Cathy

Cathy by Ali Taylor – TR2, Plymouth

Cardboard Citizen’s brought their production of Cathy to TR2, a brief stop on their current tour of the show. As it was being performed in a rehearsal room this version of the play was stripped back and basic, but still packed an emotional punch.

Originally written as part of Cardboard Citizens 25th anniversary celebrations, Cathy is inspired by Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home. Unfortunately, the issue of homelessness is still as pertinent today as it was in the 60s. For this performance the majority of the audience was formed of TRP’s engagement groups, such as Our Space. Our Space is a group for adults with multiple and complex needs, stemming from issues such as addiction, homelessness or social isolation. The aim of the group is to forge healthy social interaction, build confidence and encourage engagement with the theatre. I’m not always keen on outreach groups being made to watch plays that detail struggles similar to what they have experienced (the Exeunt article I’ve linked below explains why in much better words than I could come up with). However, in this case the attendees were aware of what they would be watching and had opted to attend. Cardboard Citizens also facilitated a discussion afterwards too which made things inclusive.

It’s testament to the show’s writing that the majority of the audience identified with what they’d seen, with many stating they had experienced a lot of the play’s events themselves. Cathy is the story of a mother and daughter who, after missing a couple of rent payments, find themselves in increasingly desperate situations. The current housing system for those in need is portrayed in all its inadequacies. It’s definitely not easy viewing. Some wry laughs here and there but overall the play is as difficult to watch as you would imagine with its subject matter. That’s not to say you shouldn’t see it! It’s great piece of work with stunningly realistic performances from all of the cast. The set design is interesting too, with what appears to be giant Jenga blocks being moved around to form each new environment, symbolising their transient homes. It’s a piece worth seeing, particularly for those who struggle to comprehend how a person could end up homeless.

http://exeuntmagazine.com/features/trouble-outreach-work/

Two months down!

Two months down!

And 10 more to go! I’m really hoping they don’t all go by as quickly as these first two have. I’ve realised I definitely need keep more on top of updating this blog too. Saying nowt for ages and then dropping like 10 posts in one go doesn’t seem like the best tactic. It also means there’s no way I can fit in all the great things I’ve been doing, so this post is going to be but a tiny snapshot into my world.

I’m getting more settled in at TRP. There’s no longer that weird anxious feeling where I’ve no idea what I’m really there for. My line managers and I have formulated some jazzy plans for my development this year and there are so many projects I’m really excited to be getting my teeth into. I’m slowly improving my networking skills, although I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to just strut in and start chatting. I’m naturally hella awkward so I think the first ten minutes or so of any event will always consist of me pretending to text while I work up the courage to approach folk. I’ve got that slightly concerned ‘I’ve just received a confusing but important message that requires immediate attention’ look on lock. Seriously, I’ve got it nailed.

As mentioned, part of my settling in has been sorting out some long term tasks for me. One of my favourite so far has been archiving scripts. It’s given me a chance to indulge my inner history nerd and look back over the theatre’s old programmes. It’s been a lot of fun looking at what marketing styles were cool for each era and seeing super early scripts from writers who are now huge. I knew a bit about how much talent development TRP do but I hadn’t realised just how many big names had graced our stages. It’s an ongoing project, there’s still mounds to sort through and I’m looking forward to what gems I’ll unearth!

Another lovely thing I got to do was take a trip out to Cornwall to check on the progress of a set build. The set was for our own production of Clockwork Canaries by Christopher William Hill. I’ve seen the workshops at TR2 before and it was nice to get a view of how other companies function. This workshop has two adorable dogs so it was always going to be a highlight! Although, I can’t express how nerve-wracking it is playing fetch with two rambunctious collies in the presence of some incredibly fragile and/or dangerous items. To get to the workshop we had to catch a little ferry which was a novelty for me. Plymouth is mad pretty if you’re in the right area (see above photo of the view from TR2). The purpose of the trip was to make sure the set was all being built in line with what the designer has envisioned. I got to tag along to learn a little bit more about how a production comes together. This was a great set to see as it involves quite a lot of complicated elements – like a graveyard an actor needed to be able to dig into and a balcony that someone could safely climb down from.

Run-down of other cool stuff I’ve done: I’ve gotten better at IT, I’m not quite as much of a technophobe! That said, my poster making skills leave a lot to be desired. Publisher just won’t ever compare to Photoshop – a programme that continues to flummox me. I’ve gotten better at general office things, like creating contact sheets, using programmes like Artifax, researching/booking casting spaces. I’ve learned more about the interplay between TRP’s many departments, I’ve helped to source/fix props for a few shows and got a far more solid understanding of the production process. I can now explain the difference between a producer and a production manager! I’ve gotten to grips with the rehearsal process having sat in on a few, I’ve seen how technical rehearsals work, I’ve shadowed some technical staff, I’ve been on the roof of the theatre (gorgeous but my god, so scary), I’ve seen how a script develops throughout the production process (I’d always imagined that once rehearsals start it was a done deal, which is definitely not the case) and I’ve attended press nights/opening nights for many plays. This isn’t even close to everything. It’s been a busy few months! I’m now even more excited for what’s to come.

Goals for the next two weeks: first and foremost, actually keep this blog updated! Listing goals for the next two weeks is no good if I’m not checking in at that point.

Get better at time management! I find that I stay on top of smaller, more immediate tasks no bother. This happens at the expense of the long term ‘big’ jobs though, so I need to work on prioritising and making sure I don’t let things fall by the wayside.

My goals for the previous blog were to be more confident and be more efficient. There’s definitely been some improvement with these but there’s still a way to go. They’re pretty big goals though so I suppose that’s understandable. I’ll keep working at it.