Offbeat Theatre recently had a fantastic run of The Frog King – an off-the-wall, magical fairytale coming to our script shop soon! Quick photo of a few characters and a giant frog’s head! Suitable for performance by adults or youth groups. Great fun!
Archives For Barbara Hockley full length play
The next Offbeat Theatre production has been a long time coming. After the darkness that was The Killing of Poe in February 2016 we had the promise of a lighter one act play courtesy of The Space in December 2016, which we cancelled for our own inexplicable reasons. But now … we have the emergence of THE FROG KING! Hooray! And here he is – the Frog King in construction! Early days for the play (and his head), but rehearsals and complex set building will commence soon.
The location for the performances is a closely guarded, well kept secret that will only be revealed half an hour before the start (ok, it’s in Bredenbury). Audience numbers will be restricted as this production is even more unusual than the others we’ve performed at this particular location … More on that to come, but suffice to say it’s in more than one ‘room’. More than two even. Intrigued? We hope so.
Plot? Well, the script is being finalised (which is code for ‘written’) as I type. Or rather when I finish typing and get back to the far more important task of ‘finalising’ the script. Funny how, at times like this when you have a very important task to finish off, you suddenly realise you absolutely need to clean the windows – even though you have never noticed that your house actually has windows until the very moment when you caught yourself gazing out of one. I jest, I have no intention of cleaning windows, vacuuming carpets, washing up or anything else that might distract me from the joyous task that is finishing the script (serious face).
So, plot then? Well, have you ever noticed how the same fairy tale (The Frog Prince for example) is told in more or less the same way, with more or less the same outcome using more or less the same characters? Ever wondered what might happen if the plot was subject to quite a major change? No, I hadn’t either, until the Storyteller in my story changed something rather crucial – and you have no idea what that’s done to fairytale-land. To be honest, it’s all getting rather silly and it’s going to take something very magical to fix it. So, I can safely say, hand on heart (not the one the evil troll turned to stone, the other one), that this is a show full of magic, surreal daftness, puppets, beautiful sets, frogs and more royalty than is necessary in one castle. It’s for adults and small adults, but not tiny ones under the age of 7 (at a guess, I may be wrong). See you there?
THE FROG KING: Friday 4th, Saturday 5th (2 performances) and Sunday 6th AUGUST.
The new Offbeat Theatre production is based very very loosely on the Frog Prince and we’ve called it The Frog King. Immediately you see the looseness of the story! In fact if you hop over (sorry) to the blog you might find a more detailed synopsis.
This pic is the Frog King’s head in construction (you can see the scale of it by comparing to the mannequin)
Just looking through a few photos for steampunk costume pics and I found this fantastically moody shot from our Beauty and the Beast production a few years back. We did use steampunk costumes in that show, but not for the Beast (Joshua Herriott on the right with cool dreadlocks) or Mr Richman (Mark Cox cringing on the left with a stolen rose) .. so I’ll keep looking then…
Photo by Tom Flathers.
Showcasing THE DREAM MAKERS this week!
This is a glorious dream-based adventure in a ‘Dream Palace’ – a place where dreams are created and acted out for your benefit (or not) during sleep. Large cast (age 9-14 ish), music (create your own dream soundscapes), heaps of costumes and props if desired, optional messiness (we like messy stuff) and a plot to rival any mission that may (or may not) be possible. See more on the Dream Makers page!
The lovely pic shows a heated moment between members of the ‘Grounders’ (the ‘clean up’ team – told you it could be messy), and features the Conquest Youth Theatre in Bromyard.
Dark, Depressing, Dripping with Symbolism and Ultimately Uplifting….
The Killing of Poe – Offbeat Theatre at St. Richard’s School, Wednesday 17th February.
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…
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….
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
Definitely go and see this play!
Voices inside the deteriorating mind of an actor parry words and swords as his career disintegrates into vaudeville.
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.
“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…..
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!
A great night, brilliant actors, great script, receptive audience….. if you missed it still a chance to catch up at St Dix
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.
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
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.
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”
“..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.
Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (to steal Lewis Carroll’s original title for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).
Really can’t wait for this to get going, but Offbeat performances not until 2016.
The adaptation is by Barbara (me) with music (yes – it’s a musical!) by Greg Swinford. Snippets and things coming up as soon as we’re ready. The premiere will be at Rugby School (where Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, went to school from 1846 – 1849) at the end of June. Dates will appear as soon as we have confirmation. This will, of course, be a Rugby School production, not an Offbeat one. Luckily, the Musical Director will be composer Greg Swinford!
Needless to say, I’ve started designing – the Offbeat production will be staged promenade style with about 6 different locations, indoor and outside. Heaps to do to make this really magical and I’ll be enlisting the help of many creative and wonderful people before we even start to rehearse.
Interested? Local to Bromyard? Do let me know!