Tag Archives: London

CW Blog Reimagining the Classics: Tom Thumb


Tom Thumb Facebook Event PictureTom Thumb is the classic story of a small boy with a big personality and imagination and creativity big enough to take on any danger of the world.  A fun rendition of this tale is coming to Canada Water Theatre in a one-man-show format this week. Presented by Lyngo Theatre, Cbeebies Patrick Lynch answered some questions about the show, providing insights on acting thumb-sized, honouring a traditional plot, and being solo on stage. Continue reading

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Resident Organisation of the Month: Apples and Snakes

This month’s featured resident organisation is Apples and Snakes, the leading organisation for performance poetry in England, with a national reputation for producing exciting and innovative participatory and performance work. By working with highly creative individuals across the country, Apples and Snakes seeks to nurture, support, and create opportunities for emerging talent and push the boundaries of the art form, artists, and audiences.

Founded in 1982 by a group of poets, Apples and Snakes sought to create more opportunities for performance poetry and be the voice of those who have been marginalised and disenfranchised. In 2002, the organisation made the transition to a national organisation and currently has programme co-ordinators in London, the North East, the South East, the South West, and the West Midlands.

Apples and Snakes’ programming has included incredible performances such as Jawdance, a poetry open mic night, and My Deptford, a celebration of the diversity and culture of Deptford at the Southbank Centre. Their upcoming production, Telling Tales, featuring award-winning UK poet Patience Agbabi, is a re-imagining of Chaucer’s masterpiece The Canterbury Tales. Renaissance One recently sat down with Patience to discuss it:

What 3 words would you say best describe you?

Imaginative, impatient, impassioned.

Tell us a little about your new book Telling Tales.

It’s a modern version of The Canterbury Tales, each story told by a unique character from ladette to ‘ladies’ man’.

You’ll also be touring Telling Tales;  what kinds of events are you going to do and what do you enjoy most about spoken word?

I’ll be doing two kinds of events: arts centres with blatant sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and cathedrals, with covert sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.  Spoken word can connect on lots of different levels, much more than a traditional reading. The words fly straight from the mouth to the heart of the audience with no page in between. That’s the beauty of spoken word.

Which artists have influenced you the most and why?

George Szirtes, Michael Donaghy and Paul Muldoon for form; Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage for half-rhymes and accessibility; Jackie Kay for monologues and Black British perspective; Pascale Petite for imagery; Sharon Olds for honesty and reinventing the poetic line…and that’s judge the living poets. To answer this question in 20 words is impossible. There are times when form really does overconstrict a writer.

What’s an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator and performer?

If it works on the page, it will work on the stage. If I believe in the writing it fuels the performance.

What are you most passionate about? (doing/achieving/working)

Inspiring young people and enabling women to reach their full potential through my writing.

Where would you say your style of performing comes from?

It comes directly from the poem, knowing it off by heart and performing straight from the heart.

What creative masterpiece do you wish you had written? and why?

I’ve just written it.

Does current affairs or popular culture influence your writing and performing, and if so, in what way(s)?

The recession has permeated my recent work; and a huge range of music, film and visual art. It makes the writing richer, multi-dimensional.

 Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you, and how we can find out more about it.

I’m working with The Full English on a Chaucer Teaching Pack, to enable The Canterbury Tales to feature more widely on the curriculum. I got properly into writing poetry studying The General Prologue and the Pardoner’s Tale for A’ Level. I’ve always enjoyed narrative poetry headed by a strong character.

What’s your experience been of making inroads in the spoken word and/or music industry?

Living in a large city helps!  Pre-internet, when I was starting out, I attended loads of live events in London because it was exciting and I wanted a context for my own work. Even now, you can’t beat networking face to face.

Patience Agababi image

Telling Tales is here for one performance only on Wednesday 21 May, 8pm. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Megan Bommarito, Marketing Intern, The Albany


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Drag up for Eurovision!

Mrs JonjoThe highly-anticipated Grand Finale of the Eurovision Song Contest is upon us.  Since 1956, Eurovision has taken the continent by storm as the annual song contest held between European countries to find one stand-out song among the doozies. We’re particularly excited to be hosting our own live Eurovision Party screening complete with drag compere extraordinaire, Mrs Jonjo, this Saturday 10 May from 7:30pm. To prepare ourselves for this wild night of patriotism, camp and songs you are likely to forget the next morning, we bring you some random Eurovision Trivia:

Did you know that a drag queen is competing this year? That’s right, this year Austria’s contestant is the bearded queen Conchita Wurst, who is creating quite a stir with this song:

While this contestant may be unexpected to some, past acts have included some pretty zany things. Check out the Top Ten Weirdest Song Contest Entries Ever, including a Hard Rock Hallelujah and Estonian rock featuring a front man resembling Chewbacca from Star Wars:

While some songs are never heard of again, there are quite a few that have gone on to critical-acclaim and lasting success. Most notably, ABBA won for Sweden in 1974 with their smash hit ‘Waterloo’:

Oddly enough, Canadian singer Céline Dion competed for Switzerland back in 1988 and won with the song ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’.

Celine Dion 1988


Lastly, to be fully prepared for Eurovision, it’d be best to have a listen to last year’s winner – Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest singing ‘Only Teardrops’:


We certainly hope this get you revved up to see who comes out on top this year! Remember to keep your fingers crossed for the UK and maybe those less fortunate countries that have yet to win (Portugal, Malta, Romania, Iceland, Hungary and Cyprus). Come out in your most fabulous drag or in your most patriotic colours for our Eurovision Party on Saturday 10 May at 7:30pm. For information and to book tickets (which include a drink voucher), please click here.

Allison Gold, Marketing Assistant, The Albany


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Arts Marketing for the Visually Impaired

With nearly two million people in the UK who are blind or partially sighted, making theatre accessible for the visually impaired is crucial. This month, the Albany is presenting The Chairs (Tuesday 29 April – Friday 2 May), produced by Extant, Britain’s only professional performing arts company led by visually impaired (VI) people.

In advance of the show, the company visited the Albany to give staff a workshop on  improving accessiblity for the VI community. Our Marketing Assistant, Allison Gold, tells us what she learned, particularly about marketing to a VI audience:

Working in arts marketing for the past few years, as well as being involved in the performing arts my entire life, I had never previously explored effective ways of communicating to a visually impaired audience. Just being near sighted with contact lenses, I admittedly took for granted my vision and how that makes watching theatre relatively easy. So, when this workshop with Extant was announced, I was immediately keen to learn more.

Facilitated by Sue Perry, Extant’s Training Development Manager, the workshop included the entire Albany team, from our Box Office Assistants, Technical crew and Communications team. Extant members Marion Mansfield and Tim Gebbels, both of whom are visually impaired and obviously involved in the performing arts, guided us through common misconceptions about the VI community. We were then introduced to various gadgets that VI people often use, such as magnifiers, money readers that measure the size of notes and coins, and machines that say the colours of things out loud. It was fascinating – things I had never even thought of before!

From there, we broke off into our respective teams to work through specialised case scenarios. This part of the workshop was especially beneficial to the Comms team as we focused on how marketing to a visually impaired audience differs from a fully sighted one, and the best practice for marketing to both on an everyday basis without alienating the other. As marketing is often a visually led platform, with most arts campaigns focusing on one lead image and using it for print, website, social media and advertisements, it’s not exactly VI-friendly. Here’s what we’ve learned about marketing the arts to the visually impaired:

What issues do you need to consider when marketing for a VI audience?

How will they  find you? Include a detailed description of how to get to the venue on the website.

How will they view your visual marketing? To those who are partially sighted, large enough font sizes and clear colour contrasts in all communications are vital to reading your communications.

How will they hear about you audibly? Including radio announcements and audio podcasts into your communications plans could make the difference to VI people finding out about your events.

How will they read your digital communications? VI people often have different computers that read out internet pages and e-communications. Image links should be properly named so they know where links will be directing them to, instead of just a string of nonsensical code.

How will they read/see your website? As with e-newsletters, make sure everything is properly labelled and links are working correctly. Large enough font sizes and colour contrast is also key here. Perhaps involving the VI community at the beginning of your website, by auditing it, would bring up any areas to develop.

How will they have the most hassle-free experience? Ensure that they know what to expect when arriving at your venue, ie. if there is the Deptford Market on Monday and Wednesday mornings right outside your door, then stating this on your website might alleviate any unnecessary travel woes and confusion.

How can you make this experience better, particularly since they cannot see the costumes and sets? Consider areas to enhance their experience and personalise it for them. Since they may not be able to physically see a production’s set or costumes, why not offer a Touch Tour? Work with other areas of your venue and organisation to make these opportunities happen.

How will you know if you are effectively marketing to them? Just ask. Evaluating their experience via normal channels, such as using audience feedback forms etc., would definitely do the trick.

Are there areas that you can add to better serve the VI community? Other forms of communications that are not often included in your strategy might be worth considering, including telemarketing campaigns and online surveys.

Doing all of the above, and more, can build good relations with blind and partially sighted people, enriching their experience at the venue and make them more likely to become regular audience members. Once this trust has been established, and once they’ve successfully visited a first time without any large hiccups, they are far more likely to return, whether shows are specifically for the visually impaired or not.

More generally, here are 10 facts that Extant taught us about visually impaired people. Did you know:

1) There are about 5,000 Guide Dog owners in the UK.

2) Four out of five people with sight problems are aged 65 or over.

3) You do NOT have to be totally blind to be eligible for a guide dog.

4) Most blind people can see something.

5) Braille is NOT the chief written medium by which blind and partially sighted people communicate. Only 4% of VI people can read it; it is after all another language.

6) It is unlawful in the UK for a taxi driver to refuse to take a passenger because they have a guide dog.

7) Four out of five blind and partially sighted people of working age are unemployed.

8) It’s NOT okay to feed or attempt to play with guide dogs when they are on duty; it distracts them from their job.

9) It’s all right to say ‘see you tomorrow’ to a blind person!

10) Blind and partially sighted people may not go to the theatre quite as often as the fully sighted, mainly due to inaccessibility.

Following this informative workshop, we are working to further improve the Albany’s accessibility for the VI community.

Check out Extant’s The Chairs, here from 29 April to 2 May, starring two blind actors in the lead roles to bring a new interpretation to this classic text by Eugène Ionesco, adapted by Martin Crimp. Extant is also offering free Touch Tours before each show (a guided opportunity to handle and feel key props, costumes or set, with detailed description around how they feature in the play).

To find out more about The Chairs and to book tickets, click here. To find out more about the pre-show Touch Tours and to reserve a place, click here.

Allison Gold, Marketing Assistant, The Albany


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