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Tag Archive | "Folly for a Flyover"

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Review: Folly for a Flyover at Create Festival and Assemble

Posted on 19 July 2011 by Amy Marchant

Arriving in Hackney Wick and peering hopelessly at the street map by the station entrance I was approached by a group of arty looking youngsters: “Are you looking for Folly for a Flyover too?” they asked. Oh dear I thought, glancing at my watch nervously, how predictable. A make-shift arts venue had been lovingly constructed somewhere underneath the A12 flyover but we were all struggling to find it. No helpful signs, no suggestive trail of thespian-looking folk, no nothing. As far as I could see I had arrived in the middle of an abandoned industrial estate in the arse-end of Hackney. Was this part of the experience, I thought? Perhaps a bit of invisible theatre to get the evening going?

Eventually, after walking half a mile or more along a desolate towpath, we found it. And what a find! It was as if I had stumbled across a Wendy house for grown-ups: Hundreds of wooden bricks piled up to make a life-size house, to the left a performance space and raked seating, and inside a cosy bar lit by bulb lights, selling beers and bagels. How delightful, it was worth the effort! I must admit I was a little put out when I realised that what I had arrived to see was in fact a film showing of Toy Story 1. A great film obviously, but worth a lonely, hour long trip to Hackney on a Sunday evening? To my delight though a performance piece struck up, seemingly out of nowhere, entitled Bicycle Thieves. Consisting of a very ropey story line with even ropier acting, it featured some fantastic bike acrobatics, the likes of which I had never before seen live.

The performers spun their bikes around like dance partners, biking one-legged and manipulating their wheels, twisting and turning to the music. The audience cheered at the particularly impressive moves but when it came to the dialogue very little could actually be heard, as the actors struggled against the noise of the overhead traffic. However the aim of this event was clearly not theatre-making but rather to showcase the niche skills of these young people. And this should have been the sole focus of the evening in my opinion. Adding to the make-shift charm of this venue was the bike-run sound system, with three people peddling furiously in the corner to power the microphone power and music. A brave audience member even joined in with this, and a reciprocal and friendly relationship between audience and performers was immediately established. This was a fun and very different evening to whatever I was expecting, although I certainly could have watched more than the half-hour of bike talent that I got. This place is well worth a visit if ever you happen to find yourself in this rather isolated area of East London.

Folly for a Flyover is taking place until 31st July. For more information, see the website here.

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State of Play: Four Lessons Learnt by a Learner Producer

Posted on 08 July 2011 by Pippa Howie

Since the start of this year I have been working with the theatre company Pip Productions on a piece of pedal-powered theatre called The Bicycle Thieves. We have just finished our run at the View Tube as part of CREATE 11 festival and the show is transferring to Folly for a Flyover on 17 July.  As these six months have been a traineeship for me I thought I would take a moment to think about the greatest lessons learnt…

Working on the budget and funding has been the biggest eye opener. They affect every part of the producing process and there is sadly no escape. Deadlines for funding applications can’t be missed and each one is like a job application, you have to tailor them individually to the funding body – copy and paste is not the answer. This is also not just an evening’s work, it can take weeks. And you need details about the venues you will be using so applying before you have approached theatres is tricky. This then becomes a Catch 22 as you often need money behind you when approaching theatres, especially if you are hiring the space. And of course there is the wonderful moment when, after weeks or months of waiting with your hopes building, they say no.

Lesson One – Funding applications are a pain in the ______ (feel free to fill in) and you shouldn’t rely on them to financially support your show. You need to find other sources of income. This may be a good time to start eyeing up banks and investing in scratch cards.

Six months ago I knew you needed money to put on a show but I had assumed I could do it on a very minimal budget.  Say,
£1,000 tops. Now I am definitely re-evaluating my budget. Everything you need will have a price and not always a foreseen one. You can avoid some costs but not on insurance, wages and licensing. You want to use music in your piece? Then watch
out for the PRS. You will (hopefully) have an audience so public liability insurance needs to be paid too. If you want to do it right you have to pay for it. Although having a list of friends with useful skills and who owe you favours can also cut a few financial
corners…

Lesson Two – When thinking of your budget probably best to times your initial figure by three. Then maybe times it again by
four.

Another lesson learnt was that you must always plan for the unexpected. Last night just as we started pedal-powering
our opening music, it began to pour. For an outdoor show with bike stunts taking place, rain is a cancelling factor. Putting actors on bikes and sending them onto a slippery stage is never a winning idea so we had to stop the show, and I got a lesson in audience relations. Offering date transfer or refunds straight away as well as a free drink seemed to work well with our audience and they left happy albeit disappointed.

Lesson Three – As a producer you must learn the art of negotiation and a fixed smile that never reveals the truth behind that actor’s “illness”.

Being a producer in a small team also means you have to be willing to muck in with everything, be that setting up chairs,
manning the box office, or riding a bike and trailer to pick up sound equipment, it’s all in your job description.

Lesson Four – Producing can really involve anything depending on the scale of your show. So best to have many hats in your bag, i.e. a box office one, barmaid one or technician one.

Bicycle Thieves is showing at Folly for a Flyover on 17th July, 7.30 pm.

Image by John Morgan

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