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.
ROSIE MARSH Ally (Fetch) BRYONY TEBUTT Vic (Fetch) ALEX YAGHMA Col (Fetch) M. J. STARLING Storyteller DUNCAN GATES Storyteller
ELLIE PITKIN Director & Producer MICHELLE BRISTOW Set & Costume Designer ANDREW CRANE Sound Design/Tech Operation
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.
3-18th May 2014, The Selkirk Upstairs 2-16th May 2015, Battersea Library 4-5th June 2015, The British Home
There have been many iterations of Alice in Wonderland, but I bet no others have involved a knitted tea pot. Brilliantly reimagined by Blackshaw stalwart Richard Stratton, it was performed three different times, on three different stages, with three different casts – all racing around, causing havoc and delight in equal measure. Every single show was sold out, every single time. What a rush. You didn’t have to be mad to be involved, but it certainly helped.
this ingeniously directed production by Ellie Pitkin showcases all the theatrical tricks one can imagine…this resourceful and clever production
an imaginative production…highly entertaining and engaging…a fun afternoon adventure
tightly directed and precisely performed – and gloriously silly
EMILY RAE – ALICE NATALIE WINTER – MARCH HARE/DOOR 2 ANGELA FERNS – THE QUEEN OF HEARTS/SHOPKEEPER DEAN BRAMMALL – MAD HATTER/DOOR 3 /FLOWERS LIAM FLEMING – TWEEDLE DUM/SOLDIER 2/DOOR 4 ALEXANDER PANKHURST – TWEEDLE DEE/SOLDIER 1/DOOR 1 NATASHA GREEN – CHESHIRE CAT CLARE HARLOW – WHITE RABBIT/CATERPILLAR
ELLIE PITKIN – DIRECTOR & PRODUCER OLIVER GORDON – ASSISTANT DIRECTOR ZAHRA MANSOURI – COSTUME & SET DESIGNER ANDREW CRANE – SOUND DESIGNER & TECH OPERATOR CHLOE WALTON – ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER MATTHEW CONNELLY – ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER JONELL ROWE – ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER BRUCE ASHER – PUBLICITY DESIGN VIKKI WESTON – PROJECT MANAGER/PUBLICITY STANLEY WALTON – PUBLICITY & MARKETING ROBERT HUGILL – PUBLICITY & MARKETING BARNEY BARRON – PUBLICITY & MARKETING NICK TATCHELL – PRODUCTION PHOTOGRAPHY ZAK THOMAS – PRODUCTION PHOTOGRAPHY MICHELLE BRISTOW – COSTUME & SET DESIGN ASSISTANT SHINO MINAGAWA – COSTUME ASSISTANT KIRSTY YOUNG – COSTUME ASSISTANT NARA JEONG – COSTUME ASSISTANT
EMILY RAE / RACHAEL STRATTON – Alice ALEXANDER PANKHURST – Tweedle Dee/Caterpillar/Soldier 1/Door 1 NATASHA GREEN – Cheshire Cat ROSIE MARSH – March Hare/Door 2 RICHARD STRATTON – Tweedle Dum/Soldier 2/Door 4 STEVE WICKENDEN – Librarian/Queen of Hearts ALEX KHANYAGHMA – White Rabbit/Door 3/Flowers
ELLIE PITKIN – Director and Producer MARCUS BAZLEY – Assistant Director TEGAN CUTTS – Stage Manager ANDREW CRANE – Sound & Lighting Designer & Operator ZAHRA MANSOURI – Set & Costume Designer MICHELLE BRISTOW – Associate Set & Costume Designer VIKKI WESTON – Front of House Manager SIMON ANNAND – Production Photography ELLA OKEORE – Costume & Set Assistant INEZ COONEN – Costume & Set Assistant MARIA NOONE – Costume & Set Assistant DODONA WHITE – Costume & Set Assistant KATHERINE BURKE – Costume & Set Assistant/ASM
1-17th May 2014 at the Selkirk Upstairs 9-14th March 2015 at the Tristan Bates Theatre
Michelle is about to turn thirty and is not coping well. Desperate to do one good thing and finish her first novel before the big 3-0 arrives, she retreats to a countryside cottage with a typewriter, a lot of wine and her oldest friend Freya – who is harbouring problems of her own.
Character is the searingly funny and achingly dark story of two women trying to navigate their way through the modern world, and – in the process – keep their friendship afloat.
an odd-couple comedy…plenty of laughs
What’s Peen Seen
played with great energy and conviction…a fantastic chemistry on stage…laugh-out-loud funny…a stark reminder of what is so fun and exciting about fringe theatre
a funny and moving story
CAST ANGELA FERNS – MICHELLE CLARE HARLOW – FREYA
CREATIVES ELLIE PITKIN – DIRECTOR & PRODUCER OLIVER GORDON – ASSISTANT DIRECTOR ZAHRA MANSOURI – COSTUME & SET DESIGNER ANDREW CRANE – SOUND DESIGNER & TECH OPERATOR CHLOE WALTON – ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER MATTHEW CONNELLY – ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER JONELL ROWE – ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER BRUCE ASHER – PUBLICITY DESIGN VIKKI WESTON – PROJECT MANAGER/PUBLICITY STANLEY WALTON – PUBLICITY & MARKETING ROBERT HUGILL – PUBLICITY & MARKETING BARNEY BARRON – PUBLICITY & MARKETING NICK TATCHELL, ZAK THOMAS, RICHARD STRATTON – PRODUCTION PHOTOGRAPHY
There are a bundle of Character blog posts from the archive – dive in!
On this week’s Blackshaw Arts Hour, Iasha is joined in the studio by Matt Boothman and new radio voice, Helen Johnson.
Matt kicks off the show with his review of Avengers – Age of Ultron and Vikki helps us discuss the BBC Proms series in this week’s edition of Arts Thing of the Week.
With the opening of Richard Stratton’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland this coming Saturday (May the 2nd) we played The Walrus and The Carpenter read by Alexander Pankhurst, and then heard an interview with the show’s Costume and Set Designer, Zahra Mansouri.
We heard an untitled poem by resident poet Daisy Thurston-Gent and finished the show off with our Alice in Wonderland audio trailer.
One of Blackshaw’s favourite writers, M.J. Starling, not only agreed to read ‘The Whistling Room’ by William Hope Hodgson for our Halloween Tales production but ALSO agreed to spend a few minutes answering our questions. What a hero.
Why did you decide to pick the William Hope Hodgson story that you’re reading for Halloween Tales?
It was a difficult choice between The Whistling Room and The Gateway of the Monster. (I think my favourite Carnacki the ghost finder story is actually The Hog, but that one would take over an hour to read aloud, plus its copyright situation is a bit fuzzy in the UK.) Gateway features Carnacki’s iconic Electric Pentacle, which Whistling Room only mentions; and Carnacki’s a bit more active in defending himself and defeating the monster in Gateway, too. I could argue that’s why I picked Whistling Room – horror’s scarier when you’re helpless, when the powers involved are just too huge and dangerous to handle – but really? It’s just because I love it so much. It was the first Carnacki story I experienced, and I want it to be that for some people in the audience as well.
What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?
GuruGuru, by Rotozaza (rotozaza.co.uk). It’s a fun, cyberpunky, unspeakably meta, unapologetically experimental little show-in-a-box for an audience of five, who are also the performers. You all wear earbuds that feed you lines to speak to each other and to the sixth character, a computer-genersted disembodied floating head on a screen which is trying to coach you all out of your stage fright. Which sounds a bit gimmicky, but I’ve never seen another show whose format is so perfectly designed to illustrate its subject matter (in this case free will and determinism, with some stuff about outer performativity versus inner selfhood thrown in for added spice), plus it’s both fun and funny. It’s also the show that made me think properly for the first time about theatricality, what constitutes a play or show, and whether the traditional business models of theatre are still the best we can do in the 21st century.
What’s your favourite horror movie?
Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.
What scares you silly?
Shipwrecks. Real ones or fictional ones; seeing them on TV, hearing about them in stories people tell, reading about them in books; ancient wrecks and wrecks in progress: they give me the screaming shivers (me timbers (sorry I make stupid jokes when I’m frightened)). I mean, think about it: a shipwreck is like a haunted house, except it’s haunted by be-tentacled deep-sea horrors as well as drowned spectres. And if you were to visit one, you’d already be out of your element, reliant on fallible breathing equipment to survive, much less well evolved to defend yourself or escape from anything you might find down there. Brr. I think this might stem from a childhood visit to the wreck of the Mary Rose. Even in drydock, I was awestruck by it – this huge, impressive human creation, designed to express and exert power, just destroyed by the sea.
Have you ever had a spooky experience?
Back in school, year 7 or 8, I dreamed one night that one of my friends was trying to axe-murder me. I think I escaped being axe-murdered, but only because he chased me right off a cliff and that woke me up.
So I mentioned this to him the next day at school, and we were laughing about it when another of our friends piped up from the desk behind: this same friend had tried to axe-murder him in a dream as well, that same night.
The dreams hadn’t particularly spooked me or the other dreamer, but the coincidence certainly spooked our friend, who worried for the rest of the day that he might be some kind of living, unwitting, secretly-friend-hating version of Freddy Krueger.
You’re going to a Halloween Party, what are you dressing up as?
Humanity is unique among Earth’s creatures in our ability to comprehend the sheer scale of the universe; and the price we pay for this intellectual superiority is exposure to the soul-crushing revelation of our own cosmic insignificance. So I’d go as that – but you know, like, a sexy version?
Not a lot of people know that…
…if you find yourself in the path of a swarm of bees, you mustn’t run: instead, drop to the ground, lie as flat as possible and let the swarm go over you. You might still get stung, but not nearly as badly as if the swarm thinks you’re in its way.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
There are no guilty pleasures. No one should be made to feel ashamed of enjoying something, unless their enjoyment of it is harming someone else.
I used to buy into this idea as much as the next person, and back at school I felt shame particularly about some of the music I enjoyed (that’s too poppy! that sounds like something tween girls would like! that’s not truly deeply emotional and true and raw enough!) until I realised that had more to do with the snobbishness and, to be frank, sexism that I and my friends of the time were passing off as rational critical thought about music. I feel ashamed of thinking that way back then; I don’t feel a scrap of shame at buying Call Me Maybe, which came in for a fair bit of “criticism” that reminded me of those days.
Don’t forget, you can catch M.J. Starling reading ‘The Whistling Room’ by William Hope Hodgson on 30th October. Tickets for that (and the other two performances) are still available.