Introducing: Shelley Knowles-Dixon as Movement Director for Mechanicals’ Macbeth!

Shelley

We are excited to be working with Shelley Knowles-Dixon as Movement Director for Mechanicals’ Macbeth.

Shelley is a freelance Director, Puppetry Director, Movement Director and Artistic Director of award-winning, Sparkle and Dark Theatre Company. Recent directing credits: Penumbra by Johnathan Skinner (Arcola), Angels by Patch Harris (Arcola), Lovebox by L.W Illsley (Karamel Club, Mosaic Festival), I AM BEASTby Louisa Ashton (National Tour, Edinburgh), Killing Roger by L.W Illsey (National Tour, Edinburgh).  Current (director): Battleground by Louisa Ashton (Sparkle and Dark), The Dream Factory by House of Stray Cats (National Tour), Movement Direction for Mechanicals Macbeth by Tilly Lunken (Criterion Writers Showcase). BA: Fine Art – Falmouth College of Arts. MA: Theatre Directing – Mountview Academy (2016). Movement training: LISPA. Shelley also trains actors in puppetry.

Mechanicals’ Macbeth is showing as part of the Criterion Theatre New Writing Showcase, 20th November, from 2pm. Free, but please RSVP for numbers!

 

 

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Updates on Writing, R&D, supportive frameworks and spreadsheets.

A lot of writing involves things other than writing – there is a lot of thinking, a lot of dreaming, a lot of procrastinating doing other things. There is also, depending on the project a lot of planning and working out the scaffolding of everything and how it works (the dramaturgy) and other research.

If you are lucky much of stuff that surrounds actual writing can be collaborative, especially in theatre. For Mechanicals’ Macbeth we have done some R&D with the concept and idea and also performers playing around with situations. It is a work of intricate layers and structures and is actually very complicated. Once written and in production it will hopefully not feel complicated – but the depth that supports what you will see on stage will be strong and supportive and allow the comedy to entertain. It was in recognition of this that we made the decision to not write it in isolation but to open out the consultation around the writing and engage with other perspectives. (You can still do our R&D survey here)!

It’s also worth mentioning here that having a supportive and involved director is the best thing ever! It’s so important to creativity to surround yourself with other artists that you connect with – especially when embarking on such a big project.

So, onto some Behind The Scenes/ Process:

Source and Structure.

In the case of much of In Souliloquy work we have a source text and character. With Mechancials’ Macbeth there are two source texts – Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth – the whole plays as well- not just one through-line/character journey. There needs to be a lot of deep interrogation of the source material for a show such as this and it has been a delight to rediscover these texts in constantly new and different ways. We are consciously using the structural layers of these works in Mechanicals’ – to underscore our new narrative journey.

Story.

From this, together we have knocked out the structure and story and timeline of the play. In some ways this is quite similar to devising/making a show – because you are building it in a different way to just writing it. This isn’t about writing to particular beats or hitting particular points at particular times – more so managing a lot of characters and a lot of action and knocking that into something that makes narrative sense and is fun to watch.

Characters.

We have six Mechanicals’ characters (Quince, Snout, Bottom, Snug, Flute and Starveling) – these characters from Midsummer are then of course cast in Macbeth. Them dipping in and out of these is super fun but needs to be precise in the writing, direction and performance. We also have a new original character that interacts with the others in a puckish role and brings our ensemble to seven. It is key to us that no character let’s lost in the mayhem and it doesn’t become “the Bottom show.”

As part of our character work we have been exploring the physical aspects of the group and are working with Shelley Knowles-Dixon as a movement director. This is really exciting in terms of fleshing out characters!

Spreadsheets.

This is the first play I have written that I have felt compelled to put structures etc. into a spreadsheet. With seven characters and lots of action it is going to prove super useful once the first draft is written to check in with. Hopefully it will also prove useful with directing choices and scene transitions and all the other times when everything is confusing and your brain is like “you know what would be really useful at this point? A spreadsheet.” Looking at the structure like this as well as in dot points is also useful as you can fill out extra character columns, and crucially also running time.

It’s a beautiful thing.

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Consultation/Collaboration.

We’ve been doing wider R&D!

Thank you to: Jackson, Kate, Emma, Shelley,Jeannie, Ivana, Jodi, Nicole for your in person participation and everyone who so far has completed our survey. It’s actually super useful and has already helped inform what goes into the show or how we approach mashing Midsummer into Macbeth more that we initially thought we might.

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We have lots of lovely big roles of paper for mapping out big ideas – and it’s been just fabulous to work with such a lot of people giving time and thoughts to the project.

So there you are, stuff is moving, things are happening and in exciting news out of all this actual proper writing is happening. The script is pulling together! It is moving – we are on the way. Honestly, writing is at times isolating. But it helps to know, just as our dramaturgy of Mechanicals’ Macbeth holds up the story – my director, R&D participants, performers we have cast and our In Soulilouqy team hold up me.

Much Mecanicals’ love.

Tilly x

On Jessica and the Other.

As a writer tackling classical work and characters I’ve not had a problem feeling a contemporary resonance in the words, performance, character, form of anything we have produced. Yet, with Jessica In Spring I specifically wanted to address the tone, vitriol and horrendous narrative that has become a part of our politics, our media and our life over the past few years.

Brexit, Trump – 2016 was a year that apart from anything else legitimised voices that Othered. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ – let’s blame poor people, people with a disability, different gender, immigrants, those who do not look like us. Let us not turn in and look at ourselves, let us not look to work together; let us point fingers and be rude, because that is Presidential, isn’t it?*

So Jessica came out of this place, of giving a voice to this Other – to someone who is Othered by circumstances, birth and also in her choices. Her choice to convert and marry out of her religion gives her some level of acceptance in society but she can never truly become part of the world she has made the choice to ‘join’ because she knows it for the sham it is.  Like those of us who are Othered, she knows much more of the world and her place in it than someone who has never been in that situation. I wanted her to articulate the fierceness that comes with this knowledge.

The concept of privilege is interesting to me because awareness has some bearing upon it but also those who are resolutely unaware often have the most. Jessica is privileged in some ways but she’s also Jewish and a woman in a time where she was legally a chattel of first her father and then her husband. It her experience as the Other experience that rounds her person into who her husband fell in love with – she dares the listener and him to accept her for all she is, shadows and all – rather than a beautiful construct of a good little wife. Ultimately that’s who we all are. People. I think Jessica speaks of that.

In Spring too, we have all these connotations of ‘new life’ and ‘rebirth’ of the year but this can be sad too. She is someone (in our version) who actively embraces this duality. I think her words in voiceover over the moving images works really nicely to communicate this. There are layers to her that she won’t deny.

Jessica In Soulilouqy from In Souliloquy on Vimeo.

 

So please watch AND listen – both, together, separately. She has something other to say.

 

x Tilly

 

*FFS. No it’s not and I know Orange McOrangeFace won’t read this but omg, ew, what an awful excuse for a human.

Happy (belated) #Shakespeare401 Everyone!

We hosted a little party on the 23rd April – here are some of our photos celebrating Shakepeare’s Death (and Birth) Day!

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Such gorgeous and very serious guests!

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And cake!

We got a little bit glammed up.

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A big fat thank you to everyone we worked with over the past year (there’s a whole lot of you) and a big fat thank you to William Shakespeare – you’re a pretty awesome bloke!

xxx

First Rehearsals for Et Tu!

Here, enjoy some sneaky pictures of rehearsals for Et Tu: Sebastian & Petruchio.

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The first of which started our new favourite hastag #SociallyAcceptableManspreading!

Also featuring in this rehearsal – a director with script fanned out across the floor in an appropriate manner and a writer who used hers as a plate for biscuits.

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Such intensity!

Thanks to Jon and George for a wonderful first rehearsal – it was a joy to see these characters leap off the page and onto the floor.

Don’t forget you can see them on stage next week (April 5th Waterloo East Theatre in #Briefs).

 

Four Cycles Down!

For the past few months I’ve been re-releasing our Souliloquies on my personal blog with some notes on the writing, performance, process etc. It’s nice to take the time to not only share a bit more of the process but also think back and reflect on the intensity of production and how far we came across the four cycles.

Today I shared Don John our final souliloquy from the 4 2016 Cycles – it feels appropriate to mark the occasion with a reflective blog because it is pretty momentous. We produced 24 original new pieces of writing in 6 months! From the idea right through the writing, casting, direction, filming, editing, release and all the associated social media and admin – that is a lot of work. It’s quite satisfying as a writer!

You can check out the blog about Don John here  – and click on through for other insights about the other characters across our 4 cycles – they’re all there!

Interestingly, Don John was a character I had expressed an interest in writing way back in Cycle 1 but he kept getting bumped down our spreadsheet. He doesn’t say much and the productions I had seen pitted him as a very panto villain but we were determined to do him at some point and this was last chance saloon.

Boy does he kick down those doors and hold you up!

Thanks to everyone who has watched our 2016 Cycles – here’s another chance to dive in and sample a few more – discover new sides to loved characters or find out about someone you didn’t know existed.

Tilly x

 

In Souliloquy – 2016 by Numbers!

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When people ask us about 2016 and what we achieved it’s often quite overwhelming to communicate the scale of In Souliloquy and the amount of work we actually did across the year. This started as a little project and has evolved into anything but that – although at it’s core it remains essentially what we set out to do. To celebrate Shakespeare, his work and to reclaim the voices of characters lost in the plays and time since.

We’ve grown too, as producers and artists. Our vision has opened up and we are very excited to bring new creations to you in 2017.

Thank you to everyone who has collaborated with us this year, your time, talent and work has been essential to the ongoing success of this project. Thank you to those who voted on that terrible website, supported by viewing our videos and put up with us talking Shakespeare all the time. We are pretty chuffed with your support and confident we can reward it by continuing to make good art (hat tip Neil Gaiman) this new year.

Big love and a whole lot of gratitude,

Tilly and Victorine xx
(V&T)