gifts, hugs…genuinely. 75 shows, so much love and words. I didn’t expect it.

In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in Edinburgh in August

 A total headf*** rollercoaster beautiful expensive experience.

What will you be doing after the Fringe?

 Recording a new EP with Alberteen and playing a tour of seaside piers in forgotten English seaside towns, and thinking about my next show based on a famous American hotel.

But That Was Then

A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
May 15-20
***

IMG_5992i  Billy McBain, Alison  Peebles.jpg

Script: three-stars  Stagecraft: three-stars Performance: three-stars 

IMG_6016i Alison Peebles, Billy  McBain.jpgA Scottish living room of leather chesterfields, flock wall paper and a crackled mirror, hosts a theatrical couple preparing to go out for the evening, in this play by Peter McDougall. An aging actress Marcia (Alison Peebles), wearing a crown of hair rollers and walking with a stick, sets the frank tone by comparing her own wrinkled face unfavourably to King Kong’s arse. She has a list of waspish complaints about the modern theatre from the lack of glamour, to tattooed producers. Her younger husband James (Billy McBain), an unpublished playwright who we feel has listened to her numerous dramatic whinges many times before, encourages her to accept things as they are, not as they were. If he can cope with his lack of success why can’t she? Eventually their satin dressing gowns are removed to reveal full evening dress, for tonight is the night of the BAFTA Ball.

IMG_5968iAlison Peebles.jpg

There are shades of Burton and Taylor in the ding-dong dialogue with a touch of Sunset Boulevard for good measure. A sort of ‘Who’s Afraid of Norma Desmond?’

This is a word-packed play with lots of laughter-inducing quips to enjoy but occasionally as the metaphors bounced back and forth, the discourse did sound a bit recited rather than acted.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

three-stars.png

An Interview with Derek Crawford Munn

The Gilded Balloon and Kinbur Productions have revived Michael Burrell’s award winning one-man play, HESS, a poignant and haunting production that has stimulated, moved and provoked debate. A hit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016, directed by Kim Kinnie and ‘meticulously’ performed by Derek Crawford Munn, HESS has already played at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on 03 May and will hit The Tolbooth, Stirling on 20 May before it heads to the Prague Fringe from 26 May to 3 June 2017. The Mumble managed to catch MR Meticulous himself, Derek Crawford Munn, for a wee chat

HESS3.jpg

Hello Derek, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Renfrewshire in the village of Inchinnan… although over the years I have lived in a few places around the UK, I’m now back in Renfrewshire near my family in Bridge of Weir.

When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?
I’ve been ‘performing’ from an early age, in everything from school plays to local drama clubs. My first professional paying acting job was in 1988, which was closely followed by 3 years in The then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and I’ve luckily been working in the industry since.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
I’m sure my answer to this question won’t be original, but good theatre for me is anything that completely engages an audience. Whether that be with laughter, tears or shocks. If you’re lucky enough to be either in or watching a great piece, the tell tale sign is the ‘pin drop’ moment, by that I mean the moment when both audience and cast are completely immersed in the experience.

What does Derek Crawford Munn like to do when he’s not being theatrical?
Hobbies? My dog I suppose, and a great love for travelling and exploring our beautiful country.

You are just about to take Michael Burrell’s HESS on the road. Can you tell us about the play?
HESS was originally performed by its writer Michael Burrell in 1976 at the Young Vic. The play is essentially the life of the Deputy Fuhrer. It also works on several levels as a comment on rehabilitation of the incarcerated, as a detailed description on the rise of the Third Reich, and finally but most importantly, a most timely and pertinent warning from history on the dangers of right wing extremism.

Hess was a complicated character, does that come out in the script?
Yes the complexity of his character is very evident throughout, and pretty much displays itself by both engaging the audience’s sympathy and it’s revulsion.

How did audiences respond when it was performed at last year’s Fringe?
The audience reaction at the fringe was pretty overwhelming. With almost everyone who saw the show being extremely complementary. Without question though, the best moment for me, was when I was visited by a gentleman in his 80’s, who had been a medical officer in the British guard contingent. Getting the compliment “You even caught his mannerisms” from a gentleman who had examined and actually spoken to HESS was a moment I won’t forget.

HESS5.jpg

Does it not feel lonely up there, when you are doing a one-man show?
Not at all! In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been in a piece that engages with the audience as much as this one. If there’s any loneliness its during the rehearsal period, where there’s no-one to bounce off or even have a break and a coffee with.

You are just about to take Hess to the Prague Fringe, what’s the backstory?
No denying I’m hugely excited that I’m off to Prague for the festival there. There are many personal reasons I want the piece to do well there, not so much for my benefit, but for all those who surround it, and have been involved in getting us this far. As I said earlier, we sadly lost Michael in 2014, and considering the great success he had with it first time round, and of course his brilliant writing, I am very keen to give it as much exposure as possible, and that it should be the memorial to him it deserves to be.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Derek Crawford Munn?
I’m hoping for more of the same really. At almost 60 years old I’m still pretty young in HESS terms, as he is in his eighties in the play, so it would be nice to think that I can tour the play for quite some time yet! And as any actor worth the name will always tell you, “this could be the one” So who knows, maybe you can interview me again in 20 years timE!

Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound

Tron Theatre,Glasgow

May 9th -13th

539631135.jpg

Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: five-stars Performance: five-stars 

On entering the auditorium the audience find a stage tableau of four men frozen in the act of reading about, listening to or adjusting radio equipment. Their brilliantined hair, white shirts and braces (reminiscent of a Vettriano painting) place the inaction back in the mid 20th century. A throbbing bass note from the huge sound desk at the back of the stage contrasts with the terribly, terribly plumy voice of the play’s eponymous narrator portrayed by Isobel McArthur (joint author with Paul Brotherston). She informs us that humans are imperfect, incapable of making precisely the same sounds again and again, unlike a Radiophonic Workshop.

daphne_1What follows is the story of Daphne Oram’s fascination with sound reproduction, from a girl scribbling diagrams and doctoring radios to a woman pioneering audio effects for the BBC. A true visionary, she faces opposition or at best indifference from Aunty BBC and its committee culture. Eventually the redoubtable Miss Oram prevails via the Drama Department. (Those of a certain age will enjoy the references to PC 49 and the struggle to get a noise for danger that wasn’t a cymbal clash!)

There is much to admire here from the live sound score provided by Anneke Kampman to the ensemble cast of Robin Hellier, David James Kirkwood, Dylan Read and Matthew Seagar who skilfully vary roles, accents and genders; their slow-motion scene changes are a balletic delight. An excellent production that educates, informs and entertains.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

five-stars