Meeting Fiz – Junkyard’s Erin Doherty

JunkYard. Photo by Mark Douet _31B5750.jpg

Ahead of previews this week, we managed to pull Bristol Old Vic Theatre School alumni Erin Doherty away from rehearsals for a quick chat about all things Junkyard. Here she fills us in on what to expect from her character Fiz in our latest Spring Season show.

Tell us a little bit about Junkyard
Junkyard is about a group of kids who have been given up on and tells the story of someone coming into their lives and giving them something to believe in (although the path to believing in it may not be as slick as that sentence!)

Can you tell us a bit about Fiz?
Fiz is a thirteen-year-old force to be reckoned with. She makes her own rules, and lets you know about them. She will not be told what to do or how to behave. Fiz lives at home with her Mum and older sister of two years, Debbie. She is determined to end up like neither of them.

How would you describe the music in Junkyard?

Are you excited about returning to Bristol Old Vic?
I cannot wait. I love it here. Bristol will always remain a very special place because of training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for three years, it’s home.

Did you play on adventure playgrounds when you were growing up? Do you have any funny stories?
As a matter of fact, I did! My sister and I went to loads of different ones when we were growing up. I vaguely remember getting the physics of a seesaw wrong once and thrusting my face into the handlebar… I’ve not seesawed since.

What’s been the funniest moment that’s happened in the rehearsal room so far?
I must say, with Jeremy, the rehearsal room is always laughing. He is brilliant and hilarious and it’s infectious.

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.


Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 5

I can’t believe how quickly these last few weeks have flown by. It feels like only yesterday when we all met for the first time at the meet and greet and now here we are. We have a show on our hands people! 🙂

As last weeks usually go there has been a lot of activity – The musicians joined us for most of the week to rehearse all of the songs and embed them within the scenes; a day was dedicated to hair cuts/dyes and styling (honestly, it felt like Stars in Their Eyes!). We changed and tightened the movement and worked the transitions to make them slicker and more interesting; we had an afternoon of filming for marketing.  Goodness, this week definitely required good organisation. I have to give a shout out to our DSM Jen who has managed the room fantastically with its constant comings and goings (with my help obviously 😉 *cough cough*).

We had our first stagger-through which was really useful for everyone. Jeremy has worked hard with the company on individual scenes so it was great to start pulling all the scenes together into bigger chunks stopping only to tweak bits and pieces. It was great practice for the company and great for us as Creatives to see the full picture. We then dived into our first run through (Eeek!)  joined by a few extra guests from Headlong and I’m glad to say that  it went really well.

Now call me a nerd but I love making notes. I love Detail. Detail Detail Detail. If I could marry Detail I would Lol. But what I love more is when actors implement notes given and you see performances taken to the next level because of those finer details. This was definitely the case when we had our second run-through on Friday which in a way felt like a bigger event –  maybe because it was the final run-through before heading down to Bristol or maybe because we had a larger audience courtesy of the production’s co-producers, which can be completely nerve-wracking but is a necessary stage in any rehearsal process. What is certain though is that everyone Stepped. Up. Their. Game. Listen, if this is what we’re working with at this stage I have no doubt that everyone will knock it out of the park when the show finally kicks of in T – minus 4 days.

Bye Bye London. Hello Bristol. Tech. Previews. Press Night. Here we go!

Speak soon!

Michal x

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at:

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Recollecting ‘The Record’ with Jake Cooper

Having parted ways with his 45 on-stage comrades, we caught up with The Record‘s Jake Cooper to reminisce about his experience being a part of this boundary-pushing show.

I will do my best to avoid clichés here, but it does become difficult when the experience is so indescribably extraordinary! The process for me began in September 2016 when a friend shared an advert on Facebook: a call out for Bristolians to take part in the show as part of IBT Bristol International Festival 2017. I’m lucky enough to work at Bristol Old Vic in a number of Front of House capacities, so I had heard about the show already, and the premise of such a large cast of strangers was an intriguing hook.

The auditions, and subsequent rehearsals, took place at the Trinity Centre, a lovely converted church in Lawrence Hill. We were invited in groups of 10-15 to work with 600 HIGHWAYMEN (or Abi and Michael, as they were known to us) for an hour, during which we ran through some basic movement exercises, then worked on simplified snippets of the show itself. This briefest of tasters gave us a hint of how uplifting and special the project would be; coming together and performing with strangers, even just in a simple three minute piece, was incredibly powerful.

Cast Photo.jpg

After getting the call that I was in (yay!), I was given a page of cues and movements to memorise before rehearsals began in mid-January. For three weeks we worked in individual slots of about 45 minutes with Michael or Abi, never meeting or knowing who our fellow cast members were. This was a fascinating concept, and required a huge amount of trust in our directors. Thankfully, they were both incredibly easy to trust; not once during the process did their faith in us all doing the right thing waver, and having such an extensive focus on how I performed as an individual was so valuable.

Rehearsals flew by in this way, and before I knew it, it was show week. Our tech runs had also taken place individually, so we first met our cast mates on opening night itself, side stage in the holding area. Just as we began to introduce ourselves and try to ascertain who was doing what, we were brought back to focus by Michael and Abi, and were asked to simply concentrate on performing our parts as we had individually rehearsed them. As we had done so proficiently thus far in the process, we trusted them to follow their instructions.

So it was then that the lights went down, and one by one we stepped out on the stage with a strange kind of blind faith in each other. And what an experience! For me, opening night passed by with a sort of joyful surrealism. In a theatrical space that through my work I have an almost unparalleled familiarity with, I was doing something completely alien – performing a series of abstract movements with complete strangers, looking out onto an audience and wondering what on earth they would think. This was not acting or performing as we know it, this was simply seeing and being seen. So many elements came together: as well as seeing how my moves fitted in to the whole, I heard Brandon Wolcott and Emil Abramyan’s beautiful music for the very first time, and felt first-hand how the presence and engagement of an audience completed the art that we were making.


For me, the reception of the audiences was what gave The Record context and meaning, and kept the piece alive beyond that opening night. As the performances passed, my castmates became less like strangers and more like friends. The movements became more natural, and the sensation of stepping out on to stage became less nerve-wracking. But each and every show, as Abi would always remind us, a brand new group of people sat in the theatre and responded to us completely differently. On stage, every time I moved my gaze to a new audience member, the feeling was unique. The tiniest acknowledgement, the subtlest alteration of expression was enhanced a hundredfold. And post-show, through talking with a huge range of people, the experience of the show continued to ferment and develop. Some people had taken upwards of a minute to realise the show had ended; some had left halfway through; some had been moved to tears; all, as far as I could tell, had experienced an emotional response that warranted discussion.

Whether you loved The Record, hated it, or were somewhere in between, it seems that our audience have all been moved to delve into its deeper meaning. The sheer range of topics to discuss post-show blew me away: the nature of humanity; the function of theatrical space; how to condition the response of an audience; death; time; how to form friendships. In choreographing something quite simple and minimalist, Abi and Michael have created an incredibly varied and poignant forum that continues to travel all over the world. Their vision and intellect is inspiring, and the discussion they elicit is always worth having. As a performer, I never watched the show in its entirety, so it’s difficult for me to comment on what I think the meaning of it all is. All I can say with conviction is that coming together with people that I would simply never have known otherwise to create art was immeasurably powerful. I have come away with a deeper awareness of the smallest interactions that we as humans share on a day-to-day basis, and that, no matter how pretentious it may sound, is valuable in a way that is incredibly difficult to articulate.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 4

“We’re cooking now” – the perfect statement to round up week four of rehearsals (thanks Kevin) – and we really are cooking up a delicious pot of musical goodness. Every week we’re given new treats; a talented company, a rehearsal set, a trip to the Vench in Bristol and a new trailer. This week we were joined by our musicians and spent half a day, led by our composer Stephen, integrating the band and the company. I’m happy to report that they played nice. N’aww.

As for the rest of the week… we got through the whole play and by early next week – we will have gone through the play twice. We’ve been lucky to have had a five week rehearsal period because it’s meant that the scenes have been given the time and focus that they need. You know one thing that I love about rehearsals is the continuous discovery of story, key moments, character journeys and of the deeper meaning of songs.  There are various modes of storytelling in this production and with the time given we’ve built a strong language – it’s been such a pleasure to be a part of its unfolding.

I can’t wait to share more about costumes. Everytime I go into the production office, I sneak a peak at the rail of clothes – teasing me from the corner of the room – and try and guess what belongs to whom. At least I have a permanent reference by way of fashion vision boards in the rehearsal room to give me a taste of what each character will look like. No doubt, the costumes will play a big part in providing a strong contextual basis for the era in which Junkyard is set, which is important I think – Looking at the ‘then’ to take into the ‘now.’ It will also be interesting to see how the actors transform when they put their characters’ threads on. I have no doubt that they will wear the clothes and not let the clothes wear them. I butchered that quote but you get my drift.

Anywho, week five, the final week in London before heading to Bristol for tech and Press Night. It will be another week of hard-work, discovery and teamwork. *Rubs hands together* Let’s go get’ em.

Michal x

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at:

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 3

What I really love about this production is it’s rhythm and groove – and rightly so! It is a musical after all. So it was quite a treat to start the week with a groove session to see what types of rhythms were waiting to burst out of everyone – which was a’plenty. Stephen and Musical Director Tayo continued to work hard with the company incorporating songs into Jeremy’s staging-process. It’s amazing to see how the songs lift off and extend within the space; Stephen is truly excellent at what he does and his ability to ease the company into unfamiliar territory has been a pleasure to watch. Well done to the company for being able to absorb all the information so far!

This week I’ve been on top of the logistics of the production keeping tabs on what goes where and when and for how long. We’re getting more slick and keeping the communication channels flowing has been instrumental to our success. There’s a nice chilled vibe this week and it’s been interesting to watch Jeremy work with the actors and demonstrate his ability to communicate his ideas with flexibility, flair and (my favourite word again) fun. Every line is met with precision and detail and the actors are encouraged to try things out and go with their instincts. I like this visceral approach!

We’ve also been working hard to use every nook and cranny available on the set and we’ve explored dynamic ways to present the locations within the production.  It made me think about how much a set can be a character in it’s own right offering so many choices. With so much inspiration around it’s no wonder the creative juices have been flowing and ideas have been firing from all corners of the rehearsal room. It’s been an exciting collaborative experience and everyone’s committed to Jeremy’s vision.

The week has flown by yet again. We ended the week with a Saturday morning session with our movement director working on getting those moves super sleek. I have a really great feeling about this production and I hope that audiences who come and see the show really feel the energy and love that has gone into it.

Until next week!

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at:

Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.