Friday, 28 February 2014

Catching Up With The Zoo Creatures

Things may have gone quiet on here for a while, for too long probably, but don't be deceived, the Zoo creatures have not been in hibernation. Whilst the Company as a whole took a rest from mid-September once the Hard Times tour was over, the individual members of the Company have been keeping busy with other projects and activities. The next couple of blog posts will be dedicated to catching up with what people have been up to. After that, we will be bringing you news and views from the Zoo about current productions. Thanks for your patience so far...

The first of the catch up pieces concerns Paper Zoo founder member, David Peel, and the very busy time he has had in the last few months.

After his cameo appearance in Clio Barnard's brilliant British film, The Selfish Giant, Dave was recently cast as a BT engineer in the forthcoming feature film, Altar, which was shot on location in the village of Minskip near Knaresborough. The film, which has a supernatural theme, was written and directed by Nick Willing, and features Olivia Williams (best known for her role opposite Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense) and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Birdy etc.)
Apparently, Dave's audition tape caught the attention of the film's producer who immediately saw the charisma and character that Paper Zoo audiences have known and loved in all of his stage appearances. So much so that Dave was offered the role in a matter of days! Dave was not so sure that it had all gone so well,

"To be honest, when I left the audition, I thought I'd blown it because I was rabbiting on at Nick Willing and the others in the room (among them the film's editor, and renowned casting agent Amy Hubbard) I called my agent and said so but within days I had the part! I was so overjoyed at the news. Whatever it was that I did, I must do again!"

Dave has since been on to take on a rather different role, this time that of First Assistant Director on the shoot of a pilot for a new sit-com called 'School on Report'. The project which was directed and co-written by Bradford actor Lee Otway, is aiming to be commissioned for a full series. The four-day shoot took place in two local schools. The first, Thornhill Community School, was used to having cameras on site as it recently featured in the recent hit Channel 4 series, 'Educating Yorkshire'. The second school was Ralph Thoresby in Leeds. The cast is made up of some impressive names given that this is Lee's first directing project. Well-known character actors John Henshaw and Mark Benton were both involved, along with a young cast of talented local teenagers.

"When Lee asked me to help out, my first thought was 'do I want to?' I'm an actor and I know nothing about being an AD. But as soon as the project began I utterly, utterly loved it! It has to be said that it was made easier by everyone on set being just brilliant and understanding of my mistakes. It is another string to my bow, and now all fingers and toes are crossed for Lee and his co-writer Ross Marshall for them to get the commission that they truly deserve and have earned."

As if this were not enough, Dave has also been working with Bradford-based Freedom Studios again. He had previously been part of the small group of actors who had performed the new works in the Street Voices 4 season last year. The company's artistic director, Deborah Dickinson, asked Dave to come and read, along with other local actors, a script by local writer Chris Wilson. The play is about the famous Batley Variety Club and has the makings of a brilliant play. Chris is a talented writer and Freedom Studios are very generous with their time and support for local writers, directors and performers.

You can find out more about Freedom Studios here