Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

“With friends like that, who needs enemas?”

The Hypochondriac, by Richard Bean, is a new translation of Molière’s Le malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), and co-directed by Lindsay Posner and Lisa Blair.

A highly animated play, Posner and Blair’s direction brings a multitude of fascinating characterisations to make the most of these age-old stories and bawdy universal tales: the need for attention; unrequited love; enforced marriage; being wedded for money… and so on and so forth.

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 Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

“It’s a strange kind of healing that I do, getting men well enough to go back to a place where such vile things can happen to them. The ambiguity of my job.”

Nicholas Wright’s stage adaptation of Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy, directed by Simon Godwin, is a production to be admired. The Touring Consortium Theatre Company produce a brilliant impassioned drama about the Great War, focussing on the psychological effects of those having been injured on the front-line.

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 Cheltenham Everyman Studio

“Now you’re the only case I’ve got, and the most difficult.”

John Mortimer’s play The Dock Brief has character. That is to say, this two-man two-act play shows off a script with character in its composition; the dialogue and interaction between a failing barrister and his initially indifferent defendant.

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 Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

“Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s.”

In this new adaptation of 1984 created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, Headlong’s innovative production is a revelation to its audience in showing the relevance of George Orwell’s novel even six decades after it was first published.

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The many whimpers and groans that were audible on our first morning with The Action Emporium would be a distant memory by the end of the six day course, and the South West Thirteen will have successfully completed their basic and intermediate exams with The APC (Academy of Performance Combat).

It was by pure chance that I learnt about a week’s stage combat course being held right on my doorstep; that APC training was going regional and therefore more accessible. Earlier in August, having donned my PerspecTim Productions hat, I interviewed the chairman of the Gloucestershire Theatre Association, Phil McCormick, about the refurbishment of the Olympus Theatre in Gloucester. During our interview over a nice cup of tea, Phil listed off the many eclectic events that would be happening at the Olympus between now and Christmas… “A stage combat course here in Gloucester?” I said, to which he replied, “Why yes, Tim! And this is just the beginning!” …picking up the teaspoon that I had dropped, I made that additional mental note and returned home to edit Phil’s piece ready for broadcast before then hopping online to read more about The Action Emporium.

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Was it really six months ago that I embarked upon this amazing journey? Staying in motels, guest houses, self-catered student accommodation; sharing bedrooms, bathrooms and the occasional kitchen… the six travel companions in the Vamos van have spent a great deal of time together even when not working in a theatre. Four weeks of rehearsals led to traversing all across the country, as far north as South Shields; Canterbury in the east; the Haven known as Milford on the Welsh west coast, and ferrying south across the English Channel to the island of Jersey.

As the final performances at The Swan theatre in Worcester came ever closer it was becoming more of a reality that this life on the road was approaching its bittersweet end. Many unexpected adventures and humorous stories, some of which have been unofficially labelled: what happens on tour stays on tour; have made this experience a thousand times more memorable than I could have hoped for – so many more tales to journal.

Touring with Vamos Theatre’s Finding Joy 2014 production has been a wondrously enlightening experience. Before this tour I had mostly done acting work, so more than anything this opportunity has given me a far greater respect for any backstage team working on a show; the actor knows what is happening onstage but should be comfortably confident that things are working like clockwork offstage, while the stage manager has to know their production inside and out – keeping that clockwork running smoothly! Knowing how much work a stage crew have on their hands is something I now much more admire and appreciate when onstage acting or as a member of the audience.

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The official start to Vamos Theatre’s Finding Joy 2014 tour was at Jacksons Lane in London, as part of the London International Mime Festival. Up to this point we had performed the show at the intimate Coach House Theatre in Malvern, where we had been rehearsing for two weeks prior (as well as the fortnight in Worcester before that), and then a performance at Barnwood Park Arts College in Gloucester.

London, baby! Having arrived in the big smoke the night before, we were all ready for the get-in at Jacksons Lane on the Friday morning. The company (cast, tour manager Edmund, and I) were joined by Rachael Savage (director) for this opening event, and following the set construction Rachael and Edmund began work on the lighting. During this juncture, at any of the venues we are performing in, I am required to move about the stage holding a mask, assisting those behind the console focussing the lights to find any dark spots… and when the actors are away the stage manager gets to play! How could I not take the opportunity to “perform” whilst wearing a mask on a London stage, even though my only audience were those directing me (in a tech capacity) where to stand in the space.

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