Christie on Campus #10

Christie on Campus #10

It’s show time: don’t blink

Ten victims. Ten suspects. Ten blogs… AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

It took a little persuasion from SUP to convince director Paul Green to take the helm on this new version of Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE.

He’d seen too many creaky am-dram productions on cluttered drawing room sets – and so he wanted to try something a little different…

“Don’t blink. Don’t even blink… Don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and don’t blink! Good luck…”

This time last year, if you had told me that I’d be directing an Agatha Christie play at NST Campus, I simply would not have believed you. But here we are, and you are about to see the culmination of a great deal of hard work, fun and ‘thinking outside the box’.

Fittingly, this is number ten in our series of pre-show blogs: the tenth and the last.

My starting point with the play was our group of performers. How do you integrate people who haven’t all worked together to trust each other? Remarkably easily, as it turned out.

I’ve been blessed with a cast that is happy to take multiple leaps of faith (quite literally) into uncharted territory, from the very first rehearsal onwards.

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The cast of SUP’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

Maintaining the tension, suspense and paranoia that I wanted has been challenging and exhausting for all concerned but will, I am sure, produce a gripping, exciting and involving experience.

If you look at Christie’s script, I think the only real issues are to do with the stage mechanics, not her writing: notably the extremely detailed stage directions and the set itself, which are extremely prescriptive – if you choose to use them.

Her plotting is great. The story rattles along at a fine pace. Her characterization and dialogue are excellent. But the first thing I did was to strip back the set and furniture, so we could focus the action (and the audience) on what was really important – the growing suspicion, fear and paranoia on Soldier Island – and to throw the stage directions out of the window.

I wanted to create a far more fluid, free-flowing and immersive experience – reaching out into the audience at times.

So, if you come along expecting a drawing room/sit-down jolly murder mystery, I’d suggest that you strap yourself in and prepare for a rollercoaster ride instead. I believe theatre should be fun for all involved as well as challenging and risky – and hopefully there will be shocks and surprises aplenty.

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Paul Green

I also believe that challenging theatre convention provides a more interesting experience, so our audiences can expect to see stage pictures and behaviour that might grate and raise questions. That’s healthy.

A great many people have contributed to this show, far too many to mention, but my heartfelt thanks go to all those who have helped and supported the show.

So, can you spot the clues?

Never let your guard down. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t blink.

Enjoy the show.


Take your seats… SUP proudly presents Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at NST Campus theatre from Wed 23-Sat 26 January 2019 – tickets from just £10

Concessions and group bookings also available

Click here to book tickets

ATTWN

 

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Christie on Campus #2

Meet the suspects/meet the victims

Part 1

Your guide to the mysterious house guests on Soldier Island in Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE – at NST Campus Southampton from 23-26 January 2019

In order of appearance – you’ll have to see the play for the order of disappearance

Mr Rogers – Jonathan Shepherd

An upright and dignified Devon man, Rogers the butler is a “proper servant” in every sense. But do he and his wife harbour a dark secret from a previous employer? It’s strange they only arrived on Soldier Island a few days before the rest of the house guests assembled…

Mrs RogersAnna Hussey

Capable housekeeper and loyal wife, Mrs Rogers is also unafraid to take the odd swipe at her husband and is quick to complain about the gaggle of incoming guests she has to cook and clean for, and with her mistress nowhere to be seen. Is she as frail as she appears?

Captain Philip Lombard Paul Cresser

Confident and resourceful, Lombard’s mysterious past includes time spent as a soldier. Do his boldness, cunning and easy charm mask something altogether more sinister? Lombard is instantly and vocally attracted to Vera, before events take a turn for the worst…

Vera Claythorne Jess Capes

A former governess employed as Secretary to the mistress of Soldier Island, Vera is trying to escape a dark event from her past… Intelligent, alert and emotional, she quickly embarks on a sparky and flirtatious relationship with Captain Lombard.

Anthony Marston – Alex Mawers

This young, dashing, amoral playboy likes fast cars and flirting with the ladies. Once he arrives – having driven at break-neck speed from London and nearly running over Dr Armstrong in the process – he sets his sights on Vera and quickly pokes fun at Captain Lombard…


Please follow our  progress in future blogs. Remember to tell your friends, family and colleagues about the show – and don’t forget to book early to get the seats you want.


SUP proudly presents Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at NST Campus theatre from Wed 23-Sat 26 January 2019 – tickets from just £10. Concessions and group bookings available.

You can book your tickets here

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Christie on Campus #1

Welcome to suspicion, fear, paranoia and ‘get to know you’ games

Kicking off our latest series of production blogs, Paul Green is our first victim: a director and actor with a long and impressive theatrical CV, he also has some distinctly sinister plans to bump off cast members

This being my first show for SUP, I wanted to get to know the cast, and to help cast who were members new to the company to get to know the more established SUP players. The cast for AND THEN THERE WERE NONE includes performers who joined SUP in the last few months working alongside more longstanding members – it’s a 50/50 split, really, between “old” and “new”. And of course, I’m a relatively new member of the team myself. 

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Paul Green is directing Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE for SUP Theatre Company

To me, simply starting rehearsals “cold” can throw everybody slightly, so we started the entire process with a four-hour session of exercises, on a Sunday, to get to know each other. This was, in part, about developing trust and team-working among the company members.

The first exercise, the “Name Game” – which we still play at the start of every rehearsal session – has a number of purposes. It’s for everyone to learn everybody else’s real name as well as their character name, to get them used to establishing eye contact, and getting them used to doing and thinking three things at once (which is, as I keep telling them, the basis of acting). If you can imagine mentally patting your head and rubbing your stomach and reciting the alphabet all at the same time, you get the idea. The cast has embraced this after persevering and the determination shown has been impressive. Much hilarity is also derived from identifying who is establishing eye contact and where you should walk and to whom (it takes too long to explain, but you should play it some time).

I also introduced the cast to “Flying”, which is pretty much as it sounds. Only one intrepid cast member did it to begin with, but after seeing what it entails, everyone took part, with one or two people still having to be convinced. You’ll see some pictures here.

We then played a game known as “Killer” or “Wink Murder” to introduce the cast to the feelings of paranoia and suspicion that I’ll be foregrounding in our production. In this game, one person is secretly chosen as the murderer and winks at their victims when no-one is looking. The victim then “dies” as spectacularly as possible in a way that also misdirects. So, as you can imagine if you know any members of this cast, the “spectacular death” aspect was really underplayed (the longest death scene was timed at more than two minutes). The more you play it, the more extreme the deaths are, and the more paranoid everyone becomes… precisely what I was aiming for.

Of course, we got through far more than just these games on the day, with everyone throwing themselves into the activities wholeheartedly – and we had a lot of fun while working hard to build a strong basis for teamwork and the underlying themes of the production.

Please follow our continued progress in future blogs from various people and different directions and of course, please remember to tell your friends, family and colleagues about the show – and don’t forget to book early yourself.


SUP proudly presents Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at NST Campus theatre from Wed 23-Sat 26 January 2019 – tickets from just £10. Concessions and group bookings available.

You can book your tickets here

ATTWN

Meet The Family – Vic

Meet The Family – Vic

We’ve heard from Mum, now lets see what Dad has to say…

Now someone has told me I need to write this here blog post to let people know about me and me life. I can’t say I’m that sure about this, I’m not really one for writing. Or, for that matter, thinking.

Any road, I’m just a normal bloke really. I live a simple life. I worked down pit for 30 years before it was closed. Since then I’ve spent a lot more time with me family. A very different challenge to being underground. And one I’m not sure I’ve really adjusted to be honest.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being at home, there’s nothing more enjoyable for me then taking the weight off me feet and watching a bit of Calendar. Not everyone sees it like that though, and it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge relaxing while the wife cleans up constantly all around me. And that is to say nothing of that son of mine, who has really caused all sorts of problems though I guess it’s nothing more than the usual teenage troubles. To be honest I don’t really understand him. He’s into all this writing and drama and stuff where I never really used me brain. Apart from when thinking of ways to grab an extra bit of snack without the wife finding out.
Speaking of which I think me tea’s on so I’d best go. I think it’s tinned ham. I bloody love tinned ham.
The Award Winning Southampton Univerisity Players!!!

The Award Winning Southampton Univerisity Players!!!

Each year the Totton Drama Festival takes over Hanger Farm for a week of one act plays as part of the All England One Act Drama Festival. This year the Southampton University Players put forward two plays. Semblance of Madness and Motherhood Out Loud.

   Directors

These two very different pieces performed on the Friday night of the festival (Motherhood Out Loud) and Saturday (Semblance of Madness). The Directors, Actors and Technical crew worked incredibly hard to put forward two strong emotive pieces. At the end of each evening the adjudicator (Paul Fowler) put forward his thoughts on each piece, and then on the Saturday night there is an awards ceremony where we found out who would be forward to the next round of the All England One Act Drama Festival and which groups won awards.

Motherhood on Stage  Semblence on Stage

Well… The hard work from all involved really paid off, the festival and the Adjudicator commented on the high quality of performances this year from the 9 plays put forward from groups across Hampshire. But the hard work of all paid off.

14 Nominations across the board…

Best Technical Achievement

Motherhood Out Loud

Semblance of Madness

Best Director

Alison Wells (Semblance of Madness)

Jane Beesley (Motherhood Out Loud)

Adjudicators Award

Semblance of Madness – The final moments

Motherhood Out Loud – The final moments

Best Supporting Player

Michelle Heffer (Semblance of Madness)

Alison Wells (Semblance of Madness)

The Entire Cast of Motherhood Out Loud

Best Adult Actor

Jonathan Shepherd

Best Adult Actress

Hazel Burrows (Motherhood Out Loud)

Sally Scott (Motherhood Out Loud)

Imogen Higgs (Motherhood Out Loud)

Bridget Wilkinson (Semblance of Madness)

From the headline, you can tell that not only did we receive a plethora of nominations, we also won in several Categories…

Best Technical Achievement

Motherhood Out Loud

Best Supporting Player

Michelle Heffer (Semblance of Madness)

Best Adult Actress

Bridget Wilkinson (Semblance of Madness)

Totton Dama - Jane and Adj Bridget Winning Michelle Winning

But that’s not it! Not only did we get 14 nominations and 3 wins. Motherhood Out Loud came third overall and will be moving onto the next round at Shaftesbury on the 2nd May!!!!

MOL Cast Winners

I hope you will join me in congratulating everyone involved. What an amazing achievement for SUP!