15th January 2015, Pleasance Theatre 10-29th November 2015, Pleasance Theatre
“There’s nothing worse than old friends…they always think they know exactly who you are.”
Mary had a son. Now her son is dead. And that is all. But Jen is having a dinner party, just like they used to, a chance to catch up. No pressure. Nothing big. Just old friends. It would be great to see you. If you’re free. If you’re ready.
Staying Alive follows Mary’s efforts to build herself a life, after his death. Is it possible to regain any sense of normalcy? If not, how will her friends support her today, a year from now, 5 years from now?
Winner of the first annual Blackshaw Showcase Award, Staying Alive was developed with support from Blackshaw, culminating in a one night industry performance at the Pleasance Theatre in January 2015. The show returned to The Pleasance for a two week run and the playscript was published by Nick Hern Books. Kat Roberts’ Staying Alive is a real success story and one that Blackshaw is immensely proud of.
Proof that given enough time, talent and perseverance, theatre that really says something about the human condition can be made.
Highly original, nuanced and enlightening…deeply observed social comedy…compelling from start to finish.
It’s so painfully familiar and human…an elegant exploration of how friendships can break down and change under the weight of tragedy.
Mary – Rachel Nott Jack – Jonny McPherson/Alexander Pankhurst Jenn – Eleanor Burke Nathan – Brendan Jones Portia/Sarah/Social Worker – Emily Rae Will/Administrator – Stephen Ashmore-Blakely Tom (voice) – Laura Mortimore
Director/Producer – Ellie Pitkin Assistant Director – Marcus Bazley Set and Costume – Michelle Bristow Lighting and Sound – Andrew Crane Producer – Vikki Weston Photography – Richard Stratton
We have tons of interviews, reviews, photos and more.
Performed Thursday 2nd March, 7.45pm, The Pleasance Theatre
‘CAILLEACH ÓG…? She arrived on the back of a pig. What else do ye need tae know?’
Husband and wife DÁITHÍ and MÁIRE UÍ DHOMHNAILL own a pub in Bally Briocht – frequented by local barfly SNIBBER BANNON. A strange woman calling herself CAILLEACH ÓG arrives, and is soon making wild claims about being “The Mother of Mountains”, much to the amusement of DÁITHÍ, MÁIRE and SNIBBER.
DÁITHÍ subsequently finds his fate increasingly intertwined with that of CAILLEACH ÓG. And as his life very quickly unravels beyond his control, he desperately tries to hold on to his marriage as well as his sanity.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gerry is from Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He graduated in 2012 with an MA in Screenwriting from The London College of Communication. His projects include a feature King Billy And The Popes; a TV spec script for a Detective series Bundle, a spec script for BBC TV Series ‘Doctors’ Teenage Kicks and a radio play entitled The Bread of Life. He has also published one short story, Phantom Limbs.
His first piece for theatre, a short play entitled Skiver, was staged at the Brockley Jack Theatre. His first full length play Continuity opened “Vibrant 2016” – The Finborough Theatre’s Annual Festival of New Writing and is currently being considered for a full production in the summer.
Cailleach Óg won The Blackshaw Theatre’s Showcase 2016 Award.
Marcus Bazley for his insightful script feedback. Matt Boothman, Vikki Weston and Ellie Pitkin for the support in making this production happen at all! The talented actors and crew whose combined efforts brought the script to life. To Ronnie Troughton for listening/arguing/supporting. And a very special thanks to my number one muse & critic who keeps me going; Claire Dongworth.
CAST & CREATIVES
VICTORIA OTTER – Cailleach Óg
Victoria graduated with an MA in Acting from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and studied Drama at Exeter University. Recent theatre credits include ‘Jackie’ in Bad News (Briefs) by Shaun Kitchener (Waterloo East Theatre), ‘Gertrude’ in Hamlet (site specific), ‘Rivers’ in Richard III (Old Red Lion Theatre), ‘Stevie’ in Fitting Room by Tara Lepore (Eastern Angles, The Wolsley Theatre) and ‘Sarah Casey’ in The Tinker’s Wedding by J.Synge (London Irish Theatre).
Victoria first played Cailleach Óg as a rehearsed reading for Blackshaw Theatre at their New Writing night at the Hen & Chickens theatre.
NATHAN GORDON – Dáithí Ó Domhnaill
Nathan graduated in 2016 from the one-year acting course at Oxford School of Drama. Theatre credits include: ‘H’ in Flashes by Isley Lynn (Soho Theatre, 2016); ‘Lucio’ in Measure for Measure (North Wall Oxford, 2016); and ‘Ernest Beevers’ in Time and the Conways (OSD, 2016). Screen credits include: ‘Marc Vlessing’ in Foyle’s War (ITV, 2013) and ‘Duncan Stonehouse’ in Irish soap Fair City (RTÉ, 2008-10). Nathan very recently recorded The Secret by Deric Henderson as an audio book for RNIB Talking Books.
LIIS MIKK – Máire Uí Dhomhnaill
Liis trained with The National Youth Theatre. Her recent theatre credits include ‘Woman’ in The Ones with Urbn Theatr (2016), ‘Chorus’ in The Bacchae with Lazarus Theatre Company (2016), ‘Liz’ in Master of the Macabre with MOTM Productions (2015), and ‘Berta’ in Re:Tale with Written Foundations Theatre Company (2015).
Liis is currently seeking representation.
STEPHEN GOOD – Snibber
Stephen is a graduate of Drama Studio London. Credits include ‘Polonius’ in Hamlet (2012; directed by Jimmy Walters). For Mercurius Theatre (all directed by Jenny Eastop): ‘Chrysalde/Henry’ in School for Wives (2013); ‘Hoard’ in A Trick to Catch the Old One (2014); ‘Yellowhammer’ in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (2015); ‘Everill/Sir Paul Eitherside’ in The Devil is an Ass (2015). For television: ‘Pete’ in Unbelievers (2015 TV pilot, directed by Matthew Colclough).
As an Irish actor, Stephen is particularly gratified to be involved in a new Irish play.
MARCUS J. BAZLEY – Director
Marcus is Artistic Director of Cyphers Productions, as well as a freelance director who has worked across the UK and in France. He has previously worked for Blackshaw as Assistant Director on Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2015) and Staying Alive by Kat Roberts (2015). Directing credits include: Henry V by William Shakespeare (2014 & 2015), Le Journal d’un Fou by Nikoli Gogol (2015), Communicate by Jeremy Fletcher (2016), as well as his own adaptations of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (2015) and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (2016).
ANDREW CRANE – Sound & Lighting Designer
Andrew is a graduate in Drama and Theatre Studies from Royal Holloway University (2012), and has worked as a sound designer and technician for Blackshaw Theatre since 2012. Sound Design credits include Black Shuck by Duncan Hands (2016—Old Red Lion), Staying Alive by Kat Roberts (2015—The Pleasance), Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2014 & 2015—Battersea Library), Character by Florence Vincent (2014—Tristan Bates), and Fetch by Duncan Gates (2014—The Selkirk).
For Blackshaw’s Arts Hour on Wandsworth Radio, Andrew has edited several radio plays including Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling (2015), and a serialised adaptation of Great Expectations by Marcus Bazley.
ADAM PENNY—Assistant Producer
VIKKI WESTON—Script Consultant
MATT BOOTHMAN—Script Consultant
JESSICA BAILES, VIOLAINE BRUNELIN, IASHA CHAPMAN, SUSANA COLUNGA, CHARLOTTE DISCOMBE, LIAM STEWARD-GEORGE, RICHARD STRATTON—Associate Producers
CAILLEACH ÓG, JESUS, HOMER SIMPSON, ME & DUFF BEER…
by Gerry Moynihan.
Sometimes you write something and when its finished, or more precisely when it finally reaches a level of acceptability, you are left wondering rather as one of the characters in CAILLEACH ÓG might put it, “Where in under Jesus did that come from?”
I’ll try and retrace some of my steps.
For a ten minute play challenge I wrote a scenario called CAILLEACH ÓG involving two women in the west of Ireland having a confrontation over a missing man. The play involved a black hole (i.e. a circular piece of black cloth) and it appeared that the man was pushed into the hole by one of the women, CAILLEACH ÓG, who also subsequently pushed the other woman – her adversary – in as well, only for her to get mauled to death by a ferocious animal. The man is then made to re-appear by CAILLEACH ÓG in the form of a small black kitten…
See what I mean?
“Where in under Jesus did that come from?”
But it was only when I won the Blackshaw Showcase Award that I revisited the script and tried to answer that because now I was charged with the challenge of turning it into a full length play due to be staged roughly nine months thence.
I immediately had to confront a series of questions.
To once again echo the character in CAILLEACH ÓG; “Who in under Jesus was CAILLEACH ÓG and where in under Jesus did she come from?”
“What in under Jesus was it really about anyway?” and so on.
The “when and where in under Jesus?” were the easiest questions to answer; it would still be set somewhere in the west of Ireland in the present day.
Next came the “Who in under Jesus?”
“The Cailleach” is a figure from Irish/Scottish mythology who shaped the landscape. She was very often portrayed as an ‘old hag’. I found out that this was largely down to the usurping of of pagan mythology by Christian mythology and, as a sign of the churches future patriarchal nature, “The Cailleach” was recast from being a powerful Goddess/deity, to that of and old hag, who was barren and who lamented the loss of her youth. That was why I had already decided from the outset that I would call her CAILLEACH ÓG, óg being the Irish word for young for I wanted to make her young(er) and feisty again.
The “What in under Jesus?” was going to be harder and so “I played it by ear” as the saying goes.
And after many false starts and attempts at different scenarios I sat down one day and the whole opening scene in the pub seemed to write itself and there was very little about that scene that would change. Indeed it would dictate the general direction that the rest of the play would take. And so, there it was; instead of an Irish man walking into the pub and being the main story teller it would be a woman; CAILLEACH ÓG – younger, feisty and of course, enigmatic.
I now had the main characters and the pub setting – a solid basis on which to build since the first scene raised all the questions that an audience would expect to be answered in some way or another… so my work was cut out for me… to try and answer those questions was the spur needed to move forward and progress.
I also knew by then that I would be incorporating either poetry, song, dance or music or perhaps a combination of all three as music and song loom large in my background having been a gigging musician all my life in various guises. And so to this end I rifled through my music and book collection.
Then it was time to mull again…
After another bout of fits and starts in the writing I took a break from it until I went on holiday where I found that I was able to move forward… just as well because it was coming up to Christmas and the showcase was scheduled for March.
I came back from holiday, submitted a draft, was happy with the feedback, made some changes, did a lot of tweaking and suddenly the story direction was becoming clear. I was of course hoping that any meaning(s) taken from the play would amount to a lot more than the sum of its parts – that certain themes would come to the fore – but it is a matter for the audience to decide upon as to whether or not this is the case and if I am successful in that respect.
Eventually after months of feeling like Homer Simpson – who, when he decided to get fit, took on the challenge of climbing a mountain and each time mistakenly thinking that he’s reached the summit, only to find that it was in fact just another ledge on the way to the real summit – I finally felt that I made it to the summit.
There was only one thing to do.
Just like Homer, get in some Duff beer and bask for a while on the sofa.
But still, all I could think as I swilled my Duff was – “Where in under Jesus did that come from?”
WORLD PREMIER: Industry Showcase Blackshaw’s Showcase Award Winner 2015
“Dad, you couldn’t even get dying right…”
Jamie’s father has died. In Gran Canaria. And now he’s got to deal with it – all of it.
Call it Even follows the struggle of a young transgender man to reconcile with his Dad, after he’s gone. Feeling like a stranger in a land where he doesn’t even speak the language, Jamie has a lot of tidying up to do. Uncle Dave isn’t much help, but will he find an unexpected ally in Macarena, the new woman in his Dad’s life (death)?
Naila Vázquez Tantinyà graduated in Journalism and Filmmaking in Barcelona. After working as a freelance writer for several publications as well as a script analyst for Arcadia Motion Pictures — where she co-wrote a TV movie — moved to London in 2011. There, she studied a MA in Script Writing at Goldsmiths University thanks to the prestigious La Caixa Scholarship for further education. She has also been a script reader at Cascade Media and Big Rich Films, as well as a sales assistant at Celsius Entertainment. Call it Even, developed with Blackshaw Theatre Company is her first theatre production.
Training: The Poor School
Credits include: Staying Alive (Pleasance Theatre), Save Me (Horse & Stables), Billy Liar (Coopers Arms), Pirates! (Polka Theatre), Saturday, Sunday, Monday (Workhouse Theatre), The Memory of Water (Rose and Crowne), FourPlay (Hen & Chickens), The Bill (Talkback Television).
BEN LAWSON Jamie
Ben directed and performed as Lawrence in Abigail’s Party at The Edinburgh Fringe (Sell Out Show Award 2007). Since then his credits include: Six Characters in Search of an Author (Winterflood Theatre, London), Antigone (Studio Theatre, Ealing), Doctor’s Dilemma (Bridewell Theatre, London) and Tartuffe (Theatro Technis Theatre, London). Voice over credits include: Alice in Wonderland (Take 2 Studios), Peter Pan, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol , Robin Hood, The Lost World and The Secret Garden (ARM Productions).
Recent theatre includes: ‘The Janitor’ in Dry Land (for Damsel Productions) which has just finished a successful run at Jermyn Street Theatre, ‘Dr Ray’ in Protocols (with Kernel Theatre Company) RADA’s entry in this year’s Camden Fringe, ‘Ed/ Priest’ in a rehearsed reading for a new play Good Girl (at RADA as part of their 2015 Festival), and Smorgasbard (a Shakespeare revue for Another Way Theatre Company).
Cinthia Lilen is a London based, Latin American born actress and a recent graduate from Drama Studio London. A Spanish speaking actress, dancer, deviser and improviser with an additional degree in theatre design. Her multiplicity of talents include stage combat training, physical theatre experience as well as various forms of dance such as Jazz, Belly-Dance and African dance. Cinthia has last performed in After Columbus directed by Helena Bell at the New Diorama Theatre.
Since graduating drama school in 2011 George has found his niche in comedic roles in London fringe theatre and film, with a prolific run of work in classical and contemporary shows. Most recently he joined Gimcrack Productions in their acclaimed theatrical cabaret Moribund, and has started the first of many forays into the world of cabaret compering…
Rosie graduated from Drama Studio London in August 2014.
Credits since training include ‘Maggie’ in Feydeau’s Le Dindon at the Theatre des Alouettes in Paris, ‘Lucy’ in Once Upon a Rhyme at the Etcetera Theatre, ‘Sat Nav Girl’ in Be my Eyes at the Edinburgh Festival, ‘Prince Charming’ in Cinderella (tour) and ‘Charley’ in Backseat Drivers with The London Theatre.
LIAM FLEMING Director
Liam is an Actor, Director and Writer for multiple disciplines. He is the Artistic Director of in(ep)trepid, an immersive theatre company who just completed a run at The Vaults in Waterloo. He is also the Creative Producer for Encompass Productions who run Bare Essentials, a critically acclaimed New Writing Night in New Cross, along with other full scale productions.
He is happy to have been asked to come on board for this project as he knows and loves the Blackshaw team, having performed in several of their previous shows including ‘Tweedle Dum’ in Alice in Wonderland and ‘Swelter’ in Gormenghast.
Michelle has assisted on set and costume for previous Blackshaw productions: Staying Alive by Kat Roberts (The Pleasance, Nov 2015); Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2014 & 2015), Character by Florence Vincent (2014 & 2015); Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling (2013). She also designed set and costume for Blackshaw’s Halloween Tales (2014), featuring a candlelit reading and Fetch by Duncan Gates.
Since graduating from Wimbledon College of Arts (2014) with a degree in Costume Design, Michelle designed Blackshaw’s Showcase of Staying Alive in January (2015), and more recently has been working with Fourth Monkey Theatre Company. Michelle is also experienced in the production of dance pieces, and has spent time working in the Costume Department at the London Contemporary Dance School.
ANDREW CRANE Sound & Lighting Designer
Andrew is a graduate in Drama and Theatre Studies from Royal Holloway University (2012), and has worked as a sound designer and technician for Blackshaw Theatre since 2012. Sound Design credits include Staying Alive by Kat Roberts (The Pleasance, Nov 2015); Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2014 & 2015), Character by Florence Vincent (2014), and Fetch by Duncan Gates (2014).
For Blackshaw Theatre’s Arts Hour on Wandsworth Radio, Andrew has edited several radio plays including the radio adaptation of Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling (2015), and a serialised adaptation of Great Expectations by Marcus Bazley.
NICOLE LOCKE Producer
A recent graduate from Royal Holloway University of London. Nicole has been a part of Blackshaw for three years, with varying roles from Administrator, to New Writing Night Manager, and is now acting as a Producer for the first time.
VIKKI WESTON Co-Producer
ELLIE PITKIN Co-Producer
THANKS FROM THE WRITER
For their patience, numerous revision and feedback: Laura Maestu, Claire Basarich and Alice Moore. To Pau Crego Walters for his enlightening insights.
Special thanks to Vikki Weston and Kat Roberts for all their help and Ellie Pitkin for her londonisation.
2-16th May 2015 – Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton, at the Battersea Library
A sell-out run, as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe.
“…creative, imaginative and seemingly effortless style…The whole performance buzzed with energy, fun and joy.” London Theatre 1
“The fun-filled show brims with chaos, madness and high jinks…the wild but classic tale of Alice in her fantastically retold Wonderland.” – A Younger Theatre
Cast pictured… Mary – Rachel Nott Jack- Alexander Pankhurst Jenn – Eleanor Burke Nathan – Brendan Jones Portia/Sarah/Social Worker – Emily Rae Will/Administrator – Stephen Ashmore-Blakely Creative Team pictured… Director – Ellie Pitkin
Nott delivers a nuanced performance as Mary…an impassioned declaration of her raw, aching soul that would move even the most stoic of people.
I suspected Staying Alive would be a good play, but upon watching it I realised how complete it is – the structure, the performances and direction, the emotionally-true characters…Proof that given enough time, talent and perseverance, theatre that really says something about the human condition can be made.