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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Tempest Test

I'm in the middle of producing some actors' theatre.  I like actors' theatre, the opportunity to get out from the 'yolk' of director lead drama and give the cast room to breathe.  This isn't to say the show is undirected - that it isn't blocked or that I haven't been telling people what to do - it isn't even to say that there isn't an aesthetic - it's just that the aesthetic I am aiming at is general, a set of guiding principles by which all future productions might be built.  There isn't a specific directorial vision for these Scenes from The Tempest, there is a directorial vision for The Milk Bottle Irregulars, a possible new venture that I'm road testing on Monday.
The Milk Bottle Irregulars is a more cut and thrust version of the more considered productions I produce as plain old Milk Bottle.  MBI is actors on stage, it's nuts and bolts, it's simple and direct.
But Monday isn't a full production anyway - it is but a few scenes from The Tempest.  It is, as advertised, an experiment.  An experiment to see how to make simple theatre and make it swiftly, and yet to keep it to a high standard.  To do this, we cheat.  And there are several ways we are cheating.  But I'm not going to go into that, because they're our cheats, so there.  (Blows raspberry!)  The experiment is to see how distracting our cheats are for the audience; is the final product good enough?
If all goes to plan, this will be the beginning of a regular pattern of work for Milk Bottle.  As mentioned in the last newsletter, I haven't produced a classic play under the Milk Bottle banner for nearly a decade, I've always gone to other places to do so.  This plan could mean there will be a semi regular series of one-off productions of classic drama - Shakespeare for the most part, but there are other plans - led by an irregular band of actors.
There is another reason for the Irregulars and it's a bit old fashioned.  If this test is a success we'll canvas the local schools and youth orientated organisations asking them which Shakespeare / other playwrights they might be studying next term (just checking the syllabus is hit and miss, there is some choice) and then, essentially, offering them access to a production of play/plays and free tickets.  Not discounted tickets, free tickets.  Not an infinite number, but enough for a class or two.  It's that rather old school idea that an education should be rounded; that the young should get to see drama, not just read it; that, as a company, we should reach out to the community and to the young.
Not only that, but the tickets on general sale will be as close to dirt cheap as I can manage.  Because theatre should be for everyone, not just those lucky enough to have deep pockets.

The Milk Bottle Irregulars Presents
Scenes from The Tempest
By William Shakespeare

Usurped and exiled Duke of Milan, Prospero, lives alone on an Island with his daughter Miranda and his books – with which he can cast spells and dark magic.  Using his powers he shipwrecks his enemies and plans his return home, but will he forgive those who have worked against him or destroy them?

Monday 22nd April at 8.30pm
Free Entry – wait in the Quay Bar prior to show – duration 1 hour
To put your name on the guest list – email: or call: 07704 704 469

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