Great Expectations – Getting to know Victoria Hamblen

Victoria Hamblen Headshot

Victoria began performing at the age of 3. As she grew up, Victoria tried a diverse range of dance styles from ballet to hip hop. She expanded on this, performing in many professional and semi-professional theatrical productions as a teenager. At university, Victoria participated in various productions at the Greenwood Theatre, such as Fame, and Hot Mikado ‘Pitti Sing’, then concluded her amateur run with touring productions of The Taming of the Shrew (2013), where she played the role of ‘Bianca’, and ‘Jacqueline’ in Moliere’s The Reluctant Doctor. Since then Victoria set up, and has been running Cyphers theatre company with Marcus J. Bazley, also performing in many Cyphers productions to date.

 

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

When Pip leaves Estella forever. It’s so poignant, and makes me cry every time!

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

The Cyphers Chekhov Double Bill (‘The Proposal’ and ‘The Boor’)

3. What’s the last book you read?

‘Villette’ by Charlotte Bronte

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

speak Mandarin.

5. What really grinds your gears?

When people talk when watching a film.

 
You can hear Victoria Hamblen playing Estella / Mrs Joe in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hourfrom Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Alexander Pankhurst

Alex

Training: Royal Holloway University of London

Recent Credits include: ‘Jack’ in Staying Alive (Pleasance Theatre with Blackshaw), ‘Demetrius’ and ‘Bottom’ in A Midsummer Nights Dream, ‘Boy’ in Panther, ‘Gerry’ in Dearly Departed, ‘Mal’ in Captcha, ‘Arnold’ in I’ll take a Dozen Accountants…with Sprinkles, ‘Christopher Marlowe’ in Death of Marlowe, ‘Major Steve’ in Love in Freefall, ‘Ash’ in A Million Things, ‘Borachio’ in Much Ado About Nothing, ‘Mercutio’ in Romeo and Juliet, ‘Valentine’ in Two Gentlemen of Verona, ‘Thomas Carnacki’ in Audience with the Ghostfinder, ‘Tom’ in Rabbit, ‘Richard III’ in The Shakespeare Conspiracy, ‘Jamie’ in Airport and ‘Dr Alfred Prunesquallor’ in Gormenghast: Titus Groan.

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

It would have to be Will’s Miss Havisham. Delightfully deranged!

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

Blackshaw’s ‘Staying Alive’ at the Pleasance in November.

3. What’s the last book you read?

Malazan Book of the Fallen 05 – Midnight Tides – Steven Erikson, if you like fantasy you will love this series. I cannot recommend it enough.

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

once ate two foot long subs in one sitting.

5. What really grinds your gears?

Slow walkers and people who are rude. (But not those who are rude to slow walkers)

 

You can hear Alexander Pankhurst playing Sergeant / Jaggers in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Marcus Bazley’s Adaptation

Unlike a lot of people, I never studied Great Expectations at school. From talking to friends who have, it seems to have spoilt their enjoyment of the novel no end! My only engagement with the novel before reading it, in late 2014, was the BBC TV adaptation from the previous Christmas.

There were two things that struck me immediately on reading the novel myself:

First, it was a first person narrative. This completely changed by understanding of the novel. This was not simply a story – this was a memory. A memory has the ability to deceive and distort events, making the narrative much more nuanced and complex. It also meant that our narrator was inherently fallible.

Second, it was surprisingly funny! Dickens is such an instinctively witty writer – he loves to poke fun at his characters and at his audience – and Great Expectations is no exception. (Although one would be forgiven for thinking it was a story exclusively about nasty rich people and cobwebs from the numerous adaptations.) I was, therefore, determined to reintroduce this lightness to the story and, in doing so, balance its darker moments with moments of genuine comedy.

These were the two main motivations for creating the original stage adaptation that Cyphers performed in February 2015. That and the way in which the casting perfectly suited our company of actors at the time.

The idea for a radio version first occurred to me while I was at Blackshaw’s fifth birthday party. During the afternoon of celebrations, extracts from Blackshaw’s previous radio drama ‘Audience with the Ghost Finder’ were played and a desire for more radio drama for the Arts Hour was expressed. Since finishing Great Expectations on stage, I had been desperate to do more with the script and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Going back to the script with a new medium in mind was an absolute joy and it gave me the chance to hone and tighten the adaptation after a bit of breathing space. Plus we would be able to explore the central Cyphers ethos of inspiring the audience’s imagination in a new way. The result, I hope, is a version of Great Expectations that is true to the original tone of the novel, bringing out both its light and its shade, as a man tells his listeners the very personal story of his life.

– Marcus Bazley

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You can listen to Marcus’ adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Christopher Anderton

Christopher Anderton

Christopher trained at The Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre. He has appeared in a variety of productions including: The Three Sisters and Women Beware Women. He has worked in numerous productions at the the Royal Opera House, with David McVicar in Salome and Adriana Lecouvreur, and also with Paul Curran on The Tsar’s Bride. He toured Uruguay and Argentina with a new production entitled The Feather Pillow. For Sell A Door Theatre Company, he played Sherlock Holmes in The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Amos in The Man Who Had All The Luck and, last year, he toured the UK for 6 months with Kidnapped.
Chris has also recently played the title role in Cyphers’ first production, Henry V.  Following that he played the roles of Joe, Wemmick and Bentley Drummle in Cyphers’ second production, Great Expectations, and also appeared in Cyphers’ Checkhov Double Bill.

 

You can hear Christopher Anderton playing Joe / Wemmick / Drummle in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Great Expectations – Getting to know Rupert Sadler

rupert sadler headshots

Rupert Sadler is studying English Literature at King’s College London. Enthusiastic about drama, Rupert has been involved in student productions including Cabaret, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Guilty Parties and is also a member of the Running A-Mock Improv Troupe during his time at Kings. Rupert has also acted outside of university, such as working with NYT and performing Feather Boy at the Lyric, Hammersmith. Rupert has performed in two productions and one tour with Cyphers so far: Henry V (2014-2015)and Great Expectations (2015).

 

Quick Questions…

1. What’s your favourite scene or character from ‘Great Expectations’?

When Pip confronts Estella and Havisham after meeting his mysterious benefactor. It’s a powerful, moving scene; and I feel it has a lot of Dickens in there, a lot of personal turmoil from the author that underpins the curious relationship between Pip and Estella.

 

2. What’s the last project you worked on?

The last project I worked on was the revival of Henry V with Cyphers! A big tonal change from the radio play,but a rewarding opportunity that I got a lot out of. Plus, it’s a blast working with actors and crew, both old and new!

 

3. What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was One Hundred Apocalypses by Lucy Corin, some chilling stuff…

 

4. Not a lot of people know that I…

Used to have an irrational fear of hoovers! Well… it seemed rational at the time!

 

5. What really grinds your gears?

It takes a lot to grind my gears, to be honest. Cold callers are the closest I guess, but I don’t blame ’em – they’re just doing their job.

 

You can hear Rupert Sadler playing Pip Pirrip in our upcoming radio adaptation of Great Expectations – broadcasting on The Blackshaw Arts Hour from Sunday 3rd January 2016.

Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

 

Quick Questions in Wonderland with Rachael Stratton

We grabbed Rachael Stratton, who’s playing ‘Alice’ in our Streatham Festival run of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, for a quick chat.

Rachael-3 blog version
What’s your favourite scene or character in Alice in Wonderland?
I love the court scene. The Queen of Hearts is truly fabulous as she marches around accusing anyone and everyone of stealing her tarts. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of something so manic!

 
What was the last project you worked on?
I played ‘Gingy’ and ‘Pinocchio’ in an Italian Tour of Shrek the Musical earlier this year. The show was a lot of fun and of course getting to see different parts of Italy at the same time was a bonus!
 

What’s the last book you read?
I’ve never been a big reader but I really enjoyed working my way through the works of Danny Wallace. Particularly, Awkward situations for men which is a selection of short stories in which Danny finds himself in various situations that are awkward for men…He really nailed the book title!
 
Besides Alice, what’s your favourite past role (or favourite past project you’ve worked on) and why?
My favourite role has to be ‘Winnie’ in Seeds of Love. It’s a true WWII story about a maid and a gardener who sent secret letters to each other after they were forbidden from speaking in person.

 
Their original love letters were discovered about 6 years ago in an old condensed milk tin in a garden shed. The play was written after managing to find Winnie and Eric, who were still happily married and in their 90s, and reuniting them with their letters almost 70 years on. Replaying their life and memories in the same stately home where the secret lovers used to work back in the 1940s was something truly special.

 
What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?
I am theatre mad so this is a really tricky question. I love lots of different shows for lots of different reasons *switches to serious thinking face*. War Horse is a beautifully told story and it’s so hard to get your head around the fact that the horses on stage aren’t real horses! Another show that stood out for me is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Donmar. It’s full of witty songs and colourful characters. It’s something I’d love to be in. Also Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands is truly magical. I could easily continue but I’m restricted to a word count!

 
Not a lot of people know that…
A friend of mine once accidently knocked me out with a golf club.
Top Tip: Don’t stand too close to people who are playing golf.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?
If I hear a song that has specific dance moves to it like YMCA, Saturday Night, The Macarena, 5,6,7,8 (the list goes on!) I simply HAVE to do the full choreography. To be fair, it’s quite good exercise!
 
What really grinds your gears?
All girls know this to be true…It doesn’t matter how many hair grips we buy, they will all instantly disappear! Seriously, where do they go!? It’s like the shops employ people to walk around with giant magnets to get them all back just so they can sell them to us again at a ridiculous price 3 days later. Grrrrrr.

 

You can see Rachael as ‘Alice’ in Alice in Wonderland at the British Home, 4-5th July, 1.30pm & 3pm (both days). £6 adult/£3 child.

Tickets available now!

 

 

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 – Michelle Bristow

We grabbed Michelle Bristow,  Associate Designer on our upcoming production of Alice in Wonderland at the Battersea Library, and fired some quick questions at her…

 

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

The White rabbit! And of course, the Queen of Hearts.
What was the last project you worked on?

Maze and JV2, for the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company. And before that was Character, by Blackshaw.
What’s the last book you read?

I’m currently reading the Wolf Of Wallstreet.
Besides Alice, what’s your favourite past project and why?

So many to pick from….Alice was brilliant the first time round, but I’m enjoying it even more this time, the site specific element has added so much to the process.
What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?

I’m going to see Fleetwood Mac in June, so ask me this again then!

 

You can see Michelle’s work 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.