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Make sure you vote. Who you choose, is up to you and if you’re not sure who to vote for, at least find out which political parties support the arts. We want more people being given the opportunity to shout the words of Shakespeare from the banks of the Thames.
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Doppelganster's 2019 'Choke me'.

A review by Katie Bott.

Doppelganster's 'choke me' is not your typical theatre performance. The art forms of acting, dance and music all work together, they are each well executed individually, and ultimately come together in one astonishing piece. Performed for the ‘Off the Shelf’ festival at Sheffield Hallam’s Performance Lab, the show demonstrates the problems our world is facing with ecological, environmental damage, with particular focus on climate change with an aim to open the audience's eyes, giving them something to reflect on.

'Choke me' was created and directed by Doppelgangster's Dr Tom Payne and Tobias Manderson-Gavin; it also features experimental choreography by Sarah Lamb and an affective score composed by Jules Pascoe.  They all bring their own ideas to the table to create a breath-taking, frightening experience. Doppelgangster know how to deliver an original political narrative, their previous work ‘Treefxxxers’ highlights political issues in Sheffield regarding deforestation. Let’s just say they like to focus in on climate crisis.

The performance Is composed of multiple scenes each scene getting closer to the end of the world, as each scene goes on the tension, the thrill and the worry rises, preparing the audience for the end of the world. The show reflects on mankind's absurd persistence to continue to ignore these issues. If the government don’t act to make changes to environmental damage, we will all 'choke' on the thick hazy polluted air. 

The acting of the ensemble was good throughout, everyone bought something to the stage. A handful stood out to me, two of them being the narrators, which were sat at the left of the stage in costume and character. James Sutherland and Maisie Bramford had me captivated, I felt they really held everything together to deliver the narrative. With Sutherlands’ deep death like voice bellowing out was enough to raise each hair on your body, you could feel the fright slowly coming over you as each scene passed. It was interesting when they were talking about impending doom but then went onto discuss everyday human interactions, to demonstrate how oblivious humans are, how we show no empathy to our earth that we continue to destroy.

I was impressed by each performer, they held there character wonderfully as they drift from scene to scene seamlessly. Considering how hectic the show was, the timings were nothing but perfect, even blowing up the inflatable swans was with great precision. 

I particularly enjoyed how Doppelgangster integrated poetry. Euan Irving’s poem about an old woman who swallowed up most of the animal kingdom conveys mankind’s determination to consume and destroy everything that comes in sight.

The use of flashing beaming lights and loud humming sound effects adds to the overall thrill the audience experiences, creating an unusual sensational atmosphere. There is a large white box on stage which remains there throughout, with actors making their appearance delivering a fantastic performance. Some actors remain in the box for a certain amount of time; they may just be stood in a freeze frame position glaring over at the audience creating tension and uncertainty. The constant humming sound that you can always hear contributes to that thrill the audience feels.

The costumes, I felt were rather effectual, from performers dressed to represent death to police officers, monks and matriarchs and even black metal ring masters, these costumes represent institutions that have been in existence for decades, maybe even centuries, which are now crippling apart and losing control.  

I especially enjoy a performance if there is music involved so I was pleasantly surprised whilst watching ‘Choke Me’ by how they incorporated a variety of songs, composed by Jules Pascoe. ‘Smoke city’, a song performed mainly by three performers in the white box, with others front of stage performing choreography by Sarah Lamb which fitted marvellously. The message ‘Smoke City’ conveys is about how we are living in a city filled with toxins. The score of ‘Smoke City’ was great but rather basic, the harmonies were okay but there was room for improvement.  Another effective song was ‘Choke me’, this was more of a metal piece with performers head banging, screaming out how they wanted the smoke to choke them, so they don’t have to suffer living in the polluted air. Overall, I felt the lyrics of these songs supported the narrative, but as a musical piece they were not all that great.

‘Choke me’, as a performance overall was great! I thoroughly enjoyed the show and muchly appreciated how Doppelgangster are raising climate issues. I liked how they feed dialogue to the actors through an earpiece keeping them connected. With great acting, choreography and good music the show really delivered an exceptional message to the audience. I was left thinking deeply about these climate issues. Doppelganster and the cast from Sheffield Hallam did an outstanding Job. With effective set and costumes, I hope other members of the audience appreciate ‘Choke Me’ like I do, a truly fantastic show.  

 

 

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The Last King of Scotland


The Last King of Scotland.
The Crucible, Sheffield.

Tobi Bamtefa gives a capturing performance of the unpredictable and savage dictator Idi Amin, highlighted further by the anxious and fearful Dr Nicholas Garrigan played by Daniel Portman, Bamtefa portrays the oxymoronic character of the presidential dictator of Uganda with sheer confidence and might as expected with such a strong and powerful role to fulfil. The Last King of Scotland, directed by Gbolahan Obisesan based of the original novel of Giles Forden, tells a disturbing tale of the Ugandan president dictating his way through to war and Dr Garrigan cleverly manipulated and slightly forced into the position of his personal doctor as well as rather surprisingly, someone the dictator confines in and later, leads to become a dysfunctional friendship.
Throughout, we see the two lead characters develop an odd relationship as Dr Garrigan’s fear and intimidation becomes obviously growing, portrayed particularly well through Daniel Portman’s voice, pace and gestures becoming seemingly more frantic. Until the final scene in which Dr Nicholas courageously stands up for himself and goes against Amin despite threatening his life just a few scenes before. Giving the audience such intense shock and fear for his life as we see in previous scenes the dictator showing absolutely no mercy for those who go against him, even his own wife(s). When we see the doctor show his first act of courage standing up to Amin, nothing really happens and becomes such an anti-climax to the play. In addition, it seemed to have a huge lack of build-up and seemed to be rushed. For the doctor to suddenly personally attack the dictator in one of the final scenes during war very shortly after to be pleading with him to spare his life felt unreasonable. A similar atmosphere of deflation was created after Dr Nicholas was dramatically called to Idi Amin’s side after experiencing incredible ‘stomach pain’ for it to be simply trapped wind accompanied with a rather child like fart noise. Of course funny, especially for a character like Idi Amin, but deferring the tone of the play from a seriously brutal and savage dictator to a humorous pantomime.

 

 

 

 

An element of the play which seemed to engage the audience and acted well for something to use was the news report screen hung from the top of the ceiling of the stage showing various newsreaders from around the world documenting the events taking place throughout the play, making it far easier to understand, breaking up the scenes as well as giving the play a larger contextual understanding of the varied international opinions from Uganda as their home country, the U.S.A, and the United Kingdom. It emphasises not only the corruption of Uganda, but the corruption of media and twisting of information, a side theatre isn’t often showing, but necessary in political based theatre. The inclusion of the music within the scene of the banquet, the two doctors in the bar and signing in the boxing scene created an atmosphere which emphasised the culture of Uganda.
A scene all audience members can agree on which proved effective was Idi Amin’s most brutal showing. Demonstrating two of his nearest people carelessly hung in a confined glass container on their knees by their heads whom have betrayed Amin. Shown to by Dr Garrigan as a warning, it was an unexpected moment within the play, provoked terror of course which in a play as such was desperately needed, but lacked throughout the remainder of the play. Conclusively, the play gave outstanding acting but the storyline however lacked, and missed the opportunity to educate and display an actual storyline.

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Picture by: Helen Murray

What is the purpose of theatre? A question raised when watching the striking Ugandan Politics through the eyes of a white man in Sheffield’s Crucible theatre. 

The Last King of Scotland, adapted by the English writer Steve Waters, is a piece of political theatre which centres around the protagonist, Nicholas Garrigan - portrayed by Daniel Portman - as he finds himself stuck within Uganda during the regime of Idi Amin Dada - portrayed by the brilliant Tobi Bamtefa - and even finds himself working alongside Idi Amin. 

The show itself covers the rise and fall of Idi Amin, over eight years(1971-1979) and how he tries to reform Uganda, but unfortunately falls into a brutal regime. But instead of showing us this brutality, the show instead pushes this message through multiple news reporters throughout the show via a set of large screens pointed out towards the audience, three to be exact due to the thrust staging of the Crucible theatre, and this aspect is actually used throughout the show.

It’s only in Act Two where we see the reality of the violence caused by Idi Amin, as he reveals to the Scottish doctor the capture and torture of multiple other characters who’ve gone against what Amin wanted. It’s at this pivotal moment that Nicholas realises he’s in too deep and has to get out. 

It’s crucial to understand that Act One is actually taking the time to not only set up this reveal, but is also showing us the consequences of British history. It creates an aesthetic of political power, but also the consequences of British colonialism as well as British interference within Africa.  Without our interference and forcing ‘democracy’ upon the colonies, this rise of dictatorial rule of Idi Amin may have never occurred. But because of this history, we are shown the damage it’s caused through the eyes of this white Scottish doctor, a man who stands out in a cast of majority of black actors, which helps to cement the fact that he doesn't fit in and doesn't really belong in Uganda, and the show manages to push this message extremely well without it being explicit or overwhelming. 

So, The Last King of Scotland pushes the mainstream view of theatre, because instead of it being a light-hearted piece of entertainment, it pushes a message of viewing the consequences of our history, especially the parts that we tend to wash over when in the education system. 

The Last King of Scotland is by no means the first or the last show to symbolise and push these kinds of messages but it still doesn't fit the mainstream purpose of theatre, which some might say is solely to entertain the audience. 

                                                 

 

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3699831075?profile=RESIZE_710xSteve Water’s The Last King of Scotland; a tonally deaf production, yet held up by technical prowess. On the 16th of October I saw the story of the former war-hero, turned tyrannical Dictator, Idi Amin, and the slow breakdown of law and order in Uganda following the usurpation of pro-colonial leadership. Adapted to stage.

Firstly, regarding stage craft. On a purely technical level, LKS is a very competent show. Utilising Brechtian style of epic theatre, LKS is a political piece showing the affects colonial rule has on the third world countries it has supposedly developed, and what happens after they leave. In order to have the audience engage with the messages of the piece, they utilise several key Brechtian techniques/stagecraft.

The set dressing is very minimalist, only pieces of set that are considered crucial are used. Direct address to the audience is done through news anchors, whom narrate the events unfolding and provide different viewpoints from other countries. This narration took an interesting twist on standard formulae of Direct Address. Incorporating technology in the form of video recordings, that displayed video of the ‘news anchors’ onstage on three large screens pointing out to audience. 

At one-point Idi walks through the audience, shaking hands with many in the aisle seats. All of this is done to keep the audience active and engaged. By repeatedly stepping through the fourth wall and removing the avenues in which an audience member could possibly immerse themselves into narrative, it keeps them aware of their surroundings of the theatre. They remain more receptive and more inclined to critically think about the play, rather than merely being along for the ride. 

Aesthetically, the play firmly roots itself in the time period and locale of Idi Amin’s eight-year rule, 1970’s Uganda. The characters’ ensembles consisted of period appropriate garments; the white, English/foreign characters wore outfits influenced by western 70’s fashion, flares, blouses, shirts and blazers with hairstyles to match. The ‘native’ Ugandan’s on the other hand, wore a mixture of traditional Kikoy and slight western influences in the upper castes. Additionally, the Ugandan accents were well practiced and convincing. All these choices compound to create a convincing recreation of Uganda. Or at least, provide a suitable facsimile for which the narrative can take place.

There are, however, certain points in which this image of competency wanes. The largest offender in this regard, is the portrayal of the character Idi Amin, played by Tobi Bentefa. A mentally unstable individual whose good intentions are lost as he descends into paranoia and delusion once he achieves a position of power. The was an opportunity to have Amin be a tragic character, one who honestly believe his actions were for the betterment of his country. However, the tone of his character did not progress significantly over the course of the play. Initially, he is the jolly and charismatic leader. His speeches of growth and hope reflecting the opinions of the Ugandan citizenry. This is juxtaposed by the horror and depravity of his actions in the second act. Yet he remains the butt of the jokes in the scenes he is in. His motivations are not established nor explained, so his actions have little context, and are present purely to incite a reaction from the audience and their mouthpiece, Nicholas Garrigan, portrayed by Daniel Portman. A villain, or character in general, needs context added to their actions. An explanation to why, or how the circumstances surrounding them has caused them to become how they are. Idi Amin lacks this explanation. This, coupled with the juvenile humour and lack of progression as a character, makes him someone the audience cannot understand nor sympathise with.

The Last King of Scotland; a prime example of how exemplary stagecraft and technical performance, still can't save a poor adaptation.

Photo Credit; Helen Murray

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Both actors displayed a level of expertise and elan which one would normally associate with drama school actor training.  However, under the expert eye of director Neil Sissons any suggestion that this was a student production evaporated almost as soon as the play began!
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Our BA (honours) degree in Performance for Stage and Screen at Sheffield Hallam University has scored an impressive 100% for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS) for the second year running!

This year, the course, which provides undergraduate training in a broad range of acting and performance skills, also scored 100% in the NSS for teaching. These excellent results put the course in the top ten in the University for overall student satisfaction. When you consider that Sheffield Hallam has just been awarded University of the Year for Teaching Quality in the Times and Sunday Times' Good University Guide 2020, it's clear that this is a great time to be joining us. 

Our exciting performer training provision is based in our new studio theatre facilities, the Performance Lab, on Arundel Gate in the city centre. Students study a range of practical and theoretical modules, including Performance for the Stage, International Actor Training, Acting for the Screen, and Broadcast Performance.

"I learnt such a vast pool of skills, tailored by a huge range of practitioners, all of which I have now brought together, cutting and pasting the best bits from every single one to create the method I approach projects with today. It’s something that is continuously evolving… I’m really happy with everything I achieved whilst training at SHU Performance, I feel that I took every opportunity by the horns and I wouldn’t change a thing.” Amy Blake, recent graduate and professional actor.

In recent years, Stage and Screen students have performed at the Venice Biennale, and in Paris and Berlin as part of the major international arts project Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. For two years running our level five students have travelled to Czech Republic for the Prague Fringe Festival. And they’ve been really busy here in Sheffield too. In the Autumn of 2018 students from all years of the degree performed in a brand-new play Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by the award-winning playwright Hattie Naylor as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words. And a group of final year students took part in TREEFXXXERS by the international performance company Doppelgangster in response to the Sheffield street tree controversy.

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“We want to provide young people in Sheffield and the north of England with an alternative to the London universities and drama schools. We passionately believe in the value of the theatre and performance to make change, and we’re working hard to produce graduates who can contribute in a meaningful way to their communities as well as the creative industries here in the north and elsewhere.”– Ashley Barnes, Head of Stage and Screen.

The significant contribution that the course makes to the development of its students – from entry qualifications to final award - is evidenced by its rating as joint 2nd in the UK for ‘value added’ in The Guardian’s university league table for drama and dance 2019. This 'value added' is evidenced by the diverse range of careers that our students enter into upon graduation. Many are working full time as professional actors, other graduates have set up their own film and theatre companies, others have trained as teachers, while some are even working in journalism.

"The course is so broad and varied so what I was doing, it never felt "wrong.” My career path still felt 100% valid, even though I was studying a performance degree. If anything, it made me care more, it made empathise with people in a way that I might not have been able to had I studied something else”.Elizabeth Pennington, recent graduate and journalist.

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For those who want to train as actors and performers this course offers a great option to study in Sheffield and be part of the vibrant theatre and arts scene in the city. This autumn students and graduates are participating in Off the Shelf again with September in the Rain by John Godber and Choke Me by Doppelgangster. Visit the Off the Shelf website for details and show times. 

Performance for Stage and Screen at Sheffield Hallam University is looking forward to meeting its new intake this September. Applications for September 2020 are open! For more information about the course visit https://www.shuperformance.co.uk.

Photograph 1: Level 6 students at the Performance Lab, image by Becky Payne.

Photograph 2: TREEFXXXERS by Doppelgangster, image by Becky Payne.

Photograph 3: Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by Hattie Naylor, image by Becky Payne.

Do you want to be a performer for stage & screen?

Find out about opportunities at SHU Performance.

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Doppelgangster's "COLD WAR" SHU Review

 
"COLD WAR"; a brilliantly fitting title for the invigorating experimental piece, Doppelgangster's newest eco-aware performance project.
 
If you don't know Doppelgangster, you are surely out of the performance art circuit. Doppelgangster is a two man force of nature compromising of the commanding and zealous Tobias Manderson-Galvin (a native Aussie) and Dr Tom Payne, a witty and charismatic man with a voice as soft as the ocean's waves.
 
The pair have a lot of great chemistry, something you can tell as soon as you see them interact. They even each other out perfectly and these guys know that climate change is no joke. The aim of their projects... to confront and challenge the world's environmental issues, and to quote them: "[...] the show is like whatever the opposite of a car chase is."
 
The performance immediately radiated with seriousness as I stepped down into the dark performance space and reached out to touch my seat on the first row. The only light coming from the corner of the room where both of the performers stood, warmly lit with hues of green and pink lights, facing us as we entered. It wasn't an invasive feeling, more of an awareness, they were patiently waiting, as were we. Was this a metaphor in itself? You come to question everything an artist does in an experimental performance piece.
 
I picked up on a lot of references that both of the cultivated performers mentioned and I think that was the most important part of the performance; to know exactly what they were talking about, understanding each individual thought on it and changing the meaning of what we once thought, challenging our conceptions. References such as conspiracy theories ( a nod to the farce in one of their written songs; "Titanic was an inside job"), ISIS beheading videos, starving polar bears, etc. Things that myself and other children of the internet would immediately click with knowing. One person I spoke to said the songs spoke to him as a Brechtian-style influence.
 
A particular moment that stuck in my mind was from Dr Payne in which he mentioned that a beheading video he saw online stuck with him because he and the victim both shared similarities aesthetically. I think this is a very important point. Do we only truly care about the tragedies and issues that we can relate to? I'm thinking now that this may have been a hidden reference to the recent Notre Dame incident where French billionaires pledged their fortunes to save the historically rich Western architecture. Yet, where is this generosity and kindness with many other horrific tragedies happening all around the world?
 
Their stream of consciousness dialogue with quick-fire exchanges keep audiences attentions on their message. When one performer went on to mention something reflecting a very interesting idea he was interrupted by the other's memory of a personal story, symbolising that right now in our political climate it's hard to know who to listen to.
 
We were handed a piece of ice to hold, many would think a symbol of the melting ice caps. I noticed a lot of people put their ice on the floor, something I knew would be a rookie error if you wanted to truly understand and be open to the performance's communication that climate change is everyone's responsibility. As it numbed my hands and my jeans began to soak, I thought: "These guys are geniuses".
 
I thought they perfectly handled the audience, alienating with structured bits of live and originally written/adapted song with on stage costume changes. Yet, made sure that they were never being intrusive or patronising, instead bringing together the contemporary issues and making them, in a lot of ways, more relatable. Gently saying we should be reminding ourselves of said issues and firmly reinforcing that we need to take responsibility with tactics like giving us cubes of ice to hold.
 
To say I don't see a lot of this style of theatre, I really enjoyed what I saw and would like to see more in the future. The musical score was fabulous and complimented the piece so well. (Thanks Jules Pascoe!) And I cannot wait to hear the reviews when they take this to the Prague Fringe Festival in late May 2019. Best of luck to you!
 
Media enquiries: Tom Payne on mobile 07875 708 575 or email tom@doppelgangster.com
Booking: doppelgangster.com 
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THE TEMPEST - PRODUCER

INTRODUCING OUR PRODUCER:

KIERA RHODES

"I'm Kiera and I am studying Performance for Stage and Screen at Sheffield Hallam University.

I wanted to put on a performance of 'The Tempest' because I love a romantic play, and comedies are always good!

This is my first time producing and it is easier than I thought it would be! There have been difficult times but you just get on and sort them. I have many years' experience backstage, so sorting out the behind the scenes stuff had been a piece of cake!
I do not have much experience with choreography but, not to toot my own horn, my choregraphy is amazing.

I am interested more in the behind the scenes of theatre and enjoy rigging, focusing and operating lights so I hope you enjoy the lighting design!

I really hope you enjoy the show. BUY YOUR TICKETS IF YOU HAVEN'T YET!!"

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-tempest-tickets-55658251328 

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THE TEMPEST - Meet the Team!

INTRODUCING OUR DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER: 

CHARMAINE LAMBERT


 

She is a final year 'Performance for Stage and Screen' student at Sheffield Hallam University

"I wanted to put on a production of The Tempest because I enjoy the bard’s work and it was the most obvious one to add choreography into.

I have taken on the role of director and co-choreographer and have found this process extremely challenging but it came with plenty of reward thanks to the best cast a girl can ask for!

My interests beyond Shakespeare and dance include musical theatre and mystery/’whodunnit’ plays.

I hope you enjoy the show!"

DON'T FORGET YOUR TICKETS!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-tempest-tickets-55658251328

 

 

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"Smoke and Mirrors" SHU Review

"Smoke & Mirrors", a postmodern Shakespeare adaptation. I didn't quite know what to expect as the cast wanted it to be this way and it's safe to say that I was thoroughly impressed!
 
A combination of classic Shakespeare monologue and scene text intertwined with a self-aware and quite realistic narrative depicting a group of student's 'stream of consciousness' surrounding final show. One thing I have to commend these guys on was the beautiful flow between classic text interpretation and devised text, with most of the audience being fellow final show students can relate to. As well as the use of comedic elements to entertain and audience interaction that made us really feel like we were in their shoes and collectively as one with the actors.
 
It seemed effortlessly done and each Shakespearian monologue or scene stood out as it reflected or mimicked the thoughts of each student. For instance, Amelia Daisy Phair made her intention clear that the most important part of the performance for her was the audience. This was then gratified by a Shakespearean monologue that reflected just that with the opening line being; "Prithee, Tell me whats thou think of me?" (I know, probably not spelt right - apologies) which she said directly to members of the audience. She was very comfortable on stage and commanded the audience's attentions when in and out of role, a very strong stage presence indeed.
 
Other instances that stick out were Jacob Jackson's portrayal of Patrick Stewart's famous cinematic Macbeth monologue ("Is this a dagger..."). He recited the monologue at the same time that a projection of Patrick Stewart was playing, complete with a bald cap and all. And in some parts of this monologue, he introduced a rather farcical element of comedy that struck a cord with the audience. This of course related back to Jacob's inner thoughts of wanting to be like the acting giants we see on stage such as Patrick Stewart or Benedict Cumberbatch. Jacob's performance as Dorian Gray was particularly shining as the fear of growing old was captured well in his mannerisms and body language on stage.
 
Ella Harget-Dash was the third and probably most emotionally in touch with her roles in this performance. Her timely 'breakdowns' and huge fear of failing her degree was quite relatable and she really bared herself in front of us to show her inner weakness that too many people are afraid to be shown. Her roles in the Shakespearian texts were diverse and captured a very fully rounded person. Her performance came off as not only extremely likeable but very real.
 
I particularly felt the name was fitting to this production as each actor reflected the anxieties of acting, particularly from young actors, and revealed to us the vulnerable human hiding behind a character. They blurred the line between what it was to 'act' or present oneself on stage and showed us something refreshingly different that I can actually see being performed at a fringe theatre festival (Prague Fringe 2020 perhaps?). Well done guys, a very alternative and thought-provoking performance that I'm likely to remember for a long time!
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"Unexpected" SHU Review

This performance was the perfect opening for the Final Show Festival of SHU Performance at Sheffield Hallam University.

"Unexpected" is a contemporary comedy play, full of tasty sarcasm and biblical wit, focusing on the central character 'Mia' as she learns she is six months pregnant and questions who the father could be after not being intimate with anyone for 9 months. She is immediately acquainted with the Angel Gabriel, Lucifer the prince of darkness and of course her obnoxious ex Michael, who all claim the baby is theirs.

What I particularly adored about this production was the intelligent use of a future 'Mia', played by the hilariously down to earth and lovable Sophie Davidson, who narrated the story as a sort of nostalgic and light hearted 'warning' to immaculate conception. Her performance set the opening tone superbly, with an air of immediate likeability and sense of comfort for the audience, we knew we were in good hands.

Then kicks off the 'flashback' and we are greeted by a heavily pregnant Mia taking a pregnancy test and talking to her friend Rebecca on the phone. A great use of technology here as the actress Kiera Rhodes playing Rebecca was actually speaking via loudspeaker on the phone (presumably from a different room). I love this as it's something I've never seen before and just highlighted the immense creativity of the cast.

Present day Mia, played by Alexandra Hughes, had the great mix of innocent confusion and frustrated 'my life is over' mentality of a surprise pregnancy. Her comedy was on point and she never missed a beat on the jokes when fighting with her ex Michael and bringing to life the originative swearing. She was the hero of the story and I was rooting for her all the way through. My particularly favourite moment was when greeting Angel Gabriel and assuming he is her prospective client (as she is a mistress - spoilers sorry!) leading him to her overly exercised routine and providing the hilarious misunderstanding comedy that this play is built from.

Speaking of the famous angel himself, Gabriel was played by Sam Fake. This quality and delightful camp-ness could not be done by anyone else! He brought a freshness to the production and really stood out as he dressed in all white. I enjoyed his eccentric and brazen attitude.

Michael, the overbearing ex, played by Declan Smith was the vision of a childish and ego-centric masculine man reminding his ex Mia that HE dumped her. He continuously made fun of the situation and had to have the last word. His native Scottish accent really intensified the insults.

When Lucifer came onto the scene, this was a major turning point, not only for the characters but for us as audience members. With a smoky and bright red entrance accompanied by menacing music, who better than to claim a stake in the conception than the ruler of the underworld. Jack Hallam really shined in this role, he gave us high, high energy and sparkling comedic timing with chuckle-some facial expressions. He took control of this character and really made it his own.

Rebecca, played by Kiera Rhodes, gave a convincingly neurotic and self-seeking yet sympathetic performance. Her ability to walk in what looked like six inch heels was entertaining enough but her capacity to command the audience's attention in her ranting monologues of a very long overdue confession, (I WON'T SPOIL THIS ONE) and insight into her side of this story was impressive!

I have to commend these guys on the set. They really transformed the space and had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. The meticulously well thought out set design and use of space, with a platform for Future Mia to stand on, was such a feast for the eyes and really set the story well. I also really liked the breaking of the fourth wall with each character having a monologue showing us the insights of what they were thinking. One last thing that was probably very small but really effective; the door was placed centre stage for characters to enter, behind this door were mirrors that were placed strategically. I thought this was a really cool idea and symbolically, we could read a lot into this.  Well done guys!

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Meet the cast of Unexpected - Alexandra Hughes

 

Meet Mia... The present version. Played by Alexandra Hughes

"Hey, So Mia...is my total opposite: sexy, sassy, sarcastic, intellige-just kidding, uni wouldn’t allow me to pay all this money if I wasn’t smart, right? Nope our education system in Britain is totally immaculate, isn’t it? 
Sorry I always waffle on and go on a tangent, kind of like Mia, yay see we do have something in common, Hallelujah!
Anyways, this project has been such a fun experience and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, a little scared and sad to be finishing uni but glad to be finishing it on such an unexpected high haha. 
Fun fact: what was really unexpected was the research I completed to get into ‘Mia’s shoes’. Not to give to much away but let’s just say, it involved 6 uni students going in to Ann Summers and asking them questions about the equipment, yes things got awkward. Then there was that time I watched 50 shades on the bus with a notebook, you know for ‘inspiration’.
God help me! Enjoy the show!"

UNEXPECTED OPENS TONIGHT AT 7PM IN THE PERFORMANCE LAB!!!

LAST CHANCE TO GET YOUR TICKETS

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Meet the cast of Unexpected - Sophie Davidson

Meet Sophie... Playing Mia (the future version)

"I’m playing future Mia, well a version of, from before...but not exactly the same but... oh look I have the tendency to ramble a lot but it’s all gonna make sense at some point! 
Future Mia is a poet that doesn’t quite know it, but nevertheless tells this unique story in her own special way.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience developing ‘Unexpected’ with the entire cast. It has been a journey and we are all very excited to show you what we’ve been working on. 
So get your tickets!"

UNEXPECTED OPENS IN THE PERFORMANCE LAB ON THE 1ST AND 2ND OF APRIL!!!

Tickets here!

 

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1 MONTH TO GO!

1 MONTH TO GO!

 

We are extremely excited about our OFFICIAL poster for our upcoming show THE TEMPEST, which starts a month TODAY! 

Our cast have been working hard in rehearsals to create a stunning performance!

 

SHOW DATES:

Monday 29th April - Friday 3rd May

 

LOCATION:

Performance Lab, Sheffield Hallam University

 

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-tempest-tickets-55658251328

 

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Meet the cast of Unexpected - Sam Fake

 

Meet Sam... Playing Gabriel

"Immaculate was a new endeavor for me being a comedy. I was driven to the character of Gabriel because of his satirical humor and his childish banter with Lucifer. Stepping into the shoes of an archangel might actually make me a decent person……Might!"

UNEXPECTED OPENS ON THE 1ST AND 2ND OF APRIL IN THE PERFORMANCE LAB!!!

Tickets here!

 

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Infinite Nothing's Theatre: From The Heart.

The first audio/visual installation by Infinite Nothing’s Theatre, From The Heart, was held in the Sheffield Institute of Arts on Tuesday 26th March. The installation exhibited work from five local artists who were given the challenge to create a piece of work in response to a Shakespeare sonnet of their choice. The artists included; Sarah Rose, Shaun Standrin, Zoe Cope, Ellie Massey and myself. This installation follows a successful 2-date performance of Bloodlines: Macbeth which was held at the Performance Lab in Sheffield last month.

A variety of work was shown during From The Heart, including a short performance of Act 1 Scene 5 from Romeo & Juliet; performed by Infinite Nothing’s co-founder Elisabeth Marriott and Sheffield Hallam’s final year performance student Jack Hallam. Performance Practice student and Bloodlines: Macbeth director Zoe Cope performed a durational piece of live art for the installation. During the installation Zoe created a flower using clay over the course of the installation inspired by Sonnet 60.

Sheffield based bookmaker, embroiderer and visual communicator Ellie Massey exhibited six hand-made embroidery piece’s inspired by Sonnet 148 while Blue Alien’s Sarah Rose presented a piece of digital art inspired by Sonnet 64. All the work included was received with a warm response. 

I exhibited an installation titled No More Dying, consisting of a 3-minute short film and 42 photographs. I was invited to exhibit for From The Heart last summer and began to look through Shakespeare’s sonnets and find one that stood out to me in particular. As a contemporary actor/artist, I have avoided the works of Shakespeare due to the fact that I often find it difficult to decipher and/or speak the language. Working on From The Heart allowed me to interpret Shakespeare’s work through the lens of my practice, engaging with the work in a way I haven’t before. I decided to select Sonnet 146; struck with the instant negativity within the first two words. How ‘Poor Soul’ is followed by Shakespeare’s questions about materialism and priority whilst arguing that we all may die the same way whilst living completely differently. I was instantly struck by the mental image of an angel transitioning to the afterlife. How the decisions that made her happy during life could taint her death. This is where No More Dying began.

I stayed very close to my initial idea and decided to creatively communicate the different states of life and death through the use of signifiers. Within the narrative of the short film, the angel surrounds herself with riches and takes part in debauches acts in order to validate herself. However, death begins to claim her, stripping her of all materialistic dependencies until she is reduced to just her soul like everybody else. Myself and Zoe Cope began the photography and videography for the project in September 2018. For the photography aspect of the project, I was keen to create a set of photographs which, once laid out, could enable the audience to take unique responses to the work. Once the photographs had arrived, myself and Zoe spent hours re-arranging the photographs so that each row, column and diagonal had a narrative.

On the day of From The Heart, we spent the afternoon setting up for a 4pm start. I had a few technical difficulties with the big screen in the venue, but this was resolved fairly quickly. Excited to debut my work, I was constantly nit-picking at the photographs on the table just to make sure it looked exactly how I wanted! I was extremely happy with how the installation went, especially as it was Infinite Nothing’s first of this kind, and was also very pleased with how No More Dying was received by its audience.

I look forward to working with Infinite Nothings Theatre again in the future and look forward to continuing my MA, but most of all I’m excited to continue creating more my own work! To see more of my work find me on Instagram ‘@_barkby’.

 

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Meet the cast of Unexpected - Jack Hallam

 

Meet Jack... Playing Lucifer!

Cares more about video games than doing uni work. Feels like playing Lucifer is easy to play because he just plays himself.

"As soon as I read the script I fell in love with the play and knew that all I wanted to do was to make a good show out of it. Mainly because I need the grade..."

"Playing Lucifer has been a fun experience because of how much gravitas you can bring to a character like this. like you can play him as a super serious, high class being of darkness... or you can do what I do which is to just have fun with it and build the character that way because that really is what this play is about, having fun with the situation that you have been given"

UNEXPECTED OPENS IN THE PERFORMANCE LAB ON THE 1ST AND 2ND OF APRIL!!!

Tickets here!

 

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This October, Josh Schofield and Emily Kitteringham performed in John Godber’s highly regarded play September in the Rain. The Performance was directed by our very own Neil Sissons and it took place at the Performance Lab as part…

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