Monday, 10 February 2014

Talking Sense: An Interview with Matthew Whittle, Producer of 'A Little Nonsense'

Juncture Theatre's, A Little Nonsense, is currently running at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter and according to the Press Release it's “A bare-knuckle look at the sharp edge of funny" and 'an original black comedy that explores the clown inside every man and the mirth that is hidden in melancholy.

It's about a man who is bitterly frustrated by a clown’s freedom to play and inability to take life seriously, so he takes it upon himself to teach this clown a lesson and beat some sense into him. Through mime, slapstick, poetry and music, A Little Nonsense follows the farcical, haunting and abstract relationship of this unloving and tortured double-act and celebrates the importance of having light and shade within our lives.

Adam Blake and Harry Humberstone in A Little Nonsense © 2013 Ivor Houlker Photography

Described by Broadway Baby as “Genuinely faultless” and Latest 7 as, “a real gem of a show”, it's picked up a 5 star review from Latest 7 and 4 star reviews from Fringe Guru, The Post, The Public Reviews and Broadway Baby, since it's debut in 2012. In 2013, it also won the IdeasTap Innovators Brighton Fringe award and was nominated for the Most Ground Breaking Act at the Brighton Fringe.

All of this makes it an interesting prospect so, I thought I'd ask their Producer, Matthew Whittle, a few questions about about the show, being a Producer and his work with the company.

Tell us a bit about yourself...

My name is Matthew Whittle and I am working as producer with Juncture Theatre on their latest production, A Little Nonsense, as it takes part in a two week residency at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter.

Do you work exclusively with Juncture?

I regularly work with numerous companies, artists and organisations in Bristol as a producer, director and performer. In the past year I’ve worked with FellSwoop Theatre, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol Old Vic, Watershed, MAYK, Theatre Bristol, Theatre Uncut, Verity Standen, Puppet Place, The Smoking Puppet Cabaret, Closer Each Day and The Wardrobe Theatre.

How did you get involved with the company?

I know the company’s team really well from working together on various other projects over the years but when Juncture first staged A Little Nonsense at The Wardrobe Theatre in November 2012, I was really knocked out by it and I remember thinking how it was the best show we’d had at the venue all year. About 6 months ago Juncture parted company with their regular producer and they got in contact with me. Producing isn’t the part of my work I enjoy most and so I am very careful about which projects I take on but I am totally in love with A Little Nonsense and all the team at Juncture and so this one was an easy decision. I really believe in the production and therefore wanted to help it do well and for as many people as possible to see it.

Matthew Whittle

How long have you been Producing shows?

MW: I’ve been helping put on shows since I was in primary school and to this day I’m still exploring and experimenting with theatre’s different roles, trying to find the best way for me to work. There’s no single date I can put my finger on as the time I started producing shows but a significant shift in the way I work and the number of shows I am involved with came in 2011 when I was invited to become one of the co-artistic directors at The Wardrobe Theatre. Before then I’d also worked a lot as a theatre reviewer and on the marketing of lots of different productions but I eventually realised I had a huge appetite for creating theatre.

What's the best part of Producing a show?

MW: As a producer you work very closely with the director throughout a project. It’s really satisfying seeing a production come together in front of your eyes and to see your hard work pay off. The first showing of a new production is always a nerve-wracking night but it’s also exhilarating to see an audience take pleasure from something you’ve worked so hard on.

What's the hardest part of Producing a show?

MW: If you’re the sole producer on a show you are often working alone too so self-motivation can be difficult – this is why I am so careful about choosing the projects I produce. Also, as you are responsible for the vast majority of the organising and general admin of a show it can sometimes feel like a bit of a thankless task but always remember that the support you are giving your artists is invaluable.

What advice would you give to someone Producing a show for the first time?

MW: Don’t put yourself under too much pressure by feeling like you need to know how to do everything. Each time you produce a show you will learn something new – I’m still learning every day! – so just don’t be afraid to share problems and ask for advice. More broadly, the best advice I can give someone trying to become a producer is to understand that the most fundamentally important part of being a good producer is having a good relationship between yourself and the artist/company. Building a relationship takes time and sacrifice but once you have learnt to trust each other and communicate well, you can flourish together for years.

Adam Blake in A Little Nonsense © 2013 Ivor Houlker Photography

The weather outside is frightful, and the central heating is so delightful, so why should people watch A Little Nonsense?

MW: When I first saw A Little Nonsense I was totally bowled over by it. It’s just the sort of theatre I love; smart, inquisitive, dark, brooding, powerful and hilarious. It’s also open to interpretation so different audience members can have very different experiences. The writing by Oliver Hoare is wonderful with beautiful turns of poetry and humour. Anna Girvan is a terrific director and the cast of Harry Humberstone and Adam Blake are really, really fantastic. They have been working together for years and you can really see the strength of their relationship and understanding in their performances. Also, more and more I am finding clown one of the most exciting performance styles to work in. The way in which a clown on a theatre stage can form a relationship with and react to an audience is unique and something that it used to wonderful effect in A Little Nonsense.

Juncture are devising a new piece called ‘Stuff’ during the day as part of its residency at The Bike Shed, what are Juncture hoping to achieve in the time and space available?

MW: Stuff is a new show we are developing based on the book It Chooses You by Miranda July which explores people's idiosyncrasies and how people develop relationships with the objects they surround themselves with. This is the very first time we will be working on this new show and so during the residency we hope to explore the book, the ideas within it and see how we might stage some elements of it. During the process we hope to collaborate with Exeter's theatre-making community with open rehearsals, workshops and work-in-progress showings which is exciting too.

When are we likely to see the finished product?

MW: Hard to say but maybe by the end of the year or early in 2015.

And finally, we know what's next for Juncture, but what's next for you?

MW: After this Bike Shed residency, our attention turns to Edinburgh Fringe as we plan to take A Little Nonsense up there for 2014. Personally, I’ll be performing at Edinburgh 2014 too in Verity Standen’s HUG.

A Little Nonsense runs at The Bikeshed Theatre in Exeter until Friday 14th February 2014. It starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £12 (£8 Concessions), but you can watch it on Tuesday for just £5. For more information visit or call the Box Office on 01392 434169


Juncture Theatre Website
Jucture on Facebook (you'll find a lot more production photos on this page)
Juncture on Twitter @JunctureTheatre
Matthew Whittle's Blog
Matthew Whittle on Twitter @Matthew_Whittle
The Wardrobe Theatre Website
The Wardrobe on Twitter @WardrobeTheatre

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

To be, or not to be, that is the question... But what if you could be both?

As an actor, when people ask you ‘what is your dream role?’, you know they’re expecting you to name a well-known classical character, probably Shakespearean, to be performed with a famous theatre company or theatre. But, whilst I have one of those on my list of dream roles, what I would truly love is a lead role (or co-lead!) in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy film or TV series (I can only partly blame Joss Whedon, Ridley Scott and James Cameron for this, because really it’s the fault of Jim Henson and Doctor Who!).

Browse through my bookshelves and among the science titles you will find books by Brian Greene, Michio Kaku (if you can find his BBC series about Time from a few years ago, I recommend watching it), Roger Penrose and Marcus Chown (no relation, but he’s a Chown so I definitely recommend looking up his books and iPad app!). They all reveal my interest in quantum physics and the universe.

To many people this interest may seem completely unrelated to the world of Acting, but a long time ago, I realised this scientific exploration explained part of my desire to Act and to create (that's a whole other blog post right there! But read on and you'll see I'm not the only one to recognise a connection). So, when I spotted playwright, Gill Kirk, was trying to raise money to develop her script inspired by quantum mechanics, I decided to find out why she had chosen the subject to write about and ask her more about the script she is trying to develop...

Playwright Gill Kirk  ©Gill Kirk

Why quantum mechanics?

GK: I wanted to write something new, had a lot going round my head and was almost completely silenced by the range choices niggling away at me. So I took a leaf from impro techniques - specifically Keith Johnstone - and tried some “free writing” - just letting whatever came out get onto the page: no self-censoring, no going back, no corrections. Just pages and pages of unhampered scribbling.

There were several weird ideas in there that were surprisingly appealing. One of the strongest was the idea of a physicist struggling in a world dominated by arts (much as our culture is). But it’s ironic, because of course, much of culture, art and performance - is all about trying to understand our place in this world. But that’s what physics is all about.

The phrases “quantum physics” or “quantum mechanics” meant nothing to me except something exotic. I didn’t even know they were the same thing. I didn’t know how much conflict there has been in this field of study; or that it’s only 100 years old; or that Einstein had real problems with much of it. I didn’t know that there still is no single, agreed answer.

After many library trips, I fell into the highly addictive world of TED Talks and just couldn’t stop. I started to twig that much of this appears in Doctor Who and New Age books. And that this thing was now a play which was “sort of” about quantum mechanics.

What's the play about?

GK: It’s deliberately NOT a play “about” science. It’s about the questions that we all face, time and time again, no matter how old, or where, or when we are.

Every day, we make deliberate choices to do - or not do - things. Each choice has results. In one theory of quantum mechanics - the multiple / parallel universe theory - you are only experiencing one possible version of your life, but all the other possible versions are out there: there is a you who didn’t read this blog; a you who hates theatre; a you who knows far more about science than I do (oh, hang on; that’s this world), and so on. In this theory, those parallel worlds can never know each other, but they still, definitely exist. It’s not sci-fi - it’s a robust theory supported by many serious physicists.

So what does that mean for us, for the play?

We see two people who do or don’t meet as children and, in some worlds, the impact that that childhood meeting has on their lives and characters. If they don’t meet as kids, they meet - or at least pass by one another - again and again in various other parallel worlds. Unlike the film Sliding Doors, there is no sense of “Destiny”, where the lead always ends up injured / pregnant at a certain point.  We see these two people’s best and worst selves: when they are good for each other, bad for each other; when they are great individuals and dire ones.  We love them, hate them, worry, ache and laugh with them.

Throughout, we see the set-up for a particular “thought experiment”: if there are parallel quantum universes and if I kill myself with a rifle controlled by a quantum particle (which both fires and doesn’t fire at the same time), then surely I can live forever - right? Because in the worlds where I die, I don’t know about it, but in the worlds where I survive, I live!

This is not a play with answers - it’s a play for wondering (for me, at least): are tiny actions (a smile, a “hello”) perhaps as significant as huge decisions in life? What makes us the people we are today? Do we like the people we are in certain circumstances? Did we take a wrong turn? Can we back-track? If we could, would we?

A poster I created to showcase a typeface I designed during my Graphic Design studies - who knew it would come in handy on the blog?  ©Annette Chown 2012

Where are you in the development process?

GK: I’ve been working with dramaturg David Lane since the summer, and he's has given me a brilliant sounding board and stretching place! We're now at the point where we want to “stand it up” and spend a day in a room with a professional director and actors to “stress-test” the script. I want to see where things work and don’t work, and improve them, before sending this out to theatres. I’m desperate to see this thing have a life (it obsesses me, unlike anything else I’ve written), so it has to be in the best shape to can be before it’s exposed! If this was a commissioned piece, the theatre would provide this, but it isn’t!

Crowdfunding is getting more and more popular, but why did you chose to try it?

GK: My local authority (not unusually) isn’t funding individuals anymore. ACE’s G4A programme ideally requires a level of investment from the artists or other sources. Having secured some interest from the scientific world, I decided to just start trying to raise funds myself and see how we got on.

Having almost completed the crowdfunding (in terms of time, not funding!), I’d really recommend it to others. It is a very thought-provoking process. I don’t just owe my best effort to the script (me) anymore, but as I type there are 45 people who have put their own money into the project and I must not  - cannot - let them down. It’s really exposing, terrifying, sobering - loads more than asking people to come to your show!

Why did you choose Talent Backer?

GK: I wanted to use a UK rather than US site. Talent Backer are talent- rather than business-focused. They’ve given me daily coaching, been really supportive, so - so far - all’s good and I’m really glad of this route.

What can people do to help, and if they fund, does it have to be a lot?

GK: You can just pledge a fiver!

There are escalating rewards for funders (if I hit the full target), and I am very happy to discuss those if you wanted something else.

But alongside the pledges, publicising this to your networks would be a massive help. I’m driving my social and personal networks insane with this (28 days is a long time) and we still have £400 to raise in this last week (not panicking, not panicking). If we don’t hit the target, we don’t get ANY of the funds. Uhuh.

So, please - consider a fiver, become a theatre angel and patron of the arts, get a reward for your kindness AND if you can encourage others to support me, you’re doing a great thing. And who knows where this play will go if it does well…? You could be in at the beginning of something big! But that’s just one of many possible universes!

At the time of posting this, Gill only has 7 days left to reach her target. Here's the link to her Talent Backer page:

The Theory of Relativity: the theory of the very big versus Quantum Theory: the theory of the very small © Annette Chown

Now you have a choice: does the ‘you’ in this version of the universe pledge or not pledge money to help Gill develop this script? Remember, if she doesn’t reach her target, she gets NONE of the money already pledged.

To fund or not to fund, THAT is the question...


Gill’s Talent Backer Page
Gill Kirk’s Website
TED Talks - warning, as Gill says, they are addictive!
Keith Johnstone’s ‘Impro’
Richard Feynman
Brian Greene’s Website
Marcus Chown’s Website
Michio Kaku’s Website - warning, the banner on his website, does make him look like Physics’ answer to Derek Acorah
Roger Penrose's 'The Road to Reality'
Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix - I’m just throwing this in as a reading suggestion because it’s a nice, easy introduction to some ideas and theories that make their way into a lot of Science Fiction, not just The Matrix, and it’s littered with suggestions for further reading/watching.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Mugs Arrows and Festive Fundraising

This week, you have your last few chances to catch Mugs Arrows at the Bike Shed Theatre. Developed by critically acclaimed touring company, Third Man Theatre, at the Bike Shed last year, the show has been running at the venue for the last couple of weeks and has garnered great reviews from Exeunt, Remotegoat and The Express & Echo.

Mugs Arrows at The Bike Shed Theatre

Here’s a bit about the show and the company from the press release:

Mugs Arrows is a surreal black comedy set in very ordinary surroundings – the local pub.
With rural areas being forever altered through commercial development and extreme
weather conditions and locals disenchanted by a lack of jobs and the ever-increasing
allure of a life elsewhere, Mugs Arrows delves in to a world that is on the change. It
explores the depths of the human psyche, love, loss, friendship (and darts), leading to
hilarious, strange and ultimately disturbing results. Just your average night out down the
local then…

Third Man Theatre is an award winning company based in Cornwall and London that
specialises in new writing. Since forming in 2007, they have toured extensively around the
UK and the US. Their most recent show Botallack O’Clock was nominated for Best Fringe
Show Time Out 2011 and transferred to New York as part of the Brits Off Broadway season 2013 following a 3 week run at the Bike Shed in 2012.”

Mugs Arrows is also the first of this year’s autumn residencies at the Bike Shed Theatre, where companies from across the UK are given a chance to develop new work in the
theatre, while showcasing existing material.

That’s not all that’s happening at the theatre though: preparations are afoot for the Christmas show and The Bike Shed team could do with your help...
Their ‘exciting seasonal show’ is called Eliza and The Wild Swans and is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, Wild Swans. It’s a collaboration with Bristol’s Wardrobe Ensemble, which will see the Bike Shed theatre and bar transformed into a wintery wonderland, with mulled wine at the bar, Christmas trees and ‘festive cheer all around’!

However, as they say on their Christmas Fund page, ‘making a new play doesn’t come cheap’ and they don’t receive regular public funding, so they’re trying a bit of crowd funding to help ‘make this Christmas production truly special’.

As with all crowd funding, if you give, you will receive. If you donate to the Bike Shed Christmas Fund, what you receive ranges from a ‘thank you’ in the programme, to having a unique song composed for you, a free year’s Membership and your own custom cocktail served in the bar! Obviously, the more you give, the more you receive, but if any of this sounds tempting then have a look at their Christmas Fund page for more information.

Useful Links

Mugs Arrows
Third Man Theatre
Eliza and The Wild Swans
The Wardrobe Ensemble
The Bike Shed Christmas Fund

Monday, 15 July 2013

tidy carnage puts Motor Neurone Disease in the Spotlight

I’m going to start this post with an apology: I apologise to anyone who has sent me a Press Release in the last couple of months. I have responded to some of you, but not been able to reply to all of you. I have been busy as both an Actor and Graphic Designer, so I haven’t been able to find the time to blog - even about the productions I’ve been working on - but keep the releases coming!

Apology over, Kelly Smith, producer of 'dream//life', contacted me with details of the show, currently running at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter and it sounded really interesting, so here’s a bit about the company and the show.

Helen Cuinn in 'dream//life'

Tidy carnage, is a new theatre collective from Glasgow, who merge new writing, movement and multimedia, and their current show, 'dream//life', is at The Bike Shed Theatre until Saturday 20th July. It’s a moving account of one couple’s experience of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and has been developed in collaboration with Motor Neurone Disease Scotland.

Director Allie Butler was initially inspired by a piece of creative writing entitled ‘A Day In The Life’, written by someone with the condition. She further developed the piece by researching and talking to people who have MND or care for those with it. Performed by Neil John Gibson and Helen Cuinn, 'dream//life' became a piece, not explicitly about the illness, but about a relationship affected by it. The piece has been supported by Ovalhouse in London and The Arches in Glasgow, where the company presented early work in progress showings and received feedback from the venue, community and charity to enable further development. This development process certainly seems to have worked, as Arthur Duncan has given them a glowing review on Remote Goat:

Neil John Gibson & Helen Cuinn in 'dream//life'

The company has been in residence at The Bike Shed Theatre for the last two weeks and is collaborating with the local branch of the national charity, Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), the only national charity raising awareness and money for research into MND and support for those affected, to raise awareness and support. Although the screening of the documentary film, 'I AM BREATHING' and their Q & A session have passed, there is still an opportunity for audiences who want to find out more about and support the charity, to do this, as there is a stall in theatre’s Café Bar where you can read and take away information.

Helen Cuinn in 'dream//life'

If you like their work, then you can also catch some of their work in progress before they leave Exeter. As part of their residency at the theatre, tidy carnage are collaborating with local writer Cally Hayes to create a new piece of Theatre. 'writer//collaborator' will be developed over a few days as the company give sections of text the tidy carnage treatment and then perform what emerges as scratch showings 18th-20th July (see the Bike Shed website for details).

You only have until Saturday to catch 'dream//life' in Exeter, but if you like the company’s work, then make sure you watch 'writer//collaborator' as you have the opportunity to be one of the first people to experience and provide feedback on their next show.


The Bike Shed Theatre
tidy carnage on Twitter (@tidycarnage)
'dream//life' Remote Goat Review 
Motor Neurone Disease Association Website
Ovalhouse Website
The Arches Website

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Act 2: An Act of Twisting Reaches The Bierkeller

Last time I handed my blog over to the lovely Natalie Remington, but now, as we perform in Bristol, it's back to me.

It's only been a couple of weeks since I saw the team, but I have missed them, as they have kept me laughing on and off stage for the last couple of months. 'An Act of Twisting' is a dark comedy about torture and it's been great to perform with three ladies who genuinely make me laugh.

Kate with The Captive Combatant Image Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

A humourous play about such a serious subject might sound incongruous but it's not flippant, it's deeply satirical. When Hannah (Drake, our Director) first discussed the play with me, she explained that Ian's initial inspiration came from a question: 'What would happen if you put the WI (Women's Institute) in charge of torture?'. It's an interesting, absurd premise and although the play has moved on from that idea, 'An Act of Twisting' introduces a group of women set the unenviable task of improving the National standards of torture and the man on whom they will be 'practising' their new techniques.

What I particularly like about the play is, although it sets up the premise that it will be a story about being a woman and how torture affects women, you realise that it's about being human and how torture forces us to question our human identity.

'The cruelest technique of all...' Image Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

As part of the rehearsal process we researched methods discussed in the play, such as Waterboarding and references to the effects of torture, such as The Stockdale Paradox, but ultimately we found ourselves exploring questions around being human and what drives people to torture others as well as the justifications for torture, all of which influence how our characters see their world. So I thought I'd include a couple of links to some of the topics we found ourselves discussing. Some are directly related to the play and some indirectly, but equally interesting:

Journalist Christopher Hitchens being Waterboarded (YouTube Video)
Jim Audio file about The Stockdale Paradox
Wikipedia Entry: The Milgram Experiment
Information is Beautiful diagram: Left vs Right (US)
TED talk from Dr James Fallon

It's in the dark side of the research that you find the light. They often say that truth is stranger than fiction and sometimes the gags write themselves, never more so than in the reference to Michael Bolton's music in the show: it's true. I'm not going to give it away here, you'll have to see the show to understand what I am talking about, but, according to Ian's research, it's true.

Penelope gives a little demonstration. Image Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

The Bierkeller is a completely different space when compared to the Rondo, but it creates a more intimate experience and keeps it fresh for us as we find new things and new ways of approaching moments in the play. Which can be challenging, but also a lot of fun!

All in all, it's a great show, and we've had a brilliant response from our audiences. We finish at the Bierkeller on Thursday, 4th April so, at the time of posting, you only have to two more chances to catch the show in Bristol. It starts at 8pm and it would be great to see you there!

PS - I'd just like to say a huge thank you to our formerly 'undisclosed captives', Phil Coote, Calum Anderson and Ben Crispin, who spend the entire show gaffered to the chair (not all at the same time)!


Tickets for 'An Act of Twisting'
The Bierkeller Theatre Website
Hannah Drake's Interview with 17percent

Monday, 4 March 2013

Why Blue? Natalie Remington on ‘An Act of Twisting’

‘An Act of Twisting’ starts at The Rondo, in Bath, this Wednesday (6th March 2013). It’s directed by Hannah Drake, written by Ian McGlynn and features myself (Annette Chown), Lizzy Dive, Kirsty Cox, Laura Fautley and undisclosed males in the cast.

Today I am handing my blog over to Natalie Remington our fantastic Designer. She has a few surprises in store that will transform The Rondo and mean you will see it as never before, so although she won’t be giving away her secrets here, you can find out about how she got involved and her inspiration when designing a dark comedy about torture.

Before I hand over, there’s another member of the team I need to mention: our brilliant lighting designer, Luke Emmett. That’s enough from me for the minute, now it’s over to Natalie:

Eflyer for 'An Act of Twisting'

“Hannah Drake and I worked together twice last year, on June's 'Fertility Objects', and 'Product Displacement' in November. It was soon after the latter that she mentioned she would be directing Ian McGlynn's play ‘An Act of Twisting’, and that she would very much like me to design it, which was nice. I had not seen or read the play previously, although I had seen one of McGlynn's previous works at The Rondo some time before. I find his plays extremely witty and darkly entertaining.  With his company Provocation he approaches difficult subjects with both humour and pathos. This particular piece held me from the start. I won't say too much as I'll spoil it, but let's just say it keeps you guessing until the end.

Lizzy and I in rehearsal, Photograph Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

One of the things I liked about it is that the script is a blank canvas. There are minimal stage directions, and literally nothing is said about staging, setting or context. Hannah and I were very clear that we wanted to work this out for ourselves from the offset - that it was essential for us to have a sense of place and time, even if it is not important for the audience. This helps us to explore the play as we can start to visualise a context.

Sneak peek of Natalie's costume design for the show. Image and design Copyright Natalie Remington 2013

The design for this version of An Act of Twisting is very different to how it was last staged at The Rondo in 2008. Key words are utilitarian, clinical, and stark. I looked at a lot of images of abandoned hospitals, as well as images of 1940s nurses and girl scouts. I was certain that I wanted the girls to have a uniform, but without giving the impression of military. I've been working with a brilliant seamstress called Nel Johnson, and I think they are going to look fantastic.

I've had a great time working on this production - and hope that you will enjoy seeing The Rondo as you've never seen it before.”

Natalie Remington
Designer - An Act of Twisting

‘An Act of Twisting’ runs at The Rondo 6th-9th March, but if you can’t catch us there, then we play at The Bierkeller in Bristol 31st March - 4th April 2013.

If you’d like to keep up to date with the production and see more behind-the-scenes photos, you can do so on the Downstage Write and Provocation Facebook pages or follow us on Twitter.


Rondo Website
The Bierkeller Website
Downstage Write Facebook Page
Provocation Facebook Page
Rondo Facebook Page

The Team on Twitter


Monday, 31 December 2012

The Last Blog Post (of 2012)

The end of the year is fast approaching, so I thought I'd squeeze in one final blog post.

Every now and again I am reminded it's a strange, small world, and never more so than in the world of The Arts. To cut a very long story (involving a New Year's Eve party 10 years ago, performing in a florist's shop, graphic design and 'Bunnies') short, I found myself designing the posters and flyers for this is tinder's production, 'The Last March', the Christmas show at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter.

I haven't previously discussed it on my blog, but as well as being an Actor I am also studying Graphic Design. Whilst I can't claim to have designed the beautiful main collage (Ian Nicholson, Tinder's Artistic Director, had already commissioned it), it was a great job to work on as Ian gave me a clear idea of what he liked, but plenty of room to be creative. In addition to this, I have watched the show and it is a great piece of Theatre!

On the left is the original collage and on the right is the final design for 'The Last March' poster

The play is the tale of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's final expedition to the Antarctic in 1912. He planned to lead the first team to reach the South Pole, but was beaten by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Furthermore, Scott and his team died before they could make it home. “He didn’t go for material gain,” explains Ian, “It was a dream and he wanted to do it, it was important to him and his family. It was the last possible place left to be discovered, everywhere else in the world had been found.” Much like the story of Titanic, I haven't given away the ending and the heroic tale is full of myth and adventure. And tea, let's not forget the tea.

The final design for 'The Last March' flyer

Death and failure may not sound like the stuff of a heartwarming, Christmas, family tale, but Tinder saw the story from a very angle. After discovering Ian's great grandfather served under Captain Scott, Tinder did some research and discovered 2012 marks 100 years since Scott died. The story that emerged for them, was one of a very British adventure, with moments that appeared absurd and humourous when viewed from the 21st Century:

“They took out champagne and Christmas trees and a piano and a slide projector...They took 31 men and Amundsen took nine. Nine men and dogs while Scott had champagne
and brandy and footballs.”

Ian Nicholson, Director of The Last March, Artistic Director of this is tinder

The poster strapline states: "...This time, history is written by the losers..." because, as Ian explained to me, although it was Amundsen who won the race to the Pole, it was Scott's expedition and subsequent death that usurped his victory.

This is not to say that Tinder treat the expedition glibly, but the absurd and humourous moments they draw out make it both enjoyable and exciting, whilst in turn making the 'serious' moments more sympathetic and touching. If you are still concerned about it being a family show in which people die, the deaths are cleverly portrayed in a way which doesn't allow the audience to dwell on them and some younger children may not even realise that characters have died.

The Last March runs until 12th January 2013, so you still have time to catch it, before it disappears into the mists of time and a flurry of fake snow, but if you really can't find time to watch it, at least pick up a flyer to keep me happy!

Useful Links

Tickets for 'The Last March'
this is tinder on Facebook
this is tinder on Twitter (@thisistinder)