LDN Theatre Bloggers Unite – Together We Are Unstoppable

In the spirit of full disclosure, this post skirts very close to the edge of an advertorial. The good people at Civilian Theatre will always strive to review fairly whether the tickets are press freebies or bought out of our hard-earned cash. However the line does blur when it comes to what to write about events that have been set up by companies that clearly have a vested interested in bloggers talking about their products and are happy to liberally apply free wine and food. So read the following in whatever spirit you wish and just remember – like any theatre – these views are my own, and I encourage everyone else to form their own opinions about things by following the links and finding out more about them.

It is always slightly strange going to press nights, sitting in the dark for ninety minutes and then rushing off home to write up some thoughts before crashing into sleep, waking up to go to the job that actually provides the money for you to do all of those cool (read expensive) London-y things, and starting the cycle all over again.

So last night provided a rather fun change of pace as I was invited – as part of the #LDNTheatreBloggers community – to a little soiree organised by the Duracell-bunny made flesh, one-woman human dynamo, @rebeccafelgate, to meet, mingle, natter and mix with other members of the online theatre blogging world.

The lovely Rebecca has been grafting away trying to get us nameless, faceless people to be that little bit more sociable – so that when we see familiar faces out and about we might actually go and say hello. I know it all sounds terribly un-British but there you go.

The good people at Official Theatre (www.officialtheatre.com or @theatreofficial) are the brains trust behind a lot of this loveliness. They have already done a fine job in hooking up bloggers with shows to review, and have crafted a nifty line in video reviews (see link below for a rather amazing Lord of the Dance video response).

http://www.officialtheatre.com/dominion-theatre/lord-of-the-dance-dangerous-games-2015/

Regular readers of this blog will probably notice there is something of a disconnect between what they offer and what we review. However if you do like West End shows then it is a pretty useful one-stop shop for getting the low-down on what’s on and buying tickets. Plus it turns out that not everyone wants to see miserabilist 3-hour plays performed in a mixture of mime, interpretative dance and Latvian folk song. Well who knew?

Also worthy of a mention is Seat Plan (www.seatplan.com or @seat_plan) who are a service that I really don’t mind doing a little schilling for. Basically if you have ever sat in the gods then you will probably recognise the experience of wondering whether the cheaper (but still not that cheap) ticket price is really worth the two and a half hours you are going to spend with you knees forced up to your chin and half the stage obscured by the edge of the balcony. Basically it is a user-led seat review service. People can upload photos of the view from their seat and give it star ratings (because everyone loves turning things into 5 star metrics).

My only beef is really with the fact that a lot of the theatres I go to are not currently on the site. So a plea to the guys at Seat Plan – we don’t all go to the West End. Have words with the National, Donmar, Young Vic, Old Vic and Barbican. I want to tell you what they are like.

But anyways I must rush to get a train to Cardiff (the fun literally *not literally* never stops), so just a final mention that if you are here and you want to read other people’s reviews then check out #LDNTheatreBloggers and #Stagey on Twitter to find more like-minded people than you can shake a stick at.

Toodles

 

 

The Civil Awards – Winners

Competition has been fierce. Tears, wine and blood have been spilt. Not necessarily in that order. All that remains, with votes cast, arguments played out, and money in brown paper bags tallied and accounted for, is to dust off the golden envelopes and announce the hotly anticipated (umm, by who? – ed) results.

If you are under the suspicion that these awards don’t have any real meaning and are just another internet blog’s attempts to round off the year in a show of unnecessary and undeserved self-importance then, well, you would be right.

However I rest happy knowing these are the views of someone who has seen, and written, a lot about theatre in 2014. And that has a meaning above and beyond those offered by a certain awards ceremony funded by a bearded Russian billionaire whose questionable wealth accumulation tactics enabled them to buy an entire newspaper for seemingly the sole purpose of indulging twin fantasies of being a cultural impresario and being photographed with an arm around attractive celebrities.

So mea culpa over, follow the link to check out the winners.

Find out who won here

The Civil Shortlist – 2014

Well the plays have been revisited, the little grey cells put back into action and the oracle consulted. In short and without further ado, Civilian Theatre is proud to present the runners and riders in the second annual shortlist for The Civil Awards. [Cue much fanfare, fireworks and underhand, dirty trick campaigns]. Bribes, whilst having little effect on the outcome, will still be gratefully received.

It has been ferociously competitive in some categories and this year it is female performers who have far out performed their male counterparts. The honourable mentions list is arguably be a top 5 in itself.

In the end – having combined Best Support Actor into being for both men and women – it was impossible to reduce it to just five. So six have been shortlisted in another high calibre selection.

Another new category is Best Musical, which reflects the fact that below the surface and away from the big theatres, musical theatre is still doing some pretty interesting stuff. Last year’s Civilian Theatre Play of the Year ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ has transferred to the West End and it feels the form deserves its own categories.

Winners will be announced in the run-up to Christmas.

Best Actor – Female

Honourable Mentions:

Harriet Walter (Henry IV), Helen McCrory (Medea), Lisa Dwan (Not I, Footfalls & Rockaby), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (The One) and Anita Hegh (The Wild Duck).     


Best Actor – Male

Honourable Mentions:

Andrew Scott (Birdland), Andrew Twaites (The Libertine Has Left The Building) and Simon Russell Beale (King Lear)


Best Supporting Actor (Male/Female)


Best Director


Best Musical

 

Mimetic Festival Banner

Mimetic Festival Launch Night

One of the bonuses of being a blogger is the occasional freebie. For the more successful / perky / young dynamos of the modern day vlogging world this may be tickets to the VMAs or a sample from the new Topshop-designer collection. For those of us whose age, as like a tree, can be ascertained by counting the lines carved into our forehead, are already well prepared for hip, scarily precocious twenty-something marketing --RWD13-Where-the-White-Stops-023execs to at best acknowledge our existence with the occasional eye roll, dramatic sigh and mandatory thirty seconds of feigned interest.

Which is why it was a pleasurable surprise to wander down Leak Street (home to some of London’s best graffiti) and into the Vaults; home for the next two weeks to Mimetic Festival 2014. Invited to the launch party and plied (well at least offered) something fizzy in a glass is generally a good way of getting me onside. However they really pushed my buttons by offering a cabaret bar (impressively thrown up in just over 24 hours) that could have spirited out of an art deco museum (or at least out of Poirot’s apartment).

Marion-Deprez-web1-150x150Mimetic Festival is “a celebration of the very best emerging devised, physical and visual theatre, puppetry and cabaret”. Like all the best festivals it is growing year on year, and this time it can claim to be offering up 120 shows from over 50 different countries. If slightly alternative theatre is your thing then Mimetic Festival is somewhere you ought to be over the next two weeks.

Showcased for our entertainment were snippets from the fortnight, and it really did demonstrate the range of acts vying for our attention. From the knowing beautiful clowning of Marion Deprez to the intriguing Greatest Liar in all the World there is something for everyone (even those who think that only way to improve Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights video would be to recreate it using a highly sexualised puppet).

Civilian Theatre will be reviewing a number of Mimetic Festival productions over the next year and is one of a number of Mimetic Festival Awards Partners. We will be tweeting and posting to the blog throughout, and you can find all of the latest reviews at:  http://civiliantheatre.com/mimetic-festival/

 

Mimetic Festival runs from 17 – 29 November 2014 at the Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN.

For more information about Mimetic Festival: http://www.mimeticfest.com/

Interview with Teatro Vivo

Back in September I had the pleasure of catching Mother Courage and Her Children –  a colloborative piece between GLYPT and Teatro Vivo. They staged Mother Courage, Brecht’s famously anti-war parable, as a promenade piece through the Royal Woolwich Dockyards. Afterwards I caught up with Kas Darley and Mark Stevenson of Teatro Vivo.

You can read my interview with them on the Everything Theatre website by clicking here.

Mimetic Festival

Today, Civilian Theatre takes a step back from its usual habit of telling its readers about shows that are halfway through a run and where tickets are harder to locate than snow leopards. Instead I will encourage people who like theatre to check out Finger in the Pie’s Mimetic Festival, which runs Tuesday 18 to Saturday 29 November 2014.

Civilian Theatre’s Five to Watch

  1. The Libertine Has Left The Building – Michael Twaits

(25 – 29 November @ 21:40) (Tickets)

It seems only fair to start with Mimetic Festival’s Bursary Award Winner (decided by public vote), Michael Twaits. Seven years ago he created Confessions of a Dancewhore and has subsequently headlined Soho Theatre. His new show takes on the myth that every cell in the body regenerates in seven years. But does that mean we become a new person or just a second rate version of the same thing? Even better – there’s a video:

 

  1. How a Man Crumbled – Clout Theatre

(18 – 22 November @ 19:00) (Tickets)

Describing the premise of a piece of absurdist physical theatre in words seems to rather miss the point. Still in their own words ‘…Expressionist silent film meets grotesque slapstick in a world where clocks have no hands and a cucumber can kill a man.’ You may recoil at the Noel Fielding-ness of such a statement. However the trailer below suggests dipping into a much richer tradition than The Mighty Boosh ever managed.

 

  1. The Greatest Liar In All The World – Familia de la Noche

(18 – 22 November @ 20:00) (Tickets)

I am basically sold on someone else’s quote on this – ‘what it would be like to stroll through the inside of Tim Burton’s and Terry Gilliam’s minds’. Hmm, yes please. The trailer isn’t half bad too.

 

  1. Marion Deprez Is Gorgeous

(25 – 29 November @ 20:20) (Tickets)

The show promises a huge fan of Tommy Cooper and trained clown who just happens to be trapped in the body of a gorgeous French women. What is not to love? Vive La France!

 

  1. The Boy Who Kicked Pigs – Kill The Beast

(25 – 29 November @ 19:50) (Tickets)

I find invoking such pomp and bombast in your trailer is often the musical equivalent of Godwin’s Law, and you have lost my interest before evening starting. So all credit to Kill the Beast that their stunning visual effects and their clear commitment to proving that Stephen Berkoff isn’t the only person allowed to slap white greasepaint all over themselves. The show looks promising too.

 

Other shows to look at for, and there are many, many more, include Antler’s Where the White Stops (which I had the pleasure of seeing at the BAC before its Edinburgh run in 2013), It’s A Kind of Magic and The Misdemeanours of Saccharine. You can check out the full programme on the Mimetic Festival website.

 

 

About

The Mimetic Festival celebrates the diverse, and occasionally hidden, ends of the theatrical spectrum. No staid Noel Cowards or Shakespeare in Elizabethan dress here. What you’ll get is two weeks of the very best emerging devised, physical and visual theatre, puppetry and cabaret.

Finger in the Pie should also be applauded for recognising that much of the best work takes place on the continent and the Festival is pushing itself to become a hub for emerging european theatre making in the UK.

Civilian Theatre applauds any group that look beyond the ‘precious stone set in the silver sea’ and seeing the wealth of talent for what it is – an opportunity, not a threat.

When

Tuesday 18th – Saturday 29th November 2014

Where

The Vaults, Leake St, London SE1 7NN

 

Civilian Theatre is proud to be an Awards Partner Reviewer for the Mimetic Festival. We will be out and about catching as many shows as possible, alongside fellow Partners: Litro, London City Nights, The Public Reviews, Savage, The Theatre Tourist, Theatrefullstop and View From the Gods. If you see us, come say hello.