30.5.13

#DrFrankenFreak - Complete


We've toured.

It's all over now.

The facial hair is gone (for the most part) and tomorrow is a new day.

It seems like it happened so quickly! May began and ended as abruptly as it could have done but with a lot squeezed in between. It's been hard, tough, emotional but thoroughly enjoyable.

Looking onward twards adventure (and judging by Peters Face, directly at the sun)
Last night we performed our ultimate tour date in our home town of Newport to a sold out auditorium and a standing ovation. I mean it when I say we we're all overwhelmed at the response. To know that we are creating work in Newport and are able to sell out the house like that. That we're part of the bringing together of all those people for a unique shared experience, it's reverential, and only confirms our decisions to stay in Newport and produce theatre and live performance here whilst collaborating, creating, installing and adding to the cities art\culture scene.

This is just a short blog. More of a 'Thank You' really. Thank you to all those people who came out to watch our work, when you consider that we don't really get paid, it really is a labour of love, and we're sure some people hated it, but a lot of people have gone out of their way to make sure we know they loved it, and that's affirming in the highest and most appreciated respect, because after all, that's why we're doing this.
Awkward 90's Boy Band Album Cover

So! Onwards and upwards! We've applied to Arts Council Wales for funding to take the show to Edinburgh Fringe 2013 so we've got fingers and toes crossed on that one. I'm doing my one man kids-show-snow-adventure piece 'Life Inside An Igloo' for THE BIG SPLASH, Newport (very excited about Big Splash!) this Saturday 2.30pm and 8.00pm. We're also hoping to finally meet up with a Bristolian Lady about developing some work with Bristol Old Vic. But as well as all that we're going to finally sort out our Molecule programme to entice art folk from away to come make some stuff in Newps. ASWELL AS ALL THAT! We're currently in cohoots with the Riverfront about re-vamping Comedy Port and making our immersive venue (it's a secret) AAAAND we've got something extremely terrifying lined up for Halloween. If anyone remembers Operation Black Box then they will know what they're in for.

Anyway. Enough from me. Thank you again to everyone who helped us at every step of what has been an incredible journey and an amazing learning curve.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Danke Schon

Mucho

Justin

27.5.13

#DrFrankenFreak - Week Three/Four - Recycled Venues


The tour... Week Three/Four(ish). Up's and down's. Hit's and misses.

I think the nature of all exploration is to become a little lost at some point, tread in unknown territory and generally be adventurous. When we started this tour I don't think we intended it to be an exploration, but as in life; the actual task is very rarely the actual reward or reason. It's this thing that you do that allows you to do a whole host of other things: Have a road trip, visit different cities, play games, meet new people, find new things, develop new ideas, become lost in a world you felt most familiar with and learn something totally new.

I was going to list each venue we've been to and describe it to you in deftly accurate detail from the pastel tones of the wallpaper to the toast crumbs on the curtains, but I won't, because I have found a common thread: The Recycled Venue. Mostly all of the venues we've been to haven't been "conventional" theatre spaces, in as much as the building wasn't built to be a theatre, but somehow some awesome people have imagined, modified (and in some cases squeezed) a theatre in between some bricks, and each one had heaps of charm, a loyal audience and loads of atmosphere.

Firstly - The Bike Shed Theatre & Bar - Exeter

In 2009 David Lockwood, Fin Irwin & Deborah Bucella formed Particular Theatre Company with the aim of producing new work in unusual spaces. I don't know the full story but with a few trails and tribulations they began working in an old Chinese Restaurant under a bike shop in Exeter. After a few months of working in there they secured a lease, held the first ever Exeter Fringe Festival and aptly named the place The Bike Shed Theatre, with the help of an award winning Mixologist they opened an amazing (and I mean amazing, I know I hyperbolize a lot but I mean it this time!) amazing cocktail bar adjacent to the theatre and the whole thing is history. They've ended up with this quaint, throughly welcoming, absolutely beautiful venue. The theatre it's self my favourite part, a small brick lined performance space that sit's around 60, the concrete floor and the victorian features still in place just adds to the whole sense of Recycled-Venueness.

BIKE SHED LINKAGE: http://www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk




Secondly - Three Minute Theatre - Manchester

This one... We can safely say... Blew us all away. It used to be a clothes shop in a (semi-synonomous) arcade shopping centre called Afflecks Arcade in Manchester. It was a sort of blink-and-you'd-miss-it type venue, and we kept missing it as we circled it like moronic lemmings unable to find a parking space, the actual venue or any sense of direction in the heaving city centre of Manchester. I called the venue:

"Hi, is that John?"

"Yeah it's John, where the bloody hell are you?"

"Sorry John, we're in Manchester and we think we're close to it, but we're really not sure where to go?"

"What can you see?"

"Um... Buildings, a Nando's, a bright yellow newsagents..."

"I know where you are. Head down towards the traffic lights, take a left and then you'll see a load of porno shops, XXXX and that on the right, take the first right and you'll be able to... I'll tell you what, stay where you are and I'll come meet ya"

We had to drive on as all the cars we we're holding up formed a vendetta and began mass hooting. I called the venue again:

"Hi, is that John?"

"No it's Gina, John's ran outside looking for ya"

"Oh has he ("oh for f**k sake") well, we're not where we said we were anymore, we had to drive on, so he won't find us there, what does he look like and we'll look for him"

"Well, he's shortish, stocky, wearing a suit jacket with a cheeky face and a head full of hair"

"... Right"

Before we knew it the side door of our LDV Convoy was wrenched open as we were still actually moving and a man with a cheeky face and a head full of hair burst into to.

"Hello, I'm John, keep going this way, past the porno shops, Christ it stinks in here."

The next five hours in Gina and John's company we're some of the most relaxing, rewarding and happy we've spent on this tour, they were lovely and there venue is amazing. The Three Minute Theatre Manchester founded, made, built and created by Gina and John husband and wife. They had an amazing charm about them and that charm is transposed into their theatre space. It's intrinsically them, but at the same time it feels like everyone else's. We felt totally at home there. The walls adorned with trinkets, charms, posters, paintings, sculptures, objects and things that told stories. The seats a bright orange cinema style donated to them from a closed down cinema in Manchester. The stage a simple black raised platform, then when an audience of locals and unknowns alike showed up it all blended together to make an amazing evening.


Thirdly - The Lantern Theatre - Liverpool

Our penultimate show took place on the second storey of a block of Warehouses. We had to load our set in through an old crate elevator and the moment we walked into the venue, we all knew we were going to love performing in their. It was a small 70 seater with back stage access through two black curtains which made up the back of the performance space. Margret, who I found humbly working behind the bar is the owner of the venue, she took it over in 2009 and since then has been dedicated to programming new, exciting work pre-fringe and studio/experimental alike. Aesthetically the place was beautiful and technically speaking from a performance point of view well laid out. We didn't have much chance to speak to Margaret o r Siobhan who run the venue, but it's clear that they feel strongly about representing the under-represented in a city that, lets face it, has a pretty thriving theatre scene when all is said and done. This venue, like all the other venues felt like unearthing a gem, finding something beautiful where it's not expected. As you walk up the steep concrete stairs to The Lantern Theatre you think "How is a theatre going to fit up here?" but it does, and in The Lanterns case it does it so well.



The startling difference between visiting these small "recycled" venues in comparison to larger more main stream conventional venues is how transparent they are in their intention. Each one is a unique, hand crafted labour of love... Because let's face it, no one builds a theatre to make heaps of money... They're made for the pure pleasure and joy of celebrating theatre that's being made by people outside of the conventions, like it should be. But these venues must exist all over the country and we were lucky enough to find three of them, all three of which we fell a little bit in love with.

And that's part of the adventure, to go into the unknown, walk up the flight of concrete stairs, through the shopping centre or underneath the old bike shop and unearth something beautiful and strange, a place that feels like it has a pulse, that has texture and personality and history. I never expected to be so involved in what our venues are but I have just become totally inspired by the whole thing.

This has been a long blog... A Blong if you will... But thanks for reading.

Here's a review we collected from Liverpool -

 http://www.thepublicreviews.com/dr-frankensteins-travelling-freakshow-lantern-theatre-liverpool/

Now onward to our home-town-venue. We are so proud to be perfoming our last show at The Riverfront, Weds 29th, 8:00pm. It's ya last to see Dr Frankenstein's Travelling Freak Show this tour. We're nearly sold out and hopefully having some live music play after us by the band who gave us the sound of our show, the incredible INC.A. So come along for a night of theatre, networking and freakishness!

Book Here: http://www.newport.gov.uk/theRiverfront/index.cfm/whatson/225841/

Danke Schon,

Mucho,

Justin





12.5.13

#DrFrankenFreak The Tour - Week 2

This blog will discuss two topics. One in short, the other in shorter.


Part 1
Dr Frankenstein's Travelling Freak Show
WEEK 2

So, we played Chapter Arts, Cardiff, last Thursday and Friday. Dan Young our tech dude made the whole experience an enjoyable one and we spent three days in the venue re-working and moulding the show for it's next leg of the tour. It was our Welsh debut of the new version and it was an experience to be remembered.

The first night (the Thursday) we played to an audience of just under 60. The mood felt tense, the show felt weak, the energy felt low and things didn't click and flow with their usual irate, frantic fashion. The show felt like it bobbed by, like a duck kicking legs amidst a sea of sand. We didn't feel it, and we wanted to apologise to our audience in some senses. We were reviewed this night by Y Cymro, so we'll see how that goes.

The second night however, we bowed to a standing ovation. It's such an awesome feeling, and I use the word awesome in it's purest form, and it makes me wonder about what conditions we need to pull it off to a standard we're happy with. After all we're 13 individual minds (the band, the actors, the technicians) working simultaneously to make this experience work, and I think that's prone to error occasionally, but the second night we felt a melting of enjoyment and perception, and bowing felt great...

... Because when you've completed the hard task of writing, directing, producing, acting in and wearing any other stage-theatre-cap you possibly can as a four person crew/cast with a budget of less than £1,000 (that's total production costs and initial publicity) it's important to not only relish in the reward, but also think about what it means to be producing work that people seem to connect with an enjoy immensely, without the luxury of huge budgets, runners, assistants, producers, sole directors, dramaturges, and funders. It proves that it can be done, and I know the counter question/argument "Should it be done?" exists, I know it does, but I think ultimately it can't be answered.

I think theatre makers are always divided by this idea, my girl friend feels that all people present and participating should be paid, and that that is important in order to ensure the success of theatre as an industry which pays people/professionals what they're worth because they're worth it and it's their livelihood, but then my argument hangs in the area of; if people are willing to do it and are passionate and can find the means then they should. I know there is no wrong and right, and ultimately it's not that much of a ground breaking issue, but I do think about it.

AAAANYWAY!

We're off to Exeter to The Bike Shed Theatre tomorrow for a Monday Night Extravaganza!


Then we're in Bristol for two night at Bierkeller Theatre. Tuesday 14th & Wednesday 15th.





Then we're in Manchester at the 3 Minute Theatre in the legendary Afflecks Arcade on Thursday & Friday 16th & 17th.




Part 2
Life Inside An Igloo
The Beginning

I'd say another important impetus for us to create work is chucking ourselves in the deep end. I remember when we were starting out, we'd book gigs with no actual show, just a title and an idea and then we'd know that we have to make it or fail.

Well, I've gone into the deep end alone it would seem. I will be performing Life Inside An Igloo at Newport's Big Splash it's a children's theatre piece that I've been thinking about and drawing pictures for and writing ideas down for about a year now, and Big Splash seemed like as gooda time as any to jump into it, so today I have been at our space in an abandoned MFI in Newport, making, creating, wondering and trying things out.







The Big Splash is going to be full of all kinds of wonderment (check it out here: http://www.newport.gov.uk/theRiverfront/index.cfm/category/39/) and tickets for some stuff are 50p!!! 50p! You can see ten things for a fiver! If that's not a whole load of bang for your buck I don't know what is, besides which, most of it is free! It's awesome, spectacular fun for all the family, so if your a loner or a mother of 14 there is something for the likes of everyone. CHECK IT OUT!

Also, this is a little hello to Lauren Williams Mum. I hear your an avid reader of our Blog! So hello to you!

Mucho,

Justin

6.5.13

#DrFrankenFreak The Tour: Week 1



What a week!

We've only done two shows in two venues and I've already got the bruises and mild concussions to prove it.

It's not that the show is "dangerous" it's just high energy, high impact and very exhausting, but we love that about it. If we're not sweating (and in the case of doing our opening show @theatresevern Shrewsbury...) bleeding we're not having a good time.

 The show lends it's self to being grotesque, loud, voilent and hilarious all rolled up into a heady Victorian Circus inspired German Expressionist child's nightmare. Mmmwahahahaa!

Spying
We opened our tour at Theatre Severn on 2nd May to a house of 120 and the show sored. It became everything we intended it to with the live energy from the audience we craved in rehearsals. Here is a review of the show from Owen Lewis on Love Shrewsbury: http://www.loveshrewsbury.com/owen-lewis/dr-frankenstein-visits-walker-theatre 

Also, one audience member enjoyed it so much he gave us this amazing Bearded Lady portrait he painted because of his love of Freak Shows and the Victorian Circus. I love his work and we are so, 
so pleased to own a piece. Check out his work here: http://pipbayley.com/about/ and thank you Pip. We really all were taken aback and so chuffed to recieve this.


 
Setting the stage...


The view from the top balcony of Theatre Severn
Theatre Severn is a cracking venue and I think it needs more alternative theatre. As we learnt on Thursday, there is a market for it if you go about it right (although I will admit, what with it being my home town a lot of the people in attendence were there for that reason) but we loved it and are definetly intent on going back.

A Sound Technician, A Bearded Lady, A Monster and A Lobster man in Machynlleth...
Then on Saturday we travelled to the MIGHTY Machynlleth Comedy Festival. For this one we have to thank @cpaskell Catherine Paskell for getting us in and huge thanks go to all at the Festival. A beautiful town opens it's doors to an inventive, community engaging, joyus and all out awesome festival. I was so, so, so disapointed we didn't stay the night, but next year I won't make that same mistake, and maybe by that time I will have my one-man-show TigerFace ready for an outing.

Plenty more weeks of touring Dr Frankenstein's Travelling Freak Show! to go.

Up next Chapter Arts, Cardiff. This Thursday and Friday we will be performing at 8:00pm so if you like what you see please do come along. http://www.chapter.org/30282.html

Mucho,

Justin Cliffe

Tin Shed Theatre Co.

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