At the end of another year of theatre and film projects, New Year’s Eve seems a good time to step back at tally up the work done by the team throughout 2015.
The first theatre project of the year, and the team’s last in Oxford’s 168-seat O’Reilly Theatre, was David Hare’s mesmerising Plenty, a tale of war and mental illness, female strength and the fight to repair broken homes. Directed by Luke Howarth – one of our guest writers in January – and with a stellar cast, the show was an all-round success and a bright start to 2015.
Featuring a tight schedule, a super-low budget and a cast all making their debut acting appearances, James was a triumph of filmmaking determination under the direction of Lily Taylor and starring Jake Palmer in the title role of a pre-heroic James Bond. Described in our posts as a project with ‘a fun attitude yet a serious agenda’, the film is accompanied by an original score from Tom Kinsella, and enjoyed a well-attended premiere screening at Keble College once the summer’s exams were over.
The Norman Conquests
In early summer, attention turned to a project hoping to transfer from Oxford’s 800-seat Playhouse to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe under the watchful eye of veteran director Griff Rees: an ambitious rotating production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquests trilogy. I was glad to be able to provide advice on the transition – although sadly unable to produce for them up in Edinburgh. Seeing their marketing and production teams around Edinburgh was, however, a real treat.
The Oxford Revue’s Issues
Taking the Fringe’s thriving comedy sector by storm, The Oxford Revue’s show Issues provided an amazing opportunity to produce a big show up in Edinburgh. Investing large amounts of funding to secure accommodation, the impressive 180+ seat Assembly Studio Two venue, and all the associated expenses of maintaining a twelve-person comedy team up in the city for the summer, all paid dividends with sell-out audiences, excellent reviews, and wonderful successes too for the Revue’s other projects. After that success, the stage is set for another fantastic trip next year; look out for Revue president Jack Chisnall’s plans for the summer in a guest post soon.
We recently heard technician-turned-playwright Mina Odile write about the challenges of ‘new-writing comedy’, but it was an exciting pleasure to put on Citric Acid at the BT Studio, selling out several nights and delivering cutting, intriguing and oftentimes immersive satire to audiences each night. Exploring the absurdism of postgraduate life in the trendier areas of London, a theme which must have resonated with a large number of student audience members, the show gave welcome variety to the theatre portfolios of the Hexagon/Commensal teammates involved, and was a successful launch of the new Koma Kino theatre company under director Josh Dolphin.
And in the past few weeks, we’ve already heard from four of our fantastic guest writers – Tom Kinsella, composer to James, central figures in the Commensal and Hexagon theatre teams Mina Odile and Alex Grew, and theatre photographer Ollie Robinson. Four more guests are still to come next month, including figures from theatre and film projects across the past year, and into the next. Keep an eye out for their posts in our Comment section.
Looking forward, there are big projects on the horizon accompanying the move to London in a couple of weeks’ time. A dozen very short, no-budget films are proposed for the Radcliffe Camera Pictures portfolio over the first half of 2016, ranging in theme and style from period costume dramas to art-centric social experiments, Shakespeare adaptations to Woolf classics. On the writing side of things, progress begins with former Revue colleagues on two comedy screenplays for television, while the newly redrafted Tantamount to Treason web-series becomes the focus of a search for investment and a production team able to realise its potential. On the stage, initial enquiries continue on a major adaptation project – currently under wraps – in collaboration with Citric Acid playwright Alex Newton, hopefully set for London later this year.
As we look forward to this exciting news, all on the Commensal, Hexagon, Koma Kino and Radcliffe Camera teams wish you a very happy New Year!