Tag Archives: pilot theatre

up close and personal… #PlatShift blogpost

15 Jun

Last week I discovered a new thing, a new idea maybe? one that allows two different acting styles, to be incorporated into one piece of theatre that also allows better performance capture and subsequent livestream delivery across a range of devices.

Jamie Shelton rehearsing

We were working in Portugal, in a converted pig farm near Palmela, the home of the internationally acclaimed theatre company, Teatro O Bando. We were there as part of our Platform Shift project with 11 other companies from 9 different European countries. This particular piece of work was part of a scratch performance as part of our research and development.

We were developing a piece called / Green / Amber / Red / which focused on a young woman called Amber, and her relationships with the people she knows outside the world she now finds herself in.

As part of our work we created a dual sectioned performing space, with Jamie Shelton (Max) playing directly into a camera lens, which projected his image into the other section of the space onto a wall, right in front of Natalie Davies (Amber) who was sorting out clothes on the floor.

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This played with the idea of ‘FaceTime intimacy’ where we reveal our thoughts and personal information directly to each other via our socially connected devices. The filmic and televisual performance style of Jamie existed in the space that Natalie was working in. Her direct and real time interaction with him across the distance, whilst the audience were watching on either side of her created a really moving and electric connection.

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The projection was in the same space as the actor playing the character. So we could watch and hear both live, but for Natalie she was focused on the image on the wall as if on her phone and it was in that gap that we, as an audience were included into that space of intimate conversation between both protagonists.

The performance to camera was appropriate for that medium and as such would translate really well across to a live-streamed capture version for an on screen delivery.  This existed in the theatre world for Natalie and her performance was geared to that space. Both co-existed and connected in a way that opens up new possibilities and ideas for future work in this area for this new piece of work.

Marcus Romer June 15th 2015

Big thanks also to Ben Pugh for his photos and his video capture work as part of this, and to Natalie Davies and Jamie Shelton, and the rest of the Pilot Theatre team.

Two separate projects both opened on the same night #PilotAntigone #TKTKM

27 Sep

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So, September 22nd 2014 turned out to be pretty important date for Pilot Theatre. We had press night for new co-production ‘Antigone’ at Derby Theatre – We are heading out on tour and will be bringing the show to Stratford East London for a month next February. Here is the trailer.

And our new feature film – ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ had a public screening in London in Soho at the Century Cinema. We also had a good review in Empire magazine, and we are going to be in competition as part of the Rome Film Festival Oct 16 -21st. The movie will launch at the end of October – with UK distribution by Universal Pictures. Here is the trailer.

Both of these projects have been over two years in the planning to get them to this point. We shot the movie back in April 2012, and we commissioned Antigone from Roy Williams back in 2012 too.

Needless to say we have more commissions in the pipeline for Pilot,  and I am working on a new screenplay. It is only once projects launch that you can refocus your mind onto future projects. Prior to that you time and energy is quite rightly spent on the delivery of the work in hand.

I am immensely proud of both of these pieces of work and the teams behind them. The whole Pilot team and the Greenscreen company have been very creative and supportive work partners. I would like to thank both Derby Theatre and Stratford East too, for enabling the Antigone project to take flight.

Here is the link to the Alice in the City programme in Rome for #TKTKM

And for the movie website with the artwork and quotes on is here TheKnifeThatKilledMeMovie.com

and the Huffington Post review is here

‘Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, this tale of gang wars and one young protagonist’s love for his fellow student is mesmerising. Imagine a mix of Kes and Sin City and you get the idea behind this clever and inventive movie.Easily one of the best films of the year’

And for Antigone – A  5 ***** review here

‘The audience atmosphere in the theatre throughout is tangible. It seems at times that one hardly dare breathe as the story unfolds. It sucks you in…”

Here is the link to the tour schedule for #PilotAntigone

 

Thankyou

Marcus Romer – Artistic Director – Pilot Theatre – 27/9/2014

Making theatre? for me it’s all about the audience… #Theatre #audiences #Kingston14

30 Mar

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I had one of those moments last night when I realised what this theatre stuff was really all about. Again.

I saw the first preview of Roy Williams’ new play, Kingston 14 at Stratford East. This is a really strong and important piece of work, and the first night audience gave it the applause and response it truly deserved. When I say audience, I mean the people who were there that night. The groups of individuals, couples, families, all who had come out on a Friday night to see something that had been made for them. A new piece of work that said ‘this is for you, these are characters that you may recognise, and relate to their stories’.

This particular theatre encourages first time attenders to come to the previews from the borough – if you haven’t been to Stratford East before it costs just £2.50 to see the show for a preview. Consequently the theatre was sold out, the show and its relationship to its local audience was electric. Riotous laughter and reaffirmations one moment to hear a pin drop tension the next. This is what this theatre stuff can do. And here at Stratford East, it does it very well indeed.

The audience were a reflection of the creative team and the cast on stage. It really is that simple. If you don’t see it on stage, it’s highly unlikely you will see it in your audience. Think about it – It’s not rocket science, it’s rocket salad. If it’s not in the bag you’re not going to get it on your plate.

Initiatives, audience development schemes, all that stuff is all very well, but if the work you make, and who you make it with, doesn’t reflect who you are making it for – then it is doomed to fail. Some theatres are too risk averse to think outside their own comfort zones, and as Nii Sackey said at our recent No Boundaries event – ‘Theatres need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ This is a key concept and vital to the whole nature of how we make and share our work.

This play, the theatre it was premiered in and the team that made it have clearly got this right, as was demonstrated by the reaction from the audience last night. Testament to the fact that this had to be made.

I am glad that Kerry Michael, Artistic Director of Stratford East, had the foresight, and determination to pick this play up and to produce it – otherwise that audience on that first night would never have had the opportunity to see this come to life. He knew that his audience deserved to see this work, and for it to have a four week run.

This is about a mutual trust between artists and the communities that the theatre serves. The history of this building has long roots and connections that stretch back to the work of Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop that created a theatre for its communities. In the shifting times of developments and building around the theatre, this legacy still continues.

I have also have always made work in this same way. The audiences we want to see for Pilot’s work are reflected by the cast and creative teams we work with. It really is that straightforward. Roy and I have collaborated together for a good few years now, and we are currently working on his new version of Antigone that we are making for Pilot, with Derby Theatre and the Theatre Royal Stratford East to this venue next January and February 2015 for 4 weeks, and we are looking forward to making something new and very special for the audiences who come and see it.

Looking back / Going forward 13/14 #blogpost

30 Dec

This year was full of stuff – some great things and some less so. I don’t want to dwell on the crap bits or over expound the positives. I want to rather put a list together, with some pictures of things that have been important to me over the year. I am looking forward to 2014 with a renewed vigour and I am looking forward to creating interesting work with interesting people, and to spending more time with my family and friends who are so important to me. At times it felt as if several things were pulling me in different directions – but not quite as hard as the dog walker I managed to get a picture of in Buenos Aires…

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So, in no particular order

1. Blood + Chocolate – was the most extraordinary project ever. It was the culmination of two years of planning and an intense nine months of preparation and pre-production, resulting in a truly great project – my thanks go to all the people of York who came on the journey with us and to the hard work of all the teams who made this possible – so a big up to Pilot and SlungLow for making it happen.

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The full webcast video of the whole production is available on demand here to watch again Blood + Chocolate webcast

2. The Knife That Killed Me – This year we finalised the edit and did the test screenings at Universal Pictures and I am very much looking forward to this being in cinemas in 2014 as we move towards the release date. This has been the culmination of 5 years work since I first pressed ‘send’ on the first draft of the screenplay to the producers. I am incredibly proud of the work that the whole team put into this, to make this completely new feature film happen

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The quality of each of the frames is amazing – considering that there are 137,000 of them – and each has been hand finished and has hand drawn artwork on each one…

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Great hand drawn artwork from Stu Ord on all these frames and screengrabs

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3. TED Conference 2013 – I had an amazing time in Los Angeles in February at the annual TED conference. Some standout talks and great moments and new friends made…Like here ‘California Dreaming’ in front of the Hollywood sign

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One of the talks by Spoken Word Poet Shane Kocyzan is well worth a moment of your time.

4. Our house – the sale fell through after 6 months of messing about. Shift Happens, I know… I have now moved back in. I love this house. We may sell it this year, we may not. Either way I am not going to stress about it as we realise how fortunate and lucky we are.

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5. Shift Happens V – again we ran this in York and a big thanks to the fantastic line up of speakers – a couple of stand out moments for me were the fabulous Jenny Sealey from Graeae…

and to Matt Mason VP of  BitTorrent who came over from San Francisco to join us in York

the brilliant Julia Unwin, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

and of course Elliot Barnes-Worrell

6. Twitter stuff – now whilst this is not really a big deal it has been one of the stranger moments this year – I read a post by a facebook friend which I adapted, thanked and tweeted. Turns out someone had done this earlier in the year too and I hadn’t seen it or was even aware of it. By that time it was too late – it went viral. I thanked all parties and then sat back and tried to fend off the 30k email notifications of each RT or favourite. I now know how to turn of those notifications btw…

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7. A proud dad moment as our son Christy Romer graduated with a 2:1 from LSE.

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8. And a finger selfie from Porto in Portugal as we crossed over the bridge to the old town was part of a great summer break too

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9. Where both Christy and Mills agreed to pose for their one annual picture for us, which was offley good of them…

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10. As proud moments go – this one of Susie on the BBC news – which was the first of her many live TV interviews in the course of her high profile job made me a very proud husband indeed

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11. So as I head towards our next programme of work which includes the No Boundaries Conference in February and then Pilot’s co-production with the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Derby Theatre and York Theatre Royal of a new version of Antigone adapted by Roy Williams, I feel very excited and privileged to be making this work…so watch this space for more updates and…

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12. Onwards and Upwards my friends…

A rather good view from The Pilot Theatre office today…

20 Aug

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…looks good today – we are back and up and running – and with two sets of great news about our work. Our role as Cultural Leaders with an emphasis on our local and International work have been confirmed today with two great pieces of news

Firstly, we have secured a 2 year contract with the City of York Council to deliver a programme of livestreams. Here we will deliver the Council meetings as part of their open democracy and innovation strategy. This is very exciting news as it really reaffirms our role as a theatre organisation with civic and Cultural responsibilities. Together with the City Council we are providing leadership and increased opportunities for engagement for the whole of York and Yorkshire – hence for our audiences and participants too.

Secondly our EU funding bid with our partners Elsinor Theatre in Milan, and O’Bando Theatre in Lisbon has been successful. Which means we will be making work in Australia and Vancouver, which looks at emigration and movement of European peoples. Working with two theatre companies in Canada, and one in Sydney, we will create work to be presented at Sydney Opera House which will then travel to Vancouver, Canada, Lisbon, Portugal, Milan, Italy and York, England over the next three years.

Both of these initiatives are the result of our approach to making work in partnership with other organisations. A strength of Pilot Theatre, as we have always made work with other organisations. Which is why…

Thirdly, our Blood+Chocolate co-production with SlungLow and York Theatre Royal is now in pre-production – we are excitedly heading into rehearsals in September, and all the teams are working really hard to make this an extraordinary event for the cast of 170 and the 140 strong community support team. This is a true partnership project for the City of York…so a good reason to see the trailer again…

This much I know…about making new stuff happen

25 Jul

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1 Sometimes it feels like there is going to be a fight

2 Sometimes there is a fight

3 Sometimes there isn’t

4 Sometimes it relates to my thoughts from a previous blogpost

5 Sometimes it doesn’t

6 I often think of Channel 4’s tagline ‘Be First, Make Trouble, Inspire Change’

7 I love this. It is what we like to do too. What I aim to do all the time

8 Being first is making new stuff happen

9 This invariably makes trouble

10 It sometimes inspires change

11 This is good

12 But sometimes it makes numbers 1 and 2 happen

13 But mostly number 3 is the outcome

14 In doing so people on the sidelines like to shout and make a fuss

15 They like to tell you what you are doing, have done and will continue to do, wrong

16 They like to be vocal about these things

17 They like to make themselves feel better, because pointing out the things they think are wrong means that they feel right

18 Sitting on the sidelines is easy

19 Shouting and pointing out where you went wrong is the easiest job in the world

20 This is why they do it

21 It makes them feel important

22 It makes them feel like they imagine what it feels like to make new stuff

23 They are wrong. It doesn’t

24 They are often the ones who don’t make new stuff happen.

25 They are the ones who don’t put their heads over the parapet

26 The view is better from over the parapet

27 The air is clearer and fresher, and you get the full force of life in your face

28 It can be a lonely space to inhabit sometimes

29 You need to be up there with the people who are on your side – looking forwards

30 The view is way better and more exhilarating

31 From here you can’t really hear those on the sidelines , their voices become distant

32 From here you can see the next step and the route forward.

33 That’s what keeps you going

34 Make new stuff happen

35 You have nothing to lose. At all…

The image is taken from the opening of the feature film ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ a new movie for Universal Pictures by Marcus Romer, Kit Monkman and Thomas Mattinson

So what does a multi-platform theatre company actually do?

20 Jun

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As Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre, I can really see the evolution of the company and track its DNA right back its early roots and incarnation. Whilst, not being an original founder member I did work with Pilot as an actor back in the mid 80’s and it is where I got my Equity card, and where my career was started.

This has always been the ethos of the company, providing the opportunities for emerging artists and practice – where projects can be ‘piloted’ and tried out. So, contrary to some of our recent airplane-spotter followers on twitter, we are actually nothing to do with air travel at all…Rather the organisation that creates the ‘pilot episode’ or ‘pilot project’ where something is made or developed for the first time.

So what’s new? well that’s the question the team asks itself all the time. Not that we endlessly pursue the new and shiny stuff just because it is new and shiny, but with a real creative and artistic approach to innovation we are constantly asking ‘what is out there that we can work with to help us tell our stories more effectively’

So, in the next few weeks the range and diversity of our multi-platform work will become more apparent than ever before…

We open a new piece of theatre at York Cocoa House, called ‘Clocking In’ – this is a site specific and verbatim piece that tells the stories of the workers in the chocolate factories of York. It opens on June 24th and we perform it twice each evening, where you will also get a cup of hot chocolate…

This is part of our Blood + Chocolate project which we are working alongside SlungLow and York Theatre Royal. This is now in rehearsal and will be a citywide headphone adventure piece – utilising the skills of SlungLow and their technology. In October 2013 an audience of 300 each evening will move through the City of York whilst the community cast of 200 will uncover the stories of life, love and death in York at the start of the first World War…So our theatre storytelling across the city, working with a voluntary team of over 500 people who are working already on this amazing project – here is the Flickr group from the team of 31 photographers and their 600 photos of the project thus far.

The following week on July 3rd we screen The Knife That Killed Me for the cast and crew. This is the film that was made by Green Screen Pictures in association with Pilot Theatre and Premiere Pictures, Matador and with support from Universal Pictures. It was adapted and written and directed by Marcus Romer and Kit Monkman – with Producer Thomas Mattinson. We shot this on a greenscreen studio set in East Yorkshire in April / May 2012 and the post production and compositing has taken another 12 months to complete. We deliver the film at the end of June, and this is the first time that any of the cast, crew and Pilot Team will have seen the movie in a cinema. This is exciting stuff indeed.

The week after that on July 8th we launch or 5th Shift Happens conference – which is our version of TED for the Creative and Cultural sector – where International Speakers share their inspiring visions and thoughts for the audience – alongside great food and the best coffee in York. The speaker list and schedule is here – there are a couple of tickets left and you can book online on the links on here

So innovation and making shift happen has been at the core of our work here at Pilot – we are currently also working with the City of York Council – delivering the livestreams of their council meetings as part of their open democracy initiative. This is a key element for us. Where we recognise our civic role within the community in which we are based. We want to increase the engagement of all our audiences and create the opportunities to ‘pilot’ new ideas and projects. So, all our work from our theatre and performance, through to the innovation of the new movie and online projects, sit hand in hand with our ability to share thinking and ideas across the whole sector with our conferences and training.

You can also catch up every week with our #PilotLive livestream broadcasts via our Pilot-Theatre.TV channel on this and all our work.

So we look forward to working with you too very soon…