Archive | May, 2010

The recliner of motivational decline

31 May


The said recliner now beckons on what has been a glorious bank holiday Monday here in York – weatherwise –

During the day my time has been spent news watching and posting info on the networks about the growing situation re the Gaza #flotilla

With this in mind I have also spent the day going through cvs for our Romeo and Juliet production, and thinking how the story of long seated animosity has changed very little over time.

Taking time to think, and walk and work is really very important, and finding the time to do this is vital. Days like this allow it – And of course allowing time for drinking coffee and spending time with my son.

He is in the final stages of A2 A level revision, and we are home alone as Susie is in Mumbai and Millie is in Sweden and I have just received a picture of her and her cousins rowing their dinghy between islands!


So a chance now for me to catch up and plan tonight’s curry on the recliner of ‘motivational decline’

So switching off now from here and back to thinking and planning – I hope you are enjoying the weather / birdsong / wherever you are.

Keep thinking – it makes shift happen


Catcher | Theatre review | Stage | The Guardian

30 May

There was no shortage of conspiracy theories clinging to JD Salinger at his death earlier this year, but among the weirdest was that the writer of The Catcher in the Rye was somehow responsible for the death of John Lennon. Richard Hurford’s play suggests that ??? indirectly ??? he was. After shooting Lennon on the steps of New York’s Dakota building, Mark David Chapman remained at the scene, reading a copy of Salinger’s novel in which he had inscribed: “This is my statement”.

  1. Catcher

  2. Theatre Royal,

  3. York

  1. Until

    5 June

  2. Then touring

  3. Box office:

    01904 623 568

  4. See details

Hurford imaginatively develops an incident that occurred the evening before, in which Chapman re-enacts a scene from The Catcher in the Rye by calling a young prostitute to his hotel room. In the book, the hero claims that he only wants to talk. In the play, Chapman states that he only wants to read. “Reading’s extra,” he is told. “You’d expect to pay more if I was a virgin, and using my brain’s virgin territory.”

The trial judges were divided as to whether Chapman was clinically insane. In Ronan Summer’s performance, he is clearly deluded, re-enacting psychotic visions of a race of “little people” he has the power to destroy at the touch of an imaginary button.

Mitzi Jones is delightfully deadpan as the confused call girl, but the play skirts an obvious dramatic flaw: why would a woman threatened with a gun and apprised of a plan to kill Lennon not go straight to the police? The credibility of Suzann McLean’s production is aided, however, by Lydia Denno’s design, which captures the details of a cut-price New York hotel room, right down to the rattling air-conditioning unit.

Design meeting with @clamford for Romeo and Juliet

29 May

Some great initial concepts and ideas for our 6 month touring show of Romeo and Juliet

I spent the day with our designer, Chloe Lamford and together we have been moving shapes / flowers / and mirrors around in the model box

Managing to work out the locations and potential configurations we need.

We are both excited about the possibilties the design has to offer

More soon


Pilot Theatre???s Platform Festival, May 2010

24 May

Pilot Theatre???s Platform Festival, May 2010

10:51am Friday 21st May 2010

As part of the European project Platform 11+, Pilot Theatre is mounting a festival this week at York Theatre Royal??? Studio.

Under the umbrella of Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards, the Theatre Royal company in residence is mounting three projects as part of a project that connects 13 companies across 12 countries.

Pilot has been working with Manor School and Joseph Rowntree School, leading to performances of Schoolyard Stories on May 17 and May 25 and a day of rehearsed readings and workshops on Sunday.

Artistic director Marcus Romer has returned from Argentina, bearing three cutting-edge tales about life in school Buenos Aires style for performance in Spanish and English by the Argentinean theatre company Atina tomorrow, Monday and Wednesday.

Whereas that show is suitable for 14 year olds and upwards, Richard Hurford???s new play, The Mystery Of Jack And The Clones Of Chaos, is aimed at the eight-plus age group. Directed by Pilot associate director Katie Posner, it will be performed on Tuesday, with half-term workshops and performances to follow from June 1 to 4.

Delayed by the volcanic ash cloud that forced them to fly from Buenos Aires to Madrid and finally onwards to England, Argentinean actors Celeste Martinez and Julian Sierra have arrived in York with assistant director Solange Perazzo to perform WC School, a series of three plays stamped Made In Argentina.

All set in a schoolyard, and more specifically the battleground of the school loos, Carlos de Urquiza???s Nuevas Practicas Comerciales (New Business Transactions), Gabriel Fernandez Chapo???s Che Guevara and Luz Rodriguez Urquiza???s Quedate Aca (Stay Here) were premiered in March when Marcus Romer worked with the company in Buenos Aires.

???I met the company director, Maria Ines Falconi, in Budapest as part of the Platform 11+ project, and I was invited by the Popular University of the Belgrano in Buenos Aires to direct three plays from a choice of six from a playwriting competition from all over South America,??? says Marcus.

???So I chose three plays that had a link and spent one month, in February and March, making the show ??? a very beautiful experience ??? for performances at the university in March.???

Whereas the shows in Argentina were in Spanish, the performances in York will be in English and Spanish.

???Where else are we going to hear Argentinean Spanish???? says Marcus. ???We???ve found a solution to the problem of translation by having a pr??cis and questions in English and answers in Spanish, as we want it to be truthful and for Celeste and Julian to perform like the nightingales they are.???

Solange, Celeste and Julian are acclimatising to performing in England. ???It feels weird, exciting, like a whole new experience,??? says Solange. ???We???re making the plays happen again in a different place, on a different stage with many, many different expressive possibilities.

???We???re renewing the energy of the plays and we believe this work in England will help the plays grow up in Spanish.???

Julian is excited at the possibilities of the project.

???It???s a challenge performing in England, and it???s bigger for me because I don???t speak fluent English,??? he says, with the assistance of Solange.

???It???s expressively important for us as independent actors, who perform theatre for children and young people, when usually it???s very difficult to meet people from other cultures. I???m very happy to be an ambassador for my country and very proud of it.???

Celeste has enjoyed the contrast with normal Argentinean theatre working practices. ???It???s weird but fantastic at the same time. It???s my first time in Europe, and the feeling is that we???ve had two openings of the plays, first in Argentina and now in York,??? she says.

???It???s been a challenge because we had only a short time to develop the show in Buenos Aires, working, working, working long days. Now it???s very interesting to take out our tools and make the plays happen in England.

???Normally we work very differently in Argentina: we would have three or four months of rehearsals for a play, rehearsing maybe three times a week. With Marcus, we worked eight hours a day, when usually four hours would be a long day.???

Solange smiles at the memory. ???For us, to turn four months into just three weeks of rehearsals, we didn???t know what had hit us. Marcus had to learn how to let us work in our way,??? she says. ???But what we???ve learned with this project is how to communicate with someone through theatre in any language.???

Marcus rejoins: ???The thing for me is global communications. At one point, we were rehearsing with the aid of Skype, with me watching them live from York, 7,000 miles away,??? he says.

???The important thing is where it might lead next, doing work across those huge distances. Having made connections with Argentina, it would be foolish not to develop it further. The way that things are going, if we are to survive after [Culture Secretary] Jeremy Hunt announced arts cuts, we have to create networks, opening opportunities across communication and connection.???

??? For details of performance times and tickets, see Box office: 01904 623568.

Chaos clones puzzle poor Jack

RICHARD Hurford???s short new play for Platform 11+, The Mystery Of Jack And The Clones Of Chaos, looks at identity.

???We all have lots of faces, as we???re all chameleons in life,??? says director Katie Posner. ???This play looks at how you can be different with your mother to how you are with your friends in the playground.???

Richard decided he wanted to write a play from a boy???s perspective ??? he will next be co-writing a play from a girl???s perspective with the Italian company Elsinore ??? and constructed his drama around 13-year-old Jack, whose world changes when the ???Clones Of Chaos??? move in to his bedroom.

Bryn Holding, 22, will play Jack as a time-travelling adult, as well as the assorted clones that threaten to take over his bygone teenage world, and he will be joined in the cast by 14-year-old Mark Armstrong-Smith.

???The piece was originally going to be a one-man show but now it will feature Mark as young Jack,??? says Katie.

???Because Bryn is playing ten other characters, like Cool Jack, Jack The Lad and Hairy Jack, I wanted to have someone there on stage who was younger, rather than just have the adult Jack travelling back in time.???


International Collaboration and Emergency chairs

23 May

It was one of those impomptu evenings, a beautiful sunny day and after we had opened the show from Argentina. We were sitting outside the theatre – and I asked the question ‘anyone want to come back for tea?’

So 17 people said yes, so was there was one more thing I needed to do. Deploy the Emergency Chairs

Back at home we prepared food for the three acting companies we have with us at the moment – our guests included
Actors and directors from Buenos Aires, New York, Tallinn, Vancouver, as well as London, Newcastle, Manchester and York.

And yes we were sitting round our kitchen table on a varied height of chairs, garden furniture and deckchairs.

Extraordinary times and a fabulous evening, and as director of Pilot Theatre I took time to reflect on the International bunch sitting at different heights round the table and think how much the company has grown over the last few years.

We have three new shows running at the moment, three directors making the work and a project that links Europe and South America.

Viva Emergency Chairs!

Today has been busy for @pilot_theatre because….

19 May

1 The Actors and Assistant Director and I have gone into rehearsal for the show I made in Buenos Aires Today
2 We open the show on Saturday
3 We had a press interview all lunchtime
4 Our Platform 11 artist, Mari-Liis arrived from Estonia today – minus her luggage
5 It was our Press night for our show Catcher last night
6 We open a new show ‘Jack’ tomorrow and our Associate Director, Katie Posner and I had a catch up meeting at 6pm tonight
7 Suzann McLean, Director of Catcher ran the Youth Theatre workshop tonight
8 The casting breakdown for Romeo and Juliet went out today – already we have had over 1500 submissions in 8 hours
9 Have taken the Argentinian team out for a meal tonight as they hit the jet-lag wall after their 56 hour travel ordeal
10 Katherine has gone to Leeds to promote our Shift Happens conference tonight
11 Sarah is still away in Spain so we are juggling her office stuff too
12 Mandy has been holding all the tour bookings and producing strands together as well as contacting language schools to come and see our Argentinian show which is in Spanish and English.
13 I have just got back and received the new script edit from Juliet to get through before tomorrow
14 Carl our tech stage manager is washing shirts and Michael is packing the van for the Jack performance tomorrow
15 Our Catcher show is being assessed by the Arts Council tonight

Time for sleep now

Made in Buenos Aires, Argentina – Now in York, UK

16 May

The show I made in Buenos Aires is now travelling from Argentina to York – Ash permitting of course. So I wanted to share some of the images and ideas behind the project.

Three new short plays under the banner of WC School – Made in Argentina – focus on contemporary school life in Buenos Aires.
Written by Carlos de Urquiza, Gabriel Chapo and Luz Rodriguez they will be performed in Spanish with an English Translation.

In the top photo actor, Julian Sierra is playing ‘I don’t want to be Che Guevara’ The pieces are strikingly different from work we see here as part of work created for Young People. The subject matter and harshness of the worlds are brought sharply into focus with the actors strength of performance.


Set during break times at school the three stories are interlinked with a need for their voices to be heard, but more importantly to be listened to. In the ‘New Business Transactions’ piece Celeste Martinez stands up for herself to a bullying Head of Year and tells her straight about the new ‘transactions’ that are the currency in the school now. And in the final piece the collage and artwork is made from discarded pill packets that has been beautifully created to tell the story of Camilla and Lucas.


I enjoyed the challenge of making this piece in Spanish in March this year, and I am delighted to be able to share the work over here in York for a week of performances as part of our Platform Festival which has this, as well as Catcher and Jack two new plays both running over the next two weeks. It was a case of definitely working outside my normal comfort zone. Not only with the subject matter, but also being 7,000 miles from home, and this time without any of the normal support mechanisms of making a show here. So the whole team was new, I had to get to work and speak Spanish, and running a tech with help of course from a translator, was interesting with lights / AV and Sound cues to be worked in. It is at times like this that you work out what it is you do, and why you do it. Very rarely do we test ourselves and take those risks that challenge us outside of what we normally know. It was this experience that has been a major influence on future work for me. The working with new people and teams is so important and refreshes and revitalises and is something we are pursuing with our next project.

I hope you will get the chance to see or keep in the loop of this and out other work at Pilot Theatre – as of course Shift continues to Happen…

The Pilot Theatre Platform Season is here

To book for WC School please click here



May we live in interesting times #artsfunding

13 May


Having woken up to the news that the DCMS has been told to prepare for at least a ??66m cut – I thought I would reflect on where we have got to, and what we are up to at the moment…and what we as a company at Pilot Theatre are doing.??But let’s get one thing straight. Pilot Theatre, the company for which I work, would not exist, if it had not had the continued support from the Arts Council over the years. In 2001, as a result of the theatre review we received an increase in our funding which has enabled us to grow and develop our work. Last year alone we created over 250 live performances for our audiences, and employed over 60 people. We are still doing this…

??As part of our Platform 11 Festival here in York we are about to open 3 new shows and have 2 new Youth Theatre shows performed ??in York Theatre Royal.??The whole festival is here??

We are about to open Catcher – tonight at York Theatre Royal, where we are based. This is a new play by Richard Hurford, and has been directed by Suzann McLean. Her blog about the show is here??
Katie Posner, Pilot’s Associate Director is directing a new show called Jack and the Clones of Chaos – This is part of our EU project Platform 11+ ??- which creates new work for younger audiences aged 11 upwards ??across 12 countries in the EU. This will be shown at our meeting this year in Palmela, Portugal.??Her blog is here too??
The show I directed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, – W.C School – Made in Argentina is arriving here in York next week – Performed in Spanish and English, and this is my blog for the whole project and the work we did to create the show. The picture is us rehearsing on Skype 7,000 miles apart because??
Our Producer, Amanda Smith is in Croatia on an EU Cultural Leadership course as part of our CLP programme.??Her Blog is here??
As well as all this activity we are preparing for our 3rd Annual Arts/Technology Conference – Shift Happens which takes place in York on July 5/6 this year. Our Projects co-ordinator, Katherine Jewkes is heading this up and you can find out about the event here??

I am also preparing to start casting for a 20 week National tour of Romeo and Juliet which kicks off in September – so busy and interesting times.
OK – so apart from a all the activity I wanted to share with you how much we have grown as an organisation, offering opportunities to new and emerging artists, creating work for new and emerging audiences, and above all by constantly evolving and innovating – because Shift really does Happen.??What I am mindful of is the uncertain waters we are now heading with regard to arts funding, and why for many people this is not a big priority given the current economic climate. But I want to give you some figures for thought that you may wish to pass on.
Arts funding spend amounts to 7pence out of every ??100.00 of public spending
The VAT earned back to the Government from London theatre going is greater than the entire Arts Council Theatre subsidy for the whole country
This is just London theatre – so the VAT from the whole country? from not just tickets too? is colossal.
The Creative Industries are the growing sector in this country – at the moment – employing people, training people and providing participation and engagement.
We need as a sector to open up our networks and channels of support and network creatively with vision
follow the conversations on Twitter here by following @pilot_theatre or @marcusromer and let us know what you think

Preparing to rehearse in Argentina via Skype #shifthappens

10 May

Again waiting for the actors, Julian Sierra and Celeste Martinez to join me for a rehearsal via skype. They will be at UPB Buenos Aires and I will be in my office at home – in York UK – and we will work on the play together / apart / and online.

I have also just got their train tickets from Heathrow to York, as they are arriving next Monday, May 17th. The show will open in York at the Theatre Royal on Saturday 22nd in the afternoon. So drop me a line if you need to find out any more.

I will take a couple of pictures while we are doing the rehearsals and drop them onto Facebook and Twitter (both on my /marcusromer pages)

Shift Happens  – and this is an example of how to use the technology in a way that allows creative engagement and participation in a totally immersive way.

We will livetream the actual performance which will be in Spanish when they are over here too

W.C. School – Made in Argentina details are here on the Pilot Theatre website here

Catcher: Before Chapman shot Lennon

6 May

new e flyer link here

Click the link