Tag Archives: Marcus Romer

Welcome to my work and world

12 Aug
Sing-Yer-Heart-Out-Gallery-1Sally Orrock in Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads – photo by Simon Warner

Welcome to my website and growing archive of my work. Here you will find stuff about my current work as well as past projects.

I am a theatre and filmmaker and have also taught and spoken at conferences around the world.

Recently I have been making work online – with our new company Mutiny – and have been working with artists and creative practitioners to develop new projects during the lockdown period of 2020.

On the site there are over 600 blogposts dating back to 2008 – which cover most projects and aspects of my career so far. Use the search function to have a dig around in the archive –  or look at the word cloud and see what takes your fancy!

There are also photos and videos from current and previous projects to have a look at, as well as reviews and testimonials

If you want to get in contact with me just have a click here and choose how you would like to drop me a line.

or you can email me here marcusromeruk@gmail.com

Making work during lockdown

17 Jul

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I have been working from home since March 16th. During that time I have been keeping myself pretty busy. The picture above is from our Mutiny project called Locus Solus – which means ‘Solitary Place’ – pretty apt for the lockdown period spent in my work shed.

March was spent pretty much ‘unprogramming’ all the work I had programmed for 2020 for Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. I had been working as interim Artistic Director and had just finished the programme until January 2021. It was a difficult time contacting all the artists an companies week by week and breaking the news that we were unable to bring their work to the theatre. Also realising the the two productions I was scheduled to direct – Big Skies, a new play written by James McDermott and Atiha Sen Gupta, and Animal Farm as the large scale summer production – were also not going to happen. My contract was tapering out as the new AD took up their post – so work had to be made out of thin air. Which is what ended up happening…

Zoom Theatre in Norway – War of The Worlds

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March was spent making a piece of Zoom Theatre with the Harstad FHS team who were now scattered all across Norway. This was a first and a really interesting project working with the actors and the Theatre Director Hege Fjeld to make a new version of War of the Worlds. This was an exciting discovery and we worked with green screens and backgrounds and really developed a set of strong performances from the young actors who had been dispersed from their training back to their home towns across Norway. There is a blogpost about this here

Covid 19 Threads – Telling the stories of the pandemic – one tweet at a time.

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April and May was spent making #Covid19Threads – this time with Mutiny – our new company with Simon Poulter and Sophie Mellor – Here we took tweets written by people who had been directly affected by the pandemic and we voiced these with a group of brilliant actors. Simon and Sophie put together the short animated films and we made a series of 6 episodes. On episode every week.

Here is  a story from a Doctor in Canada – and the rest are on the link above.

 

SHEDx – Bill Thompson

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Also in May I started the first of a series of talks with people who Zoomed into my Shed. The first guest was Bill Thompson, journalist and in his words a hacker nd a pundit – who also heads up digital development at The BBC.

 

Locus Solus – A solitary Place – our ACE R&D project with Mutiny 

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This was our project with Mutiny that we started in February at Watershed in Bristol. We  were invited to run our test at the Pervasive Media Studio there – and of course at the end of February it was clear that we would need to pivot to a digital platform – and here we created the world of Locus Solus in the game platform – Roblox. One of the key benefits of this time has been the ability to develop our new company – Mutiny with Simon Poulter and Sophie Mellor.

The project was based on the 1914 novel by Raymond Roussel and we created a series of worlds in the game platform which you can visit. We commissioned Roy Williams to write a new section of the script and we had three actors live in the world operating their avatars. Suzann McLean, Oliver Alvin-Wilson and Simon Munnery.

This is a real breakthrough in immersive digital platform. We managed to get sound and audio into the game world – so we created an online theatre space where anything can happen. There is a fuller description on the blogpost here.

Training and working with artists and companies.

As part of my work across digital and the arts I have also been able to work with key organisations and artists online doing this time. Here I have been working as a mentor for the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, The European Theatre Convention CEO and leadership team, as well as Artists and actors with help with their digital skills and performance pieces. Again some more info here if you are interested in contacting me

Website update of shows I have directed

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Another key project has been to draw my work archive together of shows that I have made– and all to move my website within this blog. Where you can find out about my work – as well as latest projects and previous work too.

Breakthrough in new #DigitalTheatre immersive concept with online participation for audiences – developed by @Mutinyprojects

9 Jul

On June 19th there was a theatrical world premiere. It included a newly commissioned piece written by Roy Williams. It was performed live by three actors – Suzann McLean, Oliver Alvin Wilson and Simon Munnery. It had an original sound score specially composed by Sandy Nuttgens – and it was performed live in a brand new theatre space that we had built on the game platform called Roblox.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 21.41.10Suzann McLean performing on the stage in Roblox

Mutiny is a new Arts organisation founded by Simon Poulter, Sophie Mellor and Marcus Romer. It was set up in November 2019 and received Arts Council Funding to develop our new project – Locus Solus – which means Solitary Space. Our work started in February at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol with their support. This was pre-lockdown and we were developing the project and building the world for the narrative in the software development side of Roblox.

Roblox is is an online game platform and game creation system that allows users to program games and play games created by other users. At present there are over 100 million active monthly users.

IMG_3278The audience setting off to the start the story and to be part of the project

On the platform we built the entire world – over several locations and areas, including, rivers, frozen lakes and one of the spaces with a bespoke theatre.

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The Theatre space can house many audience members – as of course to be part of the show you will need to have developed an avatar to enter the world. As part of the process as a director we ran a full rehearsal schedule, including a technical and dress rehearsal prior to the premiere.

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 12.51.58The Theatre space with room for several hundred seats

The key area of development was the integration of live HD sound for the actors and live mixed soundtrack.We achieved this by laying another program into the Roblox world – so we were able to live mix and integrate the sound and actors’ voices as they moved their avatars around the environment. The real breakthrough was the ability to have active participation and engagement from the audience as we all moved through this immersive environment together – and they too were able to use their voices and talk back at key times too.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 21.43.31Suzann McLean and Oliver Alvin Wilson’s avatars performing the new text by Roy Williams for the audience.

There are several locations in the Locus Solus world and we performed new text across them all. The worlds all interconnect and can allow for multiple immersive experiences at the same time for audiences. This is a truly interactive space and experience for both audience and performers. It lends itself to bespoke design and development of new performance pieces

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 13.17.47The ice plateau area of Locus Solus

As Mutiny we are keen to develop this concept and build partners who would like to join us in this project as we move forward. We are looking to build the next iteration and series of commissions as we continue with this project and we will be looking to fund this.

If you are interested and want to get involved then – drop us a message marcus@artsbeacon.uk or info@mutinyprojects.org.uk

 

Application and Consultancy for Arts Organisations.

22 Jun

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In these shifting times we all have to rethink our approach to making work and how we can maintain and develop our connections with our audiences and communities. With the new ACE Cultural Recovery funding announced on July 29th – I can come on board and help you and the team get the application in for the first deadline.

Let me help you – I am an Arts and Digital specialist with over 25 years of leadership experience both in delivering and making work. I have run an NPO for over 20 years as AD and CEO (Pilot Theatre) and have worked in leadership positions across a range of arts organisations (Theatre Royal Stratford East, Harrogate Theatre and Theatre Royal BSE)

I know how hard the Senior Management teams of organisations have been working over the last 4 months – so if you need another pair of hands on deck who can help to draw the application together just drop me a line.

I have also pioneered Live to Digital delivery projects for the last ten years for a number of different organisations. I can work with you to help you deliver the right plan for you and your organisation.

If you are interested in having an initial conversation where we can chat all these things through – just drop me an email marcus@artsbeacon.uk

My recent article for ArtsProfessional about the Pivot to Digital in the Arts Sector.

Marcus Romer was CEO and Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre from 1994 – 2016. He was interim Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020. He is now a freelance Director, Writer and Filmmaker and Creative Director of Artsbeacon UK. He has been an Associate Artist for Theatre Royal Stratford East, Harrogate Theatre, National Theatre Wales, and Collusion. He has delivered Digital Consultancy work for SOLT and UK Theatre, Home, Manchester, Arts Council England, Creative England, The British Council, The European Theatre Convention, Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Stephen Joseph Theatre, New Norske Theatre, Oslo, Innovation Norway, LIPA, Barclays UK, Norwich City Council, Cambridge City Council. He created Shift Happens Conferences, and helped to produce No Boundaries in 2014 and 2015 with Arts Council England.

Pictures and videos from the archive of shows I have directed – Lord of the Flies from 1998 – 2008

18 Jun

Library - 0679This was the show that took my work across the country for a period of 10 years. From 1998 – 2008 we made 5 separate productions of this that played over 960 performances in almost every theatre in the country to audiences in excess of 500,000.

We had 5 casts that overlapped as the shows progressed and we co-produced with Lyric Hammersmith, York Theatre Royal to first deliver this with Pilot Theatre back in 1998.

Library - 0680The show toured across the UK and we even tool it to Bermuda to their International Theatre festival. It also played versions across Europe as part of EU collaborative projects. Library - 0700

The crashed aeroplane set was designed by Ali Allen and Marise Rose – and its multi-functional use became a real trademark for the show. This was combined with the first full soundtrack composed by Sandy Nuttgens which underscored the entire piece. Again a first for this kind of work.

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We used projection and titles from the first production again giving the pice a cinematic feel. The full soundtrack and moving shapes from the plane were combined with real elements too. We had two real fireboxes on stage that really created a sense of danger.

Library - 0680The show itself was a series of controlled danger moments. With falls and crashes and swinging metal from the structure, as the actors leapt over flames and slid down the structures that they beat with metal bars.

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The rotting pig’s head at the start of Act 2 with Simon ( played by Neville Robinson)

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Phillip Dinsdale as Jack

The use of blood, water and fire and a pulsing soundtrack ensures that there were moments of adrenaline rush in the audience that could tip to a moment of pin drop silence, when we killed the soundtrack dead – as the motionless body of Simon hung limply from the edge of the wing section.

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Neville Hutton as Piggy

The bullying and baying of the characters whipped the story to its terrifying climax – as we flew in a ‘helicopter’ effect to blind the audience as we dropped in a parachting SAS officer.

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This show always worked incredibly well for the audience of young people who had sometimes been reluctantly dragged along to see their set text piece of work. As a director I wanted to ensure that they witnessed something they would never have seen before. And to ensure that they would not be bored and there would be scenes that would burn into their memory by the sheer audacity of the action in front of them.

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QUOTES & REVIEWS

“William Golding meets Quentin Tarantino”

The Financial Times

“Brilliantly evoked…see it and weep”

Time Out

“Terrifying and exhilarating production…heart stopping”

The Guardian

“Visceral production…thrillingly choreographed”

The Independent

“Brilliant – Stunning production…superb ensemble…skilful direction, if you see nothing else, see this.”

Manchester Evening News

“This is a superb production of which everyone involved can be proud”

The Scotsman

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Directed by Marcus Romer

Designed by Ali Allen and Marise Rose

Soundtrack by Sandy Nuttgens

Lighting design by James Farncombe

AV Arnim Friess

Movement Hannah Priddle / Gill wright / Faroque Khan

Relights James Molyneux

Photos Simon Warner

 

The trailer made by AGE from New York back in 1999 – before Theatres did trailers…

 

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Thanks to all the actors and creative practitioners and office staff who worked on this project over the many years. It was a great show and was great fun to make.

Marcus Romer – Director / Filmmaker / Speaker /

18 Jun

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Director / Filmmaker / Speaker

Marcus’ work has spanned three decades in theatre, film, television and consultancy in the Arts.

He was Artistic Director of the award-winning National Touring Theatre Company Pilot Theatre from 1993 to 2016. He directed work across in the UK, throughout Europe and in Argentina. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Marcus has collected three Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for his productions of Lord of the Flies and Beautiful Thing. Marcus’ adaptation of Looking for JJ won the UK Theatre award for best production for young people.

He is a freelance director and was interim Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020 where he directed Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan and Shirley Valentine.

He is currently a founding Artist of Mutiny Projects who made #Covid19Threads and are currently developing #LocusSolus a digital performance platform on Roblox with Simon Poulter and Sophie Mellor.

He is a published playwright. Marcus wrote the screenplay for The Knife That Killed Me (2014) from the novel by Anthony McGowan. He co-directed the film for Universal Pictures.

He was an Associate Artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East from 2016 – 2018. He has also been an Associate Artist for Harrogate Theatre since September 2017. For both of these organisations he Produced Livestream theatre projects into health care settings for The Space.

In 2018 Marcus directed for National Theatre Wales, where he developed part of their project, NHS70 – As Long as the Heart Beats.

In 2019 Marcus directed ‘Let the Right One In’ for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and ‘Justice 39’ for the People Power Passion project with Revoluton Arts in Luton.

Marcus is a TEDster, class of 2007 / 2011 / 2013. Participating in the conferences encouraged him to set up the annual conference to discuss technology and the arts, ‘Shift Happens’. He has also hosted the TEDxYork conference, and co-created No Boundaries for Arts Council England in 2014 and 2015.

He provides training and consultancy to Arts organisations, companies and individuals with online mentoring and directing. He is a mentor for the Colchester Mercury Creatives.

Marcus has also worked as an actor and has appeared in several long running series and TV films – including Prime Suspect, Dalziel and Pascoe, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Hillsborough and The Bill.

For detail about his work please see below – or email him for more information

marcusromeruk@gmail.com

 

FILM

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Marcus wrote the screenplay for the film, adapting the book by Anthony McGowan. He co-directed the film with Kit Monkman.

The Knife That Killed Me was released by Universal Pictures.

It was ranked #10 in the Top Thirty Films of the Year (2014) by the Huffington Post.

“…like a hi-tech version of Lars von Trier’s Dogville” The Guardian

“Easily one of the best films of the year” Huffington Post

“Alive with visual intention” Empire

“an experimental British drama… with a densely intensive visual verve.” The Times

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THEATRE

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Marcus was the interim Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020.  He was an Associate Artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East from 2016 – 2018. He was also a Producer for Collusion, Harrogate Theatre, and a director for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. . Marcus was Artistic Director at the award-winning National Touring Theatre Company Pilot Theatre from 1993 to 2016. He has directed work across in the UK, throughout Europe, and in Argentina, including national touring productions of: Antigone, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Romeo and Juliet, Lord of the Flies, Beautiful Thing, Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads, Looking for JJ, Road, The Fever Chart, Bloodtide, and Rumble Fish.

In 2018 Marcus developed and directed ‘As Long As The Heart Beats’ for National Theatre Wales, as part of their NHS 70 project. He also developed the first Active Reality project ‘Reveal’ with Simon Poulter for Collusion.

Pride and Prejudice:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good production of Pride & Prejudice must capture not only the elegance and era of Jane Austen, but also the intelligence and wit. Director Marcus Romer and his talented cast have managed to do all of that and more in the clever new adaptation.” East Anglia Daily Times

Let The Right One In
“It’s only mid-February but we may already have a show of the year on our hands with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s exquisite production of Let The Right One In. Brutal, terrifying and tender, Marcus Romer’s production catches all the winter chill of its Nordic setting, its gothic horror gradually intensifying as its young protagonists Oskar and Eli discover common ground in a small little town where a spate of murders leaves everyone on edge.” The Bristol Post *****

As Long as the Heart Beats:
“If there is one stand-out message from National Theatre Wales’ NHS70 programme, it’s the fact that the institution thrives because of the people who keep it moving. Examples of this are given through the five one-act plays commissioned for the season, but it is this promenade production that really drives the point home. Borne out of real experiences people have shared, As Long as the Heart Beats is a beautifully captured snapshot of life inside an NHS hospital, and the people responsible for making it so.” Wales Arts Review

Antigone:
“The 90 minutes of the single-act play gallop along towards the tragic finale. A young audience absolutely lapped it up.” The Independent ****

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
“Flawlessly directed by Marcus Romer and stylishly designed by Lydia Denno, the discussion this show will provoke will run and run” The Observer

Sing yer heart out for the lads
“…the production seems to have everything: pace, precision, power. The result is sensational” The Guardian ****

Looking For JJ
“This is a genuinely important piece of theatre, every bit as thoughtful and demanding as its audience deserves” The Times

Lord of the Flies
“William Golding meets Quentin Tarantino” The Financial Times

Beautiful Thing
“engaging, sensitive and it does your old heart good” Yorkshire Post

Rumble Fish
“The show generates the kind of rapt attention in which you could hear a pin drop.” The Guardian

Road
“Superlative acting and a dynamic, inventive production by Marcus Romer that splices film footage and suitably atmospheric music into the action.” The Evening Standard

 

Consultant / Cultural Leader

No Boundaries 2014 - York

Marcus has become a mainstay for arts organisations seeking to improve the way in which they approach technology. He has spoken at conferences in Venice, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Palm Springs, London, and across the UK. He has delivered projects and business and cultural development projects for Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Kettle’s Yard, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Theatre Peckham, Theatre Royal Stratford East.

2007 attended TED in California

2008 – 2013 created Shift Happens, a celebration of innovation and a forum for discussion for arts organisations across the UK. Speakers have included Ken Robinson, Clay Shirky, Howard Rheingold

2011 Hosted TedxYork

2014 Co-curated and hosted No Boundaries for Arts Council England and the British Council

2015 Co-hosted No Boundaries 2015

2016 Innovation Norway, conference in Tromsø, Norway

2016 Arctic Moving Image Film Festival, Harstadt, Norway

2017 European Theatre Convention, Karlsruhe, Germany

2017 UK Theatre Touring Symposium, London

2018 Mainframe Derby

2018 With Collusion in Cambridge Marcus produced projects in King’s Lynn and Bury St Edmunds. This included developing and creating ‘Reveal’ with Simon Poulter.

2019 Harstad Residency in Norway developing a new green screen project

To find out about working with Marcus as a speaker, contact him here.

 

Projects and Innovation

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Through Pilot Theatre, and as a freelancer, Marcus has led many high profile arts events across the country:

The Great Exhibition of the North Marcus was on the bid writing team for The Great Exhibition of the North for Harrogate, and presented the bid for Bradford

HOME Created and delivered a new digital strategy for HOME in Manchester

ACE and Norwich City Council A research study for St. Andrews Halls in Norwich

Creative England Creative Director for the Eagle Lab Flight Programme in partnership with Barclays UK

International Indian Film Academy Awards Marcus and KMA created the opening event in 2007 at Sheffield Arena, for a live audience of 15,000 and a TV audience of 500 million

UNESCO Was part of the team that placed the winning bid to make York the UNESCO-designated ‘City of Media Arts’

Tour De France Organised the Cycle of Songs with HistoryWorksUK: the opening event of the Cambridge leg of the Tour de France 2014. The event featured a walking tour app that worked along the route of the race around the city with 9 originally commissioned songs geo-tagged to your location

Immersive Theatre Worked with SlungLow in August 2013 to produce Blood and Chocolate (pictured above), a fully immersive theatre show with 200+ actors that worked via headsets for all audience members and a walking tour across the city of York

Conferences Created the Shift Happens conferences, leading to the No Boundaries events to connect the Arts with technology and to shift thinking

Livestreaming Executed the first ever multi-camera livestream of the York Mystery plays, which enabled viewers to choose from 6 camera angles and to curate their own viewing for the BBC and The Space

Produced Reasons to be Cheerful by Graeae for The Space as a live to digital cinema release in 2018

Produced Theatre Royal Stratford East Christmas shows into Barts Health Trust as a livestream 2016 and 2017 for The Space

Produced Harrogate Theatre Jack and the Beanstalk – livestream to Harrogate NHS Foundation Trust for The Space

For more info please contact

marcusromeruk@gmail.com

Pictures and videos from the archive of shows I have directed – The Indian International Film Academy – The Bollywood Oscars Award Ceremony

17 Jun

In 2007 I was commissioned to deliver the opening of The IIFA awards –  the Bollywood Oscars, which in that year, was taking place at Sheffield Arena.

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I pulled the team together for the event and the video was created by Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler (with whom I went on to make the movie ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ for Universal Pictures) We shot hundreds of people from Yorkshire on Green Screen and put them against images from Yorkshire.

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The music was created by Sandy Nuttgens who put together Johnny Kalsi from The Dhol Foundation with the Kaiser Chiefs to create the Ruby remix

The live opening of the show was directed by Marcus Romer with Kully Thiarai, with choreography by Darshan Singh Bhuller, costumes by Ali Allen.

The video was the backdrop to Aerial Artists, dancers and performers, who rehearsed with the video so the action and timings were integrated.

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We had aerial artists on silks who came down from the rig as part of the narrative of the three ribbons heading towards the arena across the landscape of Yorkshire.

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Here is the video that was used as the backdrop for the stage set that included all the images of Yorkshire and the people we shot on Green Screen.

 

The dancers and performers appeared also with 30 children from a local primary school in Sheffield. Here are the main performers post the show.

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Here is the TV interview pre-show and the full Arena Show on video too. It was broadcast on Star TV in India to an audience of over 500 million.

 

 

The experience of making this on Green Screen with Kit Monkman started our working relationship which led to the making of The Knife That Killed Me in 2012 for Universal Pictures.

Photos – Marcus Romer and screen grabs from the video edit.

 

Pictures from the archive of shows I have directed – Beautiful Thing – by Jonathan Harvey.

15 Jun

I have in fact directed 2 versions of this show. The first was in York in 2003 and that will be featured in a later blogpost. But this was the production we remade and set it in Gorton, Manchester – thanks to Jonathan Harvey’s permission – as we ran the show for. month at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton in 2005. It won 3 Manchester Evening News awards. For best newcomer for actor Oliver Lee as Jamie, Best Design and best Technical team.

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Jonathan Howard and Oliver Lee

Written by Jonathan Harvey

Directed by Marcus Romer

Designed by Laura McEwan

Lighting by Jude Cloke

photos Karl Andre

The cast – Oliver Lee, Jonathan Howard, Kerry Stacey, Marie Critchley, Andonis Anthony.

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Jonathan Howard, Oliver Lee and Kerry Stacey

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Oliver Lee and Andonis Anthony

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Oliver Lee and Kerry Stacey

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Oliver Lee and Jonathan Howard

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Oliver Lee and Jonathan Howard

Review **** The Guardian

You’re supposed to start noticing your age when the policemen look younger. I’d say it’s when they start updating the references in Beautiful Thing. Can it really be be over a decade since Jonathan Harvey first produced his tenderfoot study of shy teens coming out on a Thamesmead estate?

Apparently it is; and Pilot Theatre’s purpose is to remake the piece for a new generation. In come nods to Britney, Beckham and Will Young, while the action is transplanted to a raw Mancunian council development. Director Marcus Romer even adds a Shameless-style narratorial introduction which is a little, well, shameless: but the good news is that a play routinely described as “feelgood” feels better than ever.

The typical Pilot touches of video projection, seat-rattling soundtrack and street-smart production suit the play. But Romer’s real innovation is to speed things up. There was a lassitude to the original Bush production which suggested that Harvey was the new urban Chekhov; when really he was a superior Coronation Street scriptwriter-in-waiting.

Romer’s production has the no-holds-barred attitude and verbal snap of Harvey’s best Corrie scripts. It’s incredible that the cast generate so much noise seemingly without opening their mouths.

Yet the best thing about it is that it’s 100% genuine – the two teen leads, Jonathan Howard and Oliver Lee, grew up a stone’s throw from the theatre, and turn in debut performances of easy naturalism and exceptional emotional accomplishment. Andonis Anthony and Marie Critchley provide complementary portrayals of feckless adulthood; and Kerry Stacey makes an impact as the gobby Mama Cass obsessive who lives next door.

Harvey’s now-classic play has been characterised as an urban fairy tale. Clap your hands if you still believe in urban fairies.

Pictures from the archive of shows I have directed – Looking for JJ

12 Jun

The world premiere of Anne Cassidy’s brilliant and award-winning novel, adapted by Marcus Romer. Pilot co-produced Looking For JJ in partnership with Unicorn Theatre, London and York Theatre Royal. We opened the national tour in York in autumn 2007 until March 2008. It included. four week run at The Unicorn Theatre in London

Looking for JJ won the TMA award for best show for children and young people at the awards ceremony at Hampstead Theatre.

Suzann McLean and Christina Baily

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The cast was – Melanie Ash, Christina Baily as JJ, Rochelle Gadd, Davood Ghadami, Louise Kempton, Suzann McLean.

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Lousie Kempton, Christina Baily and Rochelle Gadd

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Christina Baily and Davood Ghadami

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Christina Baily

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Rochelle Gadd, Davood Ghadami, Christina Baily and Louise Kempton

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Christina Baily and Suzann McLean

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Melanie Ash and Christina Baily

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Christina Baily

The Team

Writer Marcus Romer – Adapted from the novel by Anne Cassidy

Director Marcus Romer

Designer Laura McEwen

Lighting James Farncombe

AV design Arnim Friess

Sound Design Sandy Nuttgens

Photos Tristram Kenton and Karl Andre

Trailer 

 

Quotes

The Guardian

the adaptation of Anne Cassidy’s excellent novel for teenagers is pacy and engaging. It seamlessly melds technology with live action, so it often feels as if you have fallen through a computer screen. But the great thing here is that video is not an add-on but is embedded in the heart of the production.

The BBC

The novel by Ann Cassidy is currently a cult hit with teenagers across the UK and, as always, Pilot have their finger on the pulse. Marcus Romer’s adaptation is superb. It is fragmented and spliced in such a way that the audience is never bored or patronised. Concentration is the only way to keep up with the pace and the broken nature of the piece ensures the tension never drops for a moment.

In balance with the frenetic nature of spliced music, movies and picture stills on an
impressive, movable cyclorama, the performances are bold and simple. Christina Baily
as JJ bares her soul to the audience in direct addresses that are perfect for the company’s
target teenage audience and suit the blog framework that the adaptation adopts.

It is a performance that will make you feel elated and uncomfortable in equal measure, pushing relevant questions about redemption and forgiveness to the surface. Christina’s characterisation is so full of strength and warmth the audience uncomfortably writhe in their seats as they realise they are rooting for her to get away with it.

The supporting cast are equally superb, switching between numerous roles effortlessly and pulling off the difficult task of adults playing children with panache. The energy levels remain in top gear throughout and the original soundtrack is chillingly eerie, it gives even greater magnitude to the rising tension and is a credit to composer Sandy Nuttgens. As with ‘Sing Yer Heart Out For the Lads’ Pilot have confronted difficult issues in an innovative, fresh and accessible fashion which leaves your head buzzing with thoughts and discussions. A fantastic show.

Pictures from the archive of shows I have directed or produced. Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

9 Jun

This show was from 2012 and the cast and creative team list is below. Adapted by Roy Williams this was a national tour from September to December 2012. It had an amazing cast and introduced Elliot Barnes-Worrell in his debut role. It was also a stage debut for Jack McMullen – who joined the cast just after we had finished filming The K fir That Killed Me. The design incorporated a 5 metre long running track which could move in both directions. During each performance Elliot would run over 5 Kilometres.

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Elliot Barnes-Worrell as Colin Smith

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Jack McMullen, Alix Ross, Savannah Gordon-Liburd, Elliot Barnes-Worrell

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Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Doreene Blackstock and Richard Pepple

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Elliot Barnes.-Worrell, Curtis Cole and Sean Sagar

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Elliot Barnes-Worrell and Jack McMullen

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The set and one of the projection states.

 

The trailer video

QUOTES & REVIEWS

“…this is a brainy as well as a brawny performance, as far removed from Tom Courtenay’s in the 1962 film as one could conceive – we’re hearing here from the voice of alienated black London youth – yet imbued with the qualities that made Courtenay’s troublemaker so sympathetic: surly defiance, sly humour and much below-the-surface vulnerability.”

The Telegraph

“Flawlessly directed by Marcus Romer and stylishly designed by Lydia Denno, the discussions this show will provoke will run and run.”

The Observer

“Certain performances are destined for a long run, though few are likely to run quite this far. At the heart of this Pilot Theatre production, Elliot Barnes-Worrell not only puts in an aggressively charismatic performance as Alan Sillitoe’s antisocial athlete, he spends much of the evening pounding away on a treadmill. A conservative estimate is that he covers around 4km per show.”

Alfred Hickling – The Guardian

The Independent Review

“Roy Williams’s remarkable updated adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner at Nottingham Playhouse is full of nuanced politics.”

The Telegraph

 

CAST

Elliot Barnes-Worrell as Colin Smith

Doreene Blackstock as Mum

Curtis Cole as Luke/PC

Dominic Gately as Stevens

Savannah Gordon-Liburd as Kenisha

Jack McMullen as Jase

Richard Pepple as Dad/Trevor

Alix Ross as Sandra/Guard

Sean Sagar as Asher/PC/Guard

Luke James as Gunthorpe and Company ASM

 

 

CREATIVE TEAM

From the novel by Alan Stilltoe

Adapted for the stage by Roy Williams

Directed by Marcus Romer

Designed by Lydia Denno

Lighting Designed by Mark Beasley

AV Design by Lydia Denno & Mark Beasley

Soundscape by Sandy Nuttgens

Staff Director – Tom Bellerby

Photographer  Karl Andre