Join our team today!

BoxedIn’s going on tour, but not just any tour, an INTERNATIONAL tour. From the 3rd June to the 19th August we’re travelling around the UK and Ireland to bring some pretty magical shows to some pretty magical places. This tour will take us to 17 different locations over the course of 3 months, and all 6 members of our team will be traveling around in the back of 1 van.  

As you can imagine, a tour on this scale is no small feat, and it comes at an equally sizeable cost. Which is why we’ve decided to dedicate the whole month of April to our crowdfunding campaign. We want YOU, yes you, to join our team and embark on this crazy adventure with us as we attempt to make theatre more accessible. But why would you want to be a part of this wacky idea? Well, we created a fun and informative video to explain our whole concept. 

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So now you’re all informed and excited to join our team, I presume you want to know how you can go about doing that. Well, it’s quite simple really all we’re asking for is a donation, it doesn’t matter how big or small, anything you’re able to spare will be much appreciated! Just head on over to our JustGiving Page. We are so incredibly grateful for every single donation we receive, and to show that we’re giving a series of perks to people who donate. This is just our way of saying a massive thank you to all of you who decide to donate, because it means so much to us to know that people are as passionate about making theatre accessible as we are!     

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In addition, we’re also hosting a range of fundraising events over the next couple of weeks. This Wednesday (18th) we’re kicking everything off with a fundraising favourite, a bake sale! Head on over to the library between 12 and 6 to get yourself a tasty treat! Then on Friday (20th) we’re taking things up a gear, come and join us for some drinks. We’re starting at the Whey Pat, but who knows where the night will take us! After that we’ll all be in need of a bit of time to chill, so we’re hosting a film night on the 23rd. We’ll be screening ‘Get over it’, the not-as-widely-known-as-it-should-be adaptation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ set in a high school. Oh did we mention it also contains some very catchy musical numbers, what’s not to love? ‘To the Ocean’ is based on the folk story of a Selkie, and we live in St Andrews, so obviously we had to go down to the beach at some point. On Wednesday 25th, we’re heading on over to East Sands to set up a bonfire. There’ll be songs, snacks, and hopefully you too!! And finally, to wrap up our crowdfunding month, on Saturday 28th April we will be holding our very own summer fete in Lade Braes Park. Come and help us start summer a little bit early, with some fun for all the family! All the details for our fundraising events can be found on our Facebook page.    

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We would like to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has already joined the team and shown their support! And we can’t wait to welcome the rest of you to our team, don’t forget to head on over to our JustGiving page if you want to join! Make sure you’re following us on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date with everything BoxedIn! 

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Tips and tricks for life on the road

Since we announced our plans for ‘Back of the Van’, we’ve been asked by many people how we’re going to handle living in the back of a van for two and a half months. And while we are very excited, and can brush these questions off with a simple ‘everything will be fine, we back ourselves 100%’, we are also aware that we’re taking on a challenge. So we did some research on how to stay sane on tour.   

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Enjoy the journey    

Often long car (or van in our case) journeys can turn you into Donkey from Shrek as you’re constantly wondering ‘are we there yet?’ This is not, however, a great approach to have when you will be spending many a day on the road, as the negative energy will start to get you down. Sitting down is boring, there is no getting over that. But we won’t just be sitting, we’ll be travelling around some beautiful places with five of our friends. Taking time to look out the window, sing along to the radio, chat, and just enjoy each other’s company are some of the ways we’re going to make the journey a bit more exciting, and ensure we don’t get the back of the van blues.    

Have a DJ rota    

The ‘Back of the Van’ team love a good sing-song, but we do all have slightly different music tastes. To keep things interesting, and make sure we don’t get bored, we’re all going to take it in turns to have control over the radio. There will be a rota to minimise the potential for arguments and to ensure everyone has an equal amount of DJ time.      

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First aid kit    

Now, while we may be spending a lot of time inside a van, we will also be performing outside, and visiting various towns and possibly occasionally entering their public houses. These activities may result in the need for plasters and paracetamol. In these incidences a first aid kit is a necessity, something that is often overlooked when packing for your summer holiday.  But we’re going to make sure our’s fully stocked, because it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Food

Making sure we’re eating properly on tour will be a challenge due to our limited cooking space, and various dietary requirements that need to be accounted for (we have vegetarians and a vegan (gasp!)). But it is important we feed ourselves properly to make sure we have enough energy, and are getting enough vitamins ect so that we don’t get sick. But we need not fear because Oli is a masterchef, and has already begun to think about meals that we will be able to all enjoy together.     

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Remember to enjoy every second  

Yes there will be some difficult times on tour, there’s no denying that. BUT, this is also going to be one of the best summers of our lives. We get to spend 2 and a half months with our friends, travelling to beautiful locations around the UK and Ireland, doing what we love, and bringing theatre to places that would not normally see it. So the most important thing for us to remember throughout this crazy adventure is to enjoy every second, because it will go by quicker than we think, and we’ll never have another experience like it ever again!   

If you would like to support us, head on over to our JustGiving page,. And give us a cheeky follow on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out about all the fundraising events we have coming up this month. 

BoxedIn Tours to America!

Lol April Fools Innit

 

Okay, so maybe we lied a little bit. We’re not going touring to America. Obviously. That would be mad.

BUT we ARE starting our crowdfunding campaign in just a couple of days – which we’re obviously really excited about. As well as being a collection of three really great shows, this project is going to explore ways of combating economic and geographic inaccessibility to theatre in the UK and beyond. We love live performance – we think it’s fun, engaging, and incredibly powerful, and so we think it should be accessible to everyone. Not just those with money to spare.

Hopefully, you guys think that’s a good idea as well – which is great! We’d really love any and all support you can give us, so if you’re as exited about the Back of the Van project as we are, so stay tuned for updates!

And of course, no crowdfunding project is complete without some kick-ass rewards.We know we’re not supposed to be releasing the funding page for a few days…but hey. We like you. And we’re pretty sure you can keep a secret. So here’s little sneak preview of what all the supporters of our Crowdfunding campaign can expect to see coming their way.

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Just like last year, all our rewards are tiered, which means that every donation to help us on our way will receive not the tier you reach, but the prizes for every tier before it. That means that if you pledge £15, for example, you’ll qualify for the ‘Well Read’ reward tier, as well as ‘Musically Inclined’, ‘Karaoke Queen’, ‘Sitting Pretty’ and ‘A Good Egg’.

Literally any amount at all – A Good Egg

You’re just an all-round good egg aren’t you? Whether you donate a penny or a pound or a hundred pounds, we are so grateful that you want to support us and help bring this project to life. No matter how much you donate, we’ll include your name on our weekly shout-out list (going out every Saturday) that we’ll publicise across all out social media branches. So the whole world can know just how much of a good egg you are!

£5 – Sitting Pretty

A pretty reward is fitting for such a pretty soul. As well as being included in our weekly shout out, you qualify to receive our digital design pack, create by our very own Rowan Wishart (take a look at the image at the top of this page for an idea of just how much of a talented little bean she is). The pack includes Facebook cover photos, as well as a selection of laptop backgrounds and phone backgrounds – one for each of our three shows, and one for the tour as a whole. Just remember to leave your email when you donate, so we can get them to you!

£7.5 – Karaoke Queen

Sing-a-long time! You’ll be receiving our digital design pack, and of course, a shout out on our social media – and that’s not all. Play On – one of our three shows – is an original song-cycle created from some of the songs and poems in Shakespeare’s plays, and we’re going to be recording all the tracks before we head off on tour. This reward tier will get you digital copies of three of those songs, so you can listen to them at any time!

£10 – Musically Inclined

Go on, treat yourself. For JUST an extra £2.50, you’ll get access to all 8 of our tracks from the song cycle, plus the 2 bonus tracks that will be a part of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As well as everything else, of course. Which means you can have the whole Back Of the Van experience without even stepping outside!

£15 – Well Read

A purely academic choice, of course. With this tier you’ll not only be getting a shout out, our digital design pack and ALL of our songs – you’ll also be getting digital copies of our scripts for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and To The Ocean. Wanted to work out how on earth we’re performing A Midsummer Nights Dream, a play of 21 characters, with only 6 actors? Or maybe you want to hold on to the magic of To The Ocean after it’s been performed? Then this would be the tier for you!

£20 – DJ BOTV

Going retro – we like your style! We’re going to be printing a limited number of CDs with all 8 of our tracks as well as the 2 bonus tracks from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So not only do you get everything from the other reward tiers, you also get a hard copy of all of our tracks, complete with album art, lovingly crafted by our very own Rowan Wishart.

£25 – You stay in touch now!

You’re so amazing – we absolutely have to stay in touch! With this reward tier, you qualify for 2 free tickets to any one of our shows in any one of our locations (usually valued at £5) – and that’s not all. We’ll be sending you three postcards, lovingly hand-signed by every member of the Back of the Van Team, from different locations while we’re away on tour – including one postcard with a photo of the whole team with the van! That way, we couldn’t possibly lose contact!

£30 – You name it

Wow. You’re so generous – at this point, you name it. Literally. Just so the whole world knows quite how important you are to us, we’re going to be printing your name in 20cm letters along the side of our van. Which means that you’ll be right there, by our side, for the whole project! We’re happy to take joint donations for this one – if you want to team up with some pals to get something written on the side of the van, that’s totally okay with us!

£40 – Fully Catered For

Hey big spender! You look like you deserve to have some proper care taken of you. We’d like to cordially invite you to join us for a meal in the back of the van – breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it’s totally up to you (although we do make a mean eggs benedict). We’ll meet you at an agreed time around any one of our performance locations, and treat you to a proper meal, Back of the Van style.

£50 – Road Trip!

You’re basically part of the crew at this point. So we want to give you the chance to experience what life in the van is really like. After we’ve treated you to a meal at your chosen time of the day, we’ll whisk you away to some local destination – ideally a beach, but we’re open to suggestions. Oh, and of course, ice cream is on us!

 

What is devised theatre?

The second part of our ‘Back of the Van’ is the play ‘To the Ocean: A Modern Selkie Story’, a piece which was created by our sister company, BlackBox Devising Company. But what actually is devised theatre?? I hear you cry. BackBox describes itself as: ‘St Andrews’ first devising company run by and for students, creating cutting edge theatre using the voice of our generation.’ Which sounds pretty cool, and it is pretty cool. This does not, however, answer the question of what devised theatre actually is.

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When I signed up for BlackBox I had no clear idea what the process entailed, and even after a semester in the company I’m not sure I could give you a proper definition. This is because devising is a mix of many approaches including improvisation, scriptwriting, collaboration, and script work. So I did some research. While there were many different definitions that reflected parts of my experience in a devising company, the one I identified the most with was from Vanessa Garcia’s article The Paradox of Devised Theater on the Twenty-First Century Stage, she describes devised theatre as ‘theatre that begins without a script. The script gets “written” as the rehearsal process takes place through a series of improvisations and collaborations.’ The idea of the script getting written almost as a side-effect of the rehearsal process is particularly interesting, because for me that is how ‘To The Ocean’ came into being. Now, that is not to say that a lot of hard work didn’t go into its creation, because believe me it did. The process, however, was not as stressful as I’d initially imagined it to be. It was fun, we worked as a team improvising scenes which could then be improved and refined. We weren’t working with a script where you have to uncover your character, our characters revealed themselves to us. We got to know our characters as they as the grew along with their story.

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Garcia’s definition also highlights the collaborative nature of devising. As a relatively inexperienced actor, I found the prospect of working with people who knew a lot more about theatre than I did daunting. But these concerns were quickly allayed. Our first couple of workshops focused heavily on getting to know each other, and after these I felt much more comfortable with the group of people with whom I was working. ‘To the Ocean’ has a small cast of four, and along with Oli our director, we all quickly developed an understanding of our personalities, and the different approaches we all brought to the same scenes or ideas was very interesting. Collating a range of different reactions, opinions, and thoughts about different issues is what I think makes a devised piece of work so special. This is why BlackBox can say they create ‘cutting edge theatre using the voice of our generation’, because that is truly what they do. We as students of a certain age are representative of our own generation, and the beauty of devising theatre in a university such as St Andrews is that its students come from a wide variety of backgrounds meaning that many different voices can be heard.     

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Devised theatre has become more popular over the past couple of decades. Where I think the practice particularly excels is in its ability to deconstruct social issues. Different people respond to different events in completely different ways. There is a huge criteria of factors which affect one’s response to any given situation, ranging from age, gender, ethnicity, location, to infinitesimally small details such as what you had for breakfast. No one can quite predict how the human brain will respond to things. The beauty of devised theatre is that its collaborative nature means an event is not just seen through one person’s eyes, it is not just portrayed in a way which reflects one brain’s dissection and summation of a situation. In a time where we are finally seeing more and more people develop their own political voice, this aspect of devised theatre is particularly exciting.    

To sum up, I shall borrow another quote from Garcia, ‘devised theatre is a theatre made up of the essence of art—collaboration and process—a deep, underground process that participants must enfold themselves in’. Devising demands dedication to the process, however, the end results pay off. While ‘To the Ocean’ may seem to be an unassuming modern fairy tale, anyone who knows anything about fairy stories can tell you there is much more to this genre than it simply being a bedtime story. Fairy tales have the ability to highlight how magic can exist in the world today, they show how to get through times of tribulation, and fundamentally demonstrate what it means to love and be human. To explore these ideas in a devised theatre setting was especially pertinent because the multiplicity of voices that went into the creation of the story helped to reflect the universal quality of a fairy tale.

‘To the Ocean’ will be performed alongside BoxedIn’s version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Play on’ this summer from the 2nd June to the 19th August as we take our ‘Back of the Van’ trilogy on tour. Make sure you’re following us on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep updated on everything we’re up to!

 

Interview with Anoushka Kohli and Bailey Fear

As LOBES goes up next week, we sat down with the stars of the show Anoushka Kohli and Bailey Fear to discuss their LOBES experience.

So, let’s start from the beginning, what made you audition for LOBES?

A: I’m not entirely sure why I auditioned for LOBES. It’s not like I knew Oli or Henry, I just sort of decided to go and do it because I was intrigued by the premise.   

B: I wanted to audition for LOBES because it sounded like such an interesting and different play to work on. Also the opportunity to work on such an original piece of student writing was really exciting.   

And now you’ve had time to get to know your characters, how would you describe them?    

A: Difficult. Not in that she is difficult as a person, I just think there are so many elements to her that are offset by completely opposing, contradicting characteristics. She’s very reliant and dependent on Y, but also deeply concerned with being independent. 

B:  Y is a dreamer. He wants to escape the banale everyday for a more creative life, which for him means being a writer. He’s a romantic who loves X deeply, but he struggles to understand her. This means that despite his best efforts he often ends up making situations worse.        

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You’ve been working on the play since the end of last year, what’s been your favourite moment during this rehearsal process?  

A: Because this play has it’s very dark moments, I was worried that I’d be constantly feeling sad in rehearsal – that it would be a dense process, but the amount of laughter and silliness that goes on is astounding. We do a fair bit of mucking about. So I’d have to say my favourite moment is the early evening rehearsal when Oli, and then Bailey, successfully tried to convince me that the St andrews aquarium has meerkats because they’re aquatic. All lies.    

B: It’s hard to pick one favourite moment. I think for me it was working with such a talented group of people. Everyone involved in this play is incredible. It’s infectious and inspirational to constantly be surrounded by such talented and passionate people, and that has made this process something special.      

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And what have you learnt from being involved in LOBES?   

A: That if you’re on stage for the entirety of a show, you need to know the person you are playing and the person you are acting with inside out and back to front. That’s all you have, you can’t just rely on being a good actor, it’s not enough.     

B:  I’ve learnt lot from being involved in LOBES. Potentially the stand out thing has been how to work with such a small group and not fall out. It sounds silly but we spent most days with each other in a small room working on a very intense and at times tricky play. Naturally problems and tensions increased at certain points, but learning how to work together and communicate effectively meant these moments were few and far between and we are still all really good friends.     

You seem to all have had a good time working on LOBES, do you have a favourite scene or quote?   

A: My favourite scene is the poem scene. It’s just so wholesome and real. When the person you love shares something with you that you really dislike and you have to find the kindest, but also the most helpful, words you can possibly find without causing an argument. I like how much we walk the line in that scene.

B: For me the poetry scene in which Y reads his poem to X is a favourite. It’s such a beautifully written scene that feels so real and natural to act in.     

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If you can, try and sum up what the play means to you in one word.   

A: Trust 

B: Different

Thank you very much to Anoushka and Bailey for taking the time to answer our questions. Tickets for LOBES are available on fixr, Tuesday is sold out, but there are still tickets available for Wednesday and Thursday. So get yours now!

A chat with BoxedIn’s executive producer Emily Hepher

With ‘Lobes’ going up on the 13th, 14th and 15th of March, so in just over a week. We had a quick chat to the organisation powerhouse that is BoxedIn’s executive producer Emily Hepher to discuss how she’s managed to bring this ambitious project together.

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BoxedIn’s executive producer Emily Hepher

So you’ve worked as part of BoxedIn before on our production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, what do you enjoy most about being part of the team?

It’s such a great team to be a part of, and I love working together with such a lovely group of people. What I find the most inspiring is that every member of the BoxedIn team is dedicated to creating ambitious projects, and to pushing boundaries of what people think theatre is and can be. We have a small team of truly passionate people, and they have put their hearts and souls into making this show, and every show we produce, a reality.

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BoxedIn’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, an immersive theatre experience.

 You mentioned that we like to push the boundaries, how is this project different to ones you have worked on before?

As ‘Lobes’ is being performed in the medical school building, the space in which we’re working is definitely unique compared to other projects I’ve worked on. This also means that we’re trying to attract a more diverse audience, as performing in the medical building means we’re bringing theatre to a place where people would not normally experience it. This has been a challenge, but at the same time it’s also been very exciting!

 So what would you say has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced while working on ‘Lobes’?

Our biggest challenge was trying to find and secure a space that matched our vision. Because site-specific theatre is an integral part of BoxedIn’s ethos, we couldn’t just perform ‘Lobes’ in a normal theatre setting. We finally decided on the medical building, and we are so happy that we ended up getting exactly the environment we wanted.

On the flip side, what has been your favourite thing about working on ‘Lobes’?

My favourite thing about ‘Lobes’ has been bringing a fantastic piece of student writing to life, and seeing Henry’s work flourish. There are so many talented writers, directors, and actors in St Andrews, and so the team behind ‘Lobes’ is no exception. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

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The ‘Lobes’ team in rehearsal

Why should people come and see this play?

Simply because ‘Lobes’ is such a unique and brilliant piece of theatre. This play tackles fascinating ideas about memory and reality, and I think the way it paints the relationship between our two characters is something really special.

Finally, if you could give us three words to describe ‘Lobes’ what would they be?

Lobes: lost in translation.

Thank you to Emily for taking the time out to answer our questions. We are very grateful for all her hardworking during this process, and are sure that it will all pay off in a very successful production! Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to make sure you stay up-to-date with the rehearsal process, and head over to fixr to get your tickets now.

How we watch theatre

The National Theatre introduced live screenings of their productions in June 2009, an event which has prompted many a debate in the years that have followed. Our recent post about site specific theatre highlighted the importance of the location of a performance, and the controversy around live screenings centers on the fact that the performance is taken out of its context.    

At BoxedIn we are also passionate about making theatre more accessible, and the live screenings certainly do that. Tickets for these performances are generally cheaper than most theatre tickets, as mentioned in our previous blog post, by moving the performance out of the traditional space of ‘the theatre’, people are less likely to be intimidated by the elitism which plagues the theatre when they go to see a screening in a cinema.

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There are, however, negatives to the introduction of live screenings. One of the main concerns is less people will go to the actual theatres to see productions, and this is likely to affect smaller, local theatres rather than established theatres in big cities, consequently making live theatre less accessible. Another obvious negative of a live screening is that the audience member is not in the same room as the actor, the immediacy, intensity, and immersive nature of the emotions on stage is lost, as it’s something which cannot be transported through a camera lens. Thinking about the experience of an audience member in a theatre, live screenings may affect the quality of their viewing experience. As live screenings continue to blur the line between theatre and cinema, will theatre directors have to start to think about how the piece will look like on camera, rather than how an audience member will experience the show?      

On Thursday, I went to see a live screening of the Young Vic’s production of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ starring Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell, having already seen a performance in the Apollo Theatre earlier this year. Despite the mixed reviews this production has received, I loved it when I saw the show in July, and as a result was sceptical about whether I would find a live screening as enjoyable. The screening, however, did not disappoint. I was able to notice aspects of the performance which I had missed before, a particularly poignant moment being when Maggie (Sienna Miller) was looking at her own reflection. Through the zoom of the camera you were able to see all the emotions playing on her face. While the live screening style suited Miller’s performance, possibly due to her strong film background, it did not suit her on screen partner O’Connell. The first act the play almost seemed to be ‘the Maggie show’, the camera following Maggie as she had most of the dialogue. O’Connell brings such a powerful weight to the role, a weight that can only be described as energy, which is untranslatable, and non transportable, Brick’s silence cuts his camera time, and this cuts an integral part of the play. In the second act Brick’s power comes almost as a surprise to the audience. When watching a performance of the play in the Apollo this strength is not a surprise, it is palpable in the air from the very first second, juxtaposing Brick’s initial nakedness and setting up his enigmatic character. This is a problem with live screenings of theatre, you lose the immediacy of the action, and the intensity of emotions.

While we are excited about making theatre more accessible, we are also passionate about immersive and site-specific theatre, which relies on the importance of the audience’s surroundings. Lobes, our next production going up on the 13th, 14th, and 15th March, would lose an integral dimension if it could not be performed in the medical center, as this location adds another layer to the piece.

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How we watch theatre is undoubtedly changing, as is every other aspect of our lives thanks to technological developments. This is not, however, necessarily a bad thing, as Lyn Gardner from The Guardian writes, ‘British theatre needs … both’ live theatre performances and live screenings. Screenings make theatre more accessible, but they should also in turn encourage people to get their bottoms in seat and attend live performances when possible.    

 

BoxedIn’s Artistic Director discusses ‘Lobes’

With BoxedIn presenting ‘Lobes’ on the 13th, 14th and 15th March, we caught up with director, Oli Savage to chat about the production, his experience directing it so far and to find out why we should make sure to get our hands on tickets when they go sale on Wednesday, 21st February at 3pm.

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What did you love most about the script that made you want to direct ‘Lobes’?

I think that ‘Lobes’ is genuinely a really clever and beautiful piece of work. But more than that, it’s totally unique. The way that is discusses and deals with mental health through the lens of memory, and the juxtaposition it creates between our different understanding of the way that mental health is something that quite frankly I’ve never seen before at any level, and it’s something that I think is important to talk about.

I had that gut reaction when I read the script for the first time – Henry and I were on tour last summer with WOOD, and we were on a slow train down to North Devon when we asked if I’d read the script. I read it and I remember thinking…just ‘wow, this needs to be put on.’

Of course, Henry Roberts (the writer) is immeasurably talented, and his passion for the script and connection to it also made it easy to get excited.

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What’s been your favourite part about working on this production?

 I have to admit it’s quite hard to choose. I think overall though, it’s been an absolute pleasure working on a two-hander – I’ve never worked with such a small cast before, and the opportunity to do so has been both very challenging and very rewarding. Usually, in a bigger cast you can kind of hide behind the actors if you need to, or at least rely on their talent and support to pull the whole show through particularly tough sections. When there are two actors, there’s nothing to hide behind, and you need to get through the whole thing just the three of you.

And as I say, that’s both really challenging and really rewarding. It’s helped by the fact that Bailey and Anouska are two of the most intelligent and talented actors I’ve ever worked with – between them, they have really managed to keep driving everything forward.

Have you encountered any logistical challenges in directing ‘Lobes’, and how have you overcome these?

 Oh absolutely. I don’t know who had the idea of trying to put the show on in the medical building but that’s definitely been a big challenge.

It’s always logistically challenging to book alternative spaces – especially in St Andrews where space is limited as it is, people often have concerns about using their spaces for anything other than their intended purpose. But Henry Rae (the technician of the multi-purpose lab in the medical building) has been an absolute god send. He is so positive and helpful, and he has been enthused about this project from the word go.

I guess the way we overcame these was primarily with perseverance and research. We tried about seven or eight different spaces before we finally managed to book the multi-purpose lab, and it was getting very disheartening. But it did pay off in the end, and we’ve ended up with an absolutely perfect space!

 

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Why should people come and see ‘Lobes’?

 I think there are a few reasons, but mainly it all boils down to one idea – ‘Lobes’ is different. The way the script works, the themes it addresses, the way it addresses them, everything down to the very space that it’s being performed in. I’ve actually spoken to a few of the student papers this week about exactly how it’s going to be different, so keep your eyes peeled for those publications!

What kind of environment do you try to create in the rehearsal room?

 For me, the rehearsal room should be two things – a positive space, and a collaborative space. I work really hard when I’m planning rehearsals to find ways of making this happen.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything everyone says has to be positive – if something is bad, we can talk about it being bad, and there’s always space for improvement and banter and that. But I think it’s super important that everyone feels that they’re improving on the script as it goes.

And similarly, I think it’s really important to make sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction – fundamentally, a show is a group endeavor, and it makes it so much easier if everyone shares some ownership of that.

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What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given as a director?

 There’s this book called Notes on Directing by Frank Hauser and Russell Reich, which I think is fantastic. And in it there’s this tip that’s changed how I work in a big way – it says “Assume that everyone is in a permanent state of catatonic terror.” I think that’s great advice, and it’s something that I try to remember in all aspects of my work.

 

Thanks goes to Oli for sitting down and discussing ‘Lobes’ – we can’t wait to show you what we’ve working on when the play goes up at the multi-purpose lab in the School of Medicine next month.

Tickets will be available from 3pm next Wednesday, 21st February. Make sure to follow our social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be among the first to snap up those tickets and to watch the show come together, rehearsal by rehearsal.

 

 

Site-Specific Theatre

So, here at BoxedIn we’ve spoken a lot about how we love ourselves some site-specific theatre. But what does that actually mean? Well, one definition of site-specific theatre is a type of performance which uses the properties of a landscape and their meanings to emphasise particular images, stories and events that reveal the complex relationship between ourselves and our physical environment. Which admittedly is a bit of a long, and slightly complicated definition, however, it is not a complicated technique. Site-specific theatre is simply the utilisation of an environment which is not a traditional theatre building to help convey the story and emotions of a play.   

 

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Site-specific theatre moves away from a traditional theatre

Site-specific theatre’s ability to move away from the space of a traditional theatre is a unique quality of this practice which can help to tackle the elitism so often associated with the arts. Our Creative Director Oli Savage is particularly excited by how ‘site-specific theatre can get out in to the communities, engaging with new audiences by bringing performances in to spaces that they know and feel comfortable with.’ This aspect of the practice not only allows the audience easier access to a range of emotions which the play may evoke because they are in a comfortable environment, but it also removes the fear of going to the theatre. Often the elitist nature of a traditional theatre puts people in an uncomfortable state as they feel they ‘do not belong’. This is a fundamental problem, as how are people supposed to emotionally engage with a dramatic piece if their emotions are hindered by an innate sense of discomfort which their surroundings create? As site-specific theatre breaks these social and emotional boundaries down, it allows for a more complete experience and appreciation of theatre.    

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Oli Savage our Artistic Director is very passionate about site-specific theatre.

 It is not just us at BoxedIn who are excited by the potential of site-specific theatre. Barrie Rutter, Northern Broadsides’ director, has commented that he is very proud to have been one of the pioneers of the practice, and many more people of note in the Arts world are bringing site-specific theatre into their work. This week, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) have selected their new Artistic Director, David Binder. Mr Binder’s credentials include producing the Dutch New Island Festival on New York’s Governors Island, which is 10 days of site-specific performance, music, theater and dance from the Netherlands, showcasing how site-specific performances can bring together a range of art forms. It is exciting to have people of influence in the arts recognise the importance of site-specific performance, as it suggests that in the future we can expect to look forward to a more inclusive and emotive theatre scene.    
 

This is ultimately one of the foundations of BoxedIn’s ethos, producing an inclusive theatre community, free from bias and elitism. We want to create a safe, creative environment where everyone feels welcome. And site-specific theatre is a perfect vehicle for this because, as Oli’s said, ‘when an audience steps in to a space, whether they know it or not they’re thinking about what that space means – it’s feelings, and it’s emotions. And that’s always going add to their connection to the piece as a whole.’ When an audience member is not worried about being out of place, or fitting in with everyone around them, they allow themselves the opportunity to truly focus on what the play means to them through their connection to the piece as a whole: the words, the actions, and the setting.

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We hope that we have managed to achieve this in our past productions, such as WOOD (summer 2017), and we are looking forward to expand on our success and continue to promote site-specific theatre in our upcoming productions. The first of which is Henry Robert’s ‘Lobes’, which we will present on 13th, 14th, and 15th March.
For more information about our upcoming productions, or to see what we’ve done in the past, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Interview with Henry Roberts

On the 13th, 14th, and 15th March, BoxedIn is proud to present ‘Lobes’, a play written by Henry Roberts. So as rehearsals have started again, what with the start of a new semester, we sat down with Henry to discuss the play, his experience with theatre, and what he thinks is unique about this art form.

So, let’s start with the basics I guess, what’s ‘Lobes’ about?

The short answer to that is: it’s about a relationship. If I were to expand on that I’d say it’s about mental health, specifically how we deal with it ourselves and how it shapes our interactions- or lack thereof- with other people. The even longer answer would be that it explores the way mental health is represented in art, and whether it can or indeed should be. Lobes also explores memory and imagination, and how these things which are so internal and often invented by us end up shaping so much of our actions and feelings. I tried to fit a lot into a reasonably short piece!   

 

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There’s evidently many overlapping themes in the piece, what actually inspired you to write ‘Lobes’?  

I’ve always wanted to write a play. I had written a couple of screenplays in high school, but I figured a theatrical piece had a greater chance of going beyond my laptop, especially in St Andrews which has such a vibrant theatre scene. But, of course, I wanted to write about something important to me, hence the attention to mental health. The cliché that you put all your effort and ideas and energy into your first piece was certainly true here. What started life as a short comedic scene about mind-reading evolved into this quite serious piece. So my love of creative writing prompted me to write a play, but it was my dissatisfaction with the way we as a society and as individuals (myself definitely included) actually talk about mental health that inspired me to write this play.    

And how did you go about writing this play?

So when I started ingeniously in the middle of term-time, writing happened whenever I had a spare minute! Once it got to the summer holiday, however, I was able to dedicate more time to the text, craft the scenes and structure it into something at least reasonably presentable.

As you said the subject matter is incredibly important to you, how do you feel about someone else directing what you’d written?

It’s tempting to say that it’s incredibly frustrating and nerve-wracking but truthfully I’m okay with it. Naturally, I have my preferences and my own ideas, but having worked with Oli before I know the piece is in safe and capable hands. Even from our initial discussion after I had asked him to read the first draft as a friend, he was bringing ideas and concepts that never would have occured to me. He’s better at managing people and executing plans than myself. Having someone else take over the piece keeps it from going stale and being only about my ideas. If that meant giving him complete control over the script then that would be problematic, but having someone else direct is probably the best way to do it. It makes for more interesting art. The piece means the world to me, but it’ll be interesting to see what other people can bring to it and how they interpret it. Plus, if there was something vital I wanted included in the final piece I would have put it in the text!    

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Bailey Fear preparing for his performance in ‘Lobes’

In what ways can theatre explore ideas surrounding mental health in ways other art forms cannot?     

Well, what is the main difference between theatre generally and other forms of art? Theatre is about the present, the here and now. Films and literature represent distance, both in terms of time and space. Theatre is immediate. You’re forced to be in a confined space with actors, actually see the emotions on their faces as they occur, and even if they’ve performed a play one hundred times, you’re still seeing this unique performance being delivered for the first and only time. Hence why neurologists have said you feel greater empathy for characters onstage than for those on screen; they’re more ‘real’ to us. Theatre isn’t just about forcing us to empathise with characters (and certainly Lobes makes this clear), but when dealing with a topic as personal and sensitive as mental health it’s impossible not to do so somewhat. Seeing ‘real people’ in front of us discussing and suffering from mental health problems will hopefully create a more visceral audience reaction. You’re forced to feel before you think, which isn’t always the case with a film or a book.

And what do you want people to take away after watching the play?   

Obviously, I want them to have a good time, and I think they will. The play has no inherent ‘message’. Plays shouldn’t be didactic, and when they are they’re usually quite boring. But it raises a lot of issues, so if it gets people talking about some of them then I think that’s a good thing. Mental health obviously concerns all of us, but the play is about young people, which is probably more relevant to a largely student audience. Honestly, if people come out of the show talking about themselves and their experience of relationships and mental health then that would make the play worthwhile. (There are some lighter moments in the play I should add!)

So last year you went on tour with BoxedIn, what did you gain from the experience?  

Wood was so much fun. Other than making great friends and seeing some awesome places, it got me thinking about how we can bring theatre to new spaces, and to people who normally would avoid it. Partly that’s to do with putting on plays which are relevant to people’s lives, but it’s also about bringing theatre to smaller places without ‘real’ theatres, and putting them in places where people can come and go. Basically, I learnt that it’s important to take away the fear, pressure, and elitism which is so often associated with the theatre. I certainly learnt a lot and thought about what theatre could do and what it was for.

But also, to be perfectly honest, the tour was good for me emotionally. It sounds so clichéd, but I gained a lot of confidence. And spending eight weeks with friends, performing every night and seeing new places made me realise that this wasn’t a bad way to pass the time…  

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Henry with the BoxedIn team who went on tour last summer with ‘WOOD’

Now I’m sure it’s not all going to end at ‘Lobes’ – do you have plans to write anymore plays?

Ah, indeed. I’ve finished a draft of a new play about ecoterrorism, which explores power and political manipulation, as well as our relationship with nature. Lobes is very naturalistic in terms of its narrative, so I want to do some more weird stuff, and I’ve got a few ideas for future projects. They’re all based on contemporary issues, but I think it’s more interesting (and, at the end of the day, more fun) to explore them in less obvious and more innovative ways.   

Thank you to Henry for taking the time out to answer our questions. We are incredibly excited about having the chance to put on such a beautiful play. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to make sure you stay up-to-date with the rehearsal process and when you can get your tickets!