Looking back at…The Scare Slam & Halloween Tales

Halloween Tales, 30th October – 1st November 2014, The Selkirk Upstairs

‘You think it’s all me and it’s not. It’s not always me.’

It starts as a normal night-shift – and then you start to see double…

Duncan Gates’ chilling short play, Fetch, alongside some spooky fireside stories, formed our first foray into scary short stories. Halloween Tales was almost certainly the spooky seed from which did grow the horror-bloom: Blackshaw’s Annual Scare Slam.

The Whistling Room by William Hope Hodgson, read by M. J. Starling

Wailing Well by M. R. James, read by Duncan Gates

Fetch by Duncan Gates

There’s a bunch of lovely photos, interviews, and behind the scenes joy available to browse.

CAST

ROSIE MARSH Ally (Fetch)
BRYONY TEBUTT Vic (Fetch)
ALEX YAGHMA Col (Fetch)
M. J. STARLING Storyteller
DUNCAN GATES Storyteller

CREATIVES

ELLIE PITKIN Director & Producer
MICHELLE BRISTOW Set & Costume Designer
ANDREW CRANE Sound Design/Tech Operation

The Scare Slam, annually, October 2014-present

From the mind of Blackshaw associate, Helen Stratton, the Scare Slams were born. Over the years (we’ve done 5) the Scare Slam has been performed at The Horse & Stables, The Old Red Lion, and The Pleasance Theatre, as part of the London Horror Festival.

The show has provided a platform for the telling of terrifying short stories and poems. All in the dead of night. To the gentle hiss of a geriatric smoke machine…

Scare Slam 2015

Scare Slam 2016

Scare Slam 2017

Scare Slam 2018

Scare Slam 2019

You can drip some fear into your ear, and listen to the audio of the Scare Slams, whenever you like.

The Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 70

Matt reviews The Death of Stalin, Alex and Strat do Art (this time they design a book cover for ‘Jessica Pride Goes to School’, the children’s book they wrote last episode!).

Plus, Ellie and Matt conclude their possible Oscar Nominations chat, and you can hear more about our sister podcast, Merely Roleplayers.

 

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Black Shuck: Making the Set

Our delightful Designer for Black Shuck, Michelle Bristow, gives us a glimpse into the world of set building – you can come and see the set in situ, 11-19 May 2016 – book your tickets now!

Twitter header Black Shuck

We started out by mitre-ing (real word?) some of the timber so that we could make the structure for the bracing. It was hard!

The next part of the support structure, drilling the main upright piece to the bottom support piece.

Bracing pieces completed!

Laying out the pieces ready to have the holes drilled in to mark where the screws go, in order to be flat packed into my car and assembled at the venue.

Marking out the holes and numbering them, so its easy to match up the pieces at the get in.

Jacobean woodstain was the perfect colour, heres the groyne after two coats – 

The fun (and messy) part – painting! All ready for assembly next week. 

Quick Questions in Wonderland: Rosie Marsh

We grabbed Rosie Marsh, who’s playing The March Hare/Dormouse in our upcoming production of Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library, and fired some quick questions at her…

 

Rosie HeadshotWhat do you like best about playing your character in Alice in Wonderland?

I like the fact that my main characters are physically connected, which makes the challenge of creating two completely individual personalities that bit more stretching and exciting! Plus they’re both completely bonkers which is always great fun to play.

 

What’s your favourite scene or character in Alice in Wonderland?
I always loved the mad hatters tea party and feel that this is how all tea parties should be conducted. Apparently I was never a fan of ‘the walrus and the carpenter’ poem; my dad told me that when he read it to me as a child I used to cry when the oysters got eaten!

 

What was the last project you worked on?
I sang in a production called ‘Bunco’, which was a piece of new writing at the proud archivist. I got to sing sixties ballads and wear a blue wig, it was brilliant.

 

What’s the last book you read?
I am currently reading a book called ‘the other twin’ by Dan Vyleta. It’s about a brutal murder which happens in Nazi occupied Austria and a doctor trying to figure out who’s guilty.

 

Besides Alice, what’s your favourite past role (or favourite past project you’ve worked on) and why?
Ooh this is a really tough one, it was probably my first Edinburgh experience where I was in a play I’d co-written with my friends. There were 7 of us sharing a one bedroom flat for a whole month, performing every day, seeing loads of theatre and drinking far too much. It was absolutely magical.

 

What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?
I saw an amazing production of Romeo and Juliet at Statford Upon Avon years ago; they started the play by two of the Capulets dragging a Montague onto the stage, tying him to a wooden stake, lighting up a flame torch and almost setting fire to him, which was stopped by the entrance of the prince. It was absolutely terrifying and the only time I’ve really seen a production of the play really grasp the destruction and danger of the rivalry.

 

Not a lot of people know that…

I have a tattoo

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Passing judgements on people’s menu choices on ‘come dine with me’ and shouting things like ‘YOU’VE NEVER BAKED A SOUFFLE BEFORE AND YOU’RE DOING IT NOW?!?ARE YOU QUITE MAD!?!’ at the telly.

 

What really grinds your gears?
People who don’t practice their recipes before going on a dining competition show to win £1000.

 

You can see Rosie perform the role of March Hare/Dormouse (and other assorted characters) in Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library 2-16th May 2015 – more details and buy tickets here.

 

Quick Questions in Wonderland: Richard Stratton

We grabbed Richard Stratton, who is playing Tweedle Dum (& other various roles) and also done wrote the play – for our upcoming production of Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library, for some quick questions…

 

StratWhat do you like best about playing your character in Alice in Wonderland

The best thing about playing my characters in Alice is that they’re all a different kind of crazy. Each of them is mad in their own way and it’s been fun finding those different types of madness and switching between them.

They’re also very active, there’s little time for rest if you’re on stage and I think that’s the same for everyone else too!

 

 

What’s your favourite scene or character in Alice in Wonderland?

I think it would have to be either the Mad Hatter’s tea party or the scene where Alice meets the door that she enters wonderland through. The tea party is such a classic scene from the book and it was a joy to work on. Plus, the characters in it are probably my favourites alongside the mock turtle who sadly didn’t make it in to this version.

While I tried to stay as true to how the tea party is in the original as I could, with the door scene I found I could put my own twist on it and try my hand at creating a new interpretation of the character of the door. It was really fun to create a character that fit comfortably with the other, established character of wonderland.

 

What’s the last book you read?

I recently finished ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ by Jon Ronson. It’s an exploration of the rise of public shaming (primarily online), why it happens and how it affects those who find themselves targets. Really interesting, worth checking out, particularly if you spend a lot of time on Twitter!

 

Besides Alice, what’s your favourite past role (or favourite past project you’ve worked on) and why?

Tricky. My favourite past role was probably Lt. Ralph in Our Country’s Good. A wonderful play and a fantastic character to have the chance to take on.

 

What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?

Even trickier! I certainly can’t choose one. Anything by Punch Drunk has to be up there and Mercury Fur by Philip Ridley left me in what I can only describe as a state of shock when I saw it and the Chocolate Factory (certainly not for kids though!). More recently though I’d have to say The Scottsboro Boys; I’ve never seen a musical like it!

 

Not a lot of people know that…

When I was little I had a teddy bear called Mr. Spiv.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Terrible action movies on Netflix. Every time I think I’ve found the worst, they add another!

 

What really grinds your gears?

Dancing dog acts! Don’t really know why. I love dogs, but not when they’re dancing!

 

You can see Richard’s work in Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library 2-16th May 2015 – more details and buy tickets here.

 

 

Quick Questions in Wonderland – Marcus Bazley

What are you most looking forward about working on Alice in Wonderland?

There are a number of things I’m looking forward to about working on Alice. For a start I’ve never worked with Blackshaw on a full production and having worked on various new writing nights over the last year or so I’m really looking forward to joining the team on a full project. I also love the space we are performing in! Creating an adaptation of Alice for a library space is interesting enough but when it’s for one as characterful as Battersea Library it opens up so many creative opportunities.

 

What’s your favourite scene or character in Alice in Wonderland?

I think it would have to be the White Rabbit. I quite like rabbits anyway so a talking, hyper-energetic, perpetually late rabbit is quite appealing! He’s also effectively the gateway into the magic of the story so he is a pivotal character.

 

What was the last project you worked on?

My last project was directing a French translation of The Diary of a Madman by Gogol at the Reine Blanche theatre in Paris. It’s a truly astonishing text that presents the world through the eyes of a schizophrenic. I think everyone should read it not only as a fascinating exploration of mental illness but also because Gogol’s dark genius makes it incredibly funny throughout.

 

What’s the last book you read?

I recently finished Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. Another fascinating read and a novel that really gripped me. There’s a frantic, desperate energy that drives through the novel that is terrifying but also irresistible – and it really tests your moral compass.
Besides Alice, what’s your favourite past role (or favourite past project you’ve worked on) and why?

Very tough to decide between previous projects! I think if I had to choose, it would be the production of Shakespeare’s Henry V that I directed as the first production with my company, Cyphers. It was very special to bring that group of people together. Building an ensemble and developing ideas of how we work as a company was a fantastic challenge and one that was immensely rewarding. It’s probably my most important project to date, in that it marked a clear shift in the way I wanted to work as a director.

 

What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?

Continuing the Russian theme… I recently saw an adaptation of Eugene Onegin by the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre at the Barbican. Wow. This production completely blew me away. I had never seen anything like it on stage before and it made me reassess my views on theatre as a whole. It was a beautifully choreographed piece of storytelling – truly inspiring.

 

Not a lot of people know that…

In France, stage-left is known as cour and stage-right as jardin. This derives from the one of the first theatres in Paris being situated between the jardin des Tuileries to the right and the cour du Carrousel to the left.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

The Musketeers on BBC. I watch very little TV but this always brings a smile to my face. It’s hardly high art but it’s just pure romanticised, swash-buckling fun. I’m immensely jealous of all the actors who get to dress up in fantastic seventeenth century costumes and play with swords for at least 15 minutes an episode, all in the most beautiful settings too!

 

What really grinds your gears?

Politics. I just try and avoid the subject now.

 

You can see the product of Marcus’ work as Assistant Director, in Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library 2-16th May 2015 – more details and buy tickets here.

 

Quick Questions in Wonderland – Inez Coonen

We grabbed Inez Coonen, who’s working as a Set/Costume Assistant on our upcoming production of Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library, for some quick questions…

What do you like best about working on Alice in Wonderland?
Being part of the production is so much fun, when you know you have an actual audience to wow with the designs.  I cannot wait to work together on the ideas, because there is so much to explore.

 

What’s your favourite scene or character in ‘Alice in Wonderland’?
Alice’s encounter with the Catapillar.

 

What was the last project you worked on?
“The Snow Queen”

 

What’s the last book you read?
I have not read much lately, but I really like the novels of Amelie Nothomb.

 

Besides Alice, what’s your favourite past role (or favourite past project you’ve worked on) and why?
`’Talk to me like the rain and let me listen…`’ a production performed on the Musica Sacra Festival in the Netherlands.  Everything we wanted to make happen, happened: we let it rain on the stage during the whole play. That was a hard job, but we pulled it off!

 

What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?
I was really impressed by ‘Liberation’ at this year’s Vault Festival.

 

Not a lot of people know that…
I have got some really surprising dance moves.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Listening to Japanese music.

 

What really grinds your gears?
Bad manners

 

You can see Inez’s work on Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library 2-16th May 2015 – more details and buy tickets here.

 

 

Vacancy: Makeup Artist

We are staging ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (adaptation by Richard Stratton) as part of the Wandsworth Arts Festival & Fringe in May (show dates below). It’s being performed at the Battersea Library (Clapham Junction), and we have a placement available for a makeup artist.

Duties will include designing and applying the makeup for the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit (and any other characters you think would benefit!) – for rehearsals and shows. You will be working alongside our top Design team, Director, and producer, who are all experienced in their fields and can offer mentoring and skill development.  

This is a great opportunity to operate as a full crew member, to gain invaluable experience in hands-on production roles, where you are supported and mentored by industry professionals.

You will need to be available for an initial meeting to discuss the project, and then via email to keep abreast of design developments, but the below dates are the only ones we’d need you on site for rehearsal/production.

– Rehearsal, Sunday 12th April (approx 12-6pm)

– Rehearsal, Sunday 26th April (approx 12-6pm)

– Get in/tech/dress rehearsal day, Thurs 30th April, 2-8pm

– Show dates: Sat 2nd May (6 & 7.30pm); Mon 4th May (3 & 4pm); Fri 8th May (7.30pm); Sat 9th May (6 & 7.30pm); Fri 15th May (7.30pm); Sat 16th May (6 & 7.30pm)

The placement is unpaid but we can offer travel expenses up to £50.

Here are a few blogs about how excellent it is to work with us…

10 reasons to work with Blackshaw

Working for Blackshaw – New Writing Night Manager, Nicole

Working for Blackshaw – Radio Producer, Iasha

 

To apply, send a brief outline of why you’re interested in the project, your availability, and a copy of your CV, to info@blackshawonline.com