Winners of the Cambridge University Press “Channel the Bard” competition!

In 2016, as part of their Shakespeare 400 commemorations, Cambridge University Press invited submission of short plays inspired by the works of the Bard. Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman of Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company submitted their short play, My Bloody Laundrette to the “Channel the Bard” competition, and were delighted to win!

The full interview and playscript can be found here.


 

An Interview with Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company

Deborah Klayman and Ali Kemp (L-R) photo credit -Gianluca Romeo 1

Deborah Klayman & Ali Kemp (L-R). Photo credit: Gianluca Romeo

You can read their winning play entry for free here


In this interview we talk to Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman, the co-founders of Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company, who won our competition with their winning entry My Bloody Laundrette.

CUP: Why did you decide to set up Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company back in 2011?

Ali Kemp: Well, first of all Deborah approached me because she had an idea of something that she was really burning to write, and you really wanted some help to get that going, didn’t you? That was it really, that was the birth of our first play, eXclusion in 2011, and we’ve carried on working together ever since.

eXclusion by Ali Kemp Deborah Klayman Photo Credit Rakesh Mohun

eXclusion by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman. Photo credit: Rakesh Mohun

Deborah Klayman: We enjoy writing plays that are funny (we hope!), but they do tend to have a bit of black humour.

AK: Yeah, we’re kind of drawn to social issues.

CUP: Why is Shakespeare important to you?

DK: We’ve got a very particular affinity with Shakespeare because, as actresses, Ali and I actually met working on King Lear.

AK: So Shakespeare is fundamentally important to us!

DK: That was in 2006, so it may be Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, but it’s the 10th anniversary of us working together. That year we did a world tour of King Lear and we really hit it off straight away. That led us down the path really.

AK: We’ve worked together many times as actors, but also as a writing partnership and subsequently as producers, so Shakespeare gets the credit for that, I guess!

DK: One of the things we are drawn to in Shakespeare’s plays is that he writes quite black comedy at times, and that’s something that we like to do with our writing as well.

With some of the tragedies you also find that, whilst there are obviously some upsetting moments, you do have moments where there are quite ‘light’ parts (for instance with King Lear). Even in the comedies you have some quite dark moments. Twelfth Night is a good example, where you have comedic scenes and then you have what happens to Malvolio.

AK: Although it depends on how it is played and how it’s produced, how it’s interpreted by the actors and director.

DK: Yes, and implicit in the text there is quite a lot of scope for that. With other writers you don’t necessarily get so many options for how to play it, and I think Shakespeare really gives a lot of different opportunities, it’s got that light and dark, which is reflective of all people.

AK: And I suppose that never gets old, because of the endless numbers of possibilities for interpretation.

DK: Yes, I think people always talk about the themes being universal and relevant, but I think the characters are intrinsically like that as well because they are so rounded.

Shakespeare really gives a lot of different opportunities, it’s got that light and dark, which is reflective of all people.

CUP: What inspired you to write My Bloody Laundrette?

AK: It was a response to a shout out for short plays by an organisation called 17Percent for their SheWrites Showcase –

DK: On the theme of ‘What is art?’

AK: Yep, and we had quite recently been introduced to ‘The Bechdel Test’ when we’d started thinking about the play, and thinking about the number of roles for women in the Shakespeare canon. We found it interesting to think about the role of men creating art that is telling female stories, so that’s kind of where it came from initially, and then it developed. We started looking through Shakespeare’s plays to find the characters, and settled upon Juliet.

DK: I think our original concept actually was that it was going to be three Shakespearian women, so they needed to be really recognisable. Juliet was an immediate choice because she’s such an iconic and well known character.

AK: It seems to me that so much happens to her – instigated by men – so she was a really good choice to start with.

DK: Yes, and everyone talks about her and makes decisions for her. And obviously she does talk quite a lot with the nurse and so on, but again, generally speaking it’s about men.

AK: Hm.

DK: Yeah.

madjesty-14

Ali Kemp, Gerri Farrel, Tom Neill & Ian Crump (L-R) in “Madjesty” by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman. Photo credit: George Riddell

AK: So originally we were thinking that we were going to write about three Shakespearean women, but then we kind of threw it out a bit further –

DK: I had watched something – because we’d been looking at The Bechdel Test at the time – and somebody had talked about the fact that Princess Leia represents everything! She’s a fantastic female character, I mean she’s a wife and a mother at various points throughout the Star Wars canon, however she’s also a senator, she’s a politician, she’s a rebel, she’s a fighter, she’s a general.

AK: She’s a sex object!

DK: And I think if you read about Carrie Fisher, who played her, she seems to have felt the burden of that representation. So she’s definitely an interesting character in that regard because she’s such a strong, such a positive female character, and yet she’s the only one.

AK: And being everything to everyone.

DK: And so differently from Juliet we felt almost that she was over burdened with all of the things that she was being.

AK: We felt actually that you could have had five female characters, but with Princess Leia they were all rolled into one. We felt that she had a very different burden on her.

DK: So, we then thought that if we have these two characters it would be quite interesting to have three different art forms, and the most iconic woman we could think of in Fine Art was the Mona Lisa.

AK: There’s been so much speculation as to what she’s thinking, what’s she’s doing –

DK: And I mean the attacks that she’s suffered over the years!

AK: They’re for real!

DK: She’s even had paint thrown on her.

AK: It’s quite interesting that a painting could generate such a response from its viewers. So, she was the obvious third choice for us.

DK: And once we had the three characters the play kind of wrote itself.

You could have had five female characters, but with Princess Leia they were all rolled into one. We felt that she had a very different burden on her… she’s such a strong, such a positive female character, and yet she’s the only one.

CUP: What projects are you currently working on?

DK: We have quite a few things in the pipeline, we haven’t written a full length play since eXclusion because we have been focusing on new writing, The Bechdel Test –

AK: And Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… which is ongoing.

DK: Absolutely. Represents… is quite a time consuming venture because Ali and I do all of that. We manage open submissions for plays – which, as I’m sure you know, takes a lot of time and reading! Once we have the scripts then we give two to each director to choose between, and we give a female writer to a male director and vice versa.

AK: Because it’s a gender equal showcase.

DK: So all the plays have to pass The Bechdel Test, but we have three male writers and three female writers.

AK: And we have three male directors and three female directors. It makes the whole experience very much a gender equal collaboration.

DK: Then the director will do the casting and will invite the writers to be involved in the rehearsal process. We normally do two nights of the production (six plays). They are quite work intensive but we have got a huge amount out of doing it.

AK: Personally, but also in terms of working with talented writers, directors and actors – and there’s been a lot of ongoing collaboration between them, so that’s really exciting, introducing artists to each other, which has been very gratifying for us.

DK: We’ve also had feedback from some of the writers that the remit we’ve set has actually influenced them and their craft as well.

Heart's Desire 3

Jonathan Akingba & Caroline Loncq in “Heart’s Desire” by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman. Photo credit: George Riddell

AK: Alongside Represents… we are also writing our second full length play which we’ve been researching and it’s now starting to take shape now.

DK: We can’t say too much more about it now – it’s at a very early stage.

AK: So watch this space!

CUP: What is your favourite Shakespeare play and why?

AK: King Lear because we met doing King Lear!

DK: Aw! Well sorry, mine is Macbeth! Firstly, it’s ‘the Scottish play’ and I’m Scottish, but also because I find the characters and the themes really interesting, and it’s the part I’ve always wanted to play – as an actor, Lady Macbeth is the part to play! I do also like Henry VI Part III, which may be a little obscure, but there are some really great speeches for Queen Margaret.

We have quite a few things in the pipeline… so watch this space!

Check out the interview at: www.cambridgeblog.org
Advertisements

Here it is: The line-up for the third Represents… showcase!

Mayday - Banner

We wish to extend our thanks to all the writers from across the UK who have sent us their work in response to the theme of Mayday. It has truly been a pleasure to read such a broad range of plays, all of which include significant female characters and in doing so bring theatre in the UK closer to achieving realistic gender representation.

We are excited to be able to announce the line up for the third Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… returning to Waterloo East Theatre on 27th & 28th April 2015:

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Mayday

The Clearing by Paul Howard, directed by Alice Bonifacio

The Shipping Forecast by Lizzie Bourne, directed by James Callas Ball

The M Word by Brian Redmond, directed by Georgie Weedon

Madjesty by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman, directed by Paul Taylor

Resting by William Patterson, directed by Janet L Palmer

Grit by Sarah Davies, directed by Marc Kelly

Congratulations to all the successful playwrights, and we look forward to seeing your work on stage at the end of April!

We are welcoming Lizzie Bourne back to Represents… as she has performed in the previous two showcases and is now sharing her talent as a writer. Alice Bonifacio and Paul Taylor are also returning as directors for Team Represents…; and we are delighted that James Callas Ball, Georgie Weedon, Janet L Palmer and Marc Kelly will be joining them for the first time.

Our playwrights have been put in touch with their directors and casting is well underway.

All there is to do now is for you to book your tickets! Remember there is a £2 discount if you book in advance – plus you don’t want to be one of those people who we’ve had to turn away when the performances have sold out!

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Mayday
Waterloo East Theatre, London, SE1 8TG
Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th April 2015, 7.30pm
Tickets on sale now: £10 in advance (£12 on the door)
Box office: 020 7928 0060 / www.waterlooeast.co.uk

Approximate running time: 2 hours 15 including interval.

OOs

  innovation   •   entertainment   •   social justice

WOW! Women of the World

Well, it feels a bit late to be saying happy 2012 but having taken a well earned break after the fantastic experience that was eXclusion, Ali and Debs are busy working on more Whoop ‘n’ Wail projects. We are very excited to be starting work on our second play – don’t want to give anything away at this stage but watch this space – and last month we filmed For Better Or Worse, written by Debs and directed by Rakesh Mohun and Jairus Obayomi.

This week from the 8th – 11th March, Ali and Debs will be at the Women of the World extravaganza at the South Bank Centre, London. Having been involved in a consultation meeting during the planning of this event, we have been invited to be mentors and their ‘Speed Mentoring’ sessions during the weekend. For more information about this and for the full and fantastic programme of events, follow this link:

http://ticketing.southbankcentre.co.uk/wow

See you there.

Ali & Debs

Our latest review..

 
Just been to see Whoop ‘n Wail’s eXclusion. A very original show which had me captivated until the very last moment. If you love the x factor and its contemporaries, see this show. If you hate the x factor its contemporaries see this show. It is a dark hour that makes you think what could happen if your freedom was taken away, in a satirical way that questions how society believes it controls the lives of the individual through media. You may think an hour watching a women’s prison drama could be better spent, take it from me, it is an hour very well spent in the presence of an excellent cast, two of whom have written the piece from a very informed perspective. 
Kevin Whibley, Photographer.

http://www.southhillpark.org.uk/3304/shows/exclusion.html

The eXclusion tour continues..

So, Christmas is around the corner and here at Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ we are all looking forward to our Christmas break. But, before we deck the halls and sing we merrily, we are very excited to be doing our final week of this incredible tour in the Studio Theatre at South Hill Park, Bracknell.

Tues 13th – Sun 18th December at 8pm.
http://www.southhillpark.org.uk/3304/shows/exclusion.html
It is the perfect antidote to the panto season (although Ali & Debs are looking forward to catching Paul Taylor, our esteemed director, in Cinderella at SHP).

See you there!

One week to go until curtain up at South Hill Park

This time next week we will be preparing to go on stage at the studio at South Hill Park. Debs and Ali popped down there this week to say hello to everyone. It was Ali’s first visit and she was particularly impressed by the vibrant atmosphere and beautiful location. Debs met with many old friends as she has worked there before on The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry V. They hooked up with eXclusion’s director Paul Taylor, fresh from performing in Cinderella and still covered in glitter! They also met with Adrian and Rebecca who have been working hard to promote the show to local schools and colleges – thank you guys – and were delighted to bump into Tom Neill, who directed both Ali and Debs in Under Milk Wood at Pentameters Theatre earlier this year.

Check out the piece in last weeks Bracknell News about SHP’s studio theatre and their up and coming productions, including of course, eXclusion.

http://www.bracknellnews.co.uk/theguide/goingout/articles/2011/11/24/55484-upcoming-productions-at-the-studio-theatre-at-south-hill-park/

Looking forward to arriving at South Hill Park

Well our time at Waterloo East Theatre sadly came to an end on Sunday. We would like to thank Gerald Armin and all at the theatre, who made us feel so welcome. Also a big thanks to Gareth Radcliffe and Beth-Louise Priestley for stepping in to help out with the tech side of things. Most importantly – a big shout out to all who came to see the show and who gave us some great feedback. Check out the review for eXclusion in the Southwark News  http://www.southwarknews.co.uk/arts/theatre/00,news,25042,462,00.htm

A few early nights later, we are refreshed and ready for South Hill Park, where we will, for rehearsals at least, be reunited with our director Paul Taylor who has been otherwise engaged as an ugly sister in Cinderella at SHP.

Debs and Ali are heading down to SHP next week to meet Rebecca, the Education Manager, who is doing sterling work, publicising the show to schools and colleges in the area. Don’t forget that if you work in a school or college and are thinking of bringing a group of students (not suitable for under 12s), we do have a fantastic educational resource pack including around 20 hours of teaching materials – get in touch with us at whoopnwail@gmail.com if you are interested.

So there is a little over a week to go until the X Factor final. Stave off those post final withdrawals by booking your self a ticket to eXclusion. Who will get your vote?

eXclusion
South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell
Tuesday 13th – Sunday 18th December 2011
8pm, running time 65 minutes
£10, conc £9, members/NHS or HMP staff £8
Students group discount available – contact us or SHP for details
http://www.southhillpark.org.uk/3304/shows/exclusion.html