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For the second year running I’m not planning to be in Edinburgh during the festivals. It’s bittersweet; I love Edinburgh and I love Edinburgh (in a different way) during the festivals, but the thought of being ready to either take a show to Edinburgh or even just visit so soon after we made Inherited Cities (and The Desire Paths and The Journeys) is impossible. 

We do have a summer project, of course – it’s already up and running. We’ve co-curated Self Build Utopias with Northern Stage and the Experimental Architecture Group for the Great Exhibition of the North. We made THE DESIRE PATHS as our part of it: 


The map of hopes and dreams is being incorporated into a group performance installation that already features the beautiful work of Hannah Fox’s SHACKLANDS, 154 Collective’s CITIES IN THE SKY, Fabric Lenny’s DOODLETOPIAS, and EAG and Culture Lab’s HERE BE MONSTERS. 

This week and next Sonia Hughes & Lisa Mattocks are in the installation with the lovely conversation piece,  WHAT DO WE WANT? WHEN DO WE WANT IT? making plans and designing placards with the public. 

Unfolding Theatre are re-imagining their BUILDING PALACES (16 – 19 August), and Northern Stage’s Young Company’s bring WHERE WE STAND to Utopia 29 August – 2 September.

154 Collective and Hannah Fox at Self Build Utopias

So my August trips will be to Newcastle to see those artists’ work and other stuff in the Great Exhibition. Please do come see us if you are in or passing Newcastle/Gateshead. We’re open 10am-6pm Tuesday – Sunday and there is always something to see. You can follow the Great Exhibition’s Arts and Innovation trails to find us, or simply go straight to Northern Stage.

However, if I was going to be in Edinburgh during the Fringe, these are the shows that I would be making a bee line for:

Footprint Theatre: SIGNALS (Photo: Benjamin Thapa)

Footprint Theatre’s SIGNALS (Pleasance). Exciting young Sheffield company making a show about interstellar contact? Obviously right up my street. I’m really looking forward to seeing this on tour.

STATUS (Summerhall) by my good friend and Third Angel collaborator Chris Thorpe and the brilliant Rachel Chavkin. From what Chris has told me, this sounds like it is as smart, fascinating, challenging and funny as their last show Confirmation – but this time with added electric guitar. If you’re planning to see this – book early.

ADVENTURERS WANTED: REBELLION (Sweet Novotel) – they’re just doing 100 hours this summer, not 250 like last year (slackers). What I love about this project is how they have reclaimed Role Playing Games as story telling. If you’re not in Edinburgh to see them live, you can always catch the live stream or follow them on Twitter.

Live Art Bistro bring their Leeds brand of genre-busting, convention-defying performance programming to the Fringe for an unmissable one day, two venue festival, ALL THESE THINGS (Zoo Southside) on 15 August. Drop in a few times, or stay the whole night – this should be brilliant.

PRICKS (Pleasance) by Jade Byrne in association with LittleMighty sounds great:

I’m a big fan of Michael Pinchbeck’s work, and he has two pieces on at the Fringe this year: A FORTUNATE MAN (Summerhall) and SIT WITH US FOR A MOMENT AND REMEMBER (Zoo)

My brilliant Leeds Beckett colleagues are in the Richard Demarco archive in Summerhall 14 - 16 August. Oliver Bray, one of my favourite stage performers, is presenting URSONATE POST TRUTH, a re-performance of Kurt Schwitters’ seminal piece of sound poetry, Ursonate, and Teresa Brayshaw’s Cinage brilliant group are performing TALKIN ‘BOUT MY GENERATION which I saw an excellent early version of in Leeds.

I’ve heard great things about Molly Taylor’s work, and so would be checking out EXTINGUISHED THINGS (Summerhall) if I could.

Volker Gerling’s PORTRAITS IN MOTION is back at Summerhall – one of my absolute favourites a couple of years ago, massively recommended.

Breach Theatre’s new one, IT’S TRUE, IT’S TRUE, IT’S TRUE (Underbelly) looks great.

I loved 2 Destination Language’s Near Gone, so would definitely be seeing FALLEN FRUIT (Summerhall).

Paul O’Donnell’s Bon Jovi musical WE’VE GOT EACH OTHER (Pleasance) sounds like it could be amazing.

And Kieran Hurley & Gary McNair’s SQUARE GO (Roundabout @ Summerhall) is a must see. In fact, Summerhall, as ever, is full of “must sees”. Sh!t Theatre’s DOLLYWOULD, Valentijn Dhaenens’ UNSUNG… just camp out there for a few days. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

That was 2016 - an anniversary year

Partus
Partus. Photo by Helena Fletcher.

This was meant to be our New Year’s Eve post, but for various reasons, that didn’t happen. But here we are.

Usually for New Year’s Eve we post something from the previous year - a bit of text created for a show, an out-take or an extra, as it were. But 2016 has been so busy, it feels more appropriate to look at it all - or most of it, anyway - and say, well, that was a good year. An annual review, if you like. An annual review of a year that was a two decade review.

We started the year opening PARTUS with a week’s run at The Crucible Studio in Sheffield. We tried out baby and breast-feeding friendly audiences for the first time, which were a great success, over 30 and 50 babies at the two daytime performances.

Partus

Partus. Photo by Helena Fletcher.

Sheffield blogger Katie Hilton wrote:
“Partus is about births. Funny ones (and it really was funny in places), scary ones, multiple ones, sad ones, young ones, and exhausting ones but all of them real ones. It was born out of a research project and included real life experiences of mums, dads, doulas and midwives. I have no idea how you would begin to decide which stories to highlight out of the hundreds they heard but Third Angel chose well, I think, setting the balance of humour and emotion.”

And other audience members wrote:

Brilliant – best theatre I’ve been to. •  I chose to come to the baby-friendly performance which added an amazing atmosphere •  Wonderful. A must see. • Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!  I love that you talk about women’s stories, that they matter.

Alongside making the show, and feeding in to it, we ran The Young Mums Project, in collaboration with the brilliant, and important, Young Women’s Housing Project.

Partus is on tour in spring 2017 - check the tour calendar for dates. If you’d like to book Partus for the autumn, do get in touch.

2016 was our 21st Anniversary year - which actually kicked off in October 2015 with a revival of PRESUMPTION, performed by Lucy Ellinson and Chris Thorpe - who toured the show from 2007 to 2010 (I wrote about that here.) In February 2016, we revisited Presumption again, with performances at Northern Stage, this time with Rachael performing the show for the first time since 2006. (And I wrote about that, here.)

Rachael in Presumption 2016. Photo by Martin Fuller.

Rachael in Presumption 2016. Photo by Martin Fuller.

It was a joy to return to again. We had made a deliberate decision that reviving Presumption for the 20th Anniversary would be a remount of the existing show (we have thoughts about re-interpretations of a couple of other early shows), and in rehearsal we talked quite a lot about a couple of lines that we wouldn’t have written now. We did make one or two tweaks, and of course some later sections are partly improvised. But this is a couple who live together but who appear not to have mobile phones… in the light of that, Megan Vaughan wrote a really interesting response to the piece, here.

Shortly after that, we were back out on the road with 6OO PEOPLE, which we were lucky enough to tour to a host of brilliant Festivals: Castaway in Goole, Pulse in Ipswich, The NRTS Showcase in Falmouth, the Edinburgh Fringe with Northern Stage at Summerhall, Greenbelt Festival, Festival of the Mind and Off The Shelf in Sheffield (in a Spiegeltent and the Crucible Studio, respectively), Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival and the Sidewalks Festival in Beirut. Amidst a tour of brilliant gigs, the first night at Sidewalks stands out as one of my favourite performances ever.

600 People at Crucible Studio

Audiences have been brilliant for 600 People, and I’ve had some fascinating conversations after performances. We also had the show Peer Reviewed, by research scientist Dr Nathan Adams, who said that the show’s explanation of CRISPR (*happy science geek klaxon*) was “almost perfect” - and reminded me of the precise detail needed to improve it. He concluded: “Overall a wonderful piece of work.”

In May we brought two well toured pieces back to Sheffield for the beautiful WROUGHT Festival. We had two lovely gigs of CAPE WRATH:


And it was great to bring INSPIRATION EXCHANGE home to Sheffield (as it was created for a workshop at The Showroom in 2010) for presentations at both Wrought and at the first Hillsfest in the summer.Inspiration Exchange

Inspiration Exchange. Photo by Joseph Priestly.

Throughout the year we’ve been running TAMS - the Third Angel Mentoring Scheme - through which it has been a pleasure to support:

Yolanda Mercy
Luca Rutherford
Chella Quint
Joely Fielding
Jack Dean
John R. Wilkinson
Louisa Claughton
Charlotte Blackburn & Tim Norwood
and Pauline Mayers

Through Theatre Delicatessen’s great Departure Point scheme we also got to support: 

Tribe Arts
The52
Buglight Theatre
My Big Phat Writers Group
The Travelling Shadow Theatre

We also got to start or carry on mentoring conversations with:

Action Hero
Flickbook Theatre
Daniel Bye
Paige Stillwell
Ellie Harrison
Holly Gallagher

and Hannah Nicklin, who was on tour with EQUATIONS FOR A MOVING BODY, made in collaboration with me, including a three week run at the Edinburgh Fringe - again with Northern Stage at Summerhall. There were loads of really lovely responses to the show online and in person (it made the BBC sports pages), but this from Rosie Curtis was probably my favourite.

Equations For A Moving Body. Photo by Niall Coffey.

Hannah Nicklin’s Equations For A Moving Body. Photo by Niall Coffey.

We’ve had a long relationship with brilliant theatre maker and friend of the company, Michael Pinchbeck, and this year that was more apparent than ever. Rachael was a guest performer in Michael’s show The man who flew into space from his apartment at Wrought, and then also worked as a dramaturg, with Ollie Smith, on Michael’s new show Concerto (touring this year). 

Concerto by Michael Pinchbeck.

Concerto by Michael Pinchbeck.

Back in Sheffield in October we realised the long held ambition to make the full version of THE DESIRE PATHS. Originally conceived for Northern Stage’s Make. Do. And Mend. event in Edinburgh 2013, The Desire Paths was created in full for Sheffield’s Year of Making, October 2016. 

The Desire Paths, Sheffield. Photo by Joseph Priestly.

The Desire Paths, Sheffield. Photo by Joseph Priestly.

We chalked out the city centre street map from the Sheffield A-Z, and asked the public to rename the streets - not after some past event, but to commemorate a hope or a dream for the future: personal or political, serious or lighthearted. We heard so many stories, of first jobs, chance meetings, lost loves. A moving, brilliant day, and a chance to work with some regular collaborators, and some who we’ve been wanting to work with for a long time.

We’re currently compiling and editing all of the documentation of the day, and that will all go up on this site soon. In the meantime, if you’d like us to come and remake The Desire Paths for your town or city, do get in touch.

In the autumn we also launched FUTURE MAKERS, our new free workshops for 14-19 years olds, introducing them to routes into the theatre and film industries. The project carries on in school holidays in 2017 - all the information is here.



Our good friends at mala voadora invited us back to Porto for the second incarnation of Uma Famillia Inglessa. When we first met Jorge in in Lisbon in 2004, we were making the show that would become THE LAD LIT PROJECT. So if felt fitting to revisit and revive that show, to present with them, in their amazing space in Porto.


I’ve been performing The Lad Lit Project for 12 years now (though this performance ended a three year hiatus). I was worried that it would feel dated, but in the end, the only section that needed an ‘update’ is the Friends Map, which is much more complicated than it was in 2005, due to social media and being a parent.

In November 2016, to close our anniversary year, Leeds Beckett University and Compass Festival of Live Art hosted the symposium WHERE FROM HERE: 21 Years of Third Angel, convened by Alex, Michael Pinchbeck, Oliver Bray and Hannah Nicklin. Third Angel artists were joined by other friends, colleagues, artists and academics from around the country, who gave performances, papers and presentations either directly about our work, or their own work which explores a similar territory, or, most often, a combination of the two.


The (free) event was sold out, and it was great to present it in collaboration with long time partners Compass and Leeds Beckett University. We’ll be putting documentation of many of the talks and performances up online in the near future. As well as ‘our own’ symposium this year, we also presented papers about our work at the TaPRA Interim event, Training To Give Evidence, at Northumbria University (‘Telling Other People’s Stories’), and at the Staging Loss symposium at the University of Lincoln (‘Cheers Grandad!: Third Angel’s The Lad Lit Project and Cape Wrath as Acts of Remembrance’).

Where From Here was also the first public screening of THE SMALL CELEBRATIONS, a series of five short films - one by us, the other four commissioned from artists who we have mentored in some capacity over the last few years. After a second public screening at The Showroom/Workstation in Sheffield (where Third Angel was born in 1995), we put all of the films on line. You can watch them all for free:

Action Hero: THE THIRD ANGEL ANNEXE:


Hannah Butterfield: OENOMEL


Massive Owl: THE DOLPHIN HOTEL

RashDash: THERE WERE GODDESSES


And from us, POPCORN, made with long-time collaborator Christopher Hall:


Mixed in with all that there was of course more education work, and research and development on five or more other shows and projects. About some of which, more soon.

So that was 2016. Thanks for joining us for some of it.

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