Saturday, 29 July 2017

Cacophonic Dramaturgy: Cast Iron @ Edfringe 2017

The ‘vibrant’, ‘innovative’ and ‘stimulating’ Cast Iron Theatre are delighted to announce their Edinburgh fringe debut with the physical theatre solo show Cacophony featuring the ‘tremendous’ Heather-Rose Andrews


Sweet Holyrood 3 - VENUE 94
19:30 (55min)
August 3-8th / 10-15th /  17-23rd /  26-27th

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Our inspiration is Heather-Rose Andrews, our performer!  She's just brilliant.  Cast Iron Theatre (Michelle Donkin and Andrew Allen) have enjoyed watching her perform in Brighton as part of the theatre community there and in the sketch comedy troupe Fannytasticals.  

We’ve cast her before in various plays on our Cast Iron Theatre short play nights and she’s an incredibly versatile performer across many disciplines; drama, improvisation, comedy and movement.  She's simply magnetic, statuesque and an amazingly natural, physical and engaging comedic performer.  

She reminds us of The Kagools and Tape Face.  We've wanted to create a show around Heather-Rose for some time and (can you tell?) we're just a little bit giddy that she's agreed to be part of our experiment in physical theatre, mime and clowning. Cacophony is the result!

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Absolutely!  Cacophony explores the idea that in the midst of a world of chaos, noise and information, ideas and meaning can be made through performance alone, though physical gesture, through being attentive and being expressive.  Essentially, Cacophony is about taking ideas down to their bare bones and communicating them to all.  

Language can sometimes be a barrier to ideas.  We're all trying to communicate on Social Media, in the boardroom, on the Royal Mile.  Cacophony is about the power of clarity and confidence in an idea being translated through movement and caricature. Previously in his writing, Andrew has been fascinated and driven by dialogue.  For this show, he wanted to set himself and Heather-Rose the challenge of producing a show without the safety net of clever words, to explore making meaning thorough the physical.   

Heather-Rose, in one solo show, is able to create a hubbub of characters that interact with each other and inhabit words which are comic and cartoonish, with a limited use of vocabulary and hardly any props at all.  

How did you become interested in making performance?

Michelle Donkin is first and foremost a writer.  She trained in Scriptwriting at the National Film and Television School but had an affair with theatre and has never looked back.  She still writes and recently staged a short play with Rich Creative: The Female Gaze at the Cockpit in London.  

Michelle’s love of story and performance led her to co-found Cast Iron Theatre in 2014 with Andrew Allen (who last year became her husband). She wrote this year’s Cast Iron Theatre Brighton Fringe one-woman play Model Organisms featuring Chelsea Newton-Mountney.   Their lives are completely overtaken with theatre-making and they are passionate about creating not only their own work but working with new and emerging writers, directors and performers.  They have a close relationship with Sweet Dukebox in Brighton and are to be found most days writing, devising, directing, teaching and producing shows there.

Andrew Allen trained in theatre making and has been teaching acting to children and adults for over fifteen years.  Also a writer at heart, he has written for the stage and page.  He wrote Cast Iron Theatre’s 2015 Brighton Fringe play Year Without Summer (Highly Recommended –Fringe Review).  His short story, The Slow Invasion, a Dr Who Universe adventure is due to be published by Candy Jar later this year.  An experienced performer, Andrew was awarded Best Actor by Brighton and Hove Arts Council for his role as Yvan in Art and in 2014 played Proctor in Pretty Villain’s Brighton Fringe production of The Crucible.  As a regular workshop facilitator in improvisation, Andrew enjoys collaborating with performers to explore making meaning through devising.    

Cast Iron Theatre has been around in Brighton since 2014 - This year we launched the Cast Iron Theatre Podcast where we celebrate grassroots theatre-making by chatting to theatre-makers and performers about their projects, the creation of their work and where they get their inspiration.  Usually, we chat to those working in or passing through Brighton but this August we're taking the Cast Iron Theatre Podcast to Edinburgh Fringe with us and we'll be chatting to lots of people throughout the Fringe to see what makes them tick.  

As well as being very passionate about collaboration, we've always been very interested in scripted narrative and comedy.  This year we decided to set ourselves a challenge by bringing a physical theatre show to Edinburgh Fringe.  With Heather-Rose, we wanted to create a nearly non-verbal show.  We wanted to explore sound and lack of sound.  Our aim with Cacophony is to create a world where meaning is made through physicality, limited vocalisations and clowning.  We devised the show with Heather-Rose, workshopping little vignettes and seeing what made us smile and laugh, what moved us. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We wanted something fun.  We knew that Heather-Rose was a master of comedy and we wanted to explore that and really play to her physical strengths.  As the writer/director, Andrew Allen wanted to see if he could discuss making meaning amid the chaos and noise of modern life.  

Together they decided to test themselves to see if they could boil comedic and meaningful ideas down to their most elementary physical elements and then build on them.  They workshopped for months and explored movement, comedy, mime and clowning.  Cacophony was born from their joint love of these disciplines and their desire to challenge each other to tell stories and sketches in ways which could be appreciated without words.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Since 2014 Cast Iron Theatre has been making theatre in Brighton and we have a very collaborative approach with local writers, directors and performers.  Cacophony has that same collaborative ethos, in that while the idea started with Andrew the show itself has been jointly devised with Heather-Rose at its core.  

We have a wide portfolio of shows in Brighton, where we stage short play nights (with writing from Michelle and Andrew, in addition to work by local writers, being staged), we host poetry and short story nights and we have staged two plays at Brighton Fringe.  Our work is varied with a joy of theatre-making at its core.  Our one running theme, if we have one, is that we're generally very excited by work that gives meaningful and powerful roles for self-identifying female performers.  

For the past two years at the Sweet Dukebox’s International Woman’s Week programming, we’ve been delighted to curate Cast Iron Theatre’s Not Just the Companion night, where self-identifying female actors perform monologues and scenes traditionally cast for males.  Heather-Rose is proof that female performers are a hugely talented bunch and any work that will give them a chance on stage is always going to appeal to Cast Iron Theatre.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that the audience will be delighted and engaged by Heather-Rose's cartoonish world.  We think the show is childlike, funny and at times darkly comedic.  It crosses lines between mime, physical theatre and clowning and we're not claiming to be any one of these things, more a baby-step into that world for audiences who might find hard-core physical theatre a little overwhelming.  The feedback (and standing ovation) Cacophony received at our preview event proved to us that we’re on the right track to doing something right.  

One audience member told us they usually dislike anything to do with mime but they adored Cacophony.  We really think that experiencing an hour of Heather-Rose Andrews on stage creating her madcap world is going to be a unique, funny and enchanting thing for our audience.  

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We wanted the audience to feel safe and get to know Heather-Rose a little first, which is why the first few minutes of the show are easy to digest and have some of the most recognisable 'cartoonish' elements.  As Cacophony builds Heather-Rose able to move into more shorthand and use some call-backs, which we know the audience really enjoys.  

Then there's a little audience participation, which is nice and fun and done with a light-hearted touch.  We've really built this show with a lot of respect for an audience and how we want them to leave the show laughing and delighted.  The whole show is shaped around a childlike sense of fun and chaos, Heather-Rose becomes the audience's guide through this world and we hope the audience end up just as bowled over about her as we are at Cast Iron Theatre. 

Cacophony is a solo-show where Heather-Rose Andrews mixes physical theatre, mime and clowning to conjure up a hubbub of surreal, delightful and darkly comic characters including a cartoonish lion, an unlucky puppy and a philosophical lumberjack.
Cast Iron Theatre is Sweet Dukebox Brighton’s resident theatre company.  

Co-founded in 2014 by artistic directors Andrew Allen and Michelle Donkin, they produce evenings of short plays; lead acting, writing and improvisation workshops; host seasonal storytelling events and curate poetry evenings.

For Brighton Fringe 2016 Cast Iron Theatre staged Year Without Summer by Andrew Allen which was ‘Highly Recommended’ with ‘finely wrought writing’. 

They returned to Brighton Fringe in 2017 with the four star ‘adroitly structured…dystopian vision’ Model Organisms by Michelle Donkin.

Cast Iron Theatre is dedicated to developing new writers through their short play nights, and takes a particular interest in female representation.  Their aim is to champion meaningful and vibrant roles for those who identify as female.  

In addition, Cast Iron’s passion for collaboration and marketing theatre using new media has led to the creation of their weekly Cast Iron Theatre Podcast where they chat to theatre-makers about their work, their creative process and the business of grassroots theatre-making.  This year they’ll be bringing The Cast Iron Theatre Podcast to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Cacophony’s producer is Michelle Donkin
Michelle Donkin is an MA Screenwriting graduate of the National Film and Television School.  In 2009 she was the winner of the NFTS/NBC Universal SyFy Channel’s TV series pitch competition. 

Michelle has produced two Brighton Fringe productions and numerous short plays, storytelling and poetry evenings at Sweet Dukebox Brighton. 

Michelle’s writing credits include short plays staged at NVT Brighton, Cockpit Theatre, Theatre 503 Rapid Write Response Night, Soho Theatre NFTS Showcase and Sweet Dukebox.   

Cacophony’s writer and director is Andrew Allen
Andrew is a writer of short stories and plays.  He has over 15 years of experience of theatre-making in Brighton.  His directing credits include: The Snow Queen; Four Play; Beginning, Muddle, End; Piratanical; Year Without Summer and Model Organisms.

Cacophony is performed by Heather-Rose Andrews
Heather-Rose Andrews trained in physical theatre and dance.  In addition to her work with Cast Iron Theatre’s short play nights, she performed at the 2016 and 2017 Brighton Fringe in Am I F#*kable?  by PopHeart Productions.  A skilled comedian, she is also a member of comedy troupe Fannytasticals.

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