But For Us R&D

Last week we held our research and development week for But For Us at the Old Diorama Arts Centre (ODAC), culminating in a staged reading at the Bush Theatre for community and campaigners, and an Industry showing at ODAC.

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We had a phenomenal group of actors who worked their socks off to interrogate the script and develop the characters, under the watchful eye and skillful direction of Fiona MacPherson. We are extremely grateful to them for their willingness to hit the ground running, achieving a tremendous amount within the very limited time available to us.

We’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of the team at ODAC. Being Associate Performers has been an invaluable opportunity for us, and we thoroughly recommend other emerging artists explore this opportunity. Without ODAC, our R&D would not have been possible. And talking of which, another enormous thank you to our Kickstarter funders, without whom we would not have been able to pay anyone for all this hard work!

The showing at the Bush Theatre studio was sold out, with a fantastic atmosphere and a hugely appreciative audience. The feedback that we have collected from both readings will be invaluable as we take But For Us forward to the next stage.

So what is the next stage for But For Us?

Well, we did give ourselves the weekend off -but now we are back on it. We are digesting all the incredibly positive feedback we have received, as well as taking on board one or two constructively critical notes. We will then look towards fully integrating the video elements of the script, in collaboration with colleagues with projection design expertise. Ultimately, of course, our aim is to take But For Us to as wide an audience as possible with a fully staged production.

We will keep you posted!

Ali & Debs

Whoopnwail_Butforus-1207

L-R back: Deborah Klayman (Writer/Producer), Adil Akram (Naveen), Nicky Goldie (Brenda), Eva Fontaine (Mary), Andre Lecointe-Gayle (Martin), Harry Napier (Ricky), Ali Kemp (Writer/Producer). L-R front: Natascha Slasten (Gretel), Lesley Ewen (Dora), Roger Conneff (Ray), Fiona Macpherson (Director).

With thanks to Alex Harvey-Brown at Savannah Photographic for the fantastic rehearsal photography, and for filming the reading at the Bush Theatre studio.

 

 

Our R&D week is finally here!

After months of preparation, our R&D week is finally here!

We are delighted to welcome a wonderful group of actors to work on the But For Us script with playwrights Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman and director Fiona McPherson at the Old Diorama Arts Centre (ODAC), where Whoop ‘n’ Wail are Associate Performers.

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Our sharing evening for campaigners and community at the Bush Theatre studio on Thursday 12th September is already sold out, ahead of our Industry Sharing on Friday 13th September at ODAC. We hope you will be joining us!

Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the week, or join our mailing list here for all the Whoop ‘n’ Wail news!

 

It’s the Final Countdown!

There are 3 days to go on the But For Us Kickstarter campaign, and we are so close to achieving our goal. Thank you so much to everyone who has already pledged and supported us so far – you are a brilliant bunch of backers!

We’ve raised 70% of our target so far – please help us with the final push. We need to get the But For Us message to as many people as possible, so if you are able to share the project on social media or with friends and family we would be very grateful.

Kickstarter: http://kck.st/2RQITkL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whoopnwailtheatre

Twitter: https://twitter.com/whoopnwail

Ali, Debs & Fiona - script meeting in York

Ali, Debs & Fiona – script meeting in York

Today we took a day trip to meet with our director, Fiona McPherson, in York which is halfway between her base and Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ. We had an incredibly productive afternoon fine tuning the script and planning for the R&D in September.

#TheFightGoesOn #ButForUsThePlay

But For Us table read

In January, this happened…..

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But For Us table read January 2019, Old Diorama Arts Centre

Photos by Stew Calladine @arty_stew

Hearing actors, most that we’d never met before, discuss and read our characters with such intimate knowledge of them was a strange and wonderful experience. This play has been about three years in the writing, and at the reading it really felt like it was stepping out in the big wide world and starting a life of its own, finding its own voice. It got us quite emosh.

A huge thanks to the actors for their enthusiasm and invaluable input: Adil Akram, Yvonne Campbell, Roger Conneff, Eva Fontaine, Érin Geraghty, Andre Lecointe, Natascha Slasten and PK Taylor. Our eternal gratitude also to Paula David and Swee Wildman for their insightful contributions. It was a joy to be led by director Fiona MacPherson and wonderful to be reunited with friend of Whoop ‘n’ Wail, Stew Calladine, who took the photos for us.

Thanks also to The Old Diorama Arts Centre, who are supporting the development of our work through the Associate Performers Scheme – ultimately, without them, this day couldn’t have happened.

So, what next?

We aren’t sitting back on our laurels that’s for sure!

Feeling super inspired by Rikki Beadle-Blair’s, “Life’s A Pitch” workshop (Old Vic Workshops For Artists), and with tailored advice from David Byrne (New Diorama Monthly Artist Surgeries), we’re full steam ahead in preparation for two weeks of research and development in the spring.

You gotta play a long game to get from page to stage, but look at all the fabulous people you get to meet and learn from along the way!

 

An exciting New Year ahead!

In December we put out a casting call for a table read of our new play But For Us. We are delighted to say that it is now fully cast.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that liked and shared our casting call out, for spreading the word and making the world a little smaller.

We had a blast watching the showreels and clips from all the actors who got in touch with their CVs. Thank you so much to all of you for showing such interest in our project.

We are looking forward to getting together with our fantastic cast and director, over a cuppa and a biscuit or two, early in the new year.

Watch this space, folks…

 

Happy New Year!

Ali & Debs

 

No excuses this time

Excuses, excuses. There’s always something, isn’t there?

“It’s a great idea but I’m really busy at the moment?”

“I’d love to but I’ve got so much on, you wouldn’t believe!”

“I would but I’m completely snowed under. Next time.”

Well, I guess this was us. We’d known about Theatre Uncut for some time. It’s a theatrical call to arms, originally in response to the 2011 cuts in public spending. Every year, Hannah Price and Emma Callander of Theatre Uncut make a number of short political plays available for anyone to perform, rights free, anywhere in the world, creating a theatrical critical mass.

This is, of course, right up our street. We love a bit of theatrical activism but every year we’ve found a reason why we’d have to leave it until next time. To be fair to us, we have been very busy writing, producing, performing, doing the day job, as well as everything else that constitutes our lives. Producing plays is a very time consuming job and when you have a lot else going on, taking on yet another project might not make you very popular with your long-suffering loved ones.

This year was no different. Here at Whoop ‘n’ Wail we are preparing for the next stage in the development of our new play But For Us – watch this space for more on that! and what with putting together our creative team, applying for funding and scheduling some R&D, the likelihood of us producing anything from this year’s Theatre Uncut Power Plays looked very slim indeed:

“But, hang on. Not again! It’s like this every year and every year we miss out. Surely one more little side project won’t kill us!”

So we thought, realistically, the best we could do was get a few people around to Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ for a really informal play read and good old fashioned discussion. So we did.

Bringing together friends and collaborators, some we haven’t seen in years and others we’ve only just met, we had our get-together on the morning of Sunday 24th June 2018. We read through the plays in turn and more than once, each provoking so much chat that we had to start watching the clock as we all had a variety of rehearsals, performances, meetings and social whirlery to get to later in the day. And apart from downloading and printing scripts, stocking up with plenty of tea and coffee and baking a batch of Whoop ‘n’ Wails infamous Caramac Cookies, very little time and effort needed to go into it. You can find extracts of our play reading here.

Theatre Uncut 2018

Theatre Uncut – Power Plays read by Paul Taylor, Ali Kemp, Radhika Aggarwal, Madeleine MacMahon, Deborah Klayman, Cassandra Cartwright

 

We will do the same next year, unless we decide to go the whole hog that is. But either way, from a small community here in the front room to the global community of Theatre Uncutters, we are all taking part in the discussion, not putting it off until next time.

“Theatre can create community and community, I know, can create change.”      

Emma Callander, Theatre Uncut 5-4-5 Podcast 1

The release period for this year’s plays has been extended until the end of the year – download, perform and debate Power Plays.

A selection of Power Plays will be performed at Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival on the 6th & 13th August 2018.

Anyone for a spot of anarchy?

Dora Cockburn, 72, from Shepherds Bush, London, is one of the Windrush Generation. A grandmother and retired social worker, she always enjoys a natter with her friends over a cuppa and a good biscuit. When the biscuits are down, however, she spends the majority of her time indulging in a spot of anarchy.

Dora is an activist, hell-bent on protecting the NHS from the forces of privatisation.

Her son is a Conservative MP, and Minster for Health and Social Care.

Welfare’s a state and the pensioners are revolting.

We’ve spent the last 18 months or so with Dora. We’ve been with her as she’s publicly stood her ground with the powers that be, and has privately been torn between her love for her family and the principles she holds so dear.

Dora is the main character in our new full-length play, currently in development. There may never have been such an interesting and pertinent time to be exploring what the NHS and our public services as a whole mean to us as a nation. As playwrights, we have certainly been given plenty of both inspiration and provocation.

But of course where inspiration fuels art, art fuels inspiration and the thousands of people attending the recent NHS rallies in London have been rousingly accompanied by songs from the National Health Singers, and our very own Debs has been giving it some damn good alto.

Look who was hanging out with them backstage at the rally at the Methodist Central Hall in January.

The National Health Singers joined by Jeremy Corbyn (Deborah Klayman is to his left)

The National Health Singers with Jeremy Corbyn

Debs also had the pleasure of joining the choir at the recording of Maverick Sabre’s Hands Of Hope for the Labour Party’s political broadcast, which was broadcast on national TV earlier this year. This moving film, directed by Josh Cole, acts as a reminder of the challenges we face if we want our NHS to work for the many, not for the few.

And in the year that marks a century since the first stage of suffrage for women, we are reminded of how powerful we can be with the courage of our convictions and how critical it is for all our voices to come together, united and defiant, in support of our public services and, in particular, our NHS.