Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Blue Remembered Hills - Previews

Friday 24th and Saturday 25th of June 2011 saw the first two performances on our summer/autumn tour of Dennis Potter's celebrated play 'Blue Remembered Hills'. The shows took place in a new venue for the company, and one that I hope we can return to soon. Chris Lord is a Halifax based photographer with an eye not only for a great image but also for an opportunity to use his studio for other creative enterprises.

The small space was transformed into an intimate theatrical venue that perfectly suited the style of the production. Chris worked tirelessly to organise, promote and support the production that, I am pleased to say, sold out on both nights. The audiences all commented on the imaginative use of the space and the atmosphere, and The Halifax Courier described the production as "Elegant, simple and interesting" leading to "a fantastic night's entertainment"

Next stop on the tour will be a complete contrast as Paper Zoo return to the grounds of Bradford Cathedral for an open air performance. A small section of the grounds at the west end (how appropriate, darling!) of the Cathedral will be our stage but whereas the contained conditions of the studio created the claustrophobia of the barn, here we will be able to exploit the space to run and play in the woodland scenes.

Several years ago, the company first approached the Dean and Chapter of Bradford Cathedral with an idea for a production of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' that used the grounds for the first half of the play and then moved inside for the second half. This production received very good reviews and proved to be a successful collaboration; so much so that now other companies have joined in on the act and produced plays there since.

For the Zoo, finding interesting and unusual venues to play has always been something to aim for, and we are very grateful that visionary people such as Chris Lord are open to ideas of what is possible. We are also indebted to Symon Culpan, our lighting designer and technician, and Shack who designed and created the soundscapes for the productions. Their efforts enhance our work and create unique theatrical events.

Chris' website can be found here

Friday, 3 June 2011

Josh Goes Bananas

We asked Josh Fyson, one of our associates, to write a little something about what he has been up to. This is his blog entry for June 2011.

"Hi! Josh Fyson, Associate actor with Paper Zoo Theatre Company here, updating you all on life in the veritable monkey enclosure that is our rehearsal process.

It can be said that I was involved with 'The Zoo' almost from the very start, attending every performance of the show from which the Company took it's name. When it officially founded I was recruited by resident bonobo, Damien O'Keeffe, to fill in some of the younger, peripheral characters in 'A Christmas Carol' Due to a cast member having to drop out I found myself taking a more substantial role, including my portrayal of Marley's ghost. I still rate that show as one of the most enjoyable I have ever taken part in.

After taking a small role in 'Much Ado About Nothing' this is my third production with the Company, even though it has taken a while to get into the swing of this one (even getting our full troop together on schedule was touch and go for a bit) these rehearsals have settled into the choreographed madness that characterises the Paper Zoo process.

'Blue Remembered Hills tells the story of seven ordinary children in the early 1940s and the deep emotional and ideological impact that war can have on a child. Playing those children has taken the Company in yet another new direction. This branch of theatre haas come somewhat naturally to the cast despite the challenges inherent in it (being able to stop giggling for five minutes, for a start!) I should be the first to admit having to search hard to get a firm grip on my characterisation. Yes, it is true that I am the youngest member of this particular cast though, to be fair, most of the rest of them have offspring of their own from which to draw inspiration. Speaking of which, having one or two of them present at many a rehearsal has been of far more use than a distraction (not to mention fun!)

Getting into the WWII mindset has also given us a lot to think about. Fear is a big component of the play and also such a big part of being a child as it comes to terms with the complexity of the world it finds itself in. Always up for a bit of childishness, we have rebelled in the characters which have,as usual, been cast extremely appropriately within our physically ranging number.

Julia is really doing herself proud as a director, and working to her vision has been a total joy so far. Having taken merciless dance tuition from her in the past, I know that she can bring out the physical best in any performer. So, naturally, this production has a fantastic visceral momentum that brings the text alive.

It is a fun ride, and I find myself looking forward to rehearsals even when bereft of a full night's sleep. I suspect that the rest of the cast feel just the same way, and the show h really started to take shape over the last couple of sessions. Here's hoping that you will come by and see for yourself.

Josh :)!"