Den of Thieves – Director Interview

Duncan Moore – Den of Thieves director

How did you hear about KDC?
It was back in January 2000, when I first heard about KDC. I had moved to London four months earlier. Having celebrated New Year’s Eve alongside the Thames as the year 2000 was welcomed in, I felt ready to embrace London fully and get back into acting and directing (having not done any theatre since moving to the capital). I mentioned this plan to an old uni friend, and she told me that she was going to an audition that very evening for KDC’s production of Our Country’s Good. I went, got cast and have stayed ever since.

What have you done with us so far?
KDC has given me the opportunity to get involved in many different roles, both on and off stage. I’ve acted in a number of plays, playing roles ranging from a shorts-wearing, recorder-playing 7-year-old boy in The Physicists, to Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Offstage, I have designed lighting and sound for a number of plays, and I have directed over 10 shows for KDC, including Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Ben Elton’s Popcorn, Dracula (adapted by Liz Lochhead), Miller’s The Crucible, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis, the writer of Den of Thieves.

Why Den of Thieves?
The last play I directed for KDC was Romeo and Juliet in November 2015. My brief for that show from KDC was to put on a big extravaganza to end the year. I loved directing that play, and I loved playing with the comedy that Shakespeare had written into one of his most famous tragedies. Once that play was over, I knew for my next show I wanted to do something on a totally different scale, that was filled with more comedy. Den of Thieves is the result.

In addition, Den of Thieves is an early play by one of my favourite writers, Stephen Adly Guirgis. Adly Guirgis writes deep, interesting, conflicted, troubled characters and puts them into hilarious situations and lets the fireworks and laughs explode. He writes plays that are a director’s dream, an actor’s dream and an audience’s dream.

What should we expect from the play itself?
A play that is filled with comedy, heart and drama. Den of Thieves is one of Adly Guirgis’s earliest plays. Since writing it, his subsequent shows have been played all round the world, including at the National Theatre in London, and his most recent play won the Pulitzer in 2015. Den of Thieves captures that moment when a writer is learning their craft but, at the same time, when they have no fear. The play is fast-paced, full-on and a lot of fun as recovering thieves (who are in a 12-Step Program to stop them stealing) get talked into one last job.

Anything else that would like to add? Embarrassing fact about yourself, or a KDC experience you’d like to share.
Through KDC, I got to play a getaway driver on Crimewatch Daily. I spent the morning speeding away from the curb in four different cars. I also had to explain myself to the actual police, who hadn’t seen the tv cameras, and thought they had ‘caught me in the act’ speeding.

The Ghost Train – Director Interview

Nick Mouton – Director of The Ghost Train

How did you hear about KDC?
I got a text message from a friend telling me about auditions, so I went along.  This was back in 2003 when texting was cutting-edge “social media”.

What have you done with KDC so far (as an actor or otherwise)?
So far I’ve directed five shows, acted in 15 and KDC has produced three of my one-act plays. I was also Chair of KDC from 2004 – 2008. I’ve been able to work with amazingly talented people who all love doing what they do and I’ve made some brilliant friendships along the way.

Why The Ghost Train?
A few years back The Ghost Train was on at my local theatre, The Brockley Jack Studio, and I liked the sound of it. Unfortunately, tickets sold out quickly so I bought a copy of the play to find out why a 1920s play was still popular with modern day audiences. When I read it, I absolutely loved it! It’s a fun ghostly yarn with strong examples of what life was like in the 1920s. The characters are intriguing, the plot is engrossing and it’s full of energy. It also had the right number of cast members for a KDC show, but at the time I was already lining up plays to direct so it went on my ‘maybe’ pile. That was until I saw that KDC were going to be at Barons Court Theatre for their Spring 2017 season as the theatre is a perfect setting for the play, with its stone walls and dark corners, so I proposed it and here we are!

What we should expect from you as a director and the play itself?
Both as a director and actor, I really enjoy doing character work. I believe strongly that you can only give a convincing performance once you know everything there is to know about your character. You need to live in their shoes and understand why do they do what they do, how they think and know their story.

Now that we’re through the blocking stage of working out how to have ten actors on the Barons Court Stage, we’re getting stuck into character work. It’s not just about learning lines and knowing where to stand, it’s about being comfortable as that character and it eventually becoming second nature to the actor. This will bring confidence to their performance, a better understanding of the script and as a result more enjoyable for the audience.

Anything else that would like to add? Embarrassing fact about yourself, or a KDC experience you’d like to share.
I’m very excited about returning to Barons Court Theatre, as it is home to my London stage debut – I played Brodin in the KDC production of Red Noses in 2003. There were 23 in the cast and because there were so many people involved we legally couldn’t have full houses as it would exceed the number of people allowed in the space at one time. It was also performed in late June so the space got really hot. Out of sympathy, during the weekend shows, the pub opened their large walk-in fridge so we could sit in it between scenes to cool off. It was rough, especially during the Saturday matinee when we were all hungover and just wanted to sleep. We also used a number of realistic-looking metal swords that the Stage Manager had to guard in the pub during the run as there wasn’t enough space backstage. These caused a few issues, including an altercation with a local resident who took exception to when he was told he couldn’t hold one. In response, him and his inebriated friends threatened to go home and get their own swords so that they could duel with us. We didn’t stick around to see what type of blades they owned!

 

Meet The Ghost Train Cast – James Cross

James Cross

What’s your previous theatre experience?
This is my return to the stage after a 10 year hiatus and I’m currently questioning why it took me so long. A member of various youth theatres (in my youth, obviously) I played a wide cross section of roles from Mack the Knife to Banquo in Macbeth. I have also been known to try my hand at musical theatre, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t come back as easily as acting after a long break.

Tell us about your character in ‘The Ghost Train’
I play Teddie Deakin. He’s a bit of a buffoon, likes to entertain people, but often misjudges the mood.. much to the annoyance of the other characters in the play. He means well though, and I like to think that his pluck gets them through some of the tougher times.
Think Bertie Wooster, but with a bit more about him, and you’re in the right ballpark.

How have you found the rehearsal process?
I’ve really enjoyed the rehearsal process. Nick has introduced me to lots of new techniques, and some which I’d forgotten, that have been really helpful, particularly in developing the character. It has also been great to get to know the rest of the cast and crew. A real pleasure to meet new people and make some new friends.

Describe the show in three words.
Spooky. Suspenseful. Surprising.

What are you looking forward to about show week?
The camaraderie of the cast and crew, that knackered feeling in the run up to the last show before the adrenaline kicks back in. The costumes, the lights, the different reaction of the audience every night. The party. So pretty much everything actually.

What is your favourite spooky film or TV show?
For spooky, I’d have to go with some of the Black Mirror episodes. For outright scary though, nothing comes close to The Omen.

Meet The Ghost Train Cast – Elizabeth Stevens

Elizabeth Stevens

What’s your previous KDC experience?
I was in a production of The Children’s Hour at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in March 2016, directed by Chris Davis. I really enjoyed performing in a more intimate space again and made some incredible friends along the way.

Tell us about your character in ‘The Ghost Train’
Julia Price is, in a word, troubled. She suffers from “delusions” and manic episodes that all started several years earlier when she claims she saw the ghost train one night. Even though she believes that to set eyes upon the ghost train would be death to her, she still feels compelled to see it again.

How have you found the rehearsal process?
So far rehearsals have been really fascinating. Nick is really good at giving his actors space to explore their characters and really develop a deeper understanding of their background and the environment in which they live. I’ve already picked up a few good tips that I will definitely be using again!

Describe the show in three words.
Intriguing, surprising and… SPOOKY!

What are you looking forward to about show week?
That moment when the house lights dim and the audience falls into a hushed silence. In those seconds the relaxed chatter ceases and the whole room fills with anticipation as you feel the eyes of every single audience member turn to the stage. The silence becomes deafening, the stage lights come up, your stomach lurches, you take a deep breath and you launch yourself into the show!

What is your favourite spooky film or TV show?
Stranger Things. I remember thinking one Friday night that I’d give it a go and watch the first episode. Fast forward to 5am and I had binged watch the entire series in one sitting! Hands down some of the most compulsive viewing I’ve experienced in a long time!

Writers wanted – Full Stack

Writers wanted for our new project “Full Stack”, an evening of New Writing short plays that we will produce for a week of shows in June. We need your words!

We are looking to choose 12 pieces around the theme “What keeps me awake”, that are no longer than 4 sides of A4, and need no more than 3 actors. We need your creativity!

So if you’re an experienced writer who want to try your hand at a short punchy piece, or a brand new creative that hasn’t-got-around-to-writing-but-has-it-as-a-new-year’s-resolution.. This is your opportunity. We need your imagination!

You can submit as many pieces as you like, and we will be looking to pick about 12 pieces to make up our evening of theatre.

Deadline for submissions: 17th April

Questions and submissions to Carl at newwriting@kdctheatre.com

The Ghost Train Cast List

Richard Winthrop: Ben Baxter
Elsie Winthrop: Hannah Brooks
John Sterling: David Matthews
Saul Hodgkin: Paul Caira
Teddie Deakin: James Cross
Miss Bourne: Jill Davy
Peggy Murdock: Gabriella Guymer-Davies
Herbert Price: Felix Newman
Charles Murdock: Sotonye Ogan
Julia Price: Elizabeth Stevens