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!

 

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

 

Call out for actors

Dora

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre are casting 8 actors (ages between 40 – 80, including specifically BAME) for a one-day table read of a brand new play, But For Us, by award winning playwrights Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman. This is an unpaid opportunity for actors with a passion for new writing and an interest in the welfare state, social inclusion and politics. The plan for the day will be a read through followed by a discussion, then work on individual sections as decided by the director. This is to inform an ongoing R&D process with a view to a future production.

Please visit the casting page on our website for the full details and character breakdown. Deadline for submissions is Tuesday 18th December 2018.

Synopsis

Welfare’s in a state and the pensioners are revolting.

In 2022, the Uncoupled Kingdom is feeling the pinch and welfare’s in a state. Prescription charges are through the roof, hospitals are bursting at the seams, and camps have sprung up on the borders. Now Chastity Healthcare has the NHS in its sights and the pensioners are revolting.

75-year old Dora Cockburn came to the UK as a child on the Windrush, and ever since has lived on an estate in Shepherd’s Bush. A life-long socialist and campaigner, she is fighting to save the NHS from the politicians and privateers, with only a packet of questionable biscuits and partner-in-crime Ray to help her overcome. Now, her estranged son is on her doorstep – what’s a woman to do?

Martin Cockburn is Conservative Minister for Health and Social Care, and he’s standing for re-election. What’s in his way? Toeing the party line, rebellious constituents, and a wife that’s kicked him out. When you’re forced to live with your Trotskyite mum, how can you become Britain’s top Tory?

From the halls of power to the high rise and the cabinet to the camps, Dora must battle power plays, family feuds and media muscle in her quest for victory. But when the biscuits are down, help may come from an unlikely source…

 

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.

 

 

 

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…The Writers

Whoop ‘n’ Wail are delighted to announce the six successful playwrights for their February showcase:

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…Desire.

We have been absolutely delighted with the response to our open submission brief, with almost seventy brand new plays from all over the world winging their way to the Whoop ‘n’ Wail submissions inbox.

Our reading team received scripts from Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK and the USA, and were overwhelmed by the innovation and talent shown by the writers as they generously shared their work.

After a lot of hard work, thought and soul-searching – as well as a few heated debates – the final six are:

Nice Jumper by Dan Page (UK)

The Hidden Room by Patricia Reynoso (USA)

The Work-Love Balance by Tom Jensen (UK)

Three AM by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich (USA)

Would You Let Me Finish? by Leon Kaye (USA)

Heart’s Desire by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman (UK)

Congratulations to our successful writers

The directors’ announcement will be coming soon – so watch this space. The six writers will already been notified by Whoop ‘n’ Wail and will shortly be connected with their director.

In the meantime, tickets are already on sale from the Waterloo East Theatre’s website: www.waterlooeast.co.uk. There is a discount for advance purchase – to avoid disappointment please book in early as our last showcase sold out! 

innovation   •   entertainment   •   social justice