Sophia Backstage! with The Little Mermaid R&D


The oft repeated sentiment expressed by our R & D (research & development) guests is how indispensable our programme is to the progress of their production; it is the process of exploration and cultivating ideas that is so essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant theatrical environment for which the UK has and always will be famed.

And even though our latest guests, Pins and Needles Productions, did not have an end of week show, they not only enjoyed the unrivalled time and space the Marine Theatre has to offer but were lucky enough to be here during the one week we didn’t have day after day of rain, so they were able to make the best of our seashore.

Which given they were working on an adaption of The Little Mermaid, gave them exactly what they needed including reproducing the sensation of a mermaid walking for the first time and what better for the six actors than walking bare foot on the shingle shores of Lyme Regis beach!

They listened to Audrey Hepburn’s narration in the 1954 hit Sabrina and spent hours discussing how the story might unfold with the actors throwing in their ideas based on personal experience including the Phantom of the Opera,

“That’s the point of the R&D session it may not work; we want to work on the grammar of how the story is told” said Director Emma Earle.

Emma worked with Designer Zoe Squire and Writer Bea Roberts on their unusual adaption of this Hans Christian Andersen classic tale that was Disneyfied in 1990; Emma’s version uses the extreme contrast of life for women in the 1950s (represented by life under the sea where it is dark and oppressive) compared with that of the 1980s (represented by life above the sea where it is bright and colourful).

“We wanted to give Morgan more guts rather than falling for the Prince Charming character”

What with the Phantom meeting Audrey Hepburn I can quite see this Little Mermaid making a big splash!