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“I know a film can’t solve the issues of knife crime, but it can start to raise some of the right questions”

10 Feb

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As a director and filmmaker I wrote and directed a feature film that had the subject of knife crime at its heart. Literally.

The Knife That Killed Me was released by Universal Pictures in 2014. It was well received, got a 4 star review in The Times, and it was one of the top ten films of the year in the Huffington Post. It had time in cinemas and at various festivals around the world and it still has a rating of 7.2 on IMDb.

It is available to watch on Amazon Prime and iTunes and if you are old school you can still get it on DVD. The adaptation was based on the novel by Anthony McGowan which is also available.

I have seen this film in movie theatres across the world, and on one memorable occasion with over 900 young people in Rome at the film festival, where it received a standing ovation. It will be screened again the year in Norway in Harstad following our successful screening for a young audience at the Arctic Moving Image Film Festival there. You can view the trailer on IMDb.

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The reason for this renewed attention is the rapid increase in knife attacks between young people over the last few years. Now of course a film can’t give any right answers, or solve this very pressing issue, but I do believe that a piece of art can raise the right questions if framed in the right context.

There was a Guardian article by Catherine Bruton about this very topic

“why doesn’t the UK government put titles like Hate and The Knife that Killed Me on the new GCSE syllabus rather than obsessing over Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy? “No one who reads The Knife that Killed Me is ever going to carry a knife – ever. In fact, they’ll probably eat with a spoon for the rest of their lives.”

There are ways that work like this can find a way into the lives of young people. I have spent my career as a director making theatre and film in this area –  in theatres, schools, and public settings. I know that you have to start at the grass roots level and build the narratives that are appropriate for the intended audience. But it can be done. It can work. It can raise the right questions, it can get young people addressing the subject matter in their own way.

The question I always used to ask was, if the result of the work that I make means that just one person decides to not carry a knife any more – then that is potentially one less crime statistic or part of a story that leads to yet another young life lost.

And that is something I believe is worth fighting for.

If you would like to help me drop me a line Marcus@artsbeacon.uk

 

Let The Right One In – This much I have learned about directing

9 Feb

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I have been directing this for the last few weeks and as we head into the technical week before we open on Feb 18th, I would like to share my learning and thoughts about the process of directing.

I was chatting to a fellow director over Christmas before I started the rehearsal process at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She gave me some really good advice, in that working in a drama school environment you really examine your process as a director and how and why you make the choices that you do.

So taking this advice into the rehearsal room was incredibly valuable, even though I always feel most at home in any rehearsal space, after all I have been working as a director for 30 years, it was my first time working in a drama school.

For those of you who know me, you will know that I never went to drama school, in fact my introduction was an altogether different type of theatre. There it involved scrubs, gowns and gloves.

So after being an Artistic Director and more recently a film director it has been a brilliant and rewarding process to be working at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The entire production has been developed and made from the point of design, through to costume design and making, scenic construction, scenic art, production and stage management, sound, lighting and AV design and the entire cast, all from the students from the courses and programmes run by the school. The courses all have professional heads of department so the support for everything including voice to stage combat and movement are all backed up by the brilliant staff here.

The key thing about working in this environment is that you realise you are working with a top squad of players who are in your team. The final year programme actors are pretty special and you realise that this talented group of young people are going to head out into the world, and start working in various facets of the industry. So it is a privilege to be able to work with them and hopefully provide some additional advice or encouragement to equip them as they embark on their careers. This is an exciting and rewarding space in which to work.

So the rehearsal process and schedule has worked in the same way as all my professional practice, and we have worked through the script, developed characters through a series of exercises, games and group interactions. A particular area of work focused on whole group hot seating and character development. I extended this with a series of improvisations using phones which we developed and extended in this process, and some of these have ended up in the show. So in terms of my own practice – I think I have ended up doing more explaining and hopefully clarifying the rationale of exercises behind the ongoing process.

It is the job of the director to deliver the story with the cast and to enable all the departments and aspects of the production to come together to deliver the opening performance on time and on schedule. So this is what we have been doing. We now enter the technical phase where all the construction, design, sound, light, projection, costumes and props are all in the right places at the right time to deliver the story for the audience. So that is where we are. We did our first full run through yesterday, and the whole team did a fantastic job. I was really proud of them.

I will keep you updated on progress and how the tech goes – or if you want to come and see what we have made then come and join us from February 18th – the details are on the flyer at the top.

IMG_4780The acting team with myself and the Assistant Director Charissa Martinkauppi.

‘Reveal’ – the first ever active reality project #RevealKL

27 Jan

Here is the video of the Reveal project that I worked on last year as Director and Producer.

REVEAL was a Collusion project developed and devised in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, UK in 2018. Directed and Produced by Simon Poulter and Marcus Romer, this is the first ‘active reality’ project of its kind. It encompassed live performances, large scale projections, an interactive game engine, augmented reality and geo-located story elements, that occurred throughout November and December. With new ‘reveals’ every day it became a multi-episodic box set adventure for mobile that unfolded over a period of time, with video clips, augmented reality codes and clues, video projection, and live interventions that happened across the whole town and beyond.

The project was Executive Produced by Simon Poulter and Rachel Drury, with a team of 36 artists working across disciplines. The legacy site for the project can be found at revealkl.com – supported by Arts Council England, Borough of West Norfolk and King’s Lynn, Discover King’s Lynn, Norfolk County Council and the Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Music was specially composed by Sandy Nuttgens, Matmos and Carter/Tutti. Game engine and coding by Richard Hall, Chris Tyler and Simon Poulter. Projections by Joe Magee, Karen Eng, Pete Cleary, Dominic Manning, Pete Cleary, Issam Kourbaj and Yael Biran. The story was devised and written by James McDermott and Marcus Romer, with a new Syrian poem written by Liwaa Yazji.

The Reveal project uses a Creative Commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – CC BY-NC-SA . This means that anyone can replicate and reuse the method and structure for the project, within the conditions of the license.

Full credit list:

Executive Producers: Simon Poulter, Rachel Drury
Artistic Producers: Marcus Romer, Simon Poulter
Story: James McDermott, Marcus Romer
Words: Liwaa Yazaji
Script Editor: Kathryn Castles
Social media elements: Maze Media
Actors: Oliver Westlake, Claire Lacey, Rebecca Banatvala, Tim Welton
Research and photography volunteer: Beatrice Bray
Film elements and trailer: Gavin Toomey
Logo and Design: Joe Magee
Costume Designer: Sunny Luckhoo
Artists: Issam Kourbaj, Karen Eng, Pete Cleary, Yael Biran, Joe Magee
Music: Carter-Tutti, Matmos, Sandy Nuttgens
Voice overs: Claire Lacey
Engagement Programme: Michelle Brace, Katy Marshall
Web Development: Chris Tyler
Creative Technologist/augments/back-end developer: Richard Hall
3D Artist: Dominic Manning
Projection Development: Pete Cleary
PR and comms: Becky Wieczorek, Stephanie Lewis
Ground and shop team: Luke Woodcroft, Fynn Pitkeathly, Beatrice Bray
Stage Manager: Lewis Anderson
Production Consultant: Ben Pugh
Production Coordinator: Nev Milsom
Project Assistant: Alex Byford
Lighting Assistant: Alexsandra Kruk
Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk: Chris Bamfield, Mark Fuller, Martin Chisholm
AR.js software: Jerome Etienne
After Effects Artist: Sabrina Minter
Fundraising: Catherine Slack
LiDAR Survey: Mark McGarragh
Drone footage and photography: Matthew Usher

Some images of work : life : balance from 2018

3 Jan

Work : Life : Balance :

Images from 2018 from my work and life and a little bit of balance

 

 

Lord of the Flies – it was 20 years ago today…

7 Sep

Hard to believe when some things pop up in your online feed, but I realised that it was 20 years ago today that I first made the theatre production of Lord of the Flies. It seems like another lifetime ago. But I just wanted to take the time out today to thank all of the actors, artists, designers and teams who helped to make this show happen over the following decade.

Library - 0680The show ran for 6 productions for the next 11 years. We gave over 960 performances in over 60 venues across the whole of the UK – and also as far afield as Bermuda, and Portugal. We were nominated for numerous awards and picked up a fair few along the way too. There were 6 casts and technical teams – but the original crashed plane design by Ali Allen and Marise Rose and the soundscape by Sandy Nuttgens were constant thoughout the whole series of productions.

It put my career on the map and certainly established Pilot Theatre as a leading touring theatre company across the UK.

Even back in 1998 – when the world was a different place, I placed innovation at the core of our work, online resources, free CD’s and DVD’s on the programmes – remember those?

It was great to make a show that made things happen. For me it enabled us to launch the careers for many emerging actors, lx designers, associate directors and stage managers.

Here is the clip for the trailer made by the video company who flew over from New York back in 1999 to make it for us. It was a video trailer for the show. This was years before YouTube was born, but we realised then the power that images, sound and vision could have that could help to develop a new era of audience and theatremakers.

Thanks to all who had a hand in helping to make this happen all those years ago

You’ve got to join the tribe…

Betty’s, Taylors and Harrogate Theatre

27 Jul

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Dawn Taylor from Bettys & Taylors, Manli Siu and Marcus Romer from Harrogate Theatre

26/07/2018

Livestream Harrogate’s Panto? Oh, yes we will!

Two of Harrogate’s historic institutions met today, with a generous donation from Bettys & Taylors to Harrogate Theatre.

They showed their support for a great cause – Associate Artist Marcus Romer’s ambitious plan to livestream this year’s pantomime into hospitals, hospices and adult social care homes across North Yorkshire.

Here at Harrogate Theatre, we’re really proud of our much-loved annual pantomime, which is written and directed in-house – and we don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun this Christmas.

So, we’ve planned a number of projections and screenings of this year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk, which families can enjoy together in partnership with Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, where will screen the production in children’s wards, waiting areas and even the lecture theatre of Harrogate Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

This project is ground-breaking for Harrogate and will potentially change the way we look at inclusivity in the arts, making a real difference to people over the festive break.

“I am delighted that we are able to work closely with Harrogate Theatre to turn this idea into a reality and make such a positive difference for patients, their relatives and our staff. We know how popular the pantomime is and it’s fantastic that community organisations can come together in this way”

Find out more or get involved with this exciting project here…

https://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/news/posts/2018/april/local-businesses-take-centre-stage/

 

 

I will be co-directing ‘As Long As The Heart Beats’ an #NHS70 project for National Theatre Wales #NTWNHS70

27 Jun

 

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I am really proud to be able to announce that I have been working on this project since January, and I will be co-directing this new piece for National Theatre Wales as
PART OF THE #NHS70 FESTIVAL

Having worked in the NHS at the start of my career, prior to becoming a theatre director, I am delighted to be involved in the creation of this new piece of work. It is one of those projects that ties together my interests, passion and creativity. It has been a real joy to work alongside the brilliant team at National Theatre Wales. We have a terrific group of actors and creative team on board and it promises to be something very special indeed.  This is about the NHS, it is about the people who work in it and how it touches all of our lives. It is a piece for now. Do come and join us…

It will take place at the Outpatient Department, Royal Gwent Hospital, Cardiff Road, Newport NP20 2UB on 21-22 July 2018

The stories –

National Theatre Wales asked the people of this country to share their stories and memories of the NHS.

Gathered from across Wales and the NHS, we’ve woven these individual threads into an immersive and engaging theatrical production that will take place in the Outpatient Department of the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, featuring specially-composed music and interactive elements.

As Long as the Hearts Beats journeys back through the first 70 years of the NHS and looks ahead to the next seven decades.

There are just ten opportunities to see this life-affirming show which has care and compassion at its heart, performed in the heart of a living, working hospital. So please turn off your mobile phones and wash your hands, it’s visiting time.

Co-directed by Marcus Romer and Ben Tinniswood
Designed by Becky Davies with original music by Tic Ashfield 

For tickets please click here  or call the box office on 029 2037 1689