Archives For Offbeat Theatre

The Frog King Cometh!

Barbara —  May 16, 2017 — Leave a comment

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)

Offbeat Theatre The Frog King

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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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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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Dreams, Darkness and Death

Barbara —  June 15, 2015 — 2 Comments

gh

Darkness and death. Possibly dreams as well.


We LOVE it all. But we’re not morbid – just curious and imaginative (I like to think). I’ve been updating various bits of info on Offbeat plays and it strikes me as at least one of these ‘Ds’ is a key element is just about everything we write or produce. And we do ‘funny death’ as well – not just ‘death death’. Darkness? Well, darkness is just dark isn’t it. Neither good nor bad, just dark. I wrote The Ghost Hunters as a tale of gothic Victorian ghost-hunting – but it turned into something quite different. It worked its way into other realms, danced around with memory (or lack of), floated around with the idea of dreams and desires and then dipped its big toe into the murky waters of ‘what happens when we die’ (no answers, just questions). It sparked debate. This is good! Not giving answers on a plate (even if I had them), is good. An audience in the bar afterwards discussing what they’ve just seen, trying to make sense of it, adding their own ideas and thoughts. All this is good.

So … I was just thinking that the next show would be Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (Dreams at least), when I had the most curious experience. I experienced a thought that completely thwarted my plans. Damn that thought! I was going to have a bit of a sabbatical – and now it seems, I’m not. The thought that arrived and rooted itself firmly was something like ‘why not do a slightly different version of the twisted, dark and humourous PERILOUS TALES (Dreams, darkness AND Death – all in one) to lighten up those dark winter evenings (I am planning ahead – it’s not imminent). So, I am. Casting is underway and so far I am including the tale of Cedric and Sybil (a rather clingy, fearful pair) and Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost. You see – ghosts again. I can’t seem to help it. If you saw the original you’ll recall it was a series of ‘cautionary tales’ – of a sort. Expect the usual Offbeat lavish costumes and absurd plot (there’s a plot?)

Here’s one of my favourite pics from the original Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost. Guess which is which ….
One of my favourite ghosts from 'Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost'. You can probably tell which one is the ghost (if you can'y my costume design has failed)

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Ghost Hunters .. The Final Week

Barbara —  December 15, 2014 — 2 Comments

Mr Quill .. and a friend

Mr Quill .. and a friend

The final week is upon us and I can honestly say, I’m a tiny bit worn out. What with the demands of life (extra ones at present, but that’s by the way), and everything that a show demands if you really want to go the extra mile, it takes its toll. Not that I’m complaining, I love the extra mile. In fact, I don’t consider it extra at all, which means that there’s another one after the one I don’t count as extra. There really is no stopping. If you want to get the best result you can possibly get you just keep going until the first night. And then a bit more …. Anyway, Jim Rolt popped along and took some pics of Act I yesterday. We had only just got to a point where the ‘venue’ (which is a lovely old school) had emptied itself of children so we could get on with the important set building tasks. One of my favourite moments. The pics here are some of the best. Above is a seriously creepy moment where Mr Quill (played by Mark Cox) appears completely unaware he is being watched ….

Some people make quite a big deal about trying to communicate

Some people make quite a big deal about trying to communicate

Others prefer to actively court communication with the ‘others’. Miss Divine is played by Ness Thomas and, according to her, she is a ‘sensitive’. Or is she? The problem with ‘Ghost Hunters’ is it isn’t always easy to tell who is doing what, when and how (don’t even think about ‘why’). But we are talking other dimensions here, so I see no reason why it should be. Continue Reading…

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Groovy Stills from the Trailer

Barbara —  November 10, 2014 — 2 Comments

Creepy ghost hunting going on

Creepy ghost hunting going on

Just a quick post to share a few of the stills I’ve extracted from the trailer footage. With Jim’s camera work and the atmospheric lighting we created, plus ideas from everyone, I think we’ll have a creepy trailer coming up soon. Continue Reading…

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There really is no hope for me ...

There really is no hope for me …

Last night we had a good rehearsal and I took a few pics with my phone. Trouble is .. well, let’s be honest .. I’m rubbish at taking photos, I was using my phone and the lighting was dim (we were going for ‘creepy’). Result = grainy pics of uninteresting moments. Enter my new app for editing photos. I can’t stop playing. So, this week I discovered the ‘vintage’ button and the graininess suddenly seems irrelevant. Ok, they’re not brilliant photos, but at least you have something to look at.. that should count for something. This pic (above) is of Mark Cox, taken in virtually no light at all (apart from the beam of light on his face). I can’t tell you what he was doing. Mainly because I can’t remember which ‘creepy – looking worried/bothered – surprised’ moment it is. Even if I could, I still wouldn’t tell you. It’s all top secret. But, I can tell you that his character is one of the Ghost Hunters. The question is .. do they actually experience any ghosts? When you hunt, you expect to catch something. Continue Reading…

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This is what the set will NOT look like for Act II of Ghost Hunters. Great isn't it?

This is what the set will NOT look like for Act II of Ghost Hunters. Great isn’t it?

Usually when I write a play I have it finished before we start rehearsing (well, ok .. not ALWAYS, but usually). At the very least I know what should be happening. The ending is reasonably clear; so are the characters, the plot, the place etc … I usually know what is going on. Enter The Ghost Hunters. Ummmmmm. We started looking at this in June. Ages ago. We looked at the first three pages, played around with it and discovered what a few of the characters sounded like. We carried on the following week with a few more pages. Enter more characters. Who are they? What are they doing here? Changing characters and lines as things moved forward. What do they all know – who do they know – how do they … etc. Every week we have worked out the plot, the characters and the lines. As soon as we gather for rehearsal my first item is ‘Please throw away pages 12 – 15 – these are the new pages’. Like a TV or film script that is subject to many changes on a daily basis, we’ve allowed our script to evolve … and now (I hope!) it is ready…. Continue Reading…

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Ghost Hunters News!

Barbara —  September 1, 2014 — Leave a comment
The flyer for our spooky show in December

The flyer for our spooky show in December

Well, a quick post to introduce the Ghost Hunters Flyer anyway!
You can book this show via the Offbeat site (from Monday September 15th) OR you can pick up a ticket from St Richard’s School, Bredenbury.
Please note: We are using the school as our ‘stage’ but this is an adult show with an adult cast (some more than others …). Kids are welcome though – but not too young please! We are TRYING to be scary…. and deep (at the same time).
More info, pics etc over the next few months.

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Ghosts on Stage

Barbara —  February 28, 2014 — Leave a comment
One of my favourite ghosts from 'Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost'. You can probably tell which one is the ghost (if you can't my costume design has failed)

One of my favourite ghosts from ‘Gorgeous Gerald and the Ghost’. You can probably tell which one is the ghost (if you can’t my costume design has failed)

What is it about ghosts? Why are they so fascinating on stage? Personally, I just love the murky, shady world of the unknowable land of the dead. Putting them on stage is a challenge I relish. They crop up rather a lot in my plays as well, so that’s just as well really. Ghosts, it could be said, are neither in the land of the living nor the dead. The apparition/ghost/shade hovers between two worlds. When conditions are right we can see from one place to another – a glimpse into the land of the dead from the land of the living. It’s what All Hallow’s Eve is all about – the veil is thin .. the dead can arise and be seen. In could also be said that that’s a load of twaddle, but each to their own fantasy I say. I have no idea what ghosts are, if indeed they are anything at all. But I love to play with the idea of a ghost, the idea of a place that does not comply with the rules of our living reality. What makes ghosts and the ghostly realms they inhabit so fascinating is the fact that once upon a time these ghosts were living people. So, unlike the land of faery (another favourite) we have a strong connection to ghosts – they used to be one of us. Continue Reading…

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