Category Archives: Festival

Cemetery Audio Tour in the Plymouth Art Weekender

Over the last few weeks Derek Frood and myself aka ripple, have been busy researching archives, censuses, newspapers, genealogy sites and books, books, books about the old Jewish cemetery on Plymouth Hoe. In 1740 this plot was a family garden; today it is a calm oasis that hides a wealth of history and culture. We have created 15 short pieces; stories, biographies and happenings, murders, bankruptcies, plague and adultery and for three days over September, within the Plymouth Art Weekender, we will be sharing those stories with you.

http://plymouthartweekender.com/events/the-old-jewish-cemetery/?l=L1&ri=0

Audio Trail in The Old Jewish Cemetery, Lambhay Hill, The Hoe.

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Located on Plymouth’s historic Hoe, in the shadow of The Citadel, lies a hidden secret: The Old Jewish Cemetery. Contained within high stone walls it has always remained hidden from public view. The only clue to its existence is an insignificant door.
Earlier this year that door was opened and for the first time in its history the general public were given the opportunity to step over the threshold. A few months later, with the aid of funding from Vital Sparks, an audio trail has been created in the garden cemetery, bringing to life the lives of those buried within this hidden gem.
In 1740 this plot was a family garden; today it is a calm oasis that hides a wealth of history and culture.

Open for one hour
Friday 23rd September at 11am
Saturday 24th September at 2pm
&Sunday 25th September at 2pm
Audio created by Ruth Mitchell and Derek Frood, aka ripple
Ruth Mitchell and Derek Frood have been working together for ten years making performance and audio for intimate spaces. rippletheatreco.com
Recorded with StS, Stage technical Services http://www.stagetechservices.co.uk
Plymouth Hebrew Congregation http://plymouthsynagogue.com

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More Coffee with Vera

Coffee with Vera returns to the Plymouth History Festival during May, so if you haven’t had the pleasure of coffee with Vera yet, come along, it’s free. The show runs for 50 minutes and then afterwards there is the all important conversations with the coffee and, if we are lucky the kosher cake!

WHEN ? Wednesday 11.5.16 @ 11am & Saturday 14.5.26 @ 7pm in the Plymouth Synagogue, Catherine Street PL1 2AD

I believe Wednesday is getting pretty full but if you want to come please book a place via this number 07753 267616 or phccaretaker@yahoo.co.uk

Coffee with Vera is a performance I made as part of my MRes in Theatre & Performance at Plymouth University.

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Homeward Bound Autumn Tour

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I’ve partnered with the South West Baseball League to create a tour of Homeward Bound, my show about my son’s love of baseball and my own Northern upbringing. From September it will be touring to all the south west towns and cities who have baseball teams that play in the south west baseball league. In receipt of a Homeward Bound flyer or programme, audience members have the opportunity to a free training session with their local baseball team.

Photos by Lee Hind & graphic design by Kerry Eggleton

The venues are

Coffee with Vera returns to the Plymouth Synagogue

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When I first performed Coffee with Vera it was inside the vestry of the Plymouth Synagogue. My decision to use the vestry rather than the synagogue was twofold. The synagogue can be accessed through an appointment to view with a guided tour, conducted by the caretaker. It can be considered a performance in itself, which gives a particular reading of the site. This is very much a male dominated space where the men perform the service and the women are seated upstairs away from the males. This is, according to Rabbi Aaron Moss, so that both male and female can focus on their prayer away from the opposite sex, an opportunity to be with your ‘true self, to communicate with your soul’ (Chabad.org: online). Roberta Mock states that ‘women were (and still, in traditional Judaism, are) “exempt” (that is, excluded) from most religious learning, prayer, and ritual’ (Mock, 2007:2). Secondly, the vestry is a lived in space; the building houses two flats, one for a rabbi and one for a caretaker and there is a kitchen to make refreshments. ‘Women’s sphere of influence is defined exclusively in halacha, or Jewish law, as “domestic affairs”’ (Mock, 2007:2).

For the next three weeks I will be performing Coffee with Vera within the Plymouth History Festival and I have been asked to perform within the synagogue itself so apart from the Saturday (when I will be in the vestry for the Sabbath) I will be performing within what I consider a male space. Will this change the performance? I have no idea but it will be interesting to find out.

Mock, Roberta (2007) Jewish Women on Stage, Film and Television. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

COFFEE WITH VERA
Saturday 9 May, 3pm to 4pm (in the vestry)
Tuesday 12 May, 11am to 12pm (synagogue)
Sunday 17 May, 11am to 12pm (synagogue)
Tuesday 19 May, 7pm to 8pm (synagogue)
Synagogue Chambers, Catherine Street, Plymouth, PL1 2AD
Watch Ruth Mitchell’s award winning performance of ‘Coffee with Vera’ in the Plymouth Synagogue, followed by coffee and cake in the Vestry with “Vera” herself.
Admission is free. Donations are welcome. Booking is essential via 07753 267616 or phccaretaker@yahoo.co.uk

White Rabbit Red Rabbit

There’s an actor’s nightmare where you dream about being onstage but you don’t know the play you are in or any of your lines. I have had that dream many times in the past, usually when I am stressed about something that is often not related to theatre at all, but obviously, subconsciously, my greatest fear is the nightmare scenario. So then why would I sign up to do a show that I know nothing about and even worse haven’t read the script!!!

Years ago, whilst touring the Roaring Girls Hamlet for the Women’s Theatre Group (now known as Sphinx Theatre Company), one of the cast had to drop out because of illness. This happened very quickly and to avoid cancelling performances a replacement was found over a weekend and for her first performance the actor went on with the book. ‘But where do I move? What’s my motivation?’ she gabbled a couple of hours before she was due onstage. ‘Don’t worry’ we all said, ‘we will move you around, just stick with us’. I can still remember her face as she came offstage, like a rabbit in the headlights, and before you think that was her only initiation into the part, she did receive two weeks of rehearsals, whilst performing each night.

Earlier this year at the Edinburgh Festival a show, Horizontal Collaboration, by David Leddy and his company Fire Exit called for four new actors every time it was shown. The actors walked onstage at the Traverse Theatre and read blind from the text and…I was one of them. We were all in the same boat and the audience knew the set up so, there was a feeling of support both from fellow actors and the paying public. And afterwards, when we had got though it without major hiccups and had actually got the story across, even though we had no idea what was going to happen from line to line, there was a palpable sense of achievement, of getting through it and not fucking up and… a real high.

Which must partly be why I’m going to be doing it all over again… except this time, on my own for a whole hour. I will walk onstage and pick up an envelope, which will contain a script and I will start reading and, hopefully, I will continue and not let my mouth run away with itself.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, by Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour will be at the Bike Shed Theatre on Tuesday 11 November as part of the Molino Group’s art : weapon residency

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

By Nassim Soleimanpour

presented by the MolinoGroup, in association with Aurora Nova

My performance at Exeter Ignite

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Those who follow this blog will know that this performance was created for the Plymouth Synagogue, yet the Exeter synagogue is only a year younger and celebrated its 250th year last year. I have been looking at the links between the two synagogues and myself and will be sharing them within this performative coffee morning. So come along – coffee, cake… and you get to see a hidden treasure within the city centre.

Thoughts on “Word Play: do theatre titles matter?”

This article in the Guardian yesterday rang a few bells with me as I am currently thinking about tweeking my 2013 performance title because

1) it was site-specific and the title refers to the place I and the audience were in, which was a synagogue vestry.

2) I am taking the performance to another synagogue but the new site does not refer to the space as a vestry and this has been pointed out to me.

My quandry is, to keep the title or change it according to the space I am in, the whole title is Coffee with Vera in the Vestry, so it could be shortened to Coffee with Vera or Coffee with Vera in the … (fill in the dots appropriately). Initially the title was Kosher Coffee; I loved this title, it was clean, punchy, had a play on words and alliteration, but, coffee isn’t kosher and I knew that. I was warned off it for many varied reasons, including the site owners possible confusion with the obvious mistake so, I reluctantly changed it but always privately hankered after the first. I selfishly thought it’s my title and I like it, so what if people don’t get the clever wordplay which makes for interesting debate.

I now have two other titles to contend with, one created quickly for a scratch night and, with which an application was applied for. Being successful that title has now gone into the festival mix and will have to stay, I tell myself there’s something to be said for going with first choices. It’s not a title that gets said by a character, which is one of the points the Guardian article is talking about, yet it could easily end up in the text which is still to be written/devised. The third title is still a working title i.e haven’t got one yet, and I am going to take great care with my decision.

If you read the comments that follow the Guardian article the first retorts that this is ‘a silly unnecessary question’ but I couldn’t disagree more; I am still wondering whether 2 of my titles are the right ones and will therefore anguish over the third. As a punter I look at titles and sometimes think ‘ great title, I want to see that’, Daniels Bye’s How to Occupy an Oil Rig for example. A couple of days ago fellow performer Derek and myself took two hours to come up with 250 characters for a brochure copy, that’s basically 2 sentences, our heads were in our hands for most of the second hour. Why is it so hard? The title is the first text that people see before anything else, the first text that people will make an instant decision about and when that is a festival brochure the title of the piece can be a deciding factor whether you play to an extra few people or not. As a play reader, or reader of plays (yes, I get paid) I occasionally wonder why a title has been used, sometimes I can mull it over for more minutes than it’s worth (and believe me on script reader pay you can’t waste minutes) but sometimes it really bugs me, so I don’t want people making a decision before they’ve seen the show on the basis that the title doesn’t warrant a viewing.

Therefore, do I take my title from the text in the play or have a title that is not referred to but gives an overarching theme of the play? This could be one of the hardest decisions I’ve made and certainly, at the moment, the hardest text to write.