One Thousand Paper Cranes - Abigail Docherty
Sadako Sasaki, whose statue stands in the Hiroshima Peace Park has become a symbol for peace throughout the world.
Sadako was two when the world’s first atomic bomb fell on her city. Initially thought dead by her mother, she survived to become an outstanding child athlete. But by the time she was twelve, she was dead, killed by the “invisible poison” that became known as the disease of the “Little Boy” bomb, Leukemia.
Last week, Stage Left Theatre Workshop performed 1000 Paper Cranes by Scottish playwright, Abigail Docherty at the Organ Grinder pub in Woodgate. It was a highly polished performance of a powerful, and yet extremely touching, the play being based on the book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by American author, Eleanor Coerr.
Stage Left prides itself on being a physical theatre company and in this production, directed by Kevin Biddlecombe and Lisa Wood (who also plays Sadako’s best friend, Chiziko), physicality was very much the order of the day with all of the cast performing some outstanding choreography. This is not to say that Docherty’s words were left to play second fiddle. The clarity of speech of the actors was superb and added to the poignancy of the piece.
Lisa Wood is an outstanding performer and a mainstay of many Stage Left productions, but here she is joined by three other performers who have come of age with this company. Collette Neilson was a memorable Sadako and I defy anyone not to have been considerably moved as she guided us through the beautiful imagery of Sadako’s death experience. Hugh Axten, another veteran of Stage Left shows, was impressive as the hospital sage, Yuki, with his blend of wisdom and humour in the face of adversity. But perhaps the performance that showed most confidence was that of Daniella Buttarazzi as the hospital matron who hates her job (having wanted to have been a trapeze artist) and also Sadako’s carrot-obsessed mother. Daniella played deliciously with the audience and was justifiably rewarded with a spontaneous round of applause for her daring feat of acrobatics!
Of course, as an ensemble the strength of Stage Left is that all individual performances contribute to a glorious whole. And that is what this show was, glorious.
This company grows with each new production and if you haven’t seen them yet, make a date at the Organ Grinder for their Christmas show, ‘Bella and the Tyger-Man’ - a retelling of the Beauty & the Beast story. I can’t wait!
Anthony L Church
Bella & the Tyger Man - Anthony L Church
Just a quick note to congratulate you, and your group, for 'Bella and the Tyger Man'. What you are doing is really wonderful. Thoughtful moving and original - a real contribution to the local community. Mick (Mangan) and I agreed that we wished more of our students would come and see your work.
'Stage Left Theatre Workshop' continues to flex their dramatic muscles with a production of ‘Bella and the Tyger Man’. This is the story of Beauty and the Beast crafted into a new play by group member Tony Church. This dark tale is scripted with heavy nods to Angela Carter. It must be a real joy for the playwright to work with director and cast to realise their script and have the luxury of tinkering as it is rehearsed. The script generally works well and is given the strong physicality, typical of Director John Tillotson’s approach.
The narrative was delivered by the actors with great clarity and composure as they drew the audience step by step deeper into the mystery.
The company continue to find new actors and four newcomers seamlessly incorporate themselves into the company style and ethos. Persephone Leafe as Bella and Sam Leaver as the Beast were particularly engaging. The costuming was simple yet created a dark fairy tale world very effectively; the Beast costume was particularly strong.
Stage Left continues to surprise and delight with their repertoire just as the actors grow in confidence and craft.
We had the pleasure of watching the Friday night performance of 'Bella' and just wanted to say how much we enjoyed our latest visit to the Organ Grinder's resident theatre company. For those of you who haven't expierienced a Stage Left production, it is unlike any other theatrical event, with the actors standing right in front of you, the audience is pulled into the performance in a very unique way. A special mention must go to 'Bella', who gave a performance of great emotion, bringing us ( and herself !) to tears at one point, ably supported by Mr K Biddlecombe, and all the members of the cast and crew. A great way to begin our Family Christmas !!
Under Milkwood - by Dylan Thomas
Top Performance of Play in Top Room of Pub.
Excellent production. The actors had worked so hard to produce authentic Welsh accents.
Inspirational involvement of additional actors on screen and even rolling credits!
Clever use of back projected scenery acted as an “ever changing real life set” from cobblers workshop to rural views, playful puppies to minister’s study.
My favourite bit – the tour guide – very humourous.
Is it the best interpretation I have seen? YES.
Such an entertaining evening that anyone who missed it, missed a “gem”.
John & Anne Prior-Egerton
Remote acting or “enter stage left”
When John first suggested the idea I thought this is one of his ‘off the wall’ schemes. He told me he wanted to put on Under Milk Wood, using the cast of Stage Left, and others from outside of the area, who would contribute using the internet or cyber space or some such thing. Now, I had worked with John in the 70s, when he was head off drama, so I knew that he was capable of anything. The productions that he put on, with the students, were of the highest quality, and the innovation and inclusion, that he brought to the process, were simply extraordinary. So I had to take him seriously when over a glass, or two, of good Merlot in the sunny square in Monflanquin he said he wanted me to be part of the production whilst still being in the Lot et Garonne. The wine must have done its job because when he explained his ideas I immediately agreed. I was to do my own performance, to camera by myself, and then send the results to John for directorial comment. He gave me the parts, and although I may not have the visage to entice a Liz Burton he thought my South Wales accent might just fit the bill for some of the narration. The next role, was certainly not type casting as he thought I could take on Jack Black, the Cobbler and self appointed religious enforcer for Llaregyb .
Well, I thought long and hard how to go about this, where to set up, what to wear, standing or sitting, reading or learning the lines, outside or internal broadcast. After more of the aforesaid wine, a Red Bergerac this time, I came to my decisions, checked them with John and decided to get on with it.
I had a ball: trying to act seriously whilst speaking to camera was not easy, I found it initially difficult because I would smile or break into a self deprecating laugh too easily.
The number of out-takes was more than the scenes in the play and the swearing, all on tape, when I missed a word or there was a knock on the door would not have been approved by Jack Black
I must say that the whole process was great fun and highly satisfying; John’s skyping and phone direction were great, his encouragement very appreciated.
The idea of inclusion, that is anyone who cannot make rehearsals, for what ever the reason is, I believe, inspirational.
I have watched the DVD and would like to pass on my thanks and admiration to, not only, John and Jenny Tillotson but to all the cast of Stage Left who performed fantastically, and even though I was just an image behind them, I felt very much part of the whole thing, and it was as if I knew them.
I hope that this type of dramatic process gets rolled out so many more people can benefit from the inclusive nature of this particular Stage Left approach.
Well done everyone,
alias narrator and Jack Black
Stage Left’s performance of 'Under Milkwood' was a lively, rollicking portrayal of Dylan Thomas’ classic drama. The cast were fully enthused and the acting was very energetic. I had never been to one of their productions before but I was impressed with the actors giving it their all. The staging was also imaginative and mixed pre-recorded video performances alongside the actors’ real time ones. It was both funny and sensitive, and brought Thomas’ 'Under Milkwood' to life. All this in a Loughborough pub! I really enjoyed watching the play and will look out for more productions by Stage Left. I am so glad this group are on my doorstep!
Journey to Tyger Man's house
Journey to Tyger Man's house
Journey to Tyger Man's house
The Beast sans costume
The Beast tracks Bella
Arlecci persuades father to gamble
The game of cards
Skirts for the 2 Stregare and Bettina
Costumes for other characters
In the centre Bella's dress
The Beast's costume before spraying and finishing
The Beast's costume sprayed and dressed
The Beast's legs
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