Feature: Incoming laughs with Beasts and Sleeping Trees

Get your diaries out, Incoming Festival is fast approaching. The first Incoming Festival took place in 2014 and has continued to support emerging theatre makers ever since. The London based festival allows artists to take their audiences on a new adventure and celebrate new and explosive theatre.

Clem Garritty from theatre company, Kill The Beast expresses why the festival is so important to him and his fellow team. “Incoming provides a one stop shop for audiences to see the fruits of these hard labours and a great platform for companies like us to show and share our work.” He explains that it easy to get lost with the chaotic art scene of central London. “Whilst the money is in the West End, enormous amounts of hard work and inspiration go into thousands of pieces of work”. True, the West End is known for its glamourous theatrical vibe, but it is the “underground creative core” that gives this theatrical festival the attractive edge.

Kill The Beast will be performing He Had Hairy Hands at Incoming Festival. Garritty reveals that the cast were inspired by the folk horror of the sixties and seventies which he describes as the “brown wallpapered world”. By taking on the “who done it-who’s the werewolf”- theme, Kill The Beast began creating the plot and characters of He Had Hairy Hands. Unlike their previous play, The Boy Who Killed Pigs, the team were not tied by having a story to adapt to, “so we could chop, change and kill characters wherever we saw fit, which was nice”.

Although it can be good to have that freedom, Alice Carter, Director and Producer of Sleeping Trees , says that there is a “familiarity for genuine fans of the story” when adapting from an original story. Sleeping Trees will be performing their fast pace version of the Odyssey. In true Sleeping Tree style, they have put their own spin by adding gags and original characters throughout. When creating their piece, Carter highlights the importance of remembering the key points of the story, then can add characters and locations through improvisation. There are “plenty of silly and surreal moments”, she reassures me, for the audience members who are there purely for the comedy aspect for it.

As silly and surreal it can be, Carter knows that they can’t mess with the original story too much. She admits that this is one of the challenges when adapting to a classic story but adds that they are lucky enough to have built a career on “messing” with stories. “I think we invest so much into the new characters we include that the audience can buy into the new version of the story and sometimes prefer our version to the original”.

Kill The Beast lean towards black comedy as the cast have always loved horror and “it just seemed right” to go in that direction. “We are fascinated by the way in which a situation which is fundamentally horrific or tragic can suddenly become very funny when viewed from a different angle.” Garritty goes on to explain that “finding what that angle is and for how long you can sustain the comedy of a dark situation is for us one of the best challenges of making a show. And we’re all just very, very ill!”

This leads on to the fact that different types of comedy can be taken in different ways by the audience. It is an obvious fact when creating comedy you never know who you are going to have in the audience. Carter has the rule that if her cast find it funny, “it goes in!” She does recognise that “comedy can be tough” but she also is confident that she is a director of an accessible company, “a lot of our jokes are a little left field and surreal so we can appeal to a wide array of people.” Garritty jokes that comedy is a “brutal mistress.” He explains the importance of having plot and characters which strongly drive the play. He then admits that there is the challenge of riding the laugh to make sure the scenes flow. There is a huge emphasis on the importance of timing.

Comedy is also emphasised throughout Incoming and the Fringe. Both festivals support emerging artists and the comedy aspect is strongly recognised. Kill The Beast have put themselves into the “theatre” category as they are first and foremost storytellers but their shows have a “definite whiff of sketch comedy to them”. Overall, Kill The Beast simply “want to tell interesting, dramatic and entertaining stories which also make our audiences howl with laughter”. Carter takes a similar approach, although she is put into the “comedy” section, she admits that “there is a lot of thought that goes into the staging and story of each show, enough to really satisfy a theatre audience”.

Incoming Festival sounds like it’s going to be a good one. Carter reveals that the audience should expect something a “little different” from them as they have been working with a band. Kill The Beast will be returning to Incoming for their second time, this year, Garritty and his team are looking forward to returning to its “warm, welcoming bosom with a little less panic and a hopefully a little less sweat!” The people in the front seats will be relieved.

Incoming Festival is on 1 – 10 June. For more information click here. The Odyssey by Sleeping Trees is on 1 June. He Had Hairy Hands by Kill The Beast is on 7 June.  

Katie Shannon

Katie Shannon

Katie Shannon is a fashion and lifestyle blogger with a diploma in Acting and Performance. If she is not in the theatre or cinema, Katie will most likely be in the nearest Starbucks with the largest cup of coffee. She can be found at littlekaatie.blogspot.co.uk and @this_katie

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