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FREEFALL: A DOUBLE BILL

The Bear, The Owl and The Angel by Becky Prestwich

Lacuna by Matthew Bulgo

at the New Wimbledon Studio from 10 – 13 July

Maybe I should go. Freefall, and see where I land…

Sometimes, when people vanish, they leave things behind them: a hat, mittens, handfuls of dried flowers. Sometimes there’s nothing left at all except for ash, grey sand. Maybe not even a shadow on the ground.

This double bill of poignant new one-act plays by Matthew Bulgo (Last Christmas, Dirty Protest/Clwyd Theatr Cymru) and Becky Prestwich (Streetlights and Shadows, Time Out Critics Choice) deals with aftermaths, the silence after the wave’s swept out from the shore. How do you pick up the pieces when they’re too painful to hold? Or is it easier to give in to the weight of the snow and the pull of the sand? What happens if you just let go…

Two acclaimed writers tackle the subject of traumatic memory with startling, poetic vision.

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Production video: The Ones Who Kill Shooting Stars

It’s been a long time coming, as Bruce Springsteen might put it, but here is a little video of snippets, snatches and segments of The Ones Who Kill Shooting Stars.

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Nice little image for In the Garage

…courtesy of the excellent Tim Foley….

 

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Three Streets is back in the rehearsal room!

…This time just for a wee short play, called In the Garage, by very lovely new writer Bea Appleby, which will be on at the Southwark Playhouse as part of an evening of short plays curated by Little Pieces of Gold (who are a very excellent outfit – you can visit their website here – http://littlepiecesofgold.com/) on Sunday November 18th, but, for however brief a period, it’s still great to be rehearsing again and generally keeping Three Streets alive. It’s also lovely to have a writer in the room again. 

So what’s In the Garage about? Well, it’s a touching study of father-daughter relationships: Rachel, in her mid-thirties, comes back to her parents’ house to clear her boxes of childhood paraphernalia from the garage. Jim, her father, tries to persuade Rachel not to open the lid of one of the boxes, but it’s too late: the lid’s been lifted not just on a pair of fluffy handcuffs and a giant cut-out of Yoda, but on a flurry of memories, recriminations, accusations and resentment that cut across the years and to the heart of Jim and Rachel’s relationship.

A play for anyone who’s ever wondered how it’s possible to love your parents (or your children) so much and yet at the same time to find them the most exasperating people in the world. We’re also very pleased to be reunited with TOWKSS actor Clare and TOWKSS sound designer Max on the on the project. 

A couple of (very grainy – actors, if only you’d stay still!) rehearsal shots – more to follow next week. 

 

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Rachel tries to persuade her father that her primary school photo really is worth looking at, but Jim is having none of it. 

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Roll on more rehearsals (in a rehearsal room that is, appropriately enough, garage-cold) and then the performance next week! 

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Review of the reviews

TOWKSS may be over, but the last review is still hot off the press. Now they’re all in, we thought we’d distill all the words that have been said about the production into one handy blog post. Here goes…

****, The Good Review, Alice Sillett

http://thegoodreview.co.uk/2012/10/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars-the-white-bear-theatre/

‘sharp, witty dialogue’

‘Gregory Finnegan is effortless as the alcoholic Henry’

‘Paul Hayward as Dumas provides the strength and vulnerability required for the role’

‘Clare Fraenkel is skilled at conveying the tension between fear and excitement which seems to fill Alice’

****, Backstage Pass, Steve Stubbs

http://www.backstagepass.biz/2012/10/theatre-review-ones-who-kill-shooting.html

‘warm, engaging and brilliantly funny’

‘The dialogue is at once both poetic and hilariously matter-of-fact’

‘The simple staging also suited the surreal, whimsical feel of the story, with the soft lighting and gentle wind creating a dreamlike atmosphere in the White Bear’s small auditorium’

‘Special mention in the cast must go to Gregory Finnegan, who brought a charming vulnerability and yet sharp wit to the role of Henry, and Paul Hayward, who expertly conveyed airman Dumas’s confusion at being simultaneously dead and yet alive. Clare Fraenkel was also a sweet, spirited Alice, tinged with an underlying hint of sadness’

****, The Public Reviews, Steve Barfield

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars-white-bear-theatre-london/

‘This British production should help cement [Conall Quinn’s] reputation as an important, emerging writer and one whose forthcoming plays should definitely be watched.’

‘There is some excellent acting throughout and some rather graceful, well-conceived direction in the intimate space of the White Bear’s stage by Alice Malin’

‘an equally striking soundscape created by Max Pappenheim’

‘Gregory Finnegan in something of a tour-de-force, creates a melancholic, alcoholic, child-like loner, with sturm und drang dramatic tendencies balancing his shy eccentricity’

‘Damien Tracey’s Edward [is] a wonderfully arch and satirical portrait’

‘sparking and clever dialogue’

****, Views from the Gods

http://www.viewsfromthegods.co.uk/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars.shtml

‘A surreal piece, [the play] wears its influences on its sleeve but is also original, fresh and very funny.’

‘Alice is played with childlike vigour by [Clare] Fraenkel’… ‘a magnetic and warm presence’

‘[Gregory] Finnegan’s Henry is charmingly naive and truly sweet’

‘[Damien] Tracey does a sterling job of making Edward initially unpleasant and slowly revealing his truly vile nature until the play’s climax’

‘Hayward and Dominic Ridley do a great job of literally corpsing on stage’

‘Director Alice Malin has paid attention to the smaller details and it shows, right down to each character’s fully-rounded physicality. Making the most of a tiny space, the action is well blocked, clear and determined but this necessary economy never seems too rigid or forced.’

‘Conall Quinn has emerged as one of Ireland’s most exciting new voices, if you believe the hype. And in this magical staging of his fanciful, sharp script, it’s almost impossible not to.’

 

Bargain Theatreland, Amy Lawrence

http://bargaintheatreland.com/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars-2/

‘a peculiarly marvellous tale’

‘the hilarious Edward (Damien Tracy)… provides the audience with much enjoyment’

‘Tom Wickens’ lighting design is naturalistic and stylised in equal measure’

‘watching The Ones Who Kill Shooting Stars is like witnessing a poem unfold in front of your eyes’

British Theatre Guide, Howard Loxton

http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/reviews/the-ones-who-ki-white-bear-thea-8107

‘Conan Quinn has a gift for words as well as a fertile imagination, not least in his description of Mrs Tilling waking up in the morning, and the actors show a similar relish for words. They play them with forceful energy that pairs realism with a conscious theatricality to combine a real feeling of aloneness with a satirical comment on their wayward Irishness.’

‘Alice Malin’s production drives things on; you forget about literal logic and stop looking for precise meaning and go along with the actors’ belief in their characters.’

Entertainment Focus, Carys Jones

http://www.entertainment-focus.com/theatre/articles/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars

‘a wildly surreal, romantic, dark and humorous play’

‘The performances given from the cast [are] simply superb’

‘Conall Quinn’s writing and dialogues are at times breathtakingly poetic, very dark and yet littered with humorous undercurrents.’

‘Although simple and minimalist, the set design is very effective. Added with the striking sound effects, of the sound of the sea gushing around this small theatre room, it gives it a slightly eerie and cold feel.  This is particularly striking against the blackened walls and the almost non-existent lighting, which gives it an almost constant twilight feel, this adds to the effect of the drama and perfectly matches the storyline.’

‘magnificently theatrical’

Reviewsgate, Francis Grin

http://www.reviewsgate.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=6438

‘…this play does not demand answers, rather it takes its audience on an intriguing surrealist journey.’

‘Director Alice Malin captures some striking imagery on stage’

‘Henry and Alice (wonderfully played by Gregory Finnegan and Clare Fraenkel) mesh both childlike innocence and adult sadness, making the characters very endearing to watch’

A Younger Theatre, Veronica Aloess

http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/review-the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars-white-bear-theatre/

‘Conall Quinn’s story has a bittersweet tone, embodied by the endearing Finnegan.’

‘The way the characters inject life into Dumas is a beautiful contrast to the stark reality of war and the hordes of the dying. This is reflected exquisitely in an earnest monologue from Dumas as he talks about being dead to his friends and family in America, as if he somehow realises the reality of his situation. In a strange way, TOWKSS pays homage to the dead of World War II by creating a life after death; and here, the line between life and death is blurred.’

‘There’s a simplicity to Alice Malin’s direction which allows the script to stand on its own two feet’

‘The White Bear Theatre space is a difficult one to work with and Malin makes the most of this with a minimal set, and the quirky, dynamic use of the wheelbarrow in which Alice transports Dumas’ body.’

‘the set is graciously quiet’

‘a wonderfully surreal play’

Harper’s Bazaar Blog, Ajesh Patalay

http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/blogs/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars

‘Going to see any new writing in a pub theatre can be a gamble. I’m glad to say this paid off.’

‘Written by the hugely promising Irish playwright Conall Quinn, this play is strange and beautiful and sings with brilliantly lyrical language.’

 

Everything Theatre, Louise Kerr

http://everything-theatre.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-ones-who-kill-shooting-stars-white.html

A funny and beautifully poetic script with some fantastic characters’

‘ The razor-sharp dialogue between [Gregory Finnegan and Damien Tracey] is most enjoyable’

‘Fraenkel is a strong actress who brings great charm and plenty of energy to her role’

‘The costumes too were as authentic and well thought-out as anything you’re likely to see in a big budget West End play’

‘a top class script’

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Quod fuimus, estis, quod sumus, vos eritis…

TOWKSS, what a lovely creature you were. You were born eight months ago, almost to the day, and now you’re officially over. Beginning in an awkward email thread, you are now a jumble of damp boxes, a series of Ebay adverts (4-iron and a gramophone, anyone?) and a few flats stacked out in the rain.

TOWKSS’ earthly remains:

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So, TOWKSS, what have you given us?

Amongst other things: the Mills Brothers on loop in all of our heads, collapsing wheelbarrows, the chance to work with some really amazing people, endless innuendo-induced hilarity, an appreciation for long-johns and lobster pots, a panoply of punishing hangovers… and a massive sense of pride and nostalgia.

Like any favourite child, you’ve had your moments. You’ve been immensely frustrating (the collection of wheelbarrow #3 and the Big Get-In Van Debacle were personal low points), but even when you lobbed obstacles at us (indiscriminately and determinedly as Henry firing flares), you were also, always, immensely rewarding.

But who needs to hear about how much we’ve loved this weird and wonderful play and the people working on it when you could be looking at pictures of get-out silliness instead. With that in mind…

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Producer + pliers = terrifying…

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Tom, lighting designer, surveys his boxed empire…

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…and Vicki struggles to decide what to keep as a souvenir.

Stay tuned for a review of the reviews (we’re still waiting on the final few to emerge before we have our complete haul).

And, of course, hold onto your hats and the seats of your trousers for news of Three Streets’ next production..

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Do you want milk? It’s from a goat and it’s gone off.

Last Sunday we had a van and some seaweed. This week, we have six performances under our belts, three full houses, a look out post… and a monumental hangover. 

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What I certainly also have at the end of this week is a re-affirmed sense of love for this rich, dark, allusive, intelligent play, which Conall was generous enough to hand over to us. It’s still yielding new insights to all of us – not least in terms of unpicking its many tiers of literary reference (thank you, Synge, for your ladies and their thrown shifts). The writing is learned without being smug; self-aware without being cynical; full of sentiment, but without being sentimental.

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…All of which is quite enough sentiment from me. So what happened this week? Well, we had to say goodbye to Ruth and Max and Tom, our brilliant design team, after press night, which broke my heart a little bit. Other jobs, you say? Don’t be silly! Come back and keep us company. After all, we have birthday cake, soda stream and a little infestation of fruit flies, which if you ask me is inducement enough for anyone to stick around. 

This week, we also say goodbye to Anthony Pinnick, our first Airman, seen here being smothered by Edward (Damien Tracey).

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Contrary to what this photo might suggest, we haven’t snuffed Anthony out in the name of art (we just gave him hypothermia in the first preview instead). He was a great Airman and a charming cast member and he will be missed! Note to Week 2’s Airman – Anthony always bought every round and kept the dressing room well-stocked with Waitrose goodies…

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Some things we have learnt and discovered this week: 1) who needs three weeks when you’ve got three days 2) chicken and cheese AND hash browns from Tennessee Chicken are not necessarily the best idea 3) it is possible for a grown man to be sick neatly on his own shoulder during the Liverpool game – coinciding with our interval – and not even to notice and 4) just how lucky we are to have such a talented cast and team on board. 

 

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Finally, this photo (above) is, I think, my favourite of all our production shots (incidentally, taken by the lovely Dan Smyth – check out his website here http://www.dansmythphotography.com/) I won’t spoil it by explaining its context, if you haven’t seen the show, but for me it encapsulates the surreal beauty of the writing and design and performances.

So, yeah. Check back for more photos soon, which we are drip-feeding onto our social media in an attempt to entice you all a) to navigate our various online platforms and b) you know, sort of, to come and see the show. 

 

 

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