It’s a new year – and new times are afoot here at Hecate as we embark on our first performance of a published play (that isn’t Shakespeare) with Gwen Cherrell’s The Madam. A parlour room drama about four sisters, one who has just returned from prison, it’s an intense exploration of sibling rivalry and fractured trust. Who should you believe? Find out at The Alma Tavern this April.
Not based in Bristol? No problem. In our first venture outside of the West Country since the Edinburgh Fringe 2012, Hecate are travelling to the brand spanking new Stratford-Upon-Avon Fringe Festival on the weekend of May 23-24.
And if all THAT wasn’t enough for you – head on over to our Current Shows page to see what we’ve got lined up for the rest of the year, starting with a little event on some big issues this March…
Here at Hecate, we always like to try something new and it’s always fun to bring people into the theatre who wouldn’t otherwise have attended. I have friends who were dragged virtually kicking and screaming to watch the first performance of Metamorphoses back in March 2011, who have since been to see every Bristol reincarnation of the play and are now asking me what my next performance is? THIS, clearly, is the reaction that we want!
At the start of the year, Hecate elected to produce its first ever radio play and to do so Live on Stage. The reasons for this were twofold: firstly, our Artistic Director Hannah-Marie Chidwick is a self confessed fan of the radio style of the 1930s and 40s and secondly, with the aim of making theatre more inclusive for those with disabilities; in this instance, for those who are visually impaired.
Happily, today many shows offer signed performances so that those with a loss of hearing can still enjoy the full theatrical experience of attending the theatre, without feeling that they are missing out on any of the action. THIS feeling is something that we at Hecate Theatre Co wish to replicate with The Graveyard Slot.
Written by Matthew Watt and now in its second incarnation, The Graveyard Slot is a spooky radio play performed live that does exactly what it says on the tin. Stood in front of two microphones, our cast of 6 actors and 1 musician bring to life the story of Janet de Bastion’s family manor using music, sound effects and a whole heap of silly voices. Although the nature of a radio play means it could be comfortably performed in a studio or village hall type space with no adverse affect, the company deliberately chose theatrical venues to keep the sense of occasion. Going to the theatre should always have the feel of something special about it and in the case of a live radio play, all audience members, regardless of whether they have 20/20 vision or none at all, can enjoy that sense of occasion equally. Now don’t get me wrong, the cast of The Graveyard Slot are beautiful to look upon, but not being able to see them won’t take anything away from the performance.
Toward that end, we invite one and all to come and join us at The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol from the 8th to 13th October, or at The Rondo Theatre, Bath for October 31st and Hallowe’en. Whatever your age, height, hair colour or glasses prescription, Hecate Theatre would love to include you in The Graveyard Slot audience. Just remember to bring your ears and a smile and prepare to be entertained by the stunning special effects that only old shoes, a money jar, maracas, a velvet sash, a tambourine, a wind chime and 6 vocally gymnastic actors can provide.
We are pleased as punch to announce that Hecate Theatre Co. have ‘officially’ (as in, those working in the ‘office’ HQ of Hecate) grown by one!
NICOLA FOXFIELD, our dedicated Assistant Producer throughout the tremendously successful Edinburgh Fringe run of “Metamorphoses: Fables from Ovid” – and frequent Hecate blogger/Tweeter – has agreed to be on-hand permanently for future Hecate shows. She’s shown stellar effort in the cause of promoting all-female theatre and we’re very grateful to have her onboard.
What shall we call her? Assistant? Associate? Second in command? …Number 2?
Let’s stick with Assistant Producer for now. Welcome, Nicky!
Are you heading to the fringe next year? If so then read on to enjoy our account of a typical Edinburgh Fringe performers day and see if you’re ready…
In my last blog, the lead up to the Fringe was covered, press releases had been sent off and you re-join us now with rehearsals completed and the preview performed to a sell-out audience. Costumes and (minimalist) set are packed and ready to go, our Edinburgh journey is about to begin!
Upon arrival in Edinburgh we were immediately faced with an accommodation mix up by our letting agent that would be worthy of its own dedicated blog. However, as I don’t wish to weary your eyes, suffice to say that we were unable to get into our flat by fair or foul means and that none of the relevant parties were answering their phones. Whilst we contemplated potential homelessness (on 4 hours sleep and 12 hours of travel) we also had to conduct our 90 minute technical rehearsal. This undertaking would normally require a full day, yet by Edinburgh standards our 90 minute technical slot was almost excessive!
The following day was our opening performance and the beginning of the madness in earnest. A typical day for an Edinburgh performer (at least one performing a tea time show) looks something like this:
11 a.m. Basic company warm up and/or notes, usually in the living room of the shared accommodation as very few venues have studios for such activities (one company with an 8.10pm slot were regularly to be seen warming up in the bar, surrounded by their waiting audience)
12 p.m. Commence flyering. Flyering is usually run in 2 hr+ shifts that overlap. Activities such a singing, friezes and the enactment of short scenes are common place. As is the handing out of giveaways (our freebie of choice was jelly snakes) and bellowing about special offers “2-4-1 when you quote GO TO BED at our Box Office!” Flyering in the rain is also highly likely and all of this is expected of EVERY member of the cast and crew.
3.30 p.m. Upon finishing flyering the cast and crew are required to relax for half an hour prior to starting the run; sitting down in the courtyard with our banner prominently displayed around the cast as they relax… In reality most of this time was spent on Twitter spreading the good news about our show, tweeting about special offers and generally making as much noise about our run as possible. As Assistant Producer I became the bane of my cast’s social media life by requiring they all join Twitter and tweet like crazy about the show; praise be to those lovely people for taking me at my word and doing such a grand job!
3.50 p.m. Head into the toilet to get changed. Try to timetable changes so as not to meet the hundreds of audience members flooding out from other shows: getting stuck in a queue for the bathroom is not an adequate excuse for missing ‘curtain up’!
4.00 p.m. Flyer the courtyard in advance of the show. Try not to hassle the patrons whilst still encouraging them to take a chance on our show and spend their hard earned cash on 45 minutes of drama by a company they have yet to hear of… Simple, eh?
4.10 p.m. Gain access to our venue. Set props and scenery. Liaise with venue technical staff to ensure the correct gels are in place and lights are focused correctly.
4.15 p.m. Main cast vocal and physical warm up
4.20 p.m. Doors Open
4.25 p.m. Showtime!
5.10 p.m. The show finishes. Cast leave the stage and immediately begin stripping down the set and tidying props away to their respective homes.
5.15 p.m. Leave the space ready for the next show.
Some shows expect their casts to return to the mile at this point to continue flyering, but with our timeslot we found little benefit from this and after the show the cast are free to enjoy their evening as they wish. Technically the production team are too, although once more the reality is very different. Emails are sent, tickets are booked for critics, reviews are discovered and rejoiced over, and morning visits to Fringe Central are planned to run riot with the printer, stapler and guillotine to affix those all-important stars to our flyers!
A word to the wise: take your own stapler and scissors to the fringe. After one wasted morning of queuing for the guillotine/staplers at Fringe Central, I hunted down the one stationary shop in Edinburgh that still had staples in stock and set up a production line back at our accommodation. Cue serial TV watching, tea drinking and stapling sessions.
This is perhaps a succinct version of what is required by an actor at the Edinburgh Fringe, but until an actor has experienced it for themselves it can’t be fully appreciated.
Essential items for your suitcase for an Edinburgh Fringe run are:
Layers! It may be August but don’t expect sun!
That said… sun cream. If you forget that on a three hour flyering shift and you are lucky enough to experience sunshine you will turn an interesting shade of lobster.
A rain coat
Equally an umbrella
Sturdy (waterproof) flyering shoes
Vitamin C tablets. This is most important. Illness spreads quickly through a shared house, especially when energy reserves are low. Keep yourself healthy and bright.
A smart phone, tablet or computer to keep abreast of online happenings and spread the word!
There are other items but those are (in this blogger’s opinion) the most pressing. So if you’re heading to the festival next year, be prepared, but above all, enjoy! It’s an experience like no other.
…And that’s a wrap. Our final Edinburgh Fringe bow has been taken and our cast and crew have returned to their respective homes. We had a fantastic time and are incredibly grateful to everyone who worked with us, watched us or just waved at us in the street. We met some awesome people, made friends and collected some lovely reviews. Edinburgh – it’s been a pleasure. Hopefully we’ll be back next year…
In the meantime, we have a few things in the pipeline for 2013, in and around Bristol. So keep your eyes on the website, stalk us on Twitter or Facebook, and maybe we’ll see you at our next show!
In between flyering and performing and tweeting and emailing and watching other shows and networking and chasing up that interview – I decided to try and write a blog. I sat there for fully half an hour, struggling to think of a topic. Eventually I gave up and wandered upstairs to the kitchen in our upside down house, generally musing on how much fun Edinburgh was and how unlike anything else in the world it was….*cue head slap*
There it was, staring me in the face (literally). The idea for this blog.
Edinburgh is a theatrical event like no other. For those not familiar with normal theatrical conventions allow me to elucidate:
A performer or their agent will see a job and apply for it, if selected they will audition and if successful they will be offered the job. Thus far the theatres of the Edinburgh Fringe and the rest of the world are in tandem. In a ‘normal’ theatrical production, the performer will then await the delivery of their script, learn it prior to rehearsals, rehearse for a week or several, have a costume fitting, a press call perhaps, maybe a sitzprobe*, a technical rehearsal, a dress rehearsal and then opening night. After that, is the actors job is solely to arrive punctually at the theatre and deliver a stunning performance night after night. Not so at the fringe. Anyone who operated on that principle would likely find themselves playing to an empty house. Whilst in Edinburgh the actors are not only performers, they are publicists, promoters and producers. Not to mention technicians and front of house staff.
To give an example of the fringe, I shall outline Hecate’s lead up to the fringe.
Back in Spring, as some of you may be aware, I rose to the exulted (or should that be) exhausted heights of Assistant Producer. However, while The Producer and I may have taken the lion’s share of the work, that is not to say that the other members of the cast were allowed to sit idly by. Oh no. The list of media contacts was split up between the cast and our press release started zipping out all across the country. There was a brief lull for the cast (although the production office was frantic) before rehearsals commenced. From then on though, there would be no lazy journey for the cast of Metamorphoses: Fables from Ovid….
To be continued…..
*In musical productions the sitzprobe is the first time the singers hear and rehearse with the band or orchestra.
I have not blogged for a number of weeks. Our twitter followers will have seen my prolific tweets through the company account, but otherwise I have appeared to be rather quiet… not so!
In my last blog, I wrote with (justified) trepidation of my new position within the company and since then I have not sat down to my computer without spending several hours embedded in the world of Hecate Theatre, Ovid and his twisted Metamorphoses. (Resulting in increased respect for our producer, Hannah-Marie Chidwick, and all producers everywhere!) Served imminently, the fruits of this labour include:
An exciting Bristol preview in a unique location
A viral to give audiences a taste of the show
… and of course the Edinburgh run itself.
(Not to mention some very exciting company clothing…)
Now we’re into rehearsals and so it’s time to exchange one hat for another. It’s an interesting experience, after having been locked away with your computer/tablet/smart phone/ink quill and sealing wax for several months, to suddenly be surrounded by the cast and the very production you have been promoting all this time. Suddenly it’s there in front of you, living, breathing and happening before your eyes. For the duration of time that I’m in that rehearsal room, authority and responsibility are relinquished and I immerse myself in the character of Jane once more!
As rehearsals reach their climax and our media department goes into overdrive, my head is constantly covered; Jane’s bedecks my bonce in the daytime and the Assistant Producer’s cap nestles on my noggin in the evening.
Which makes me look remarkably silly really, wearing a hat indoors…..
With Edinburgh preparations going strong (and only a month until we’re up there!), Hecate has now confirmed the location of our Edinburgh preview: we’ll be at The Crypt beneath St Paul’s Church in Bedminster, Friday 10th August at 8 pm.
Those who saw “Metamorphoses: Fables from Ovid” in the lush and lovely Lansdown will remember that some of the show is not exactly friendly to the faint-hearted… Well, those of a nervous disposition will have their bravery tested when we bring our storytelling to the creepy, but cosy, Crypt.
Just across the bridge into Bedminster, St Paul’s Church and Hecate Theatre Co. welcome you into the pillared underground space for a night of dark, twisted, hilarity. Tickets available soon. Do you want to hear a story? Head over to our Current Shows page.
A few weeks ago we announced a competition to design the title/logo for our upcoming Edinburgh Fringe 2012 show, “Metamorphoses: Fables from Ovid” and the response was fantastic – thank you so much to everyone who entered! However, we have chosen a winner…
Congratulations go to… LUCY YOUNGMAN
Lucy’s wonderful design will be seen on posters and flyers across Edinburgh in August and can be viewed in full on our Metamorphoses page. Thank you, Lucy!
Hecate Theatre are seeking designers to enter our Edinburgh Fringe Poster Competition!
This summer we are taking our critically acclaimed show Metamorphoses: Fables from Ovid to The Surgeon’s Hall for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 12-25 Aug (not 19). Not for the faint hearted, the show weaves the fables of Ovid into a twisted narrative that is at times both haunting and hilarious.
All our publicity is now coming together, but we are looking for logo/design for our title and we are pleased to announce the first Hecate Design Competition! There are no fees to enter and the winner will see their design featured on the Hecate website, posters and flyers across Edinburgh in the summer. The prize also includes two free tickets to see the show and the chance to collaborate with Hecate on future projects. We welcome submissions from all applicants, whatever your age and experience.
The brief is simple:
To design a heading for the poster using the word METAMORPHOSES that reflects the key themes and feel of the show. These are: transformation, adolescence, love, the macabre.
Please apply to Nicky at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and the competition information pack. As Edinburgh is fast approaching we are on a tight deadline and so:
The closing date for applications will be the 7th JUNE