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Third Angel presents

The Lad Lit Project

Imagine the book of your life. Where do the chapters begin and end? What are they called? Do the friends from one chapter appear in the next? Do the chapters last for years, weeks or just a few hours? Is it a happy book? Are there some good laughs in it? Or is it just tragic?

Devised, Performed and Written by
Alexander Kelly

Directed by
Rachael Walton

Dramaturgy by
Dee Heddon

Professional Placements (Devising):
James Bush & James Stenhouse

Lighting Design by
James Harrison

Music donated by:
Digitonal
Louie Ingham & Rob Langley
Paul Keatley
David Mitchell 
Lee Sykes/Vortex Music

With thanks for their creative input to:
Jeremy Killick, Tim Wild, Nick Chambers, Andy Eccleston, Russell Armstrong, Robin Sidwell, Josh French, Chris Thorpe, Boris Worrall, Andy Tate and Christopher Hall.
 
Company Manager:
Hilary Foster

Professional Placements (Administration):
Marie Foster, Rachel Wadsworth
 
Supported by:
Sheffield Theatres as part of the Pyramid Project
Leeds Met Studio Theatre
Prema Arts Centre
Arts Council Yorkshire.

The Lad Lit Project is about men/blokes/lads/mates/chaps/fellas and their stories; stories of mates, of wanting to belong, stories about girls, (mercifully brief) stories of sex, stories of love and of loss. About times of leaving something behind, times when something ends, and something else begins.
 
A touring one man show for theatre spaces. Toured extensively within the UK throughout 2005 to 2008, plus performances at the Merlin Theatre, Budapest and the PAZZ Festival, Oldenburg. Selected as a Plat Du Jour at the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2005.

​Dee Heddon

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

Knowing of my interest in performances that seem to draw, in some way, upon autobiographical material, Alex approached me last year to ask if I’d like to be involved in The Lad Lit Project. “Lad Lit, as in the male equivalent of Chick Lit?” I asked, trying to feign enthusiasm whilst experiencing massive doubt. As a proud and self-proclaimed feminist, you would never catch me sneaking a peek at Bridget Jones’s diary (honestly). As a proud and self-proclaimed dyke, moreover, the idea of Lad Lit was even less appealing. It’s been a while since I’ve attempted (or wanted) to get intimate with the workings of the male mind (not to mention body). I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the job. But I picked up the first book Alex recommended and began to read… And I must admit that I read more than one.

Anecdotes. Confessions. Stories. Yarns. Tales. Tall tales, usually. We are all habitual narrators of our lives, endlessly inventing and performing our own serialised autobiographies; aiming to impress, to understand, to exorcise, to entertain, to explain, to rewrite.
 
The Lad Lit Project furthers Third Angel’s engagement with auto/biography, deliberately working across the often less than stable distinctions between fact and fiction, experience and memory, self and character. In Where From Here (2000), the minutiae sifted by the actors/characters prompted me to think that the relationship we see recounted might, in fact, have happened somewhere, sometime, to someone. I want to know who Rachael Walton thinks of when she says “Don’t you think it’s funny how the little things about someone that you truly fall in love with turn out to be the little things that really annoy you.” Just as in Hang Up (1999), when Rachael speaks a list of “irritations” down the phone to some invisible person, I can’t help but think she’s drawing from personal experiences: “It irritates me the way you walk into a room and don’t acknowledge me… It irritates me the way you think you are always right… The sound that you make when you eat bananas irritates me.” I don’t know at what precise moment it happens, but at some point I think she is drawing from my personal experiences too, is talking about a person I know. Or someone quite like them. Class of ‘76 (2000) is the most evidently autobiographical of the pieces to date. Alex admits that in an earlier version they invented the life stories of his childhood classmates. Having since tracked most of them down to find out how their actual lives turned out, he has now substituted the invented for the real. Or so he tells us.
 
I did not expect to find myself in The Lad Lit Project. But watching the performance I am reminded that I have been the first girl some boy first slept with (and maybe the last girl some boy slept with?), the girlfriend of someone?s best friend, the friend who’s a girl but not a girlfriend. I have also had crap jobs. And like the “Lads” I encountered in the Lit, I am the one who got the girl in the end.

​Alexander Kelly, January 2005

PROGRAMME NOTES: LAD LIT

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I have been reading a lot of Lad Lit recently. It might make you wonder what “Lad Lit” is, though. It’s a publishing term, short for “Lad’s Literature”, meaning novels aimed at blokes in their 20s and 30s. If you read a few examples of it, it doesn’t take long to spot that it usually works to a pretty clear formula. A gang of mates. A crap job. A girl. A pub. A particular time and place. A good helping of nostalgia. A dilemma. A betrayal or a secret uncovered. A decision made. The End of an Era… The author is usually in his 30s, and the books often read as semi-autobiographical. Some of them are great. Some of them are awful. But I got kind of addicted to them. They spoke to me about a part of my life, part of my past. I began to wonder if I could fit my own life story into the Lad Lit formula, and this project started with me trying to do that. The answer was no.

So from here I asked myself, how would I tell my life story? I became interested in how other men view their lives. How would they tell their life stories? What would they call the chapters in the unwritten books of their lives? What stories did they want to tell? And these are some of the questions that we set out to explore.
 
Over the years we have often worked from (auto)biographical sources, and to me The Lad Lit Project feels, both professionally and personally, like the end of a chapter in itself. The culmination of many of the interests and experiments from the last ten years. A line in the sand.

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