Written and Directed by Colin Chaston
(Creator/Co-writer /composer of Get Got, 5 star show, Edinburgh Fringe 2013)
Greenside Venues, Forest Theatre, Infirmary Street.
August 5th - 13th 14.55 1 hr
August 15th - 20th 11.25 1 hr
August 22nd - 27th 13.45 1 hr
Irons, the nick name for West Ham United and its supporters is set in the away enclosures at Premier League football matches. Three male supporters, lifelong friends, live and die football together until one of them comes out as a transgender female. Their comments on the football action, interspersed with observations of what's going on in their lives are very funny. As they experience the highs and lows of following their team, it becomes apparent their love of football can overcome any hate.
What was the inspiration for this performance?
I simply love the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2013 I brought my creation, the musical Get Got to the Fringe. With many 5 star reviews it became a success and is currently optioned by a Broadway producer and TV exec. Whether anything will happen it's still unclear.
With a company of over 20 including West End/Broadway cast, band and crew it cost a small fortune and as you can imagine was enormously hard work to produce.
I wanted a smaller, less expensive show that I could tour post Edinburgh without ithe involvement other producers and backers. I'm a passionate West Ham supporter and while at an away game, when West Ham scored and I witnessed people of all races and genders coming together in celebration, all hugging, kissing, singing and dancing together, totally unconcerned with the labels we usually stick on people, I thought wow!
This is what can be achieved by celebrating what we have in common rather than giving in to what divides us. I have transgender friends and am acutely aware of the issues and discrimination they face so I decided to marry the two together.
How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I wanted to cast the play with actors who were also West Ham supporters so I advertised on West Ham fan sites. After auditions I'd cast two of the roles. I cast the third role through industry adverts.
Interestingly it only came to light after we began rehearsing that one of the cast is actually a Tottenham season ticket holder and another supports QPR. There are just the four of us in the team, we share the workload and they are all great guys.
How did you become interested in making performance?
I began performing myself starting rather late in life at the age of 26. Joy Hyman, singing teacher at Mountview Theatre school asked me to perform at her masterclasses after seeing me perform in Operas and musicals. She encouraged my creativity and I have been writing, composing and producing for 25 years now.
Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
I believe it was typical in so much when rehearsals start there is a script and score if it's a musical and I use the rehearsal process to workshop the piece to ensure it makes for the best performances possible. Irons was slightly different in that rehearsals took place in the conservatory at my house.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
For me the most important thing is that the audience leave the theatre feeling they have been entertained. I like audiences to feel challenged but absolutely refuse to lecture or preach to people on issues I feel strongly about. I prefer the audience to decide for themselves what they want to take from it. In my work, including my novel, there is always a subtext that is not always obvious. In Irons as well as the "subtext" I want them to experience the highs and lows and fun of following a football team and the East End humour.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The optimum performance time at the Fringe is an hour, so it needed to be no longer than that. Also because of the Fringe logistics the set needed to be minimal. Our set consists of three folding chairs and some flags which we hang up. A cast of three is always interesting and with the accommodation costs being what they are makes financial sense as well.
I also wanted Irons to be ready for critics to review on our first Fringe performance, so we have toured theatres in Essex, a total of five performances. This has enabled us to fine tune the production.
Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Not really, I try to break with tradition, experiment and innovate. For example, Irons, because it is so different, football fans who have never been to a theatre or play before are coming to see it. They are joining in with some of the chants and responding to what is going on on stage.
Colin says the idea for Irons struck him while at an away game. "Football doesn’t always receive a kind press but when West Ham scored and I witnessed people of all races and genders coming together in celebration, all hugging, kissing, singing and dancing together, totally unconcerned with the labels we usually stick on people, I thought wow! This is what can be achieved by celebrating what we have in common rather than giving in to what divides us. I needed to create an authentic feel of being at a football match so the play is accompanied by a live soundscape of West Ham fans that enables audiences to soak up the football crowd atmosphere and even join in the fan chants. The actors are all very passionate about football and have experienced the highs and lows of supporting a team.”
Irons is a play that doesn’t shy away from life issues affecting all of us. Through use of classic East End humour and an authentic football environment, it tackles topics from sexuality and gender, to religion and relationships. Irons has received a great response from audiences as it previews in Essex
Paul Spires, Steve Owles, Warren Palmer.
During May and June this year, Irons has been on a mini tour of Essex with productions in Maldon, Witham, Chelmsford and Basildon.