Yep .. we’re expanding.
Currently Offbeat Theatre produces plays with the adult company, publishes plays by Barbara & Rob, hires out costumes, that sort of thing. We’re pretty busy doing all that, but NOT BUSY ENOUGH. Nope, sometimes I have free time. I’d like to spend some of that time running Arts Awards, maybe preparing folk for LAMDA examinations and definitely directing with a Youth Group. All of this sounds like a great way to spend time to me. After years of directing and writing for schools and youth theatre, I find I need more.

A project from long ago - more of this please ..

A project from long ago – more of this please ..

So .. what are Arts Awards?
This is from the Arts Award site, where you can explore everything you could possibly wish to know (about Arts Award, not much else to be honest):

Supporting young people to develop as artists and arts leaders
Our mission is to support young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts, build creative and leadership skills, and to achieve a national qualification.
Through Arts Award’s five levels, children and young people aged up to 25 can explore any art form including performing arts, visual arts, literature, media and multimedia. The award builds confidence, helps young people to enjoy cultural activities, and prepares them for further education or employment.

OFFBEAT THEATRE is an Arts Award centre and Barbara, as an Arts Award Adviser, can deliver and assess Arts Awards up to, and including, Silver (Gold soon). We are planning the offer sessions and programmes that will support this exciting development. What we offer will not just limited to theatre, we’ll be including other arts professionals in the team as well. Arts Award is managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England. Interested? Continue Reading…

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May Contain Nuts!

Barbara —  April 25, 2016 — Leave a comment

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The very very silly ‘May Contain Nuts!’ gets another outing on Saturday 30th April (see poster)
This is what it says about Nuts on our Offbeat Plays site

Involves: An awful lot of silliness, dressing up as pirates, mysterious old ladies, a few characters from Romeo & Juliet, sword fighting, walking the plank, vampires, talking statues …. and on ….. Originally written for outdoor festival performances, but can be performed anywhere you like. Requires lots of crazy imagination to add to the innate daftness of the story.
Plot: What plot? Oh, ok … our hero, Henry, is trying to write a story. Actually, he has a rather fertile mind. It’s just that despite his best efforts to stay with safe, mundane story-lines, where he can save reasonably attractive girls from domestic crises, he has absolutely no control over it at all. In fact Henry’s imagination runs away with him. Together, and in the company of a few friendly pirates, they go on a perilous mission to find treasure. And then there is Jane, who refuses to be enslaved in the kitchen of Henry’s mind any longer, and Doris, eager to be chased by more runaway wheelie bins. As I said, what plot?
Set: Anything really. Needs to be versatile. Lots of props, hats, big noses & fake facial hair is good.

We had so much fun when we originally created this piece. In fact we had so much fun we did it all over again with a new cast a few years back. Pirates, poets with big noses, sword fights, spiffing adventures, vampires, creepy forests, mysterious old ladies, moving statues … but mostly pirates. So .. much .. fun.

GOOD LUCK LUTA!

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Dark, Depressing, Dripping with Symbolism and Ultimately Uplifting….
The Killing of Poe – Offbeat Theatre at St. Richard’s School, Wednesday 17th February.

Mark Cox and Hugh Farey. This must be one of those 'dark bits'.

Mark Cox and Hugh Farey. This must be one of those ‘dark bits’.


Extraordinarily apposite for the BBC’s ‘In the Mind’ week, ‘The Killing of Poe’, conceived, written, designed and directed by Barbara Hockley is a dark, neo-gothic tale about the power of the mind. The Actor (Mark Cox) is fading and ‘coming to the end of his time’ – only his mental faculties are keeping him alive. Reason, Survival instinct, Cunning, Emotion and Self-perception (in equal measure with Vanity) are all he has left. These faculties are assailed by the Narrator, (played with characteristic gusto by Hugh Farey) who threatens to attack and destroy the Actor’s mind. Ironically, it is the Actor’s own powers of persuasion that give the Narrator a ‘voice’, thus allowing him to adumbrate his particularly twisted and dark notions of death into the deepest reaches of the Actor’s mind and into the individual and collective psyche of the audience. Utilising tales from the macabre imagination of Edgar Allan Poe the Narrator figuratively, and in some cases literally, disarms his opponents. Continue Reading…

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Last night SPYS (Sodbury Players Youth Section) won the Best Youth award for their production of Rob Hockley’s “Darkness in the night” at the Bristol One-act drama festival!!!!
Congratulations from all at OffbeatTheatre – especially a delighted playwright. We’re proud and delighted to have been a part of what must have been a fab production!
Roll on the next round ….

SPYS WINNING with DARKNESS IN THE NIGHT!

SPYS WINNING with DARKNESS IN THE NIGHT!

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Sounds fun doesn’t it!
The Killing of Poe, Offbeat’s latest show, is playing a few venues locally and (if we’re honest) we’d quite like a few more. But, that aside, this has been quite a journey. When I start to write a play I never really know where it might lead. I begin (usually with some idea of the destination), but it always twists and turns and goes to places I didn’t realise were there. So, some of the play emerges as we rehearse, gradually revealing hidden layers and my trusting cast indulge the inevitable changes until we reach the conclusion (always a surprise). It’s a fascinating process, but it requires a certain amount of faith in the process. We always get there. Last year we created ‘The Ghost Hunters’, this year it’s ‘The Killing of Poe’. What is it with me and death, darkness and creepy stuff….

It's a bit of a 'spot the Poe story / poem' throughout, but Act II is littered with 'Poe deaths'.

It’s a bit of a ‘spot the Poe story / poem’ throughout, but Act II is littered with ‘Poe deaths’.


So .. it’s dark. Dark, macabre, intriguing (I picked that up from the reviews) and with a certain amount of humour. I’m glad the audience laugh, otherwise my tragicomedy description on the flyer would look rather silly. I’ve used lots of black paint, a wonderful raven was created by Alison Stobart (company raven maker) and Hugh Farey created a ‘radio thing that looks like a coffin’. Why on earth I imagined this thing on the stage I may never know, but it worked. I liked it. It’s HUGE and commanding and jolly useful for all sorts of Poe-ish moments. Costumes are, well, interesting. You’d laugh if you saw us trying to get the ‘shroud’ dresses sorted in the interval. It’s like some bizarre maypole event with metres of muslin (bit of a spoiler there, sorry).

Anyway .. This is what the reviews have said so far ….

The Killing of Poe brings The Raven back to life!
It’s taken seeing someone else’s creative work to prompt me to post here after too long an absence… Last night I went to The Falcon Mews in Bromyard and saw ‘The Killing of Poe’ written by Barbara Hockley and performed by Offbeat Theatre.
From the moment I read the programme masquerading as ‘Helpful Notes’ I knew we were in for a witty treat. Despite only having a tiny performing space to work in, we were taken inside the vast space of the protagonist’s head – he’s a failing actor – and entertained while the voices within it assumed Shakespearean roles in order to keep the failing actor sane, and alive…
I recognise some of these stories in my own head, but you’ll have to book and see the show to discover them, or I’ll be in danger of sharing spoilers.
Armed with gloom and a raven, Hugh Farey, as a devilish Poe, is both beguiling and macabre. Mark Cox as the actor in whose head we find ourselves is utterly convincing and Ann Smith provides some delicious tongue lashings to anyone who crosses her.
There’s still a chance to see this brave and thought-provoking new play at St Richard’s School, Bromyard, on 16th and 17th February.
‘The Killing of Poe’ has many layers, unflinchingly looks at death and draws on rich metaphors. It has action, pace and its dialogue will have all lovers of ‘the bard’ rifling their brains to match phrases with different plays. Its potential for a professional company on a large thrust stage are endless and exciting… I can see it being a ‘must see’ at The National or the RSC’s Swan Theatre.
As a lover of metaphors it was always going to be a winner with me. Thanks Barbara and team for bringing it to life – or should that be to death?

Liz Darcy Jones from her blog lovingmetaphors.org

The famous 'balloon moment' -  but is it Shakespeare or Poe?

The famous ‘balloon moment’ – but is it Shakespeare or Poe?

Definitely go and see this play!
Voices inside the deteriorating mind of an actor parry words and swords as his career disintegrates into vaudeville.
Serious stuff.
But this work by Barbara Hockley has humour too, plus great quotes from Shakespeare and Poe, clever costume changes and a wild raven caw.
Original and thought-provoking. Our audience was intrigued.
Acting and directing reached Barbara’s usual high standard, so thanks cast and crew – we enjoyed ‘Poe’ and we’re sure your next audiences at St Richard’s will love it.
(Linda Swinford)

“While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
Well, I didn’t take a nap as I was absorbed by the intriguing drama before me. Dark, complex, flashes of humour and professionally played. Boz commanding as ever and Mark Cox completely in character.
Go see – Embrace the darkness…..
(David Evans)

Well done, Barbara Hockley – a really interesting piece of new work. Congratulations, cast and crew – intriguing and absorbing. Worth going to St Richard’s to see it, people!
(Chris Barltrop)

A great night, brilliant actors, great script, receptive audience….. if you missed it still a chance to catch up at St Dix
(Jane Merry)

I told you it was dark

I told you it was dark

If you thought a spot of darkness-with-comedy-shakespeare-and-poe might do well in your venue, we really would love to hear from you.

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Embrace the darkness .. before it sneaks up on you

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The Killing of Poe – words of wisdom …

The Killing of Poe

Barbara —  January 16, 2016 — Leave a comment

The latest Offbeat show – in Bromyard & Bredenbury (Herefordshire) in Feb.
It’s been a long time in the pipeline (as has a blog post), but everything comes to fruition eventually. The strange play that I started in the summer of last year has emerged and is almost ready to be seen.
This is a brief synopsis ..

A fading actor, reduced to bit parts in variety shows, can only relive his glory days of performing Shakespeare inside his own head, albeit aided by a troupe of talented voices from the past. But even in these private theatrical moments, he finds himself lacking, forgetting and losing interest. The Voices inside his head are losing him and the situation is getting worse. On a chance hearing of an Edgar Allan Poe story being narrated, the Actor is seduced into the gloomy, gothic, macabre and ultimately tragic world that Poe characters inhabit. If the ‘Voices of Shakespeare’ want to survive, they must get rid of Poe and his grey, gloomy, bleak horror stories . But the Narrator of Poe fights back .. and his material is good.
Plus, he has a raven.
Surreal, dark and funny (ish)

I’ll write more soon. Honest I will.
I have a lot to write and ‘Poe’ is a strange beast indeed.
But we all hear voices .. don’t we?

Embrace the darkness .. before it sneaks up on you

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Dates:
Saturday Feb 6th, The Falcon Hotel, Bromyard, 7.30pm
Tuesday 16th & Wednesday 17th Feb, St Richard’s School, Bredenbury, 7.30pm.

TICKETS from our POE PAGE on the website.

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Spies and Cool Music

Barbara —  July 18, 2015 — Leave a comment

This week, among many other things, we have been going a little bit crazy about SPY SCHOOL our fab musical for 9-11 year olds. We’ve been getting songs on Soundcloud and plays on Treepress (see link below). Artwork has been pouring in from Emma and our Bugsy hire business has gone into orbit. All of this makes for a super busy week and many excellent excuses (sorry, ‘reasons’) not to finish of the end of year accounts (yuck).

SPY SCHOOL – THE MUSIC
Click on the Soundcloud thing and you can listen to music whilst reading…. what more could you want? Words by me and music by Greg Swinford. If you lisen to the tracks on soundcloud you’ll hear the voice of Greg pretending to be a host of 10 year old spies! More info on our Offbeat Plays site soon – or on Treepress (link below).

SPY SCHOOL – THE PLOT
Spy School is a comedy musical for children. So far, so good. Orginally written for a Year 6 (age 10-11) Leavers Gala, but great for slightly younger or older groups. It has heaps of larger-than-life parts (mostly spies) and four BIG musical numbers as well as a rap number for a solo character.
The plot concerns three Rookie Spies arriving at Spy School on their first day of training. For absolutely no good reason at all, one of them spontaneously announces to the assembled Spies, and worse, Head of Spy School, that they are ready to show their worth by completing a mission on their first day. After a brief (and fairly silly) training session they are absolutely totally unprepared to discover the whereabouts of the mysterious ‘Seventh Department’ (their assigned ‘mission’) by noon. From this point on it really does get a little bonkers. The kids absolutely loved it – even the ones that had to perform the parts of ‘Agent Prowls-like-a-pigeon’, or Agent Lurks-like-a-Lizard’ from the Department of ‘Sneaking-like-a-sheep’. Actually, I know they had heaps of fun, I was there. The gadget prizes went to the Agents in the ‘Department of Geeky Gadgets’ and Agents ‘The Jelly Has Set’ and ‘The Toast Has Landed’ were a couple of my favourites (from the ‘Department of The Cookie Crumbles at Noon’). Most of the characters had names like that! If I’m honest, making up the names of the characters was almost my favourite bit of the whole process.

TREEPRESS

A screenshot of the new Treepress showing the SPY SCHOOL page!

A screenshot of the new Treepress showing the SPY SCHOOL page!


TREEPRESS is a brand new initiative and we love them. Currently they are setting up a really great website to market plays to schools and youth groups. I have been regularly searching the UK for a publisher of youth/schoolplays without luck for ages! Treepress don’t act as ‘publishers’ exactly, but they are acting as a dedicated marketplace and that’s the next best thing I reckon. So do whizz over there and have a look!
You’ll find a few Offbeat plays on there (and more to come) – including the musical for 9 – 11 year olds – SPY SCHOOL.
TAKE ME TO TREEPRESSLAND

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A pic from the original  Perilous Tales to get us going visually.

A pic from the original Perilous Tales to get us going visually.

Perilous Tales was a strange, twisted, funny and rather dark series of ‘cautionary’ tales that I created for the Youth Theatre years ago. We had a lot of fun with it, as we did with just about every show we produced. So, I thought … how about revisiting Perilous Tales, creating a full length show (not just the long one act it was before) and using an adult cast to delve into deeper, darker places with loads more crazy humour? Why not indeed. So, that’s the Offbeat show I’m planning for the winter. Some ideas have started to float about in my mind. I’m trying to hang on to a few and start writing them down! There are two tales I’m keeping – but they will be slightly re-worked. Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost is a MUST (the only one in rhyme – thank goodness) and the tale of Cedric and Sybil (or Sybil and Cedric – can never remember), in a strange 2-D (ish) sort of world.

Things they said (in the review) last time:

“a mad, silly and inventive peek into a world of twisted fairytales”
That’s true
“..the weirdly macabre ensemble twisted and played with our expectations”
Not arguing with how macabre the ensemble were – or twisted for that matter
“An unsettling and macabre show populated with quite stunning decadent weirdness throughout”
Uh -huh. That ‘M’ word again – oh, and the ‘W’ word (I like it)
“A truly wonderful and engaging performance”
Awwwwww. (Yes, I do know the completely impartial reviewer)

I think I’m going to aim for ‘wonderful, macabre, stunning, decadent, twisted weirdness’ this time.

The cast is looking pretty awesome, so it shouldn’t be a problem (grins nervously for no reason at all). The usual suspects and maybe a new face – or two? Keep watching and I’ll update as I can.
Right, well, I’m off to, errrr … do something creative. Yep, that’s it. Being creative … or watching a film .. ummmm … one of those.

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FAB poster for the Rugby School production

FAB poster for the Rugby School production

Can’t wait to see this. That’s all really. For the first time EVER I’m not directing the first performance of a show I’ve written/adapted. I’ll be reporting back after the event on Monday 29th June.

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