Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Ever wanted to sing in a gospel choir? Well here's your chance...

Bolton's 'Find your Talent' team present an amazing two day opportunity at the Octagon Theatre over the Easter Holidays..

Nationally acclaimed Gospel choir leader Jo Sercombe is coming to Bolton and wants to help an all-age community choir try their hand at this dynamic music style.

We are looking for 30 people to join her for two days over the easter holidays (Thurs 16th and Fri 17th April - dates to be confirmed) and learn two (non-religious) songs that will be performed at the Octagon Theatre on May 27th.

You can learn about vocal technique,harmony singing and the gospel performance style. No music reading ability required, just a desire to make some noise!

We are interested in hearing from people who love to sing ...of all ages. We're particularly keen to attract family groups ...bring your mum, your son, your gran!

Since graduation, Jo Sercombe has worked nationally as a vocalist and Musicial Director, specialising in singing with communities, vocal practice, music for theatre, gospel music and jazz.
Jo has worked with the Royal and Dearngate Theatres Northampton, Bath Theatre Royal, Bristol Old Vic, Bath Festivals Trust and the London Community Gospel Choir.

Jo believes that music draws people together in unique ways and seeks to make singing accessible to all regardless of skill or experience. Jo also directs the Bath Community Gospel choir, sings with the Gorgeous Big Horns Bigband and runs her own jazz quartet

To express your interest in being part of this amazing two days, please email cazbrader@hotmail.co.uk or caroline.brader@octagonbolton.co.uk
or ring 01204 556501

Friday, 27 March 2009

activ8 update - Play on Words

Some breaking news (pardon the pun) from activ8. The Stage 5 youth theatre show, Play on Words, is on today and Saturday in the Bill Naughton Studio at 7.30pm.

The group have devised around the theme of celebrity culture and its implications in a recession. They used the Lily Allen song Fear as a starting point.

Here the skinny. The play follows the story of Marie Evans, budding journalist who finds herself working on the college paper with young people who are far more interested in celebrity gossip than real news issues. She is asked to leave and forms her own rival paper. She enters an internship competition with the Guardian by reporting on a local textile factory closing down due to the recession, two of the factory workers have started making hats and they have become a real hit with young people! However she is in for a big surprise when she finally gets to the guardian, as it’s not what she expected.

If you want to see the show then you can buy tickets from Ticket Office (01204 520661) for £3 a pop. If you are under 26 then you can take advantage of the under 26 Free Ticket scheme.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Caretaker - the movie...

If you haven't yet had the chance to see The Caretaker here's a quick glimpse of what you are missing...

You can book tickets here or call the Ticket Office on 01204 520661.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Caretaker - The Reviews

Fortunately we don't have to go all the way to Sidcup to get the papers (that will make sense once you have seen or know the show) press reviews are available online so here is the round-up so far for The Caretaker.

Matthew Rixon's disturbingly docile Aston is a brilliant portrait of the horrors inflicted by a supposedly civilised state. 4 stars. THE GUARDIAN Read more here...

There is also plenty of really good humour that got plenty of laughs at the reviewed performance. Overall, the Octagon has created quite a compelling production of this difficult play, one of Pinter's most famous works. BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE. Read more here...

All in all however, this is the Octagon roaring back on form, and another triumph for Babych in his final season. When Pinter is done this well, it continues to enthrall, fascinate, and trigger debate. The man himself would, doubtless, be thrilled. WHAT'S ON STAGE Read more here...

If you're already familiar with this work you'll probably either love or loathe it. However, this illuminating production, directed by Mark Babych, could well change any negative opinions about this contemporary masterpiece. It certainly did for me. MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. Read more here...

Mark Babych has done a sterling job directing this production, proving just what a tough act he will be to follow. The BOLTON NEWS. Read more here...

In the intimacy of the Octagon, and amidst the claustrophobic clutter of Richard Foxton's stage design, it is performed in the perfect setting. LANCASHIRE EVENING POST. Read more here...

And here's the review from Clitheroe Advertiser. No link I am afraid but here it is in its entirety:
Harold Pinter’s innovative play, The Caretaker, first produced in 1960, marked an important point in twentieth century British drama, moving it in a completely new direction. It is one of those plays that anyone truly interested in the development of drama should see. That said, it is not an easy play to watch.
The dysfunctional characters, the enigmatic, repetitive dialogue and the lack of virtually all of the conventions of a ‘well-made play’ and the lack of a coherent plot, make it challenging. It is not comfortable to watch the brain damaged Aston (Matthew Rixon), the bad tempered, manipulative tramp Davies (Paul Webster) and the mercurial Mick (Jeff Hordley) go through a series of pointed and pointless exchanges.
The strong cast keep the audience gripped and particular praise must go to Matthew Rixon. His monologue in which he recounts his experience of mental illness and its treatment is spell-binding. He is helped by some excellent lighting effects by lighting designer Brent Lees. Richard Foxton’s design creates a wonderful sense of the clutter and sense of failure in the dingy room.
Director Mark Babych gives the Octagon another fine production, a worthy tribute to mark the death of Pinter last year. The Octagon’s next production is Looking for Buddy, a jazz musical by Alan Plater set on Tyneside.

This production is undoubtedly a resounding success, and one which, I’m sure, Harold Pinter would have been proud to have his name attached to. THE PUBLIC REVIEWS. Read more here...

This is an excellent production of a modern classic with exemplary acting all round, but hurry up and book because you only have three weeks to catch it. UK THEATRE. Read more here...

Thought and care taken with Pinter’s play. REVIEWSGATE. Read more here...

Friday, 6 March 2009

The Caretaker - Taking pictures

Managed to watch the second half of The Caretaker yesterday. I think it is something quite special and the cast (seeing as there is only 3 of them) act their socks off. The contrast between Jeff Hordley's volatile Mick and Aston's gentle slightly muddled nature work in brilliant contrast to each other with the wonder that is Paul Webster (how many lines can that man remember?) swinging between the two is gripping.

Matthew's (Aston) long monologue in the second act about his experiences of...well I won't ruin it for you...but let's just say his past experiences is chilling. Especially due to his beautiful, slightly bewildered and touchingly reticent delivery....wonderful stuff!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Caretaker - rehearsal diary week 3

I have received the 3rd installment of Hal's (assistant director) rehearsal diary and from the sounds of it, it is all coming together. The set is also up and looks fantastic. I will try and post some photos of that too but anyway I will now hand over to Hal.

Monday 23rd February
I am away from Bolton doing a casting for a children’s play I am working on at the Bristol Old Vic. It is about adventurers, dinosaurs and cave men; a little different from Pinterland!

Tuesday 24th February

Matthew Rixon (Aston) and Paul Webster (Davies). Image: Joel Chester Fildes

I’m back and things are looking promising. A weekend of rest mean there is a new confidence in the room. We go through Matthew’s long speech and it is beautifully delivered. He has a wonderfully sensitive touch. The main worry during this long section is where to place Paul (Davies). We work this out after some experimenting. I spend the rest of the morning with Jeff (Mick) going over his lines in the second half and talking over the difficult final scene. We try out his speech in this scene a couple of different ways. It requires a huge burst of passion, and we try to unlock the true emotion that lies within this rant. Progress.

The final moments of the play are examined throughout the afternoon. There is a plethora of darkness, pathos and desperation in these few minutes. It is important to judge them carefully. I feel there is a significant step forward. We re-position Paul, and Mark makes a few comments. More to discover, but it is certainly going in the right direction.

In the last hour or so we run our second half for the first time. It flows reasonably well – but plenty still to get our teeth into during the coming days.

Wednesday 25th February

Paul Webster (Davies). Image: Joel Chester Fildes

Our first run is the order of the day. In attendance was Andy Smith (Sound) and Brent Lees (Lighting), as well as James, a tutor from Active 8 Youth Group. How was it? Not bad at all. Quite a few notes are given by Mark. He asks for more youthfulness and play from Jeff. Generally the power shifts between the characters are exciting and surprising. There are quite a few moments to examine, and the pace needs a bit of a lick on it. Decisions to make. Still plenty of room for improvement.

During the afternoon we develop Mick’s character. Jeff is now finding a lightness of touch, an arrogance and twinkle in his eye. It is thrilling! He is daring, risking and enjoying himself. Come 5pm it is bag time again. It is frantic and quick. Maybe this will work. Finally we revisit the final scene of the play. Energy in the room is starting to waver, but it has been a long day.

Jeff Hordley (Mick) and Paul Webster (Davies). Image: Joel Chester Fildes

Thursday 26th February
A big breakthrough day. Our run this morning feels a little slow and mechanical. Mark’s big note is to relax our approach to the rhythm of the piece – to place our focus more on the actor’s instincts and being less ridged on the honouring of the pauses and dots. With Pinter’s musical beat in our subconscious maybe it is time to experiment. This unleashes a new overall energy in which the actors feel released.

Paul Webster (Davies). Image: Joel Chester Fildes

Jeff and I spend the afternoon playing with this licence to thrill! It is rip-roaring fun! The time is spent hammering out clarity, and we experiment with intentions. Back in the rehearsal room things are starting to really fly. The electricity is well and truly back!

Friday 27th February
The excellent work of yesterday continues throughout a vibrant morning session. We have a bash at Mick and Davies’ first scene which is turning into huge fun. Andy (sound) records some of the rising footsteps and mumbles from the stairwell. We then plot in the music for the production which Mark and Andy have thoughtfully selected. It adds an extra layer of intensity and a strange sense of beauty. I want to get myself a personal copy! The afternoon run is pleasing enough. Next week is production week, when we hope the production will reach the next level.

Paul Webster (Davies) and Matthew Rixon (Aston). Image: Joel Chester Fildes

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Print of the Week

The lovely people at Arts About Manchester distribute all of our print (as well as other services too numerous to mention) but they also encourage venues with lovely accolades such as Print of the Week. Well guess who was this weeks winner....well (she says bashfully) it was us. Here's what they had to say (blush, blush)

And the most innaccurately named yet highly sought after honour goes to.....

The Octagon Theatre, Bolton for The Caretaker and Looking for Buddy, both of which are designed by http://www.dna.tc/ (cue massive cheers and applause)!

As you should hopefully be able to see (despite the poor quality of the photo) the A5 flyers sit nicely in the racks, with the crucial information (like the name and date of the show) clearly visible and eye-catchingly presented alongside The Octagon's logo.

The front of the flyer also includes the ticket prices and booking options, helpfully divided into "call", "click" and "vist", as well as an additional detail to add extra appeal to each production. Looking for Buddy has a shiny "World Premiere" star and The Caretaker flyer incorporates a great quote from The Independent.

The back of the flyer is neatly divided into four sections. The top one contains information about the show, including a clear age reccomendation. The second has information such as times, prices, and "special diary dates", which is a great touch and refers to both bargain nights and special performances like meet the director events and BSL interpreted performances. The final section repeats the booking information shown on the front of the flyers. It is the third section, however, that really made these flyers stand out this week. This section (in blue) tells the reader what the next show at The Octagon will be, effectively promoting two shows in their print for the price of one!

Sally Boyd, the Audience Development Manager at The Octagon Theatre, Bolton has gracefully shared the glory and given credit where it is due to Lee at DNA for his work on the design and Joel Chester Fildes and William Chitham for the images.

I would not only like to thank Lee, Joel and Will for their sterling work but also my mum, husband, the Golden Buddha and the Tyne Bridge for making this possible [sob!]...