Visiting Productions

Echo Beach – Thoughts on dancing – Hannah Sullivan

Hannah Sullivan in Echo Beach - Picture by Paul Samuel White

I’ve always being fascinated by people’s movement. I remember I had a friend at school that I could recognise by the way she walked, or you know, the way someone moves their hands when they talk… I like to know someone through a specific part of their movement. And so, I went to university at an arts school and in the bar there was a lot of dancing and a lot of characters, this was a big dancing time for me, this 3 years at university – I used to dance with everyone else but I also developed this habit of watching the dance floor, because in the university bar there was a kind of balcony over the dance floor and so it was really cool to hang out on this balcony and just watch and be like ‘wow look at what he’s doing with his arms’ or ‘look at her foot work’ or ‘he’s just standing there shaking his head that’s cool’. You see, people got really into it – and so I was really becoming aware of this collection then but I realised that I could already tell you how my auntie Peggy dances or my dad or my mum and so I had already been doing it in a way. And there are a couple of people from those uni days in the show and there are a couple that have fallen out of memory which is sad because that’s because I’m not in contact with them anymore, but there are a couple that have stayed because I think often – the dances that really make it into my collection and stay there are moments when people are just really involved, often when that happens then is they get stuck into a repetitive movement, and practically that’s just easy to copy and remember, but also there is this amazing quality about that person in that moment. There is something about that person in that moment that I find really affecting. Some people say that everyone in my collective is in rhythm and quite confident, its like ‘oh where’s the nervous guy’, but my collection isn’t really about that – I don’t think about that much, like I need this and I need that. I thought about it once, that I needed to go out and get this kind of person and this kind of person but it felt fake and not good, because, the dances in my collection, they are in a kind of state, and that’s why they are there.


- An extract from a radio interview with Hannah Sullivan about Echo Beach, Interviewed by Luke Emery for Mayfest Radio 2014.


Echo Beach
24-25 Oct
Coopers’ Loft
6.30pm (Running time: 60mins)
£12/£8 (plus booking fee)

Visiting Productions

Writing on Walls: Developing The Window – Silva Semerciyan

I had convinced myself that a room to write in was a luxury rather than an essential. That was because I didn’t have one. Oh yes, I’ve done time at the kitchen counter. I’ve written in bed, with my neck at an ergonomically disastrous angle and the laptop baking my legs like a couple of Christmas gammons. I’ve written on park benches with the glare of the sun making it impossible to decipher anything other than the shocking amount of dust and historic smear on the screen.   I’ve leached the life out of a pot of tea at the local café, scrambling to churn out text while my daughter slept in her pram: Err, could I just have a bit more hot water on that?… But here’s what I’m finding I can do with an office: I can display four or five mind maps at a time and know they’ll still be there when I return from a break, unread and unmarked. I can move around and test dialogue aloud without causing psychological damage to anybody under the age of five. I can distance myself from the white noise of unfinished chores ‘must fold that, must send that, must unblock that’.   Most importantly, I can feel like an essential member of the workforce.  As a writer on attachment at the Bristol Old Vic this year, I have been administering Virginia Woolf’s prescription for better writing: ‘a room of one’s own.’   My weekly room away from home contains a large square table, six chairs, a bin, a phone that never rings, a wall-sized window, and nothing else. It’s heaven.   And best of all, it’s available to me during office hours. Much as I hate to puncture the romantic image of a writer in a cold, midnight garret, producing genius in one emotionally tortured purge, I can confirm that flights of imagination are easier when you’re wide awake and not worrying about chilblains.

The Window grew out of discussions between Charlotte Melia, Lee Lyford and myself about ‘The Big Society’, that call-to-alms for the British citizen and bid for their active engagement in the community. Was it a reasonable ask? Certainly modern isolation had much to answer for: depression, anxiety, loneliness, despair. Connection to others and a sense of social responsibility seemed sorely lacking. But was it fair to set door to door altruism as a societal target? Who would be doing the majority of this do-gooding and could they really afford to? The brief, agreed between us, was to create a solo performance that wasn’t predictably unpredictable, that is, which didn’t suddenly produce any disproportionate shockers three quarters of the way through in order to raise the stakes. These were starting points, but the main impetus for writing was to tell a good story. I love unlikely friendships, and a bond between a young first time mother and the elderly man next door seemed appealingly odd.

Charlotte Melia in The Window

Charlotte Melia in The Window

The first draft was written across a week. The great thing about a play for one actor was that once I’d internalised the character’s voice, generating text was as easy as writing a diary entry. Sculpting the material into something with a narrative arc, on the other hand, took somewhat longer. It was difficult to know how much to indulge in digressions from the plot—whether these moments would entertain or frustrate. We then met to read the draft.   Charlotte is an incredible sight-reader, so we all heard immediately what was ringing false.   We worked through the script, interrogating each moment and every word, and finally prepared an excerpt for presentation at the January 2014 Ferment Fortnight.   Ferment was brilliant.  It gave us a sense of the visual possibilities and, crucially, how it was being received. With a solo performance of this kind, the audience becomes the implied conversation partner. To what extent were they mentally ‘writing’ their half of the duologue?   There were some strong opinions afterwards which we took for a good sign. The most important source of feedback is always the atmosphere in the theatre, and the audience was definitely engaged and laughing. It was an encouraging springboard for the next phase.

After Ferment, we let the dust settle for a few months and then came back to it. This made it much easier to let go of favourite lines and sections that were dragging. We pushed the story further.   Working with the Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment Producer Emma Bettridge, I condensed some moments, expanded others, and aimed for the elusive top note. The final play, now in Lee and Charlotte’s capable hands, is coming to life in more ways than I imagined, and that’s what I like best about collaboration: seeing things I hadn’t realised were there. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable writing experience. No freezing in garrets required. This ‘room of one’s own’ is going to be hard to give up.


The Window
22-25 Oct

(Running time: 60mins)
£12/£8 (plus booking fee)
Ages: 12+ (swearing and sexual references)

Visiting Productions

L’apres midi d’un Foehn-Version 1: An interview with Company Non Nova

This week the Studio will be filled with life as plastic bags transform from everyday inanimate objects to living, breathing members of Company Non Nova’s ensemble. We caught up with the company to find out about the inspiration behind their beautiful piece.

Photograph by Jean-Luc Beaujault

Photograph by Jean-Luc Beaujault

Can you tell me a little about the show? What can people expect from their evening?

This is a piece of choreography for puppets and their puppeteer, a ventilation system and a few props; plastic bags, a coat, a pair of scissors, a roll of sticky tape, a walking stick and an umbrella.

Accompanied by the notes of Claude Debussy’s three musical works: Afternoon of a Faune, Nocturnes and Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea, a ballet mistress creates a piece of choreography performed by plastic dancers, propelled into currents of air. Without needing to touch them, or barely even brush against them, the freedom of their movement makes the puppets seem more and more human by the second, the air streaming through them like blood flow. Through the manipulation of the plastic bags, their evolution and their transformation, a relationship develops between progenitor and puppet. This is where the adventure starts. We witness fortuitous encounters dictated by thermal phenomena, an étoile ballet dancer is born before our very eyes, there’s a pas de deux here, a burst of fireworks there, and further down the track a monster may be lurking…

This piece is for children (from 5 years up) and their parents or grand-parents !


The shows origins are inspired by the silence and stillness of wild animals assembled in the Evolution of Species gallery in the Natural History Museum. Can you talk a little about the creative process behind the journey from this stimulus to where you are now?

I began this research with an experiment of the wind in the direction of draft to move a subject. I worked with the ice before, and I wanted to make blocks move themselves by drafts. By means of research I arrived at the vortex generated by six ventilators. The plastic arrived as the material offering several senses of reading and application: lightness, its easy transformation and its place in our societies and especially the object of the society of the oil.


Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to use plastic bags in your piece?

Plastic evokes dustbins, trash cans, petrol, oil, consumerism, pollution … things which encumber and ultimately spoil our lives, but which take form in such banal, over-used forms, that we don’t even see them anymore. Plastic is so present in our lives that it no longer seems artificial.


You’ve experienced sell out success with this show, how does audience reaction differ from venues/locations and has that informed the evolution of the piece?

The moments of magic are and will stay those of an action on independence and freedom, here the action of the wind on materials blows up. In every representation, new reactions unexpected come to remind me the magic of an interaction so simple : some plastic  and the wind.


L’apres midi d’un Foehn-Version 1
16-17 Oct
Bristol Old Vic Studio

2pm, 6.30pm, (8.30pm Fri only)
£12/£7 (plus booking fee)

We are working in partnership with Circomedia for this event.

@bristololdvic  #ballerinabags

Visiting Productions

Hoke’s Bluff: An interview with James Stenhouse

Give me a H.O.K.E.S-B.L.U.F.F! …We may be out of energy, but expect nothing less than a performance worthy of Bring It On when Action Hero bring their contemporary theatre piece inspired by American teen sports movies, Hoke’s Bluff to Bristol Old Vic Studio next week. In between cheers, we caught up with Action Hero Co-artistic Director, James Stenhouse and got the skinny on the show.



Can you tell me about Hoke’s Bluff? What can people expect from their evening?

You can expect a good night out! The show is funny and full of energy, and we’ve tried to make something that feels very live. We’re always keen to pay attention to popular culture and the ways in which it can shape who we are as individuals and as a society, the ways in which banal or superficial things can have hidden depths when looked at in a certain way. With Hoke’s Bluff we’ve turned our attention to teen flicks, the kinds of movies you wouldn’t necessarily admit to liking, the guilty pleasures! We wanted to dig up what it was about those movies, and the stories they tell, that draws us in against our better judgement. So the show is a guilty pleasure in some ways, there is popcorn and pom poms and a sentimental underdog tale, but we’ve tried to also draw out the poetry, the absurdity and the melancholy that sits beneath that shiny surface. So you get the best of both worlds really! Win win.


The show is massively inspired by teen flicks – the world of cliques and pom poms! – what is it that fascinates you about this corner of American culture?

We’re really compelled by quite how ubiquitous the stories are that small town America has sold to the world (and to itself). How the experiences of these high school kids can resonate profoundly with people whose lives bear no resemblance at all to that world. We’re generally just quite obsessed with American culture as a whole and the nostalgia and hope it cultivates. We often say we can’t understand why all art isn’t about America because it’s kind of in everything. All our experiences, whether they be recreational, political, philosophical or whatever, they’re all touched by America and the stories it tells to the world. In some ways, the small town high school sweethearts, the cheerleaders and the football quarterbacks are the poster boys/girls of the dream that America has bought the world with.


Hoke’s Bluff started life as part of Ferment Fortnight – can you tell me a little bit about how a scratch/work-in-progress showing works?

A work-in-progress showing is a way to test out material early on, in front of an audience, before its completely finished. We find them really helpful because our work is very reliant on the presence of the audience. In Hoke’s Bluff, for example, the audience become the crowd on the bleachers, cheering the team and waving flags. Its hard to rehearse that or know what’s going to work if you can’t do it in front of a proper audience. Most of us can probably recall experiences when we’ve been put on the spot or been asked to do something we don’t want to do, or we’ve felt uncomfortable in a performance, and that’s because those moments have to be done with a lot of care and sensitivity. You want to feel compelled to join in, or cheer, or wave your flag, you don’t want to feel coerced, and you need to feel like the performers have earned your input. That’s how all collaborations work really, and an audience/performer collaboration is no different. So to get it right we like to give ourselves time with audiences before the show is finished where we can refine these things in cohorts with audience members.

Since Ferment Fortnight you’ve had great success with the show – can you describe the process of elevating a work from a work-in-progress showing to a fully-fledged performance?

The Ferment audience really helped us finish Hoke’s Bluff and have it ready for Edinburgh. We did two performances at Ferment and the first one was way too long! It lasted forever and the audience were very patient with us, but politely let us know that it was way too long, so for the second night we cut lots of material and changed the shape of the piece a little bit and it had an immediate impact. That let us know we were heading in the right direction and before the Edinburgh fringe we just kept on moving in the same direction and refining what we’d presented at Ferment.


You’re heading out on a national tour, how does that feel? Is it good to get different reactions from different venues/locations?

I can’t wait to start performing Hoke’s Bluff across the country. We actually don’t often get the chance to show our work in the UK, and we perform our work abroad more than we do here, but British audiences can be some of the most rewarding, and putting the work in lots of different contexts is when you really learn what it is you’ve made!  Particularly because the audience is so integral to the world of Hoke’s Bluff it gets to a point where it really just needs to meet the crowds. Also the Edinburgh Fringe is a really great place to show your work and the show was really well received but it many ways an Edinburgh audience is not representative of wider UK audiences so we’re dead eager to see what happens on the tour!


Well, there’s definitely no ‘I’ in ‘team’ so come along to Bristol Old Vic Studio and cheer on the Wildcats!

Book tickets for performances between 8 – 11 October at!
Upcoming Tour Dates:

8-11 Oct Hoke’s Bluff Bristol Old Vic
14 Oct Hoke’s Bluff Axis Arts Centre, Crewe
16 Oct Hoke’s Bluff The Showroom, Chichester
21-22 Oct Hoke’s Bluff South Street Arts Centre, Reading
24-25 Oct Hoke’s Bluff Contact, Manchester
31-02 Nov Watch Me Fall Forest Fringe, Hong Kong
12 Nov Hoke’s Bluff The Performance Centre, Falmouth
15 Nov Hoke’s Bluff Brighton Dome
18-29 Nov Hoke’s Bluff Shoreditch Town Hall, London
2 Dec Hoke’s Bluff Aberystwyth Arts Centre
4-6 Dec Hoke’s Bluff Warwick Arts Centre
10 Dec Hoke’s Bluff        Peninsula Arts, Plymouth | @actionherolive | facebook: action hero | #illshowyoumine |

Watch the Hoke’s Bluff trailer here #HokesBluff #GoWildcats

Visiting Productions

FROM OUR FRIENDS: Dracula – An interview with Mark Bruce

Fresh from winning the prestigious South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance Mark Bruce Company‘s Dracula is about to embark upon its second UK tour, calling at Bristol Old Vic this week. We caught up with Mark ahead of its opening here on Wednesday.
Have you made any changes to DRACULA for its second UK tour?

MARK BRUCE:   I’ve changed a couple of things; there’s slightly different material for the wolves and I’ve added a small scene – it’s an adaptation of a scene from the book, very small, very subtle. The new cast members will make it feel different, perhaps a little darker, I’ve had some time to reflect and push myself further into the heart of the piece .

How do you feel about presenting DRACULA to such a wide range of venues?

MARK BRUCE: I’m really excited about all the venues on this tour…we’ll be able to stage DRACULA in its full glory at all the venues which will be fantastic for us and hopefully for the audience, most of whom will be seeing it for the first time.

Tell us about some of the practical challenges about presenting DRACULA in different venues all over the UK.

MARK BRUCE:   The width of the stage will affect how we put the set together, how we drag the coffins on and off, how we then slide them into their narrow spaces onstage. Every venue presents its own challenges so we try to take in the aesthetic of each one and make sure it works. There are 12 or 13 of us on the road at any time – in fact this is the biggest show Mark Bruce Company has ever toured.

What do you think is the enduring appeal of Dracula?

MARK BRUCE:   Bram Stoker’s story has an elusive magic which taps into our imagination and dreams.   Dracula is a very strange novel and its flaws, or simple omissions, cause us to put ourselves inside the story. All I did was try to capture that magic and it seems to have struck a chord with people; you’d probably have to analyse every section of it to work out why but the fact remains that the story of Dracula gets under people’s skin. I think people identify with him, they find something of themselves in the character – perhaps there’s something of the vampire in all of us. I think it’s also very much a product of its time, fascinated in what was prevalent in Victorian society such as the emergence of science and its effect on religion; foreign travel; people’s fears and inhibitions; social taboos; the development of women’s roles…and much more.

You wrote much of the DRACULA score – tell us about the process and how you chose the other pieces of music

MARK BRUCE:   I wrote the music for guitar and marked out a coherent musical line through the piece. I used open tunings that have a slightly Eastern European feel. I responded to Jonathan Goddard’s movement as Dracula, hitting and bending the strings. The way all the dancers moved made me play in a certain way. Having a musical theme with the guitar gave me freedom to use varying music for other sections. I wanted there to be a sense of classical music because it’s set in the past and I made a conscious decision not to use any rock music this time.

Mark Bruce Company won this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance – were you surprised and what was it like on the night?

MARK BRUCE:   We were up against some really big companies so when we won I was really surprised and very honoured. I found the whole ceremony very supportive of artists and as much as anything it was fantastic to get a piece by Peter Blake! I hadn’t written a speech but was aware of trying to thank so many people and just wanted to speak succinctly – I’d seen enough ceremonies to know I didn’t want to go on and on…

I think the award has helped and probably in ways I haven’t even realised yet; I really appreciated receiving it and felt it was honestly given and felt good about the whole production and cast and creative team.

This year Mark Bruce Company became an NPO – what does that mean to you?

MARK BRUCE:   It means some stability and the ability to plan long term. It’s interesting – when people say you must be over the moon I am, but I’m also very aware of the responsibility. Up till now each project has been done on a guerrilla basis; now I will be able to liberate the work which means being more ambitious in artistic terms as well as scale. I feel that we’re striving for something and it gives us three years to push further and see what we can do – it’s enormously exciting, challenging and I’m absolutely delighted!

What else have you been working on this year and what’s next for Mark Bruce Company?

MARK BRUCE:   I’ve been writing a lot of music, I’ve finished a novel, making a piece for Ballet Black and I may have a project in Singapore. And above all, I’m working on the next big piece for my own company.

1-4 Oct
(Running time: 120mins inc. interval)
£5-£20 (plus booking fee)
Ages: 14+

Visiting Productions

TOP DOG – An interview with Dead Dog in a Suitcase’s Mike Shepherd

Following rave reviews in Liverpool, and arriving in October, Kneehigh Theatre’s Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and Other Love Songs) is another hit for the high-spirited and much-loved Cornish outfit. We spoke to Director Mike Shepherd about the highs and lows of creating a new show…

We opened in Liverpool last month and thankfully, the reception so far has been absolutely brilliant – we had a full standing ovation each night. Dead Dog… is our radical new take on John Gay’s infamous Beggar’s Opera. Despite a few marketing departments telling us to the contrary, we wanted to make a statement by giving it a new name as our version is very much our own: it’s punk, it’s political, it’s hugely entertaining and very, very skilled. The audiences are really going for it and I’ve been hugely impressed at how intelligently politicised they are.

In Liverpool, you have a pint with a shipyard worker and his wife who’ve been to see the show and you can talk Tony Benn, Syria, Lebanon, what it would actually mean to exit Europe… it’s been extraordinary, and you get a real sense of passion and identity. Too many of us have become depoliticised in my opinion. Theatre has become very safe. Very risk-adverse, as I keep hearing. It’s become harder to exist and independent voices are becoming rarer. We’re all trapped in this very ridiculous, but sadly very real world of needing to get four stars to make a living.

For a company like Kneehigh, these days, we have to do an initial run of a new show, then try to book a tour a year after that. No-one’s taking any risks, especially on something unknown. Rolling out the classics and endless Shakespeare isn’t particularly healthy despite the fact that it’s proven, I think, that when people do new or different things, there is an audience out there hungry for it.

I suppose the The Beggar’s Opera is a classic of sorts and it is recognisable in our version. Gay wrote it as a furious rant against the world, government and class system of the time – a musical of the streets. Brecht famously remodelled it to rail against fascism in The Threepenny Opera and his quote then: “the world’s poor and man’s a shit” is so relevant now. Me, writer Carl Grose and composer Charles Hazelwood wanted to have our own rant about the world that taps into the deep levels of corruption that surround us today.

The plot of The Beggar’s Opera is actually fairly thin, dated and somewhat misogynistic and doesn’t really hang together as a narrative; our version begins with Macheath, a contract killer, who’s hired to kill the mayor and his dog whilst they’re out for their evening walkies. The women are powerful in our version, the ending’s very different, we have some new characters and plotlines and an amazing cast of 12 actor/musicians. And, of course, it’s full of Kneehigh’s typical brand of exuberance, energy, music and dance. Charles Hazelwood, who’s a genius, has added an inestimable amount, pushing everyone out of their comfort zones.

You’ll also recognise a few Kneehigh favourites in the cast including Giles King, Patrycja Kuwaska and Ian Ross. I think Kneehigh has been able to survive so long because we keep reinventing and are determined to keep learning. But our methods for survival are an increasing worry – we survive at the moment by working in Australia and America. I have no worries that we will survive in some shape or form, but we’ve gone from doing two shows a year to one every two years.We’re less likely to get co-productions with theatres, all of whom who don’t seem to have any money at the moment. Arts Council funding is on standstill, or a cut in real terms, so we have to, and this might not necessarily be a bad thing, step into the commercial world a bit more. This throws up all sorts of new pressures and questions around how one is creative, or how one makes work and how one protects oneself from the deep anxiety and neuroses surrounding work in a world that’s all about money. Perhaps we’ll just have to go more and more underground!

Under New Labour, I think it’s important to remember there was a bit of a bonanza time, and regional Arts Council officers were hugely helpful in building up audiences for us, but I do think the current investment into the arts is pathetic. It’s doesn’t make business sense. In America, where we’ve spent a lot of time, there isn’t the same culture of government subsidy, so places like the Guthrie or the Berkeley Rep in San Francisco operate very effectively through patronage and private donors. I’m certain this government would very much like to push the arts and probably health and education in that direction. There are so many incredibly rich people, certainly in America, where you know, if you have money, you’ll be supporting things like arts and education. Sadly, in this country, we haven’t got that culture. Yet. Our relationship with Bristol and Bristol Old Vic is important for us, we have an audience there and the potential for linking Cornwall and Bristol and developing the South West is huge. I’d like to develop it more.

During the company’s long history, for me, the shows we’ve had to fight most for are the ones that have stuck in my memory; there was a show called the The King of Prussia by Nick Darke that first introduced us to Richard Eyre and Trevor Nunn and the National Theatre; The Red Shoes was one we opened and people thought “what the hell is this?” but that went on to tour the country and the world when the British Council were a genuinely powerful organisation and force for cultural exchange; Tristan & Yseult, which we’ve brought back has been extraordinary; Brief Encounter was our first foray into the commercial sector and has been another watershed moment for us; and The Wild Bride, which came from the times when Emma [Rice – Kneehigh’s Artistic Director] was exploring fairy tales was another great cast and really enjoyable piece of work. But I must admit, personally, I like some of the trickier, less palatable shows like The Bacchae and Don John – fantastic, flawed pieces. I have no interest in perfection. I think the more perfect and polished theatre becomes, the more likely I am to sleep through it. Perhaps that’s the secret. I love theatre with flaws!

We’re so excited to welcome Kneehigh back to our Theatre, so be sure to snap up your ticket to Dead Dog in a Suitcase… before it’s too late! Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) Bristol Old Vic Theatre 8-25 Oct 7.30pm (Mon-Sat), 2.30pm (Thu & Sat mat, not 9 Oct) £5-£25 (plus booking fee) Ages 14+

Bristol Old Vic Productions

Juno and the Paycock: Roxanne’s Diary – Week 3

I am the production’s DSM (Deputy Stage Manager) and it is, in my opinion, the best job in the world; not least because I get to buy limitless stationary and spend my life making lists.

It’s Week 3, the point in rehearsals where all my lists have lists, and my diary is colour coded with no space left for extra scribbling. My pencils, brand new for the first week, are scattered across my desk surrounded by bits of discarding sharpening’s and piles and piles of rubber shavings.

Niamh Cusack & Des McAleer in rehearsal for Juno and the Paycock ® Brian Roberts

Niamh Cusack & Des McAleer in rehearsal for Juno and the Paycock ® Brian Roberts

In front of me, our play is taking shape; with props and furniture being added every day. It’s always a busy week, as well as rehearsing their scenes the cast have costume fittings to attend, music rehearsals and those pesky lines to learn! The rest of the stage management team are making new To Do lists as quickly as they can finish their old ones – and I feel as if I am straddling two worlds.

I have one foot planted firmly in Juno Boyle’s little Dublin tenement home in 1922. I know where she keeps every single one of her chipped, mismatching cups; where the leftover breadcrumbs are swept and the places where Captain Boyle thinks he can hide things from her. I know the warmest most comfortable chair in the room, where Juno’s injured son Johnny likes to sit and how many books his sister Mary owns, and how she likes them to be arranged on the ramshackle dresser.

Des McAleer,  Maureen O'Connell & Robin Morrissey in rehearsal for Juno and the Paycock  ® Brian Roberts

Des McAleer, Maureen O’Connell & Robin Morrissey in rehearsal for Juno and the Paycock ® Brian Roberts

But I also have to anchor myself in the rehearsal room in 2014. I need to pass on all the secrets I have learnt about the Boyle Family to rest of the SM team – so those cups are, night after night, in the same place for every performance. The Stage Manager and I must work out how many shows a single loaf of bread will last and which dresser drawers must be able to open, and what should be in them when they do. So I am constructing lists! A Settings List (for where everything starts), A Scene Change List (for where everything goes) and A Running List (for who moves it all around).

By the time the audience sees the show, the mechanics of these lists should be invisible. I love the analogy that the production is a graceful swan moving smoothly across the water with the Stage Management team a pair of legs, frantically swimming underneath – unseen!

- Roxanne Vella

Juno and the Paycock performs at Bristol Old Vic 5 – 27 Sept, and at the Liverpool Playhouse 1 – 18 Oct.

Rehearsal Photography (c) Brian Roberts