Tag Archives: performance

Dead and Breathing Q&A: Creative Team

Q&A with Sarah Booth; Dead and Breathing 

On 20 February–3 March

 

  • The Albany
  • Tuesday 20 February – Saturday 3 March, 7.30pm
  • Suitable for : 13+
  • BSL Interpreted performance: Thursday 1 March
  • TICKETS:£14
  • CONCESSIONS:£10
  • Book Here

 

It’s hilarious and touching in equal measure, with some incredible performances and looks bloody lovely if I don’t say so myself.  

What is your role in Dead and Breathing?

Designer.

What’s been the best thing about working on this production?

Working with a wonderful creative team, and being at the Unity and Albany which are both beautiful venues.

What’s been the biggest challenge of working on this production?

Finding an aesthetic for Carolyn’s (main character in the play) taste which reads to an audience. We had a lot of really interesting discussions on black/white and British/American tastes. Painting a parquet floor in a small dock was also pretty challenging!

What 3 words would you use to describe the production?

“Foul mouthed ethics.”

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Why should audiences should come and see it? 

Because it’s hilarious and touching in equal measure, with some incredible performances and looks bloody lovely if I don’t say so myself.

The Albany 20 February–3 March, 7.30pm. Suitable for : 13+ 

BSL Interpreted perfomance: 1 MarchTICKETS:£14.  Book Here

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Cabaret Playroom: where things may go tits up… if you’re lucky

Tricity Vogue on Cabaret Playroom, the Albany’s monthly night for new work by cabaret performers. The next Cabaret Playroom takes place on Monday 3 November.

Tapdancer Josephine Shaker told me after her spot at last month’s Cabaret Playroom that it had felt like jumping off a cliff. What had? Talking on stage, she answered. Josephine Shaker is a tap dancer, burlesque artist, physical comedian and clown of spectacular skill and aplomb, but when it came to opening her mouth in the spotlight, she was way outside her comfort zone. But she said afterwards it was one of the most rewarding gigs she’d done in ages.

Going outside your comfort zone is a necessary part of any artist’s development, and even cabaret artists, who seem to spend their lives outside most people’s comfort zones, have their own particular safe areas they tend to stick to. A burlesque dancer might be quite happy spinning naked flames around her head, but terrified of singing in public. A cabaret singer might be perfectly happy to reveal any secret about themselves on stage, but baulk at attempting to play a musical instrument in front of anyone else. And seasoned performers are just as prone to sticking to what they know how to do, perhaps even more so, because those of us who’ve been doing cabaret for a while have expectations to meet, or at least feel as if we do, from people in the audience who’ve seen us before, or heard of us. You’re only as good as your last gig, and if thirty people go home and tell their mates, “I saw Tricity Vogue but she was a bit all over the place,” that’ll be another sixty or so people that won’t bother going to see you next time you’re on somewhere.

That’s the fear. That’s a pretty good case for NOT risking new material in public, in fact. What on earth was I thinking? Well, I’ll tell you a story. Once, about seven years ago, I got an email from a mate who was starting a new cabaret night, and was inviting all his cabaret contacts to come and try out their work-in-progress, so I sent him a message saying I’d be up for it. I got up on stage and I played an instrument I’d learned to play exactly two weeks before, and I smashed it. It was the first time I ever performed solo on the ukulele, and it was the first night of the rest of my life. That mate was Dusty Limits, the night was Kabarett, and the venue was the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. If I hadn’t been offered that platform to try out new work I might still be crooning lounge jazz by night and working for a soul-sucking television company by day. Instead of which my ukulele and I have been all over Europe together performing everywhere from celebrity dining rooms to converted toilets, and it’s been one non-stop adventure ever since.

That’s what can happen when you let a performer try something new. And sitting in the audience for a show where EVERYTHING is new, and NOBODY knows what’s going to happen next – now THAT’s cabaret at it’s finest, even when it goes tits up… especially when it goes tits up.

Tricity Vogue, Cabaret Performer and Co-Curator of Cabaret Playroom (with Lisa Lee of UnderConstruction)

 

The next Cabaret Playroom is on Monday 3 November at The Albany, Deptford. Doors at 7.45pm, showtime 8-10pm. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can, starting from £1

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Albany

What makes a theatre special? More specifically, what makes the Albany theatre unique from all the others? We sat down with our Technical Manager, Ben Wallace, to find out. He helped devise a list of all the technical things that make us different, and arguably more interesting than other London theatres and arts centres.

Alexander Wolfe, Live at the Albany

Alexander Wolfe Live at the Albany

1) First off, the shape of our theatre.

Our main theatre is not your average rectangular theatre. It is a 16-sided polygon called a ‘hexadecagon.’ It is more often referred to as a theatre-in-the-round though. All of the theatre spaces and some of the rooms for hire at the Albany are irregular in shape, including our Red Room, Studio and Cafe.

2) Our main theatre has a hugely versatile lighting rig.

With 144 channels of dimming, there are a lot of options for creating the perfect lighting for any show or event taking place in our main theatre.

3) Enormously flexible seating.

Our main theatre has an extremely flexible capacity. It holds up to 550 people standing, 290 people in rows and 200 in cabaret style. There are two levels of seating and the chairs are free-moving and therefore can accommodate any arrangement needed; perfect again for most any type of performance.

The same can also be said of our Red Room and Studio – there is absolutely no fixed seating anywhere at the Albany.

4) The grid, where all the technical magic happens, is located straight above the entire theatre space.

CircusBitesBack (credit Polstar Photography)

Circus Bites Back in the theatre

This again offers flexibility and creative freedom for productions to arrange sets in whatever manner needed or desired.

5) Our main theatre can record 48 channels of audio from the stage.

In laymen’s terms, this means we can record music quite well. Speaking of which, English singer-songwriter Alexander Wolfe‘s Skeletons was recorded live here, have a listen:

 

Alexander Wolfe recording live

Alexander Wolfe recording live

6) As an added bonus, our theatre bar is actually located inside the theatre on the second level.

Having the bar so close is rather convenient for our audiences who then don’t have to cram themselves down corridors to grab a drink or snack during intervals, however it can be a slight hindrance during performances when bar staff cannot clean up. Oh well… you win some, you lose some.

The current Albany building was rebuilt in 1981 following a fire, making it a 33-year-old Deptford fixture that really takes the local community to heart. All of these unique technical bits allow us to put on a varied and diverse mix of programming for our neighbouring audience, which means Ben and the rest of our technical team never have to do the same thing twice.

We hope you love our vastly flexible and distinctive theatre as much as we do!

Cabaret performance in the cafe.

Cabaret performance in the cafe

For more information on room hires and performance hire, please visit our website.

Allison Gold, Marketing Assistant, The Albany

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Our Man in Guanajuato: insights on arts networks inspired by Mexico

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I recently spent a few days in Mexico, as a guest of the Mexican equivalent of the Arts Council, the National Council for Culture and Arts. I was there with 90 delegates from around the world (but oddly only 2 of us from the UK) to see a showcase of the country’s leading music, theatre and dance productions.

The shows were a mixed bunch, but the one that really came alive for me was set in a wrestling ring in a town square called La Impro Lucha  (see pic below). It was basically improv comedy and I’ve no idea if the jokes were that good (my Spanish is very limited), but being part of a large crowd, who were enthusiastically – and very vocally – responding to the performance, made the experience. They weren’t just passive audience members; they were actively involved in creating the experience and it was clear that the show couldn’t happen in the same way without them. The difference from sitting in an auditorium with a group of (jaded?) promoters and producers, as we had been for the majority of the trip, was marked.

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The difference reminded me of the disappointment I’ve often felt, seeing a play in the slightly sterile atmosphere of say a West End theatre. It often feels as if the action on stage is happening regardless of our presence; that one audience is as good as any other.

One of the most exciting things for me about the Albany is how often the audience  seems engaged in a much more active – sometimes vocal – way, making the experience feel richer and , well, communal. You feel you’re actually participating in something rather than observing it from afar. There are numerous reasons why this is, of course: due credit must be given to the artists we work with. But I’ve always felt that our audiences have a particularly strong sense of ownership of the Albany: that this venue, and the work within its walls, belongs to them. And they’d better let us know exactly what they think about it.

This all forms part of a larger conversation about community forming in the arts: who our communities are, and how they truly feel they have a stake in the work we undertake, not only at a local level but nationally and internationally. Talking to artists and producers from across Mexico helped me see the realities of working on the ground, and get a sense of the connections we could make, and what that might mean to artists and audiences in London.

The conversation often turned to comparing how artists and companies work together in each country, and what that can achieve.  I talked about a new partnership for arts centres across the UK which the Albany has been involved with forming. We have also been reflecting on how we can support networks at a local level in Lewisham.

Deptford reputedly has more artists per square metre than anywhere else in London. Across Lewisham there are so many people and organisations working in the arts, making a huge contribution to the life of the borough and beyond.

It’s crucial that we work together to sustain and build on the fantastic creative culture locally. To this end, we are launching What Next? Lewisham, a local chapter of What Next?  a movement bringing together arts and cultural organisations from across the UK, to articulate and strengthen the role of culture in our society. You can learn more about it here.

The first meeting will take place on 26th November, 9am, and we’d be delighted to see anyone who is interested in the future of the arts in Lewisham – whether that be professionally, as a student or audience member, there.

For more details please contact amber@thealbany.org.uk

Gavin Barlow. CEO, The Albany

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Photos:

  1. Street performers in Guanajuato
  2. ‘La Impro Lucha’ – theatre, music and wrestling in the town square
  3. Guanajuato, Mexico

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You Are How You Eat: the Relationship of Arts and Food

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We’re just about half way through Yam Yam! Festival, our six week festival of all things arts and foods, which has seen donkeys, goats and ferrets take over our garden, our cafe transformed into a delicious Phillippines pop up restaurant, a tour of discovery around Deptford’s West African shops and supermarkets, and loads more besides. This Friday and Saturday, Only Wolves and Lions will invite audience members to participate in the creation of a meal as part of a performance.  Head of Creative Programmes Raidene Carter reflects on the relationship between food and performance. This blog originally appeared on the Exeunt website. 

At the moment, one thing is certain: food is cool. Hipsters instagramming their cronuts, the queues round the block at the latest “no bookings” pop-up, and high concept tasting menus with endless courses; there’s something of a foodie revolution happening. In the midst of this abundance of delicious new foodstuffs to sample, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of not only what we eat, but how we eat. Food is sustenance. But it is much more than that too.

Yam Yam!, the Albany’s festival of arts and food, part of an 18 month programme of food related activity supported by The Big Lottery Food Fund, is, in many ways, a reflection on this. We have performances that celebrate the rituals of dining, shows reflecting on the history and cultural significance of what we eat, and events that revel in the fun of sharing food.

Unfinished Business’s Only Wolves and Lions (1st & 2nd November) is a great example. Each member of the small audience of 25 is asked to bring an ingredient with them and then, as part of the show, they work with their fellow audience members to cook up a delicious feast which they’ll share. The piece explores themes of community and isolation.

By asking us to collaborate on the creation of a meal, artist Leo Kay creates a temporary community, with each audience member having to take a role, negotiating and making compromises for the good of the group. Friendships are formed, sometimes arguments erupt and finally we all share in the fruits of what we’ve created together. The show proves, perhaps far better than a conventional drama might, the true value of being part of a community. Because the experience is framed as theatre, we look at what is, ultimately, an everyday act, in a different way and perhaps carry some of that new perspective back to our own kitchens and tables.

Kay isn’t the only artist exploring the experience of sharing food in theatre at the moment. At the Bristol Old Vic, The Table of Delights has recently been staged: a collaboration between a restaurant and Theatre Damafino.  Yumm-A-Yukka-Boo is currently touring, introducing young audiences to the foods from different cultures.

Perhaps this is symptomatic of the way we eat now. The abundance of food available to us, the speed with which we consume it, and the fact this is so at odds with what we know to be the experience of the vast majority of people alive today is demanding that we reconsider not only what we eat, but how we eat. It’s clear that performance practices – which have so much to do with the actions that define who we are – have a pivotal role to play in addressing this.

This idea of the performative role that the rituals of preparing and sharing food have to play in making communities runs through the festival. At the Albany we are surrounded by an incredibly diverse array of cultures and heritages. The influence of food in cultivating integration is clear on Deptford High Street, where fishmongers and butchers mingle with Vietnamese cafes, Nigerian bakeries and Chinese supermarkets.

Yam Yam! reflects this. Mazi Mas, for example, is a roaming restaurant that “showcases the culinary talents and diverse cultural heritages of migrant women in London”. During Yam Yam! they are hosting a series of three pop-up restaurants, focusing respectively on food from the Phillippines (17th October), Ethiopia (31st October) and South America (14th November). The experience for diners moves beyond simply consume the food; they will also find out more about how it is prepared and the rituals surrounding its consumption. The act of cooking becomes a means of empowerment for women who are often long-term unemployed and socially marginalised, and by sharing the food, diners and chefs alike come to a deeper understanding of one another’s cultures and experiences.

While events like this are less obviously “performance” or “art” in the conventional sense, we believe that by contextualising them in an arts space, we are inviting audiences to reflect on them differently, asking them to consider what and how they eat from a fresh point of view.

Raidene Carter, Head of Creative Programmes, The Albany

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