Archive for Performance

Here goes… TvO presents Sold, by J. S. Hartley

As of tomorrow, I enter one of the most intense creative periods of my life to date. For three weeks, I will join a cast of five others and our director, Jennifer Hartley, to create a world that we will take on tour in October.

Still from short film of Sold

Almost a year ago, six actors including myself went into rehearsal for a production of a play called No Soul For Sale. The production had its debut at the International Conference on Human Trafficking at the All-Nations Centre in Cardiff and was hugely acclaimed by all who saw it. From those beginnings, the play has now become SOLD which, supported by funding from the Arts Council, will go on a tour of venues around Wales in October and November 2013.

SOLD is based on testimonies of individuals who have suffered at the hands of traffickers in Wales. They come from different backgrounds and circumstances, all different ages and each with their own individual story of how they have been trafficked. In SOLD, six characters collide at a city centre bus stop on a series of winter evenings; human suffering finding solace in its fellow’s pain.

When we first started working with the text of No Soul For Sale, we had an understandably dour and upsetting story in our hands. Fresh from interviews with over 30 people who had been trafficked through Wales, Jennifer Hartley wrote the play and presented it hot off the presses to the cast. At that time, she confessed to feeling as though the inclusion of humour in a play dealing with what was at times such personal and deeply upsetting subject matter felt disrespectful. However, as we as actors brought life to the characters that separated them from the stories of the individuals whose experiences were reflected in the play, elements of laughter began to creep into the dialogue in the way so many people in harrowing circumstances try to lighten their own situations with gallows humour.

SOLD is a reworking of the original script and includes much of the material that emerged through the rehearsal process as we worked together to bring to life the characters as separate from the people whose stories form the basis of the play. With new cast members, a revised script and time to spend developing the lives of these six individuals further, the play that goes on tour is likely to be deeper, richer and more hard-hitting than before. Having been involved first time, it’s hard to believe that such a thing is possible, but knowing Jennifer and TvO as I do, I know that will be the case.

The tour starts on the 12 October in Cardiff and continues at venues around Wales through October and early November. If you are in the area and are able to attend, it would be fantastic to see you there. I’m very proud of this piece, even before we start working on it anew, and would be honoured to share it with you.

Wales tour dates:
Chapter Arts Centre 12 + 13 October
Volcano @229 Swansea 14 -15
Wrexham 17 travel – 18th 9a.m performance
Theatr Gwaun Fishguard 19 October
Cardiff & Vale College 21 October
Sherman Theatre 22 October
Llanelli Studio Y Ffwnes 23-24 October
Theatr Soar Merthyr 7 November

For more information: theatreversusoppression@gmail.com
www.theatreversusoppression.com

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Writing and performance

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated here, so here’s a two-in-one shot.

Since April, I’ve been writing flash fiction on Forbes’ website for NetApp. Taking a futuristic (and often less than optimistic!) take on the future of technology in many shapes and forms, my 100 Words Into The Future posts have been getting a lot of views and generating some great discussion.

I discovered this week that there will be a new flash fiction going up every Friday from next week, bringing regular doses of futurism to the world of business and technology. If you can’t wait until then, you see my most popular piece to date here and find links to my other stories on the same page. I tweet links to each one as they come out, so if you want to see them as they happen you can follow me on Twitter.

I’m also excited to be learning lines ahead of starting an intensive run of rehearsals in September and a tour in October. Sold, which debuted as No Soul For Sale at last year’s International Conference on Human Trafficking in Cardiff, has received a grant from the Arts Council for 12 performances in venues all over Wales. I’m looking forward to going back to work with Director and Playwright Jennifer Hartley and working with a fantastic cast of actors to bring this play back to the stage.

In addition to the play, recorded Sold across several very late nights in sub-zero temperatures at a bus stop in Cardiff Bay in November and December last year. It’s currently in the edit and discussions are ongoing about what we’re going to do with it once it’s finished. We’re hoping to have a cast-and-crew premiere in August but in the meantime, take a look at the trailer.

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No Soul For Sale

Yesterday we performed Jennifer Hartley’s new play, No Soul For Sale, for the first time to an audience attending the International Human Trafficking conference in Cardiff’s All Nation’s Centre.

We have been rehearsing the play for just five weeks, having only received the script on the day of the first readthrough, and it almost seemed surreal to be putting it in front of the people who had commissioned the work after a relatively short time in rehearsals. After working on Til Death Do Us Part for about two years, five weeks seems like minutes in comparison.

This is the first work I’ve done with TVO that’s involved the use of a set. Our bus stop, at which all the action is based, was built by TVO volunteers and really looked the part. With its Cardiff Bus signage for buses from Bute Street, it was perfect and really set the scene. I was also really impressed that it could be erected in less than five minutes and all collapsed to fit in the boot of Jennifer’s car, sandbags and all!

The play went down well and, for the first time in my career as an actor, we received a standing ovation from the audience. It was great to hear people laughing at some of the more humourous lines in what can be an extremely harrowing story in places. The feedback the cast got afterwards from people as they were leaving was fantastic and the play seemed to strike a chord with lots of people.

If you’d like to see the play, we’re putting it on at the Butetown History and Arts Centre on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 November from 7pm. After that, we’ll be switching to a screenplay script and filming the story as a short film.

You can see a trailer for the play and short film here.

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Til Death Do Us Part

Thanks to anyone who came along to see Paddy and I perform in Til Death Do Us Part at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff on Sunday night. We had a full house, a very engaged crowd and an excellent Q&A session after the performance. It was timed to co-incide with Jennifer Hartley’s Theatre of the Oppressed for actors and directors course, so there were lots of inquisitive minds curious about how Paddy and I went about developing the characters. We also had at least one person who works in the field of domestic abuse, and it’s always interesting to hear their take on the play given their involvement with real-life situations such as the one we’re talking about in the play.

As with every time I do this performance, I learn something new about myself or about the character I’m playing. This time, I learned that when I’m completely “in the moment” with a performance, I don’t really notice if something goes awry. According to Jennifer, our director, and Suzanne, who produces the play, Paddy and I went way off-beam on a couple of occasions but we always got it back to where it should be.

If you’re interested to know more about the play, or have seen it and would like to go back to the source, you can now get a Kindle copy of Til Death Do Us Part on Amazon. Even if you don’t want to read it, if you’ve seen it and enjoyed it (maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word, but I can’t think of a better one) then please leave a review on the Amazon page. All proceeds from sale of the script go to Theatre Versus Oppression to fund its projects with domestic abuse and other issues in the UK and overseas.

If you’ve seen the play, I’d also be interested to hear what you thought of it in the comments. It’s a challenging watch and your views help me better understand the impact it has on an audience.

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