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Spotlight on Grassroots’ Summer of Love

Posted on 18 June 2013 by Laura Turner

Summer’s finally here (possibly, if the sun shines today…) and it’s that time of year when one thing is on a lot of people’s minds. If you’re searching for your own slice of summer romance, London company Grassroots might just have the answer for you with its latest set of Shakespeare plays with the theme ‘Summer of Love’. It’s the company’s most ambitious project to date and Boris Mitkov from the artistic team tells me more about working without a director, devising and having lots of good old fashioned family-friendly fun.

Tell us a bit about your new season of shows.

The shows are all rehearsed from scratch, by one ensemble, in just three short weeks, and completely devised by the company. Romeo and Juliet is a play that requires little introduction because its universal themes of love, honour and rivalry are so sensitively explored, through both comedy and drama, that it has become arguably one of the best known plays in the world. What we believe we have created is an exciting, funny (at times hilarious) and tender staging that can appeal to anyone. It is, incidentally, the first time Grassroots has tackled a tragedy and we’re very excited to show it to new audiences. The second play is Love’s Labour’s Lost. This is perhaps one of Shakespeare’s lesser known pieces although it was successful enough in his time to spawn a sequel: Love’s Labour’s Won. The company is incredibly excited to be exploring this play because it has a very funny premise which is: four lords have sworn off women in pursuit of self improvement and study. As one might expect in a Shakespearean comedy, no sooner have they done so but they are instantly overwhelmed by the arrival of the Princess of France and her ladies in waiting. The supporting characters are also full of ridiculous and side-splittingly funny one-liners and see themselves in no-end of bizarre situations.

So who make up Grassroots?

The company itself has been running for some time. It was started in London by Siobhan Daly after she had spent some time in Exeter where she met Mark Oram, the founder of Grassroots in America. Although still very young, the company has huge ambitions about making excellent theatre accessible to everyone and providing a platform for new and young talent to be noticed by the public and the arts industry. We are an “original practices” company. This means that for the most part we work as Shakespeare’s actors would have worked; this includes not having a director, condensed rehearsal periods, and having props, costume and set all supplied by the actors themselves. We have modernised the concept in one respect by casting gender blind. We do not have all male companies, and men and women are just as likely to find themselves in roles of the opposite gender.

So what style are the shows presented in?

Having no director gives us endless possibilities in terms of style. We try not to impose concepts on the text because we feel that unless they are carefully thought through and implemented, those productions open themselves up to criticism about failing to maintain or justify the period in which they are set. Instead we look to locate the settings in a place that is identifiable to audiences, something that gives the piece a more contemporary feel. This is once again a literal reading of the original practices method. Shakespeare’s actors had access to clothes of their period but if we wore those clothes now they would be ridiculous and make it seem as if we were setting the plays in the past. The biggest style element is the irreverence with which we approach performing the text. It was written for the masses, and because tastes and understandings have changed since then, Shakespeare plays can often be marked as elitist and of little appeal to the fun-loving, musical and comedy fans. We hope to shatter that perception.

How did the idea for theme Summer of Love come about?

The Summer of Love came about because it is so rare for a company to present two pieces in rep on the fringe and we wanted to really make the season instantly identifiable with one label. It follows on from the Lion and the Unicorn’s concept of a Magical Christmas season and the title is a reflection of the themes of the play. We like to be flexible with our programming and that means talking to venues to try to build in shows that can complement there existing plans. We are trying to work our way through the canon of Shakespeare but as you can imagine, with two shows at a time we will soon run out of the well know works and we are excited about staging some of the lesser known but equally as excellent pieces. More than anything the title should be an invitation to audiences to embrace the “lovely” weather and come down to the theatre to be transported to another world.

Grassroots has previously performed open-air in the “lovely” weather – which do you prefer?

Performing outside is a different game. Subtlety has its place and I would strongly argue that does include open-air performances. You have to be heard and you have to be seen by every person watching, however far away they are. I think it would be impossible to choose between the two. Performing outside enabled the company to offer free shows to the public and we are very keen to continue this. In fact, our Grassroots Offshoots company will be back at Victoria Embankment Gardens straight after the main company wraps the Summer of Love season. Being inside offers the benefits of lighting design and sound design. It can really help to build the intimacy between performer and the audience. Suddenly, sharing asides or soliloquies with audience members carries heightened meaning. At that short distance you can see the whites of their eyes and they can see every twitch in your performance.

How did you get involved with the company and what’s your role?

I came to the company last summer (2012) when I joined the ensemble for the Off-West End nominated production of Much Ado About Nothing. I loved the way the company worked and really encouraged Siobhan, our Artistic Director, to push for bigger and better things which she has done tirelessly. My role varies. I share a good deal of the production responsibilities with Siobhan which include casting, booking venues or rehearsal spaces, editing photos and online content, sourcing props and set building to name but a few. A huge amount of work goes into every production, in order to get to the position where we can make an ensemble feel free and comfortable to devise, we spend months going over the details. At Christmas, I wasn’t part of the ensemble because I had other projects to pursue and so I was present at rehearsals to help with running lines, offering advice as an outside pair of eyes, lighting and occasionally sewing curtains. This time around Siobhan is stepping back from the performance side and maintaining the backstage running of the company and I am “master of play” at rehearsals.

What’s next for Grassroots?

Our young company, Grassroots Offshoots who will be performing As You Like It in August. Beyond that, we are keen to do several things: to start running workshops and to continue searching for areas in London where we can bring excellent theatre to audiences that might not be regular theatre goers. So many people who audition for us and even more of those who join the ensemble have commented on how much they enjoy the way we run our auditions and rehearsals. It is all about enabling the actors and we would love to share that supportive environment and way of working with more people, so look out for workshops towards the end of the year. It is an excellent way to meet people and for the company to meet you. We are always looking to nurture talent and we’d love to have more opportunities to do so. In the long term, it would be great to find a way to take some of our knowledge to schools and use our talents to help engage the next generation with this rich and wonderful heritage.

What can audiences expect from a night out with Grassroots?

I would strongly recommend finding out first hand but for those who might desire something to whet their appetites I can tell you this: you can enjoy a day out in London before heading to the very well located Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel, surrounded by plenty of restaurants and shops. Then you can soak up the atmosphere of the truly wonderful Old Red Lion which is usually buzzing with conversation and lots of theatregoers. Perhaps grab a drink at pub before the show starts. Once you head upstairs just forget about the day and the pub, and let the company transport you to Verona or Navarre, whichever takes your fancy. You can expect to laugh (a lot), possibly cry if you’re so inclined. There will be lots of sweet moments, positively tons of silly moments and definitely a few thrilling moments that will have you on the edge of your seat. The best bit is all this can be shared with the whole family. There is nothing inappropriate. There is an interval. And then you can even have a chat with the cast as they come out through the pub (or sit down to have a drink in the pub). And the tickets are just £15. Price of a cinema ticket but the difference is this is an experience you won’t forget (and it’s in real 3D, without the need for sunglasses inside).

Image credit: Paul Seaby

Grassroots are performing Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labour’s Lost alternate nights at the Old Red Lion, Angel, until 27 July. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.grassrootsshakespearelondon.com/booking.html.

Laura Turner

Laura Turner

Laura trained as a writer with Hull Truck Theatre, BBC New Talent and the Royal Court Theatre. She has worked extensively with touring theatre company Chapterhouse, where she is currently Writer in Residence. Laura has previously written for BBC EastEnders: E20 and her adaptation of Jane Eyre toured theatres with Hull Truck Theatre Company at the start of 2013. She is now working on an original play for the theatre, as well as projects with Bolton Octagon, Middle Child Theatre and The Ashton Group, Cumbria. She has been long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting and the Adrienne Benham Award.

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Second Shot Productions is Glory Dazed at Soho Theatre

Posted on 16 April 2013 by Laura Turner

Glorydazed @ EdFringe  Alex Brenner, please credit (_D322342)

UK theatre has a rich heritage of work outside theatrical spaces, from schools to site-specific and from universities to prisons. But theatre and film company Second Shot Productions is doing something a little bit different. Based within the walls of HMP & YOI Doncaster, the company works with serving prisoners, ex-offenders and others. With projects ranging from film-making and graphic design through to drama and arts projects, offered in both custodial and non-custodial settings, Second Shot arrives at Soho Theatre next week with its unique show, Glory Dazed.

Who are Second Shot Productions?

We’re a company and trade for profit, but as a social enterprise all of that profit is invested back into our projects. We’re committed to providing education, training and employment to serving prisoners and ex-offenders, and using the arts to facilitate positive change. To that end we currently employ 15 serving prisoners at HMP & YOI Doncaster who work for the company full time. They are trained to deliver our services whilst working towards a BTEC in Creative Media Production.

The ideas and stories we explore in our theatre productions tend to be those that have some kind of relevance to prisoners and ex-offenders. We have worked with our team at HMP Doncaster to look at theatre as a way of exploring restorative justice and drugs awareness, for example, and then performing these pieces on the wings of the prison so as to make them available to as much of the prison population as possible. We also produce regular children’s plays in collaboration with students studying Applied Theatre at Central School of Speech and Drama which allows the prisoner participants’ families the chance to come and see a different side to their loved one as they perform on stage.

How does being based within the walls of a prison affect who you are as a company?

It allows us to work towards reducing reoffending by offering training and education in theatre, film, design and music that may otherwise be unavailable to those serving custodial sentences. Working at Second Shot is seen as a privilege by those who work for us and in them we instil a sense of pride in doing something constructive with their time in prison.

Working in a professional job for the first time can be daunting when you’re not in prison, but it is an opportunity to learn how to hold down a job upon release, whether that be in the arts or not the fundamentals remain the same.

It’s also important for us to allow our team to explore talents they may have or just be developing if this is their first chance of working in theatre and film; some are very natural theatre practitioners whilst others have a great eye for film or turn of phrase for journalism. In developing skills in these areas, the team comes together on corporate projects as well as those designed for the BTEC.

Where did the idea for Glory Dazed come from?

I’d been working at HMP Doncaster for a few months when the Governor, who was also new to the prison, asked if I’d noticed that many of the prisoners seemed to have had experiences in the Armed Forces before they came to prison. I hadn’t noticed it until that point, but it struck me as true and I started to do a bit of research. I discovered that some organisations working in criminal justice think that as many as one in ten of the UK prison population are ex-servicemen, although the Government puts the figure a lot lower than this.

Could you tell us a bit about the show itself?

Glory Dazed tells the story of Ray, a returning soldier who turns up, after hours, at his mate’s pub in Doncaster, looking for his estranged wife. It takes place in real time over an hour as Ray tries to win Carla back, only to discover that she is seeing his mate Simon. The story unfolds to reveal the truths of Ray and Carla’s relationship but also the reasons why she stayed with him for so long.

The play is also Second Shot’s first full-scale professional theatre production. We rehearsed it at HMP Doncaster so that prisoners and ex-offenders could take part in the project as stage managers, set builders, graphic and web designers, photographers, film-makers and musicians.

How did it develop during theses early stages at Doncaster?

We began with a number of discussion groups involving ex-servicemen serving prison sentences at HMP & YOI Doncaster. The men discussed their experiences of both being in the armed forces and their return to civilian life. To varying degrees they revealed difficulties with alcohol, aggression and multiculturalism, and a deterioration in their relationship with their families.

Following these discussions I took away all the information and developed a story and the opening section of the play. This was taken back to the ex-servicemen, this time through a number of drama workshops run by the play’s director, in which they were asked to improvise alongside professional actors, to further develop the characters and the story. This helped to provide further ideas and insights from which a first complete draft of the play was written.

What was the relationship like between the writer and the ex-servicemen involved in creating the show?

It was a great experience working with the ex-servicemen. In follow-up sessions, they all said that they found the process really interesting and valuable, to be able to share their experiences in this way. By the end of the development process I’d like to think there was a mutual respect between the ex-servicemen, the actors and me. They were very frank about what they were willing to discuss, but I was adamant from the outset that Ray wouldn’t be based on a particular person and that none of the stories in the play would be real. I was more interested in trying to find an emotional truth than in depicting something that had actually happened to a particular individual. Some of the stories that the ex-servicemen told were harrowing and very moving, but it would have felt exploitative to put these experiences into a play.

Has the production evolved much over the past year from visiting the Edinburgh and Adelaide festivals?

Yes, the show has changed since its first festival run and that’s for a number of reasons. Due to availability, we had to recast the role of Leanne and that meant that there would inevitably be some changes as to how the actors worked together as a different group. The original cast members had the opportunity to re-examine their roles between the two tours as well and this meant that when rehearsals for Adelaide started, they had each gone on a journey with their characters since playing them in Edinburgh. That showed through in Adelaide as they became increasingly comfortable in each role. I also think that having to consider how aspects of the play would go down with an Australian audience made everyone focus more closely on how each character could engage with the audience and this brought an added edge to the performances as well. The overall result is very positive, because now the play has an intensity to it that has only developed over time. The sense of urgency and desperation of the situation makes it feel very claustrophobic and I’m hoping that this will be further heightened at Soho Theatre.

What kind of issues are you trying to tackle with the production?

When we began the discussions, we started by considering the question: why do so many ex-servicemen end up in prison? The ex-servicemen provided varied and interesting answers that were in part what I was expecting and knew to be true, about lack of support and reacclimatisation to civilian life, but they also raised things I hadn’t considered, like certain personality types being drawn to the army, and how these might be the same personality types who could find themselves in trouble with the law. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but it seemed like an interesting thing to explore.

The ex-servicemen were all different ages and had served in a number of different places as a result, but it seemed that age didn’t dictate whether you were more or less likely to have difficulties when leaving the forces. Some struggled because they went from a very regimented life to a much freer one. Many had seen really horrific things and had either received very minimal or no counselling to deal with those things. Some of the men were from backgrounds where they felt they had very little opportunity and that going into the Army had merely postponed the almost inevitable downfall of becoming involved in crime and being imprisoned. Some had been discharged from the Army because their mental stability had been in question, though this wasn’t followed up in their civilian life. Some, particularly those involved in special operations, talked about being trained as killers, but not ‘detrained’ when those skills were no longer required. Some of the men mentioned a big drinking culture in the army and that for many years, periods of leave had been characterised by getting very drunk and getting into fights. While the army was in some way tolerant of this, the men found themselves in trouble with the police when they behaved in the same way on civvy street without the army’s protection.

Finally, what can audiences expect from the production?

Sometimes people ask where the humour comes from in such a bleak theme, but I think even the bleakest stories have humour in them, for the simple reason that human beings are funny and our sense of humour is almost at its sharpest at moments of adversity. One of the things that really stood out about meeting the ex-servicemen was that they were quite witty and funny and enjoyed a very entertaining banter with each other. This is also true of prisoners generally in my experience; there’s a certain gallows humour that is generated when human beings share difficult experiences together.

Hopefully they will see it as funny and entertaining but also because the characters are believable, audiences will engage with them and the themes raised in the play. I think characters that behave badly but are still likeable are very attractive to audiences, because we’re all flawed but we all have redeeming features.

Glory Dazed plays at Soho Theatre Upstairs from 23 April to 11 May. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/glory-dazed/.

Image credit: Alex Brenner

Laura Turner

Laura Turner

Laura trained as a writer with Hull Truck Theatre, BBC New Talent and the Royal Court Theatre. She has worked extensively with touring theatre company Chapterhouse, where she is currently Writer in Residence. Laura has previously written for BBC EastEnders: E20 and her adaptation of Jane Eyre toured theatres with Hull Truck Theatre Company at the start of 2013. She is now working on an original play for the theatre, as well as projects with Bolton Octagon, Middle Child Theatre and The Ashton Group, Cumbria. She has been long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting and the Adrienne Benham Award.

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Behind the Scenes: Connections Directors Weekend Day Three

Posted on 13 December 2012 by Veronica Aloess

Connections Book Cover 211112

On my final day at the National Theatre Connections Directors Weekend, I catch my third and final workshop (of seventeen that the NT offered), before having a few words with Connections producer Rob Watt on what the NT is looking for from the companies.

This final workshop is on voice, and is run by Zabarjad Salan. Although her vocal exercises are the ones she uses with drama school students and professionals, and are technically challenging, they feel very appropriate for transferring into a young person’s rehearsal environment. One of the exercises she offers warms up the mouth by humming in the style of various different appliances – the directors walk around, pretending to be a fridge or a dustbuster, altering their sounds appropriately. A resonance exercise continues the theme, made easier for young people to understand by likening the sounds made to a fridge or hoover. Salan has a variety of exercises which arget every facet of the voice, from throat, tongue and palette to resonance, weight, and articulation. Another favourite exercise of mine was saying fruit names whilst isolating different parts of the face: to get a taste of what that was like, try to say “pears” without moving your top lip, “prunes” without moving your bottom lip, or “kiwi” whilst sucking your cheeks in. As with many of the workshop’s exercises, it encourages the young people to think about the connection between the body and the voice, not see them as separate entities. Her exercises are vibrant, engaging and fun, and often tell stories – one of my favourites being the tongue twister about every anemone having an anemone enemy.

Connections offers workshops that can prepare the participants for anything – and that’s important, considering the variety in this season of plays. The Directors Weekend itself “is a pivotal moment in the cycle of Connections”, according to Watt, who is keen that the festival “gets it right, otherwise those young people across the country aren’t necessarily going to get the full impact of what we aspire for Connections to be.” He’s aiming high – “Although it’s a huge young person’s project, I’ve got to make sure those directors go away inspired and skilled, as they’re creating those shows.”

There is a perception of Connections as a competition, which Watt accepts as adding a healthy competitive element to the festival. However, he doesn’t believe in judging the shows and choosing a winner. Rather, the NT looks to “showcase the 230 companies with a balance of schools and youth theatres, a balance of large and small casts. We look for innovation in the way they’ve presented shows, we look for the stories of the youth companies. I don’t have a full list of criteria in front of me when I go see shows.” Without falling back on the cliché that it’s not about the winning, it’s certainly true that “they need to have the passion and heart. That’s what I’m really interested in, that I can see throughout the whole company that they believe in what they’re going. That will resonate through the show – it’s quite easy to tell the young people that know what they’re doing when they’re onstage.” Watt and I agree we would have relished the opportunity to perform at a professional theatre when we were younger, like every single one of the participating companies will. As Watt points out,“When those companies transfer to all those partner theatres, that’s where the magic happens.”

But it’s important to note that even if a company doesn’t transfer to the National, that’s not necessarily where it ends. “We’ve had a lot of returners, a lot of people have been doing Connections for years and years, which is great; there’s a sort of alumni there that support each other. We’ve just launched the Connections community, which enables everyone to help everyone else out there that’s taking part. The idea is that after this weekend, when they go back to their company, they still have to maintain that enthusiasm, so we’re trying to support that through the community. They can use the forum to talk, today we’re having a web chat, like a surgery where they can ask questions. The veterans may know some of the answers so it’s not like they have to come back to us or their partner theatre all the time. We’re happy to answer those questions but there may be more insight in asking people that have done Connections several times.”

Above all, the festival – appropriately – really is about the connections these directors made over this weekend and will continue to make throughout the process. I feel privileged to have met and learnt from so many youth directors over the weekend, and hope the young actors involved realise how lucky they are to have such inspiration behind them, making Connections happen.

The National Theatre Connections Directors’ Weekend took place between 9-11 November. The plays will be performed in 2013.

 

Veronica Aloess

Veronica Aloess

Veronica Aloess is an aspiring arts journalist and playwright, who trained at Arts Educational School London and is currently studying towards a BA in English with Creative Writing at Brunel University. She is co-founder of Don't Make Me Angry Productions which is dedicated to original writing and innovative performance.

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TheatreCraft: the beyond the stage careers fair

Posted on 30 November 2012 by Laura Turner

TheatreCraft is a unique careers fair for the arts. We all know that the theatre world is, naturally, all about performance. But sometimes the myriad careers that co-exist alongside what we see on stage can feel somewhat sidelined – but not at TheatreCraft. Whether you want to write, stage manage, design, the fair is all about discovering the next steps you can take towards a career “behind the scenes” in the theatre. Anna Shields from TheatreCraft tells us more about the event and why you should come along.

So first off, can you tell us some more about TheatreCraft?

TheatreCraft is a free event for anyone looking for a career “beyond the stage” in theatre. This means we represent a broad range of areas within the event; everything from props and lighting design, to arts administration and marketing, with other areas like directing and producing, or arts facilitation and journalism in between. It’s a big remit, but one that is well covered with our mix of workshops, exhibitors and expert advice from across the industry.

How did you personally get involved?

I attended TheatreCraft in 2009 when I’d just finished my MA in Theatre Studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama and thought it was an amazing event. So when I saw that TheatreCraft were looking for an Event Assistant in 2011, I jumped at the chance to be involved and am thrilled to be working on the event again this year.

As a freelance Event Assistant, reporting to Holly Whytock, the Project Manager, I assist with the administration and planning of the event, booking workshop leaders and exhibitors, keeping our website and social media up to date, and I’m also responsible for recruiting our team of Ambassadors – volunteers who will help us make sure everything runs smoothly on the day.

And I imagine there are a fair few challenges to that smooth running with an event of this scale.

I think timetabling is probably the biggest logistical challenge with an event like TheatreCraft. We need to make sure we can accommodate all of our workshop leaders’ individual needs while producing a varied programme of events throughout the day. Additionally, ensuring all of our exhibitors and workshop leaders have the relevant information and amenities to run their stand or session on the day is a big task, but one that’s ultimately very rewarding.

What is it about TheatreCraft that makes it so special?

It is so valuable for an event to exist for people who want to pursue a non-performance career in the arts. There are so many opportunities out there for actors, singers and dancers, so it’s great to have an event that is solely for the industry that supports those performers.

TheatreCraft runs in partnership with the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, the Royal Opera House, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, the Society of London Theatre and Creative & Cultural Skills. It’s great to have links with these organisations and to utilise their skills and facilities in planning the event.

And what about ensuring that people who work backstage aren’t always left behind the scenes?

The applause at the end of a performance should celebrate everything that has gone into making that production happen: from the lighting and sound designers, wardrobe, wigs and make-up department alongside the creative team and marketing and administrative brains who get you through the door in the first place, enticing you to get a ticket to see a production. At whatever level, it’s important to highlight just how many hands go into making theatre happen.

The fact that TheatreCraft acknowledges so many of these areas is a major benefit of the event, and I think it’s particularly important that we recognise arts education. It is often our early engagement with the arts at school or at a local community or youth theatre that then encourages us to pursue a career in the arts, so I think it’s fantastic that everything from this grassroots level right up to top training and work experience opportunities are represented, celebrated and promoted at the event, and that young people can receive advice from top people in the industry, and all for FREE!

Does the event benefit the industry as a whole then?

This industry survives through community and our connections, experiences and communication with others in the business, so I think it’s enormously beneficial that free events, like TheatreCraft, exist to support that community and help people find their creative feet alongside others in the same position.

There is so much press, both good and bad, about the provision of arts funding, education, training and internships at the moment, so I think TheatreCraft is a really valuable way of highlighting these conversations and showcasing the many different routes available into the industry and giving young people the means to get a foot on the ladder of such a vibrant industry.

What can attendees expect from the day?

TheatreCraft 2012 kicks off with a launch from Michael Grandage, which is a great way to start the day! Attendees can then make their way through our marketplace of exhibitors, where they can speak to representatives from arts venues, drama schools, unions & associations, charities and other bodies who will be on hand to talk about their training and/or opportunities.

Attendees can also book to attend two workshops on the day and one Ask the Experts session, which gives them one-to-one careers advice with a professional working in their area of interest. The Royal Opera House will be abuzz with excitement, and it’s a great experience to be surrounded by people who are as passionate about theatre as you are.

I hear you’ll be busy yourself on the day running a workshop?

Under the umbrella of my own company, Starling Arts, I’m running the Working with Young People and Communities workshop. This will be a really fun and practical session for anyone who is interesting in applying their own theatre practice to working with young people or in communities. We’ll give an idea of the bigger picture when it comes to facilitating, looking at both the practical and logistical side of working in these settings, and will give our participants pointers on where to find out more information and gain experience – it promises to be great fun!

What’s next for you and your company after this year’s TheatreCraft?

2013 will see a lot of growth for Starling Arts, so I’m overseeing our new ventures and events. We’re building even more on our schools and corporate work in the coming year, as well as setting up new music theatre projects and classes. Hopefully you’ll see us back at future TheatreCraft events, too!

TheatreCraft 2012 runs 9am to 3.30pm, Friday 30 November at the Royal Opera House and AYT will be exhibiting! Book a ticket to come and see us and all the other great activities taking place or just turn up on the door. For more information, visit www.theatrecraft.org.

Find out more about Anna’s company Starling Arts, which specialises in music theatre projects and has just recorded a debut album, Taking Flight. To buy the album or find out more, visit www.starlingarts.com.

Image credit: TheatreCraft 2011 by Alex Rumford

Laura Turner

Laura Turner

Laura trained as a writer with Hull Truck Theatre, BBC New Talent and the Royal Court Theatre. She has worked extensively with touring theatre company Chapterhouse, where she is currently Writer in Residence. Laura has previously written for BBC EastEnders: E20 and her adaptation of Jane Eyre toured theatres with Hull Truck Theatre Company at the start of 2013. She is now working on an original play for the theatre, as well as projects with Bolton Octagon, Middle Child Theatre and The Ashton Group, Cumbria. She has been long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwrighting and the Adrienne Benham Award.

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