Friday, 14 July 2017

Offside Dramaturgy:

Futures Theatre presents:
Pleasance Above Space I 2-28th August I 3.40pm 

Inspired by real, untold stories from the world of women’s football, Offside provides an untold commentary on the breakthroughs and limitations in women’s football, exploring wider themes of inequality, self-belief and empowerment. 

Written by leading spoken world artists Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, Offside comes to the Pleasance after a hit UK spring tour.

It is 1881. It is 1921. It is 2017. Four women from across the centuries live, breathe, and play football. Whilst each of them face very different obstacles, the possibility that the beautiful game will change their futures - and the world - is tantalisingly close.  

Offside is told through lyrical dialogue, poetry, and punchy prose, placing the audience on the touchline of the game of a lifetime. 

The play explores the story of Emma Clarke in Liverpool 1881 - the first black professional female footballer; Lily Parr of Dick Kerr Ladies and the introduction of the FA ban in 1921, preventing women from using FA pitches; and a fictional representation of the contemporary game, explored through two characters, Mickey and Keeley. 
OFFSIDE was born out of extensive research in to the history and current state of women’s football, working with top women’s teams, Manchester City Women’s FC and Millwall Lionesses, where many players, sports scientists and others, integral to the development of the game, were interviewed to gain an in-depth insight into their world. 

To understand the historical context, Futures’ worked with the National Football Museum (Manchester) and the Imperial War Museum (London). 

Futures Theatre, founded in 1992, is a London based charity that promotes fairness for women and girls and celebrates their untold and extraordinary lives. Using theatre they engender social change and raise awareness of the disadvantages women and young people face in society, bringing art to communities who are often socially or economically excluded from traditional theatre experiences. Futures collaborates with skilled emerging artists to develop each project, creating opportunities for brilliant female practitioners particularly, addressing the under-representation of female talent in UK theatre and celebrating this untapped potential.

Pleasance Above Space, Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EHT 9TJ
2-28 August (no performances 14 and 21 August)
2-4 August £6 
5-8, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 August £12 (£11)
9-10, 16-17, 23-24 August £11 (£10)
15, 22, 28 August £9 (£8)

Pleasance Above Space, 2-28th August, 3.40pm

What was the inspiration for this performance?

To create theatre that celebrates the women pioneers that loved the game of football and fought societies expectations of what they should be and how they should behave in order to play it.  Our work seeks to create a fairer society where all have opportunity and can be who they were made to be.  

Football is a male dominated game where they have the control, finances, publicity and more.   Having enjoyed watching football (I wasn’t allowed to play) throughout my life, and spending years at the edge of football pitches watching my daughter train and play, I saw the joy, quality and passion of girls playing.  

I also saw the limitations placed on them because of their gender, from a young age.  Watching the women’s GB team running out onto Wembley at the 2012 London Olympics where they beat Brazil was an absolute delight and confirmation that this women’s game was definitely worth researching and creating theatre about.  

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

Making theatre that promotes discussion, understanding and debate, in my view, is vital.  As theatre makers we’re offered the chance to research, reveal and digest societies systems and traditions and then to comment and sometimes demonstrate routes for change.   

We can choose as an audience to observe and we can also choose to be emotionally engaged in the experiences being revealed.  Yes – it’s a great space for debate.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I was an actor for a number of years and wanted to expand my role and use my theatre knowledge to make a bigger impact working across art forms. I felt drawn to other stories than those I was experiencing and also seeing on stage.  

I wanted to bring to an audience lives that I was fascinated with and wanted to know more about.  Theatre can express social and political change and also offer enjoyment, reflection and inspiration. In making performance I get a better understanding of the motivations and influences of people and have a platform to influence conversations and open up possibilities.

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

Futures’ productions are always pieces of new writing and created from in-depth research and periods of development.  For ‘Offside’ I interviewed players and professionals connected with women’s football from Man City WFC and Millwall Lionesses to gather material and inspiration.  With ‘Offside’ it felt that rhythm was key and so I commissioned co-writers, Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, both brilliant spoken word artists that were interested in working collaboratively.  From here we built up our creative team to include a Movement Director, Set and Costume Designer, Lighting Designer and Composer.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Offside ‘definitely fits with my desire to challenge preconceptions and reveal current and historical truths that are not widely known but impact on today’s and tomorrow’s generations.  This production is less gritty than many I instigate and direct, and potentially has more joy and celebration in than some.  The style, creation, and writing partnerships represents much of who Futures are.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Be enthralled by the stories, excited by the excellent performances, surprised by the history, and be moved to change the world in any small or big way!  

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Intimacy and relationship with certain characters was key for the audience to feel their personal stories and to help define the change in time periods.  Music and sound is essential in offering clarity to the audience as they are moved from one era to another and from one setting to another. 

Creative Team 
Co-Writers: Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish
Director: Caroline Bryant
Designer: Beth Oppenheim
Composer: Tom Adams
Movement Director: Diane Alison-Mitchell
Lighting Designer and Production Manager: Dylan Tate
Dramaturgical Support from the Traverse Theatre 

For more information please contact Laura Horton PR / 07810541401

Sabrina Mahfouz is a playwright, poet and screenwriter. Her 2016 plays are With a Little Bit of Luck (Paines Plough); Slug (nabokov); Battleface (Bush Theatre); Layla’s Room (Theatre Centre) and The Love I Feel Is Red (Tobacco Factory Theatres). Her TV short, Breaking the Code, was produced by BBC3 & BBC Drama earlier this year. Her play Chef won a 2014 Fringe First Award and Clean was produced by Traverse Theatre and transferred to New York in 2014. Sabrina has been the Sky Arts Academy Scholar for Poetry, Leverhulme Playwright in Residence and Associate Artist at Bush Theatre.

Hollie McNish has published two collections Papers and Cherry Pie and one memoir Nobody Told Me, with translations in German and Spanish. In 2014 she became the first poet to perform and record an album Versus at Abbey Road Studios and in 2016 collaborated with the brilliant Dutch Metropole Orkest on a second album. Hollie tours extensively across the UK and worldwide. She has a background in development economics and migration studies and does readings for organisations as diverse as The Economist, MTV, and UNICEF.

Caroline Bryant founded Futures Theatre in 1992 to create theatre with women at the centre, producing work inspired from authentic female stories.  Caroline has developed alliances across the arts which has inspired a varied program of new writing, combining themes of justice with creative engagement and a focus on the fulfilment of potential.  Informed by research, consultation and collaborations, Caroline’s work has led to her directing 28 productions, touring to traditional and site specific spaces and to a broad audience.  She has created long term women’s creative engagement programmes and has directed and written interactive forum theatre training materials for performance and film. She has written three plays, most recently Paradise Street, inspired by local women’s experience of the World World II and performed in an original air raid shelter.

Beth Oppenheim recently studied Performance Design as a postgraduate at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, after reading English Literature at Cambridge University. Since then, she has designed a production of The Marriage of Figaro at the Hub Theatre exploring the plight of domestic workers in Britain, and En Folkefiende for the Pleasance Theatre during Edinburgh Fringe. Her English Literature background means her designs are rooted in text and language, and she sees her role as transforming verbal concepts into a visual metaphor. 

Tom Adams is a composer and performer who has worked with among others: Daniel Bye, Annie Siddons, Miracle Theatre, Katy Schutte, Laura Mugridge and Field Trip. He is currently working on a new music project with Lillian Henley (1927 Theatre Company) about sleep talking and sleep walking. He trained as a clown and physical performer and likes to inject this humour and energy into his creative process and final product. He is incredibly excited to be working on Offside with Futures Theatre.

Diane Alison-Mitchell is a movement director, theatre choreographer and actor movement tutor. Recent theatre credits include They Drink It In The Congo (Almeida Theatre), SOUL (Royal & Derngate/Hackney Empire) and OthelloJulius Caesar (Royal Shakespeare Company). Diane was part of the creative team for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, and teaches across a number of drama schools in London.

OFFSIDE represents Dylan Tate’s first official commission as a Lighting Designer. Dylan started his career as a performer and practitioner in Theatre, TV and Film. Alongside this he developed his technical experience in web design, video editing and technical design. In 2008 he founded Purple Goat Theatre a company that specialises in bringing theatre and Film to young people and community groups. In recent years he has become a trusted stage manager for several companies including Flabbergast Theatre and Futures Theatre. 

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