Days Before Everything

Days Before Everything...

As with every verbatim play, whose characters are still alive, we have been exploring the gap between documentary and fiction.  'The Summer Before Everything' is a play with a narrative created by the juxtaposition of 3 individual stories.  The real-life characters were interviewed separately, in different cities, at various times of the year.  In our production, their stage equivalents appear together, talk a different language, and even sometimes play other characters - we are about as far away as we can get from the interviews that spawned this fascinating play.  Anchored as we are by the playwrights' connections to the real-life characters, and an obligation to reproduce the exact words spoken, we strive to create a space for the imagination to reign supreme. 

In rehearsals for 'The Summer Before Everything' with Director PATRICK MORRIS

Park Benches, Lemons and an Olivier Nominee

Park Benches, Lemons and an Olivier Nominee

Things are powering along here in the Menagerie offices.  Part of our team were rehearsing in the beautiful new building at Hills Road yesterday, and our ASM, Bryony, was totally inspired by the stunning coloured windows.  They do sound amazing!  Thanks Hills Road for helping us out with rehearsal space!  

Bryony has also come up trumps and found a park bench we can borrow for our play 'The Summer Before Everything'.  Saves us from stealing one from Parker's Piece (only joking!). Finding props is a busy job and people are running all over Cambridge finding the right bits and bobs to bring our Hotbed plays to life: wigs, candlesticks, a washing line, 18th century window, lemons, loaf of bread with money hidden in it...the list goes on.

We are also really excited about our guest shows and have started to arrange accommodation for visiting companies.  If you haven't already booked tickets for 'Ross and Rachel', don't miss this little gem.  It has an impressive list of accolades, and has been described as 'a startling piece of new writing' by The Stage. Written by 2015 Olivier Nominee, James Fritz, the play tells the mind-bending, heart-breaking story of what happens when a couple that was always meant to be together, gets together.  And stays together!  It was a sell-out hit in Edinburgh and in New York.

Anyway, hope to see you at Hotbed!

Mhari I Producer






Croissants, Worms and Chevalier d'Eon!

Croissants, Worms and Chevalier d'Eon!

There’s nothing better than getting to the office early and being greeted by your boss with croissants! I guess the early bird really does get the worm, and when I say ‘worm’, I mean super tasty croissant, yum!

Apart from being Menagerie’s wizard of social media, I have also (as of last Monday afternoon) been cast for a role in a new play ‘Chevalier d’Eon’ by award-winning, laptop-eating (there’s photographic evidence on our Facebook page!) playwright, Ed Harris. I’ve been in rehearsals this week and it’s been an awesome experience, as a fresh faced university graduate, it is amazing to be a part of one of the things that makes Cambridge truly great - it’s theatre scene. I’ve had the great pleasure of shadowing the Hotbed Festival’s Producer Mhari; she is truly dedicated to the festival, loves pranking Patrick and Paul and is an awesome mentor! 

As an Intern, my role is varied and I am involved in each corner of the festival; it's hard work but it’s more than rewarding. Well that’s enough from me, talk soon folks!

Jo Kinsella ¦ Producing inter

Things are all Go...

Things are all Go...

We are all excited here at Menagerie but also a little bit scared that Hotbed is only a week away! Yes, ONLY A WEEK AWAY!    Things are all go and everyone is firing on all cylinders.  Katrina, our wonderful assistant from Latvia, is wondering what has hit her, as her list of jobs keeps growing hourly: plan the decoration of the foyer, take notes in rehearsals, gather biogs for the actors, help Mhari with the marketing...the list goes on.  Jo, our producing intern, is a real marketing force and is powering the social media machine on a daily basis. He is doing a rather grand job, so keep going Jo!  And Bryony, our ASM, is a real find as she said she was 'enjoying' getting the set ready.  With a large number of pallets that need moving, sanding and fire proofing, she is revealing herself to be quite a find, as it is a job that not many people would approach with such enthusiasm - it is really hard work!  

As usual, Patrick and Paul are running between rehearsals and all that needs to be done in the office - thinking about that, will someone get them a cup of tea, pleeeeease!

My job is to let everyone know what a wonderful programme we have, and we really do have something to shout about this year. It is varied, interesting, original, topical.  Have a look at the link below about Chris Dobrowolski's show.  He was in Antarctica as an artist in residence, and if you, like me, are intrigued about what he saw, felt and did there, don't miss our opening Hotbed show ANTARCTICA on Thursday 7 July at 6.30pm.

See you at the Festival!

Mhari Gallagher I Producer


Deep into Rehearsals

Deep into Rehearsals

My enduring challenge with curating new work is how to retain a critical distance from it without losing my passion that drew me to the writing in the first place.  I have been meeting with some of our Young Writers group this week, all of whose potential is without doubt.  Yet I still need to push them to question what they do and the theatrical assumptions they make.  

However, as I turn from dramaturg into director, my perspective on the work changes.  As dramaturg, I am looking for ways to continually question the writers.  As director, I have to – at some point – trust the writing completely and begin to conceive of it in 3D.  From this point, together with the actors, we are all stumbling forward, in the dark, flipping back and forth between our hot, passionate, vulnerable eyes and our cold, blue, analytical eyes, questioning everything we had hitherto thought about the play.  We make choices one day and refute them the next; rewrites change the piece overnight. 

The only certainties are: dates, times and venues in the schedule; production meetings where crucial decisions are taken; figuring out how chairs get moved from one venue to another; how long to make the white drapes and choosing which piece gets profiled on social media on any particular day.  Such tangible processes provide the solidity for us, while in rehearsal we continue the more slippery work of exploring what lies beneath the skin of each piece and how we can bring it to life for our audiences.  Only then, with the presence of the audience, do we truly understand the qualities of the work, the mistakes we need to rectify, and - for a moment – gain some certainty, other than our most important certainty: opening night on 7th July, just 3 weeks away!

Patrick Morris / Artistic Director