Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night Cast Biographies

Elliot_WenglerElliot Wengler
Elliot Wengler is a Writer, Broadcaster, and Comedian, returning to acting in his first KDC production. As the 2013-14 President of the UEA Headlights Comedy Society, he starred in improv and sketch shows throughout university, directing 2 Revues and 2 troupes. The Leicester Square 2015 Quarter-Finalist has also been heard on Shoreditch Radio with ‘Elliot’s Ecclectic Education’, and been nominated for SRA and NaSTA awards for his comedy productions. He is delighted to be acting and improvising again. ‘A real treat.’ / ‘his character was the best of the night’ – Concrete. ‘Enviable performing abilities’ – The Tab. ‘A star in the making’ – Ian Warr (Eyebright Media / Speen Festival)

Francine_DulongFrancine Dulong
Francine Dulong is a Canadian performer/game theatre fusioner and Oriel her alter ego for KDC. She recently finished her MA in Applied Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and is wickedly excited to be doing all things English, make new connections, and improv with the brilliant gang you see before you! When she is not lost in facilitating workshops on positive body image or coding, Francine is tinkering with responsive art/tech for her new participatory, environmental theatre company Blooming Ludus.

Ian_GreenIan Green
This is Ian’s second ever acting role. He’s a keen amateur dancer; at University, he choreographed, performed and competed in many styles including Ballroom, Tango, Salsa, Tap, and Ballet and has had at least one or two lessons in almost every mainstream dance style there is. Outside of dancing, he loves to race Video Games against his mates, and has helped host charity video game “speedrunning” events in the US and Sweden, all under the alias RoboSparkle, which actually comes from his University’s Ballroom club, nicknamed “Team Sparkle” (going full circle!)

Kat_KilshawKat Kilshaw
Kat studied drama at university and since graduating in 2009 has taken acting courses at Birkbeck College and City Academy. At university she acted in scenes from Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ and Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’.

 

Kim_MorrisonKim Morrison
Age 7 Kim was cast as Mary in her school nativity play, in rehearsal five the so-called ‘director’ removed all her lines after she ‘took a risk’ and tried smothering the baby Jesus with the box of Myrr. She is really excited about this show because the director has given his full permission to do whatever comes into her head. Or at least this is how she has chosen to interpret things. If he doesn’t like it, Kim figures there is not much he can do about it once the show has started.

Lisa_McKeownLisa Mckeown
Lisa trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts graduating in 2006. Since then she has worked in film, TV and has performed in various west end shows including Ghosts produced by Thelma Holt, directed by Ian Glenn. Lisa is excited to be taking part in a KDC production.

 

Natasha_BerggNatasha Bergg
This is Natasha’s first production with KDC.

 

 

 

Ronan_HarringtonRonan Harrington
Ronan Harrington is an Irish émigré who cannot successfully pronounce his name to British people. “What’s your name?” “Ronan” “Roland?” “no, Ronan” “Oh…Rowan” “eh, no, Ro NAN” “Oh, Ronan…like Ronan Keating” “Yes……like Ronan Keating”

 

Sandor_KissSandor Kiss
Sandor joined the show after a few years’ break from acting. Having graduated from uni and started a corporate job, he felt it was time to get back on stage. Sandor has previously done a number of short devised pieces in Hungary as well as musicals and short plays in the United States – luckily for the audience, he is not expected to sing much in Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night (but, of course, you never know what will happen)!

Sharita_OomeerSharita Oomeer
Sharita Oomeer has performed with a number of London-based theatre companies since 2006, including KDC Theatre and Tower Theatre. Previous roles include Marianne in Moliere’s ‘Tartuffe’ (2014), Ophelia in ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ (2014) and Bianca in ‘Othello’ (2015). Last year she performed in ‘Night Night Sleep Tight’, part of KDC Theatre’s new writing season. Sharita is delighted to be taking part in ‘Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night’, KDC’s Theatre’s first full-length, fully improvised play.

Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night – Director’s Blog

You’re crazy

“Improvise a new full-length play every night? You’re crazy.”

blog2

That was pretty much the response I got from everyone I told about my idea to direct a full-length improvised play. And there was some sense behind that. They knew I’d previously directed five devised pieces in the KDC Studio programme, but devising is different from on-stage improvising. In devising the actors are using improv techniques in rehearsals to create the story, but that story is then captured in a script, edited, redrafted and then learnt and performed just like any other play. In improvising, there is no script. No editing. No redrafting. A line is created live in front of the audience and it cannot be taken back. The performance goes where it goes and no one – not the audience, not the cast, not the director – knows where it will end up.

So they had a pretty good reason for calling me crazy. But despite that, they were still interested. They wanted to know how. It was that spark of interest which gave me hope that – at the end of this weird, unique rehearsal process – there would be an audience for what we had created.

The first person who didn’t say I was crazy (and still hasn’t) was Kim Morrison. Kim is the Artistic Director of KDC and is overall responsible (with the help of others) for programming each season. She and I met to discuss the show at KDC’s home-from-home, the Hoop & Grapes pub on Farringdon Street. There was a slot open in the Spring Season and – between the drama and heavy subject matter of The Children’s Hour and Woyzeck – she was open to something lighter to balance the season. She had acted in and directed several devised pieces over the previous years and was interested – just as I – in taking it a step further. I remember it as a conversation all about the practicalities of the show, never questioning whether it was even possible for a cast of actors, working in their spare time, to create something so different from what KDC had done before. From her prior experience with devising she knew how far actors could be pushed and how quickly a show can come together when the cast were so deeply involved in its creation.

I gave my pitch and answered her questions as best I could. She seemed satisfied and left saying that she would need to talk it through with Emma, KDC’s chairperson. Not long after she emailed me to tell me that the show was accepted and whether I would be available for the following dates for Newcomers, auditions, committee meetings etc.

With that, it was official. The idea that Allan had brought along to a game design jam one day was now going to be a week-long production running at the Rosemary Branch Theatre the week before Easter. Kim had been confident in it and myself for the company to book the theatre and organise rehearsal and audition space, all for this play of which I could not show them a single line. But then I was confident as well. Except for once.

It was KDC Newcomers. The Newcomers event is both a chance for the committee to introduce the company to interested new joiners, but also the next season to everyone. It’s each director’s chance to encourage the actors to audition and to answer the questions they had. Ironically for an improvised show, I’d prepared a page-long script of what I would say and arrived, waited and listened. The director before me spoke for a while, perhaps ten minutes, and had several questions from interested attendees which took another five or so. I then got up. Turns out that my page-long script took about sixty seconds to deliver and, when I finished, I felt that it had been the same length as my predecessor’s opening remarks. I asked for questions. I knew that this was unlike any show KDC had done before and sounded very ambitious. Surely, people would want to know how I planned to make this fanciful idea a reality.

There were no questions. Not one. I finished up by saying that folk could also grab me in the break if they wanted (no one did) and sat down. It was right then that the thought hit me ‘Maybe I am crazy.’ Maybe this is the first KDC show ever that gets zero auditionees and has to be cancelled through lack of actors. One of the committee asked me privately if I knew anyone that was auditioning or was there anyone I could call. I replied, oh yes, I know a good few gamers into improv who might be interested (yeah, one or two, maybe).

Even though this was my tenth show as director, I arrived at auditions more nervous than ever before. Would anyone come? I wanted ten actors total. Would I even get that many auditionees over the three nights of auditions?

I ended up seeing seventy-four and had the incredible luxury of not having to cast for particular characters, but instead pick those who – in the limited time I could see them – I thought would respond well to both the acting and creative demands of the piece and work well together. One of the ten was Kim, who decided that she wanted to see this strange type of show up close and from the inside. That next Monday, these courageous actors and my production team started down the road to becoming a single troupe of performers. I might well be crazy, but I would not be alone.


Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night performs at the Rosemary Branch Theatre on 22-26 March 2016.  http://www.rosemarybranch.com/index.php/programme/82-dreaming-on-a-midsummer-s-night

Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night – Director’s Blog

What do you mean, based on a game?

“On the poster, it says the show is based on a game. Do you mean it’s like those crappy movies that are based on video games?”

blog1

No, not at all. Not even a little bit.

Dreaming is based on a story game. Story games are played around a table and – rather than a game – could perhaps be described as an activity that helps a group of collaborators create a story together that none of them would have created on their own.

Part theatre improv, part roleplay, part board game – story games provide a structure and rules by which a group can create a particular type of story. There are hundreds of these games out there, covering genres as diverse as horror, romance, crime, noir, supernatural, spy, adventure, sf and fantasy. They’re intended as an activity that – like a board game – can simply be enjoyed with others. But each game is also a tool with which two or three or more creators can work together to create something new.

 

My history with story games goes back to when I was developing the Studio programme for KDC. The Studio Pieces were a series of devised plays in which – in the time that the other shows were learning their lines and their blocking – the actors and I created our play from scratch. Setting, premise, characters, script, everything. And then learnt it and then performed it.

I’m proud of the plays that came out of that programme, but without a doubt having ten or more people all trying to create a single play at the same time had its difficulties. Generating ideas is easy, the group is never short of ideas, the challenge is focus, the challenge is how we say ‘no’.

I wanted an approach that allowed the actors to inspire each other, rather than overrule each other. I wanted everyone to be able – to be required even – to contribute and for that contribution to stay in place as the group built upon it. I wanted an approach through which the actors would be surprised by what they themselves came up with. And I wanted everyone to feel safe and comfortable with the story that we created. This is an approach I found in story games.

 

I used techniques gleaned from gaming in my final years with the Studio programme and they proved even more imaginative and – importantly for me – even more collaborative than the years before.

It is with this background in mind that I met Allan Cariño at a story game design jam near London Bridge. He had brought this idea to make a game based around A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I jumped at the idea to help and he and I and a few others spent the subsequent four hours hammering out how it might work. We finished it up over the next few weeks, I’ve played it several times around a table and it works. Allan decided to title it What Fools These Mortals Be and there it might have ended.

 

Now this is not the first long-form improv show to use a story game for its structure. Not by a long chalk. Others have, years before, been similarly inspired as to how these games could be used in the theatre. But the first one I saw was thanks to Michael Such. Michael, an avid improviser and story gamer, had taken a story game in the road movie genre and converted it into a thirty minute long-form improv called Open Roads that was performed as part of the Nursery Originals programme at the Edric Theatre in 2015. It had three performances in its first run, I saw two of them – and coming out from that I could not help but wonder what other story games could be performed as a long-form improv in front of an audience. Of course, I thought of Allan’s game which was rooted in theatrical tradition in the first place. How perfect would it be to take that back and perform it as a show?

And that is where Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night began.


Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night performs at the Rosemary Branch Theatre on 22-26 March 2016.  http://www.rosemarybranch.com/index.php/programme/82-dreaming-on-a-midsummer-s-night

 

Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night Cast List

Thank you to all those of you who attended the packed auditions for Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night. Commiserations to those of you who were unsuccessful, don’t forget Woyzeck is auditioning 25 and 26 January. Well done to the successful cast:

Elliot Wengler
Francine Dulong
Ian Green
Kat Kilshaw
Kim Morrison
Lisa McKeown
Natasha Bergg
Ronan Harrington
Sandor Kiss
Sharita Oomeer