Break ups, lesbians and procrastination

Friend of Whoop ‘n’ Wail, Lizzie Milton, tells us all about her playwrighting debut, female-centric comedy, and the importance of paying her actors:

Lizzie Milton

Lizzie Milton

The Breaks in You and I is a lesbian break-up comedy. It is my debut production. It has a cast and crew comprised exclusively of women and I am paying all of them.

We are watching TV and it happens. It drops. All inside of me. I do not love you. In fact, I think you repulse me a bit. You know what triggered it? You farted. Right in that good bit in Being John Malkovich. And I know it seems like a little thing, but it becomes this whole big metaphor for our relationship. You, my darling wife, are dispersing your shit molecules all over the good bits of my life.

I started this piece during my MA in Writing for Performance and Dramaturgy at Goldsmiths in 2015.  About two weeks before the first draft of my dissertation was due, my partner of three and a half years broke up with me, whilst I was simultaneously going through the worst period of depression of my life thus far.

So as far as I could see it I had this choice. I could crawl into a cave of sadness and not come out for three months or I write a goddamn play about it. In the end, I did a bit of both. I didn’t really know what the play was going to be – I was scared it would be an hour of me rolling around the floor crying out ‘why did you do this to me?’ and ‘why am I so alone?’ and ‘will there ever be enough pizza to feel this hole inside of me?’ Thankfully it wasn’t. What came out was a very rough version of the play that will be staged in September. It was painful and funny all at once, as most bad things are in my experience.

Nina Shenkman and Charlotte Merriam

Nina Shenkman and Charlotte Merriam

Chloe sleeps spread out like a starfish every night. Her life is full of yoga, wine and definitely not missing Joanna. Joanna hasn’t changed her pants in ten days, because she can’t work out how to use the washing machine. Oh, and she’s starting to suspect Chloe’s controlling her mind. A grotesquely comic account of breaking up, amid fried chicken, conspiracy theories and a lot of alcohol.

Chloe and Joanna came out quite naturally as a way of expressing the dichotomy of feelings I had during this period. I suppose, maybe that’s why they’re both women – in a sense, they’re both me. This of course meant that my play was a lesbian comedy about breaking up, and I honestly didn’t realise how significant this would be until we did a rehearsed reading of an extract at the Soho Theatre in June 2015. Talking to audience members afterwards, the same themes kept emerging: ‘I’ve never seen a play about lesbians before’ ‘Finally, a play about women like me!’ ‘I love that you’ve written a play with gay women without addressing their sexuality’. It’s funny really – to me it isn’t a play about lesbians, it is a play about breaking up. It just happens to be a break-up between lesbians!

Six months later, I have agreed to debut my production at The Hope theatre. As mentioned, we are paying all our cast and crew – credit has to be given to The Hope on this one, it is part of our contract with them that we pay our actors equity minimum. We’re very glad they have that policy, primarily because we strongly believe in paying artists for the work that they do, but also because, with the funds currently available to us it would have been tempting to compromise. Now we’ve done it once, it would feel wrong not to continue to, so a huge thank you to The Hope for making Dogfaced Boy a better employer!

Beause the production is unfunded – and I don’t have a spare £2000 lying around! – we’ve had to do some fundraising to get the Breaks in You and Me to the stage. We ran an amazing LGBT variety night to help raise funds – it happened just after the attacks in Orlando so ended up being a really powerful and heart-warming night.

The rest of the fundraising has been done online at https://www.gofundme.com/dogfacedboy. We’ve had some amazing donations so far and so many friends and family have been really generous. We’ve still got a way to go yet, but I’m optimistic.

So here I am now, a month before opening night. I don’t really sleep much anymore with all the work I’ve got on and I have a really tidy bedroom from all the procrastinating I’ve been doing. In a few weeks we go into the rehearsal room and I’m really excited to see what Nina, Charlotte and Holly are going to create! We hope this will be the beginning of a long life for our theatre company Dogfaced Boy, creating theatre about women, by women, for everyone.

the breaks

The Breaks in You and I is written by Lizzie Milton and directed by Holly Robinson. Set design by Fié Neo. Starring Charlotte Merriam and Nina Shenkman. 

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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

Represents..The Launch..The line-up

***************TICKETS ON SALE NOW**********

http://waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com/shows/873523779/events?show_id=873523779

We are super excited to announce our fantastic line up for Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…The Launch on Monday 17th & 24th at Waterloo East Theatre, 7.30pm!

The Final Frontier by Sam Hall, directed by John Mitton

Three Women in a Music Box by Dan Horrigan, directed by Alice Bonifacio

Cause for Alarm by Deborah Klayman, directed by Emily Bush

On the Horizon by Adam Hughes, directed by Sarah Davies

Dust by Sarah Davies, directed by Norman Murray

My Bloody Laundrette by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman, directed by Paul Taylor

Casting done, rehearsals underway, props being sourced, all we need now is you! Book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

http://waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com/shows/87352377/events?show_id=873523779

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

One more week left at Waterloo East Theatre

We have enjoyed this last week very much at Waterloo East Theatre and in particular our gala night on Thursday. A big thank you to Rachel Halford from Women In Prison, Leah Thorn and Michael Holland for joining us on stage afterwards for a very interesting and stimulating post show discussion. Leah rounded off the evening beautifully with some very moving and uplifting poetry written by some of the women that she’s worked with in the prison system. It was also wonderful to see Stuart Calladine, who is responsible for our graphic design and Rakesh Mohun, our film director/maker and motion graphic designer there too. And we were thrilled that our very own Paul Taylor, eXclusion’s director was able to make the show this afternoon, as he has been very busy rehearsing for his role as one of the [ugly] sisters in Cinderella at South Hill Park.

Many thanks to all who have come to the show so far. May we be so bold as to draw your attention to the Whatsonstage.com Awards – Theatre Goers Choice, as you can now nominate online and eXclusion is eligible this year. http://awards.whatsonstage.com/nominate

Sadly we only have one more week of eXclusion at Waterloo East Theatre but we are looking forward to a great one. If you have not yet booked your tickets to catch us at this fantastic venue then visit the WET website and get your tickets now http://www.waterlooeast.co.uk/exclusion.html

eXclusion’s first week!

eXclusion has had an exciting first week at the Waterloo East Theatre!

If you haven’t managed to make it to the show don’t despair as there are two more weeks to go, followed by a week in December at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell!

http://www.waterlooeast.co.uk/exclusion.html