Sophia goes Backstage! with master storyteller Debs Newbold

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Debs Newbold, Storyteller & Morris Dancer

“It was like having a cinema in my head watching the best film ever!”

Just one of the comments heard after Debs Newbold’s terrific storytelling performance in the Marine Bar last Thursday…but where does her mastery come from, is it nature or nurture?

 

The foundation stone was laid during Debs’ childhood; born in Marston Green near Birmingham, her family moved to Tamworth where Debs loved it, she has a particularly fond memory of a horse in the adjacent fields who tried to eat her sister’s hair bobble!

She decided early on that she wanted to be a performer; her school would extend their Friday assembly so she could give them a 20 minute performance! Then having gained a BA (Hons) in Drama and English Lit, her future career as a renowned storyteller began.

She moved to Kilburn, London in 2001, giving it a year – she’s still there!

“I have a good community of friends here and I love the Thai café opposite me, and Hampstead Heath.”

So where does she get her inspiration?

“My biggest influence were my parents who gave me a blank canvas and dad always said, don’t ever dread the alarm clock going off and I really don’t!”

And it’s a real mixed bag of influencers, from Shakespeare to Yoko Ono and David Bowie to D H Lawrence,

“I can’t narrow it down, there are loads who inspire me.”

And when Debs isn’t working, what about holidays?

“Anything involving water, the sea, lakes, rivers, I don’t mind the cold water a bit; the sea is not just for looking at.”

That can’t leave much spare time, or so you would think, but Debs is a member of the Cecil Sharp Morris Dancers,

“It’s a brilliant way to keep fit.”

And on a final note, a favourite drink?

“Tea, a good strong builders’ brew, I am a bricklayer’s daughter after all!”

I’ll just put the kettle on then.

Thanks Sophia, thanks Debs! More next week…

Sophia goes Backstage! with Far from the Madding Crowd R&D-residents

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Not far from Far From the Madding Crowd

 

When Thomas Hardy wrote this classic, he cannot possibly have envisaged his illustrious story would be adapted to be performed by just two actors (there are over 20 characters in the story), but that is exactly what award winning director Abigail Anderson is aiming to achieve hot on the heels of her success in directing Pride and Prejudice for 2 Actors at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds.

But how do you even begin to unravel 13 hours’ worth of reading to create a whole new production?

“My biggest quest was to find other ways to approach this book rather than starting on page one” said Abigail.

Being the kind of reader who generally starts a book on page 1, my curiosity was piqued.

I watched the quartet, Abigail, Pat Whymark (musician/singer), Martin Hodgson and Loren O’Dair (the two actors) as they threw their ideas into the mix to see what emerged at the other end:

 “Let’s focus on the sexual politics of the story”

“I love you so you owe me”

“How can we surprise and delight?”

So I was intrigued and perhaps a little apprehensive as I took my seat to watch the show.

We were immediately thrust into a potent courtship dance between Bathsheba and Boldwood,

“I think we’ve been hitched”

A 16th century poem evokes memories of Bathsheba riding bareback, and the conflict with Liddy as to who the Valentine’s card should go is full of confused emotion, which is brilliantly executed by Loren’s solo performance.

Then the verbal jousting that takes place between William Boldwood and Sergeant Troy convinces you there are two different people, each vying for Bathsheba’s attention as Martin alternates between the two characters, giving each a very different personality.

This performance, whilst in its infancy, not only focuses on the eternal power of relationships but it just goes to show, you don’t always have to start a book on page one!

Great stuff! Thanks Sophia, and thanks to our R&D artists-in-residence last week…

Diary of an Intern Backstage!…Day 2 and still very new

 

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Intern Blog Day 2

Verity

 

After yesterday flew by in a whirlwind of new information, today has been a day of settling in and smoothing out the creases.

 

I am now steadily progressing from beginner to intermediate at all sorts of technical things like ‘Google Drive’, ‘TeamSnap’ – the volunteers’ communication platform and the website editing tool ‘Wordpress’.  Importantly, I’ve learnt that ‘TweetDeck’ has, in fact, got nothing to do with either ships or DJs…

 

Answering the phone as ‘Marine Theatre’ is becoming automatic, I’ve learnt about ten billion new people’s names and functions, met lots of shop owners out flyering, and can now even help to draft contracts.

 

My very pink notebook is already half full, and I’m referring to the current programme and my new personal calendar all the time. There’s just so much new information – it’s quite exhilarating!

 

I’ve already learnt so many useful new things for my future career, all accompanied by Far From the Madding Crowd’s stunning folk singing. I definitely recommend combining folk song with a Freddo – fantastic!

Thanks Verity! More Backstage! insights from our Interns next week…

Verity starts Backstage! theatre life through the lens of one of our new Interns…

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Intern Blog Day 1

Verity

 

Hello, I’m Verity and I’m one of two new interns at the Marine Theatre. We thought it would be fun to tell you about the inner workings of the theatre through the eyes of an intern – who knows, maybe you might want to apply in future, or know someone who would. Both Jazmine and I get the sense we’re in for an exciting roller-coaster ride for the next six months!

 

My first impressions of the theatre? Well I was literally blown towards the theatre by a windy January morning – it pulled me in like a magnet! Soon I was entering into my own kind of wardrobe into Narnia…

 

The dimmed entrance was deceiving, and as soon as I crossed the threshold I was hit by the most wonderful sensory mix of that unique Marine Theatre smell (an artistic raw scent of paint and wood), and that deep, deep blue of the walls, ceiling, theatre, curtains…my favourite colour is definitely going to define my next six months!

 

As we learned the ropes I was surrounded by the sound of the sea and the hauntingly poetic folksong of our resident ‘R&D’ theatre group, working on a version of Far From the Madding Crowd for just two actors. It all felt like a lovely dream, with the actors strumming beautiful guitars and singing out to the sea while we learned about marketing over steaming cups of tea.

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Thanks Verity! Thanks Jazmine, more from theatre life Backstage! next time…

Sophia goes Backstage! with Roxy Magic…

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“I wanted to be David Bowie really but I sounded like Bryan Ferry”

I’m speaking to lead singer of Roxy Magic, Kevin Hackett, who describes himself as ‘an all or nothing type of person’, before he takes to the stage to entertain a packed auditorium with his acclaimed performance as the UK’s ultimate tribute to Byran Ferry and Roxy Music. He is in fact a dead ringer for the famous singer song writer from Tyne and Wear.

His 23 years in the army as a Warrant Officer and a Falklands veteran aside, Kevin grew up in a house filled with music and it was this affinity that saw him return to the music scene and 12 years on, he knows exactly how to entertain the fans,

“There’s a big difference between playing in a theatre like the Marine and a stand-up concert, we adjust to fit the audience.”

Simon Atkins on drums has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the pop scene and after some research into Roxy, he contacted Kevin and said he’d be interested in being the drummer; that was 12 years ago,

“You can have good musicians but there’s an extra element and if it’s missing it will come across in the performance, you have to ‘understand’ Roxy, the music has to be spot on.”

It takes a lot to be the best tribute band so what do they do to relax when they’re away from the Roxy Magic?

Kevin enjoys running and swimming and loves reading, his current book is Frederick Forsyth’s The Deceiver, he also has a bit of a spicy appetite enjoying Indian and Mexican food with a pint of real ale alongside.

Simon likes a bit of footie and the cinema but it’s really music all the way for him although he also takes his real ale seriously and is a fully paid up member of CAMRA.

The next time they’re in Lyme they’re hoping to see what the local micro-breweries have to offer.

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Thanks Sophia! Thanks for a great show Roxy Magic. More from Backstage! next week.

Sophia Backstage! Press-ups, sit-ups and Bedbug the Musical

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The Lyme Youth Theatre (‘LYT’) are pretty excited about their pending performance of Bedbug the Musical and with less than two months before curtain-up, the rehearsals have moved up a gear as the costumes are fitted and the choral composition reaches fever pitch.

 

It is Marine Theatre’s Artistic Director, Clemmie Reynolds, with some help from Bournemouth based guest assistant director Aaron Bay Parker, writer/composer James Reynolds and costume designer Juliet Leigh who will bring it all together and with some rather demanding chorus lines and lively dialogue, having met a few of the cast, I don’t think they have any concerns!

 

I went along to a recent rehearsal and within a few minutes of everyone arriving, there were press-ups, sit-ups and a whole lot of shaking going on as Clemmie took them through some warming up exercises.

In between costume fitting and singing I spoke to a few of the cast.

Chloe Harris, currently in Year 12 at the Woodroffe School joined in November 2015 hoping to help backstage but Clemmie persuaded her otherwise,

“I originally came here to do stage design then Clemmie inspired me to take part although I do still help backstage. It’s quite exciting to see how it all comes together.”

Chloe plays the part of Barefoot the tramp but also designed the show’s poster.

 

Barney Harker has been coming since 2011 and took part in the National Theatre Connections programme in 2015,

“I enjoy acting and this is my first musical which is a lot of fun.”

Playing multiple roles including the father of the bride, a reporter and an usher, it’s going to be a quick turn-around in the changing room for Barney!

 

Jodie Licinio plans to study Drama GCSE and loves nothing more than performing before a live audience and is looking forward to the show,

“I’m excited and nervous. I’ve played a few roles but I’m glad I’m a Dancing Doll because I like the singing most of all.”

 

Well if the energy and excitement of last night is anything to go by, Bedbug is one show not to miss this March 9th-12. Tickets on sale here

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Thanks Sophia! Thanks LYT!

For more information and tickets please see our Bedbug webpage or call the Box Office on 01297 442138.

Sophia goes Backstage! with theatre volunteers…

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The Marine Theatre stands on the frontiers of the Lyme Regis sea defence, and inside, a band of plucky volunteers  guard her bastions. Sophia, ace Backstage! blogger, met some of them this week and asked…

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What does it take to be a Marine Theatre volunteer?

 

Anne-Marie and Ian Marshall fell in love with the Marine the moment they moved to Lyme from Hampshire 4 years ago and straight away became ‘Friends’ and it wasn’t long before they realised just what it took to keep the theatre ticking over so with paint brush in hand, they joined the small band of volunteers and got stuck in,

“There’s a lovely community feel about it, there’s no pressure, you just fit things in as and when you can” said Anne-Marie.

Lyme Regis born and bred Joanna Hopkins has been linked with the theatre all her life and first performed here with the Operatic Society in 1966. In her 4th year as Chair of the Musical Theatre, Jo organises performances, licences and grants but still finds time to spruce up the paintwork when it starts looking a bit sad,

“I’m happy to take on whatever needs doing to keep the theatre alive.”

Whilst husband Danny who is a retired educational trainer turns his attention to any carpentry or mechanical jobs that need doing.

A very familiar face is retired nurse Gill Steinberg who has been a volunteer since 1996 when she moved to Lyme from Kent, and was a founder member of the theatre rescue team. You will often find Gill in the coffee bar serving a wide range of refreshments on performance nights,

“There is such a nice atmosphere and the highlight is when people compliment us and what we do.”

So in answer to my question on what it takes to be a volunteer, it’s the great affection and enthusiasm everyone holds for this very special Little Theatre by the Sea.

Join us one and all if you would like to find out more or get involved.

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Thanks Sophia. Thanks to all of our Volunteers. More Backstage! behind the scenes theatre news and views in 2016.

Sophia goes Backstage! with The Butcher artists-in-residence

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Backstage! at The Butcher

 

“It’s a gig…a puppet show…a ghost story. It’s not a straight piece of theatre.”

Said composer singer/song writer Paul Mosley when asked to sum up just what the audience might expect to see, and with his song and music, and puppetry by Old Saw Puppet Theatre and some macabre goings-on, he pretty much hit the nail on the head!

I met Paul at the start of his R&D week along with Greta from Old Saw and Orlando, both of whom have previously worked with Paul; they had just arrived back from a shopping spree in Lyme having bought a large fishing net, a huge wooden mallet and a vintage table top meat mincer.

Based on his soon to be released album, Paul wanted Greta and Orlando to give his story of The Butcher a different interpretation but keep its plot and storyline, and with the fantastic backdrop of the dramatic Jurassic coast and the famous Pearl of Dorset, Lyme Regis turned out to give the team some extra inspiration, particularly as the story opens with a broken down lighthouse.

“We’re fortunate to be here in the bad weather!” said Greta.

So with an intro from Paul, the audience were soon drawn into the dark and sinister world of The Butcher where the star gazer and the scientist each look for the same thing albeit in different places, and it was Greta and Orlando’s excellent puppetry skills that tossed us out in a boat onto a stormy sea, and made our hearts go out to the telescope holding astronomer as the scientist waved good bye.

But it was the near life-size model of a skeleton made from driftwood and other recycled materials that grabbed everyone’s attention – quite literally! Luckily the younger members of the audience seemed unphased by its skeletal shenanigans; in fact they were eager to meet it after the show!

The Butcher was the last of the 2015 ‘R&D by the Sea’ sessions so make sure you look out for our 2016 programme that will be out soon!

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Thanks Sophia, thanks Paul, Greta and Orlando for an amazing showing.

Sophia goes Backstage! with Jaywalkers and talks music and bingo…

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Toes were tapping, hands clapping and one or two thighs were being slapped as Jaywalkers: Mike, Lucy and Jay welcomed us into their world of bluegrass and folk music on Saturday night with their intro piece Slave for the People.

“This is a mandolin,” Mike informed us “not a ukulele or a banjo, it looks nothing like a frying pan with a long handle; does anyone play the banjo?”

One arm was raised, I suspect to Mike’s surprise and it was this kind of audience interaction that made me think we were in for an entertaining night. But what is the story behind this band’s success? I managed to snatch five minutes with the trio in the Stage Door Bar.

Lucy Williams grew up in a house filled with the sound of music; she would often go with dad Bryn and brothers Stuart and Russ to bluegrass gigs so was familiar with the folk scene from an early age. At 15 years old she thought her school music department too dull so decided to teach herself how to play the double bass.

But it was bingo and a garden that backed onto the pub where Lucy’s brothers used to play, that introduced Jay Bradberry to folk. Whenever she went to the bingo with her mum she was more interested in listening to the music being played than looking for a full house. She went on to have fiddle lessons with Lucy’s brother Stuart going along to their weekly music session which is where she met Lucy.

And it was Mike Giverin’s talent for playing the baritone horn that found him in a senior band at the tender age of 10 but he got a bit brassed off with it and quit. Then his dad took him to a concert where he saw someone playing the mandolin and was hooked, and the only person who could teach him was…you guessed it, Lucy’s brother Stuart!

So the rest, as they say, is history but I have a hunch the Jaywalkers have only just begun to write their success story…watch this space.

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Thanks Sophia, and thanks Jaywalkers for an excellent night.

Backstage! meets Live Art Show presents Free Will

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Marine Theatre blogger, Sophia, catches up with our R&D residents, Live Art Show.

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Warning: this show contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing!!!

I was touched but slightly alarmed when Martin said “don’t worry, we will look after you” and my curiosity heightened as we were led onto the stage and told the performance would be carried out in the dark,

“It’s important you remain seated and if anything is handed to you, please pass it along.”

The curtains were closed, the scene was set, the audience was plunged into darkness and when I say ‘dark’ I mean dark!

I first met Martin and Alan, two thirds of LiveArtShow, shortly after they arrived at the Marine for their five day stint of R&D by the Sea. They were still feeling their way around the theatre as well as Lyme Regis; the landscape, the people and the building each influencing what they were looking for and what was that? I asked them, but they would not be led,

“We want to heighten the senses; it will be a live theatrical podcast.”

The two actors, Catherine and Tom, were soon developing their characters albeit in a rather less conventional way, using their iPhones instead of a script; recording their speech, listening to it through earphones and repeating what they heard. A difficult method but they executed it with absolute perfection!

“We expect the actors to be unedited.”

Anyway, back to the pitch black stage where we sat, waiting, wondering…

**BANG**

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to jump out of my skin as something landed on the stage, my nerves were tingling and I was waiting for something to be passed to me by my neighbour. But nothing touched me, physically at least, I have to say that mentally I was on edge and at one point I shut my eyes to make the darkness seem less dark (it made sense at the time!)

The story unfolds; a man has been missing for seven years but mysterious things have been happening suggesting some kind of paranormal activity and it is Cath and Tom who are investigating.

With the smell of the deceased’s aftershave and the Fred Astaire hit Cheek to Cheek playing, we are thrown into a foreboding and mysterious world where the two investigators are quite literally, in the dark, and we were left wondering…