Here we are, folks!
It’s our last day of research & development at The Arcola Theatre and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had an incredible week; full of experimentation and thrilling discoveries, it’s been truly special.
As I type, the musicians are warming up and the stage is currently being set for our work-in-progress industry sharing. We are thrilled to be showcasing the work we’ve been doing with Clarence, Tinuke and our wonderful music team.
Once our audience has taken their seats, co-director Tinu gives a brief introduction to place the afternoon’s showing in context:
We wanted to show just a snippet of what we’ve been working on and hopefully receive some feedback. We’ve been grappling with several big questions: what is the relationship between our performance and the musicians? Should they be present and visible on stage or do situate them elsewhere? We’ve also been experimenting with accent; playing with both American and English. We’ll be showcasing both options today and we’d love to hear thoughts on this.
The sharing begins with cellist Laura van der Heijden, Richard Olatunde Baker and Milton Mermikides performing a stirring opening piece that brings Clarence on stage. It eases the audience into the performance with a quiet tension.
Clarence then launches into his performance with surprising musical interludes intertwined throughout. He shifts accents midway through, dropping his Southern American drawl for his natural East London. It divides the piece in two, shedding a new unique perspective on its second half. For me, it poses the question: just how American is Ellison’s story? Does it hinge on a specific accent or does it – as discussed in Wednesday’s blog – transcend those boundaries to become a more universal allegory?
These aren’t questions for me to answer of course, and at this very moment Studio 4 of the Arcola Theatre is buzzing with our cast, creatives and industry audience as they discuss the sharing; giving feedback and presenting their interpretations of the performance.
In terms of future prospects, our team are extremely excited to absorb the comments from today’s sharing and continue to explore Ellison’s incredible text, developing our theatrical adaptation beyond research and development so that we can share our work with a wider audience.
If you’re interested in keeping up with the piece’s progression, give us a follow on Twitter! @invisimanplay.
We’d like to take a moment to thank all those who have contributed to this week’s success: Nick Connoughton at the Arcola LAB and everyone at The Arcola Theatre; Felype Campos from ThreeBlokesProductions for his beautiful photography/videography; Arts Council England for their generous support and of course our phenomenal cast and creative team. Find a little more information listed below!
Well, that’s all from me! Thanks for keeping up with us this week; I’m sure you’ve not heard the last of me!
Peace out, friends!
CLARENCE SMITH – ACTOR
Clarence has over 20 years of film, stage and TV experience. He has established a reputation as a versatile performer who interrogates every aspect of his roles. In the past, Clarence has worked with many leading directors and writers including Kwame Kwei-Armah, Max Stafford Clarke, Indhu Rubasingham, David Farr, Michael Boyd, Danny Boyle, Rupert Gould and Marianne Elliot.
RICHARD OLATUNDE BAKER – PERCUSSIONIST & MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Richard is born of British-Nigerian parentage and was brought up in UK listening to various kinds of African music. He began his musical life as a self-taught guitarist, but was later trained by Nigerian master drummers who helped him fulfill his passion for the Yoruba talking drums. He is an all-round African percussionist, instrument maker/supplier and teacher as well as an accomplished studio engineer/producer, having worked at most major studios around London in the 1990s. He is also founder of the pioneering experimental group Eardrum, that combines Yoruba and Punjabi percussion instruments with electronics and jazz brass.
As a performing/session musician, Richard has been a regular feature with the likes of Tony Allen (legendary drummer for Fela Anikulapo Kuti), Mulatu Astatke(Godfather of Ethiopean Jazz)as well as shows with Seun Kuti, Oduduwa Talking Drummers, Dele Sosimi, Bukky Leo, Wunmi, Femi Temowo, Tunde Jegede, Natty, Ibibio Sound System, Anthony Joseph, Namvula and a recent Abbey road recording session with Sting amongst others. Theatre work has included extensive touring of productions with Sakoba Dance Theatre, Iroko Theatre Company, Tunde Jegede’s “Griot’s Tale” and Femi Elufowoju Jr Ensemble’s “Baba Segi’s Wives”.
LAURA VAN DER HEIJDEN – CELLIST
Laura had gained ABRSM grade 8 distinctions on both cello and piano by the age of 10. Laura’s first public performance as a cellist was at the age of 9 with the Jupiter Chamber Orchestra. From 2005 to 2014 Laura was a student at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and in 2012 was awarded the title of BBC Young Musician at the age of 15.
TINUKE CRAIG – DIRECTOR
Tinuke studied as University of Sussex and trained as a director at LAMDA. Directing includes: I Call My Brothers at the Gate Theatre; Red Sky at Night for Pentabus / Latitude Festival; dirty butterfly at the Young Vic; Market Boy and Busters at Mountview Academy; Waiting for Lefty at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
As an assistant/associate director her work includes wonder.land at the National Theatre, Hamlet and All’s Well that Ends Well at the RSC; and The Changeling at the Young Vic. Tinuke was the Gate Theatre’s Associate Director from 2015-2016. In 2014 she was the winner of the Genesis Future Director Award. She is also an Associate Artist for HighTide, selector for the National Student Drama Festival, an associate of the National Youth Theatre, and an Education Associate Practitioner at the RSC.
DR MILTON MERMIKIDES – COMPOSER
Milton Mermikides is a composer, lecturer, writer, academic, producer, electronic musician and guitarist from London, UK. He has extensive experience of composing music for a whole range of instruments and lectures at the Royal College of Music. He has performed alongside such legendary composers as John Williams and at venues such as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
MOLLY ROBERTS – ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Molly is a professional Actor and Artistic Director of multi-award winning new writing company Poleroid Theatre. As a Producer she specialises in working collaboratively with new writing and developing emerging artists. She is currently attached to The Old Vic theatre as one of The Old Vic 12. As an Actor she has been nominated for Best Female Performance at the OffWestEnd Theatre Awards and works regularly across theatre and television. Credits include Frantic Assembly, New Vic Theatre, Oxford Shakespeare Company, BBC & Channel 4 amongst others and she graduated from the Guildford School of Acting in 2011. As a Producer her Latitude Festival production of This Must Be The Place by Brad Birch & Kenneth Emson sold out at Vault Festival 2017, won ‘Show Of The Year Award’ and is published by Nick Hern Books. Her 2014 production of Free Fall by Vinay Patel (BBC’s Murdered By My Father) was nominated for three OffWestEnd Theatre Awards and is published by Methuen Drama. She has also produced shows with the Soho Theatre, Paines Plough Roundabout, Orange Tree Theatre, Young Vic JMK Award and her acclaimed new writing night Write It : Mic It has played at Live Theatre, Paines Plough Roundabout, Vault Festival, Hackney Attic, Castle Hotel Manchester, Wilderness Festival, Standon Calling. In Spring 2018 Poleroid will be bringing to London Plastic, a blistering new verse play by BAFTA nominated Kenneth Emson. @MoyRoberts @PoleroidTheatre.
NATHAN FOAD – DIGITAL CONTENT CREATOR
Nathan is a writer, comedian and social media wizard represented by Dan Usztan at United Agents. He has worked in writers rooms for Brown Eyed Boy, had pilots commissioned by Channel 4 and his original sitcom ‘Big Boy’ is currently under option with Harry Enfield’s Balloon Entertainment. He has trained with the Jack Writers’ Workshop and the Soho Young Company.
Nathan was placed on the inaugural Betty and Peter List, selected by LOCO Film Festival, CTBF and Big Talk Productions as one of the most exciting unproduced comedy writers that emerged from the 600 submissions received by the programme. @nathan_foad
ANNA GIRVAN – ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & PROJECT MANAGER
THREEBLOKESPRODUCTIONS – PHOTOGRAPHY/FILM DOCUMENTATION