Monthly Archives: February 2014

Creating Space for Young Directors

This Thursday, Stonecrabs fantastic Young Directors’ Festival, Play.ground, kicks off at the Albany, showcasing brand new work from the best emerging directing talent. Ferghal Crowley, Stonecrabs’ Associate Assistant Director, shares his experiences on the 2011 Festival, and the impact it has had on his work since. Find out more about the Festival and book tickets here.

After finishing university I moved home to South East London and got a place on the StoneCrabs Young Directors Program in 2011, something that I am incredibly grateful for. I then went on to successfully gain support from the John Fernald Award, which allowed me to continue my training with StoneCrabs and join multiple productions as an Assistant Director. I have since gone on to get paid employment as an Assistant Director as well as directing my own projects.

 

I really think that programs for directors, like StoneCrabs’, are so important for the ecology of performing arts in this country. If you look at acting for example, there are hundreds of ways for actors to train and systems in place to help actors to grow as artists. From an early age there are clubs and summer camps and youth theatres to help teach actors the skills of their craft.

 

Asphalt Kiss ' at The New Diorama Theatre - Director Franko Figueiredo, Assistant Director Ferghal Crowley

Asphalt Kiss ‘ at The New Diorama Theatre – Director Franko Figueiredo, Assistant Director Ferghal Crowley

 

But the same does not widely exist to help directors. I know of two regional theatre companies which last month advertised training positions for directors; the first had 200 applicants per place and the second had had over 160 per place. This clearly shows that there is a huge demand for director training but that there are a precious few places to support a healthy pool of emerging directing talent. Where the StoneCrabs program was key was that it combined the skills of directing with the logistics of producing; all the ingredients of being a theatre-maker.

 

It is now two years exactly since I completed the Young Directors Program, which for me culminated with a staged reading of Simon Stephens’ “County Music”. The program was a perfect introduction to the art of directing, but it was only an introduction. The past two years have been as valuable as the first few months for me learning about what it is to work with actors and how to tell a good story in a theatrical way.

 

Currently I am very interested in lots of Chinese plays and aim to direct perhaps one or two in the not too distant future. Having lived and worked in Beijing, I really want to bring out a side of China we just never see in the news.

 

'Country Music' by Simon Stephens directed by Ferghal Crowley at The Albany Theatre

‘Country Music’ by Simon Stephens directed by Ferghal Crowley at The Albany Theatre

 

StoneCrabs is a great company for bringing diverse and unseen work into the UK and I think there is a real appetite for international work in London.

 

For any directors that are in the early stages of their career, there are a few websites that should become essential viewing for opportunities and ways of meeting people in a similar position to you.  Ideastap (www.ideastap.com) has regular “briefs” that can be applied for as well as the Ideastap Spa which offers workshops and seminars on all sorts of topics. The Young Vic’s Directors Network is one of the best organisations to sign up to as it offers training, networking and also has frequent jobs posted. Get Into Theatre has some very good general information as well as lots of opportunities for people interested in working in theatre. And I also really like going to some of the Platform discussions at the National Theatre where you can hear a bit more about a show’s creative team and where their ideas came from.

 

Ferghal Crowley, Associate Assistant Director, StoneCrabs Theatre Company
 
This article was first published at StoneCrabs Theatre blog: Behind the scenes on 15 February 2014

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Would You Pay £65k a Month to Live Here?

Chill Pill Poets Simon Mole and Adam Kammerling ponder Metro’s article about Britain’s most expensive rental property. This is the Headline Poem from the Chill Pill event at the Albany, 20 February 2014.

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February 21, 2014 · 10:44 am

We’ll Show You Ours

Gavin Barlow, CEO of the Albany, in response to the I’ll Show You Mine debate prompted by Bryony Kimmings, outlines our financial deals with artists.

So much has been written the last couple of months about how much venues pay artists, and the dysfunctional touring market, that I really don’t want to add to the debate.  I was struck though that no venue has really responded to the entirely reasonable call for more transparency, made by Andy Field and others. This prompted me to look at the figures and I can’t think of a good reason why we shouldn’t share them, so here goes…

In the current financial year, we expect to take £129K in ticket sales, and we will pay artists £123K for those performances. So artists get about 95% of what the audience pays.

We do every possible type of deal with artists and companies, and we do negotiate and we drive a hard bargain when we need to: we wouldn’t survive if we didn’t. But we take into account the artist’s situation, most obviously if they have funding in place and if they need to travel to perform.  The worse deal we offer an artist is 60% of ticket sales, and usually that’s when we have supported the production of the show as well.

Of course, we also pay for the technical and front of house costs to support those performances, and we work hard to make sure there are people there to see them – we’ve increased audience numbers by over 50% in the last two years.

For full context, we also pay artists for commissions, to perform in (mostly) free festivals, to deliver workshops, take part in participatory programmes, and we provide free space and support to develop new work. The Albany receives funding from the Arts Council of £175K a year.

None of this is simple. Keeping a building open and trying to deliver to audiences in different ways every day takes resources and costs money. Like many others we survive partly by working every angle and having a dynamic business model, not relying just on funding. I’m not sure what we will or should change at the moment, but we will keep thinking about it and keep evolving. For now though, it helps to get a few facts out there.

Gavin Barlow, CEO, The Albany

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Love Ambitions: A Love Letter from Chill Pill’s Deanna Rodger

…I want to be a debilitating disease

Make you weak in the knees

Bless you when you sneeze…

If this doesn’t make your heart melt, you might be made of stone…

The brilliant Deanna Rodger will be performing at the Albany as part of Chill Pill, our night of kickass spoken word from London’s coolest poetry collective, on Thursday 20 February. Find out more here.

Witness astonishing feats of breakneck poetry as some of the UK’s very finest spoken word talent descends on Deptford. Featuring an all-star line-up of guest artists, as well as a razor sharp Headline Poem cooked up in response to the day’s news events, Classic Corner, showcasing verse of yesteryear for audiences to test their poetic knowledge, and well-loved anthems on the decks, the Albany’s Chill Pill nights present an eclectic mix of original works, re-spun classics and cutting edge underground poetry.

Happy Valentines, you gorgeous, gorgeous people. x

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