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?”

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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

 

Director pitches Summer 2016

With our Spring season fully cast and well on its way, the time has come for us to throw open our doors and invite you, our very talented and much loved membership, to help us create the magic that will be summer season 2016!

What’s the deal?

Without our wonderful directors nothing would happen. We rely on those creative geniuses to dream up the ideas and become the enthusiastic, balls of energy that inspire our actors to take those ideas to the stage. We want to hear from all budding and established directors who would be interested in pitching a play to be performed for one week in June.

What kind of thing do we want?

ANYTHING!!! We love theatre in all it’s dramatic, hilarious, touching and downright avant-garde glory. From Shakespeare to new writing, Ibsen to long-form improv, we’ve done a lot and we are always looking for the next challenge.

Things to consider

KDC prefers play with upwards of 8 roles in order to give our actors plenty of parts. However, don’t let that deter you from pitching other things, we have ways…

The theatres we use are fairly small and our show budgets are limited. If you are picturing a revolve and purpose built ship it probably won’t happen.

KDC have fantastic actors but they aren’t professionals: they have lives, families, jobs, insecurities and are doing theatre because they love it, not because they are paid for it. As a director you need to be sensitive this and create an environment where people feel safe and free to be creative. Please have a think about this because it’s very important and we will ask!

But I haven’t directed before!!

That’s fine, we have to do everything for the first time at some point. Although we do like a bit of experience, we appreciate different backgrounds bring different talent and have plenty of old hands to help you find your feet.

The Details

Summer shows will be at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington. There are two weeks available week commencing 20th June and week commencing 27th June.

Rehearsals will start in mid-April.

I’m interested, what now?

In the first instance drop me (Kim – artistic@kdctheatre.com) a quick email briefly explaining what you’d like to pitch by 9am on Monday 7th March and we can take it from there.

Woyzeck Cast List

Congratulations to the cast of the last show in the KDC Theatre Spring Season 2016. Woyzeck is on 5-9 April at the Rosemary Branch Theatre:

Woyzeck – Scott Watson
Marie – Faye Pulleyn
Showmen and other assorted characters:
Alex Waddington
Mike Soakell
Ian Russell
Emmanuelle Andrews
Gareth Hugh Williams
Lionel Laurent

The Children’s Hour Cast List

Thank you to all those who attended the very busy auditions. If you weren’t successful, don’t forget Woyzeck is auditioning 25 and 26 January. Well done to the successful cast:

Peggy Rogers: Phoebe Chan
Lily Mortar: Diana Pauline
Evelyn Munn: Minnie Walker
Rosalie Wells: Izzie Price
Mary Tilford: Kimberley Marren
Karen Wright: Emily McDonald
Martha Dobie: Liz Stevens
Joseph Cardin: Keir Mills
Amelia Tilford: Julia Coleman

Director: Chris Davis
Producer: Madhia Hussain
Assistant Producer: Liz Stevens

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

KDC Lab Cast List

Thank you to all those who attended the auditions on 17 January. The standard was very high and for those of you who were unsuccessful, there are plenty of other opportunities to get involved. The cast for the KDC Lab:

Emma Knott
Alice Lord
Abner Motaung
Stephen Lucas
Katrina Hasthorpe
Bianca Beckles-Rose
Sadie Clark
Eve Atkinson

Spring 2016 shows announced

We are proud to announce the line-up for Spring 2016, running from 22 March to 9 April:

Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night | Audition Notice
KDC Lab | Audition Notice
The Children’s Hour | Audition Notice
Woyzeck | Audition Notice

Auditions in January are on the following dates and locations:

17 – KDC Lab auditions, Clean Break Studios, Patshull Road, Kentish Town, from 12pm to 2pm
18-20 – Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night & The Children’s Hour auditions, Theatre Delicatessen, 119 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3ER, from 6.45pm
23 – Recalls, Theatre Delicatessen, 10am-2pm
25-26 – Woyzeck auditions, Theatre Delicatessen, from 6.45pm
30 – Recalls, Theatre Delicatessen, 10am-2pm