Category Archives: Directors

Introducing… Mark Croasdale

Mark is the director of our upcoming production Lightspeed

Francesca Heraghty-Smith, Mark Croasdale

Francesca Heraghty-Smith, Mark Croasdale

Let’s get the usual stuff out the way – I’m Mark, budding creative artist and theatre practitioner. I’ve previously worked with Contact Theatre Manchester, New Theatre Sydney and organisations including Hercules Productions, Coalition of Mischief and Amnesty International. I came to Organised Chaos after directing four shorts plays for their annual Mid-Winter Ignition and now make my debut with them directing my first full-length production, Lightspeed. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could start this post with the words ‘Some years later”. Instead of writing about my nerves for opening night I could then write about the success the show achieved and all the audience feedback. I could post pictures from the tour and tell you all the funny stories knowing that I don’t need to worry because ‘some years later’ it will all have happened already. Only that’s not possible, because in real life I can’t move freely through time, i’m stuck in the present.

That’s the beauty of theatre. In theatre ‘some years later’ can come in two minutes or in the case of Lightspeed, ‘some years later’ can happen in the very first scene. A play that starts at the end and finishes at the beginning sounds like a good idea and certainly to watch as an audience it’s very engaging. However, to act or direct a ‘backwards’ play does present some odd problems – “what scene is next?”, “has Emma found what she’s looking for yet?”, “is this scene before or after the major event?”. Actually the answer is both really, In ‘play order’ it hasn’t happened yet but in chronological order it has – or sometimes vice versa. Then, as with all good plays, there are so many emotions to be dealing with too! In a typical play the actors can build on their character journeys and rise to a climax but going backwards on stage is harder, the characters climax has already happened – but then the play structure itself still needs a climax later on otherwise it falls flat! Basically it can be easy to get lost, but that’s both a problem and a blessing.

Luckily i’m working with two wonderful actors, Taran Knight and Francesca Smith, both of whom seem not to mind being lost with me. In rehearsals each of them have found themselves on stage being incredibly honest with themselves and me – getting giddy, going red from embarrassment, feeling awkward and anxious and sometimes shouting with frustration – and that’s all before we began looking at the script! This is because, as with any process, it all boils down to playing with what you have and because of it’s topsy turvy nature the script lends itself very well to it. I’m a firm believer in play, but also in shaking an actor out of their comfort zone because it’s when we feel uncomfortable we make more believable decisions and the magic happens. Sometimes this has proven difficult or seemingly unnecessary but it’s actually very important to get lost, to allow yourselves to lose all ideas of what it should be because then you can end up surprising yourself and either getting to where you wanted with more knowledge or, lots of the time, getting somewhere better! We’ve managed to create a magical, sometimes surreal, time-lapse of a relationship that i’m thoroughly enjoying.

With that in mind, combined with all the good things that come with an Organised Chaos production, this process has proven wonderfully anarchic. There’s been a bit of play and discovery and it seems that, just like watching the play, the process of creating it has always kept me guessing. Saying that, we’re on in a week so I’d better get back to making those decisions!

 

To see more information on Lightspeed and book tickets for the show, visit our website – http://www.organisedchaosproductions.co.uk

Introducing … Alastair Zyggu

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Alastair in rehearsals with Matthew Hattersley, Adam Carroll-Armstrong and Michael Loftus

Alastair is the director of our upcoming show Boy On A Bed

So, with now only one week to go before curtain up, I feel it is about time I should share a few thoughts and experiences with the wider world.  And if any of you ever thought that directing is easy, then let me tell you, you are completely wrong. This play has been a huge challenge in many ways for me, and as the cast are now nearing the stage in rehearsal known as despond… that moment when we all feel that we have given all we can to the play… it’s ready… we can perform it…do we really have to do another run through? another rehearsal?….. this is when the director is at his most vulnerable. He knows the play is not performance-ready yet, there is so much he wants to inject into the play…. but how? with tired and unreceptive actors?…. well, I do have a few tricks left up my sleeve, and we do have a wonderful video of a manatee banging it’s head against a glass wall to amuse us when all else fails!!

But let me dispel your thoughts that it is all doom and gloom… far from it. The rehearsal process so far has been very enjoyable… and to watch the four young actors take on challenging and difficult roles and grow with them has been very rewarding indeed. It has been quite a long process…. but that is quite normal within Fringe Theatre; having to accommodate jobs and other commitments. It is a rather frustrating thing to have disjointed rehearsals and generally I am not an advocate of evening rehearsals either, but needs must, as the saying goes. However we have been extremely fortunate to have had a centrally located rehearsal venue and to have had the same venue throughout the rehearsal period.

At this time I take my hat off to 6 people.  First time should be to the writer of the piece, Edwin Preece, who has pitched his tent way down south in uncharted territory; but made the journey up to Manchester one Sunday to see a rehearsal and travelled back home the same day!  Good on you, mate… as they say locally!

Second, to the four cast members who have to at every rehearsal put up with my indecision and inarticulacy!! Fortunately they know me now, and just ignore me!! And finally to the young lady who has been so far of invaluable help, but has a job which rarely receives any attention let alone praise….. Lauren, who is basically doing three jobs in one right now… ASM, DSM and SM!!  Of course there are others but this is MY blog and so I shall let these unspoken of and unsung tell their own stories, and I shall get on with mine!

Some people have asked me…. what drew me to direct this play? Why this play in particular? …. and the answer is, if I am completely honest, threefold.  One, I wanted to direct a play …  not a farce, not a tragedy, not a Musical, not something that could easily be pigeonholed and therefore allow for pre-expectations on the part of the audience …. something new and something with no “label”……, and so, after reading Boy On A Bed, I knew that I had found such a play.  Two, I wanted to be challenged and stretched as a director. And again, after reading this play, I knew that this would be so. And thirdly, since I am wanting to promote myself too, (that is the nature of the beast), what better vehicle than to be directing for a well-respected and award-winning production company and having the play performed at one of the UK’s premier theatres!!… so, yes, even directors are entitled to be egoists every now and then!!

The play itself is through-written. This means there are no scenes, and all the dialogue is continuous, but takes place in four different locations, sometimes simultaneously.  There is music, laughter, love, sex, partial nudity, anger, hatred, betrayal, and of course quite a bit of running, painting and sketching going on too.  So, really nothing more than your average Saturday afternoon stroll in the park!

The other thing that I have been asked is, “But it’s a gay play; and you’re not gay. How does that work?” And of course to these people, I have to answer quite honestly that of course it matters not one jot what a director’s sexuality is. The play’s the thing!! I happen to like the play, and that’s all that matters, and as for the actors…. well, they are actors! It is their job to pretend to be different characters. That’s what they do; so again does it matter?.. of course not.  And if any are still unsure about this, then I suggest you come along and see for yourselves next week to make your own decision!

 

What is a director?

Well, for a start he is not a director. That is a complete misnomer. In fact, the English language is a little strange that way, since a conductor doesn’t conduct either!!  Anyway, I digress. The main and most important aim of a director is to oversee, facilitate and manage many disparate thoughts, ideas, personalities, designs and aims and to bring them all together in one cohesive and fluid whole; whilst at the same time being true to the author’s original intent and  making the whole understandable and entertaining with characters that truly live and can keep an audience watching them for the duration of the performance.  A rather convoluted explanation, and I am sure there have been better, but that’s basically it!! Naturally he also wants to bring his own ideas to bear, and put his “stamp” on the production; and so do the other members of the creative team… set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, sound technician, Musical Director, Choreographer, Fight Arranger, Dialect Coach, etc etc etc….. not to mention the fact that all these people including the director are all responsible to the Producer.  A usually unseen presence and driving force of the company, there to make sure everything happens when and how it is supposed to happen; and to be the someone who has the final word in times of dispute.

 

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Boy On A Bed, visit our website.

Introducing … Alex Shepley

aloia-rehearsals-compilation-alex

Hello. Today, the writer (Ned Hopkins aka Raymond) came to visit for today’s rehearsal. I had hoped to get him there on a day when all the cast were available, however, due to the ongoing availability saga, (don’t ask) it just wasn’t meant to be.

Up until this point, we had been working on the assumptions that the actors and I had made in the rehearsal room. Obviously, with traditional texts from established playwrights, you never get the luxury of having the writer in the room (unless you are very lucky, or are some form of spirit medium).

Having Raymond in the room gave not only me, but also the cast, the chance to ask him those important questions which we were still debating. There are two ways of looking at this. The first can be a little bit negative. When the writer has given a definitive answer, there’s no room for play left. Obviously, how the actor responds to what has been said will be different, and there’s a level of flexibility there, but mainly, once it’s been answered, that’s it, done.

However, the way I choose to look at it is that any information a writer gives can only give much more of a foundation for a character. Raymond was so generous in his responses and he handled it perfectly. He debated and questioned and gave his own input, but made it clear it was up to the actors to bring it to life in their own way.

For me, as a director, it was liberating to have him there. Before today, I had been emailing Raymond with questions from the cast and myself each evening , so it was great to have that interaction and conversation face to face.

Also, it has to be said, that he is just the loveliest, most supportive man you could ever wish to meet. When he wished us all the best, he genuinely meant it and he is as emotionally invested in this piece as we are, despite him not being here every day.

It was a pleasure to have him up for the day, and I can’t wait for him to see what we have done at the dress rehearsal.

Alex

 

 

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Broken and A Lot of it About, visit our website.

Introducing Natasha Stott – Director – AfterWords

Natasha is the director of AfterWords – she joined us after answering an open call.

She was asked to write something about why she wanted to get involved with us and our production of AfterWords and her experience so far.

Organised Chaos by name, Organised Chaos by nature! From the moment I saw the call out for directors by such an aptly named company I knew I had to apply.

Afterwords has a contrasts of journies, contradictions of characters with each scene a heartbeat of the Afterlife. My process began with the building around the stages of grief and the diffence between what we want and what we get.

I met Ellie (designer) at the interviews, straight away we began talking about the possibilities of the script with an instantaneous realisation that we shared a very similar vision of the endless and exciting themes and juxtapositions this script lent it self to.

The auditions were lengthy, but worth it. Actors embraced roles and voiced insights, discovered connections helped, even in this early stage, with the developement of the piece.

The Rehearsal process was a journey of continued discovery for all involved and more recently started to take shape once we began to run it. With actors of book, scenes down, production team creating projections, SFX, making props etc.

With less than a week to go, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are united and simultaneously excited.