The Ice Maiden

It’s about time I reveal the detail of our major new project – The Ice Maiden, inspired from the original short story by Hans Christian Anderson, a strange little fairy tale that will work as the source for a very SourDough adaptation.

Following on from the previous blog, I’ll summarise how we came across this relatively-unknown tale. Having decided that we wanted to do an adaptation of a pre-existing text, probably an archaic one with a nice mythological flavour, we ended up looking at a wide variety of classic stories from around the world, eventually narrowing it down to 2 possiblities – The Ice Maiden and The Odyssey. We were quite split over which one to do, but ultimately decided that while we had a lot of ideas for The Odyssey they were logistically and financially too ambitious right now – and so we came to The Ice Maiden.

Anderson’s story is pretty dark, a tale about a young man in Switzerland called Rudy, whose life is beset by an evil being, the queen of the glaciers, a force of icey rage from the natural world, the titular Ice Maiden. Its translated, archaic dialogue gives you a gothic richness, while also leaving room for our own writing to fill in the gaps inevitably left by the novel-play transisition. If you glance through the original text you can see the sort of thing many theatre companies would do with it, it would really work as a folksy, whimsical piece for children – Theatre Alibi would love to do this play.

But we wanted to do something a little more interesting. Family-orientated theatre has never been our thing and we saw a lot more potential in the story. Our version would be ‘multi-old-media’, deeply immersed in a morbid fairy-tale atmosphere, a world both beautiful and grotesque, illustrated with many of our favourite devices; shadows, projection and live music. If you’ve seen our previous productions the most similar we can compare it to is A Christmas Carol, at least in it’s more theatrical parts where we used several set devices to create the effects we wanted. We should be able to make this quite a fascinating performative journey though a dark little world.
We’ve been working on it for a few weeks now and are making steady progress. We started by repeatedly running through the text, working out how to change the structure, narrowing down the characters and gathering more and more ideas of what we wanted to try. A list of conventions was made – shadow puppets for animals, wooden puppets for children for instance – and gradually a script started taking form. It was a tricky one to write, mostly because we end up changing style so frequently; it is hard to change your mindset from planning a part-live, part-projected video dream sequence, to writing naturalistic dialogue for an awkward dinner scene. But we now have a working script and are beginning to create and experiment, bit-by-bit.

From now on we’ll try and keep this blog a little more updated, and give you all the latest news on the high and lows of making such a changeable, complex piece.


What we’ve been doing with the past few months

Looks like I haven’t been keeping this very updated, so it’s about time I let everyone know what we’ve been up to lately.

When we finally finished You Only Let Die Anyone Who Loved Me Forever, we had to make a decsion about what we were going to do next. The Watcher and the Watched is still something we really want to carry on doing one day, as we think the idea has a lot of potential. However it is really dependent on getting the right space for the piece – we can’t construct a set, but need to find a perfect venue for both rehearsal and performance purposes, and we have yet to find this elusive place which can cure our creativity blocks and give us the momentum to play with the idea. So we’re putting the piece in a box for the time being, though with every intention of coming back to it in the future.

So instead we decided to start on an entirely new project, with a brand new idea. Now one of the hardest stages of any process is coming up with that initial concept – there was nothing we were trying to inspire from, we had to choose from pretty much every idea we could think of, which takes a lot of narrowing down to say the least. As we branstormed through various concepts, some ended up being explored in more depth than others. One idea we liked, one born of Laura’s and Charlotte’s experiences as teaching assistants, was what it was like being 12 – the ridiculousness of that age, the things that seem important then, and so on. This sort of expanded into contrasting ourselves now to ourselves at various other ages, and we ended up writing little individual bits and podding out some small performances to play around with the concept a little more.

In the end however we decided to go down one of our favourite routes – adapting from a pre-existing text. We’ve never had much strength in writing a good script from scratch, but have alwys had much better results when we have some original work to start from. Sometimes we’ve been pretty faithful to the original, such as in A Christmas Carol, but this time we wanted to use a piece as more of an inspiration from which we can go down a really interesting artistic direction. We talked about variuys texts, mythologies and stories and eventually settled on one. In fact, we’ve been working on it for a little while, but I’ll give you the details in another blog shortly. Suffice to say, we are very keen on it….


The Exeter Blitz Project

Edith’s Walk: An Exeter Blitz Audio Tour. Follow Edith through the city centre as the ghosts of Exeter emerge from the rubble to tell their stories.

Amongst all the Bond fun, Charlotte and Laura have been working on their audio tour Edith’s Walk. The tour is part of the Exeter Blitz Project commemorating the bombing of Exeter 70 years ago this May.

We’ve had a really great time doing all the recording. Lots of voice actors coming in and out, performing in our make shift recording studio (Laura’s hallway and wardrobe), sustained with copious amounts of tea, bourbons and easter cakes. A massive thanks again to everyone who was involved. We are lucky to know such talented people, they have really brought our audio tour to life!

We are starting to edit the piece together now with the help of Dan Smith our sound engineer extraordinaire.

We have both really enjoyed working on this audio tour. We want the people of Exeter to walk through the city with a new perspective. For us, this project has uncovered a part of Exeter’s rich history. We now look at the high street in a very different way, realizing what was lost and why the city is now shaped as it is.

Over the next month we will be getting everything together ready for our first tours on May 7th. When the tour is ready you will be able to download it onto your mp3/ipod from here on the website. More information coming soon!

The solution to creativity blocks

Well it has been a while since the last post and this is because, despite arriving fresh faced and bushy tailed into a new year, ready to get back into developing Watcher and the Watched, experiment with new styles and ask important artistic questions….we hit a complete block.

We could go over practicalities fine, discuss business card designs and rehearsal structures perfectly well but in terms of anything creative we had, well, nothing. Absolutely the worst thing to face when getting to a new phase in a project is a complete imagination drought.

So what can we do to get those creative juices flowing again? Games? Workshops?

Instead we remembered how coming exhausted out of Rogues and Wanderers we did a small, simple adaptation of an existing source that was both enjoyable and very allowing of creativity, namely A Christmas Carol. From this it was then very easy to flow straight into a more major project, The Bloodline.

Realising this was exactly what we needed we cast about for something to work off – a novel? A childhood story? A play? And then we realised we had a far better idea: James Bond. We would make our own Bond film.

Suffice to say we are just coming out of R+D and into storyboarding and we will give you more details in a few details when we have a script. A script that will of course be shaken.

Not stirred

Changes and a new piece

It’s been a while since the last update and suffice to say there has been quite a lot of changes!

Callum, Michael and Joe have gone on to work on their new company Worklight Theatre, while the rest of us have become even closer and with, if it is even possible, more incomprehensible in jokes than ever before.

People have moved houses (having now firmly reached the ‘apartment’ stage of our lives), got new jobs and in some cases actually got engaged!

Having had an extremely hectic first year doing as many different projects as possible, with as many rehearsals-as-possible every week we have now decided to take a rather different approach this year. We are focusing on a single piece and giving it time to grow and develop, as we play around with lots of different ideas, gradually narrowing them down till we really find a great central focus.

The performance has the working title of The Watcher and the Watched and more details can be found on the performances page of our site

End of Summer Festivals

Phew! An exhausting few weeks have just ended in Devon. What with the Barnstaple FringeFest and the Exeter Fringe going on it has all been go, go, go down here.

We have ended our first year by creating two shows. Hometowns, which was shown at both festivals and Four Man, which we took to the Exeter Fringe.

Exeter Fringe

Fringe TheatreFest

Both festivals were utter successes, we all saw lots of other people’s work and it was an excellent opportunity to be able to see lots of new and exciting shows and performances. It was inspiring to see so much good stuff and it gives us that infective itch to start producing more. The buzz in the air was palpable in Barnstaple as soon as you were within five minutes of the venues, seeing people scurrying about between shows and discussing upcoming, and recently seen, work. In Exeter I was gobsmacked by the sheer number of audience members –spread out over six venues- that the festival managed to attract and, more importantly, maintain. It shows that those involved were doing things right if people kept coming back and back for more. So a big thank you and well done to all those involved in organising and running the two festivals, a lot of people owe you a lot of thanks!

Four Man

As far as SourDough goes, it has been an awesome year for us all, working on a huge swathe of projects whilst trying to pin down precisely what it is we are all about as a company. We’re definitely heading toward finding that out and after every project we have a chat about the process and performance and each time we’re that little bit happier about it all and that is obviously the direction we want to be carrying on with.

Next up for us is a couple of weeks to think about what we want to do next as a company and then we will be back on the research run to start generating some material for a show which we hope will be ready for showcasing in autumn. There are a few ideas already for what this will be coming out of the SourDough Bakery and I, for one, am very excited to see what the rest of the guys come up with.

The Christmas Project

A Christmas Carol Shadow

I am very pleased to announce our Christmas project: our very own adaptation of the much loved Dickens Classic, A Christmas Carol. We will be performing for one night in St Stephen’s Church on the 18th December at 7pm. Join us as we journey through the story of ghostly shadows, chiming bells and Christmas morals. There will be carol singing, games and good old Christmas cheer!

The aim is to raise as much money for the St Stephen’s Project as possible so tickets will be a pay what you want price and all ticket sales will go to the project:

We are very excited to start working on this story, we love it because it is Gothic and ghostly as well very funny and warming. It will be a real giggle. So please come along, it would be lovely to see you.

Here’s something to wet your appetites