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Patrick Morris

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

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

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 




Hotbed 4 Weeks Away!

Hotbed 4 Weeks Away!

With Hotbed weekend now just 4 weeks away, we are full steam ahead on all fronts - the final drafts of the Young Writers’ pieces are coming in, auditions for the actors are set for next week, the call is out for the young persons’ One-Page Plays, the community project is really taking shape, the brochure is about to be published, Steve Waters is visiting the ‘jungle’ in Calais, Ed Harris’ What’s Up Doc? commission is ready, and...Cambridge Foodcycle have just confirmed that they will be providing the food over the weekend!  

I’m particularly excited about the Young Writers’ pieces, as I’ve been working with the group since January and they have all put an enormous amount of time, thought and soul into their plays.  We’re producing two of them: ‘Flog’ by Josie Dale-Jones, and ‘The Summer Before Everything’ by Bohdan Tokarsky and Maria Montague.   Both are a brave new step for their respective writers and we’re looking forward to putting them on stage before some eager audiences.  

Patrick Morris I Associate Artistic Director