By Amy Iles, third year Theatre & Performance studies*
As part of her placement at the renowned theatre, Amy Iles helps with Bristol Old Vic's New Plays in Rep Season. She tells us what to look out for...
This month, Bristol Old Vic embarks on an exciting new initiative, showcasing the talent of emerging West Country writers through their New Plays in Rep season. The project has been worked on tirelessly by the theatre’s Writers Departement and collaborates with the phenomenal technical and acting prowess of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in order to provide local writers a brilliant opportunity to have their work staged and performed in the Old Vic’s new Weston Studio.
Bristol Old Vic / The Dissociation of Shirley Mason
The season sees six plays, developed through The Open Session- an annual initiative which provided playwrights in the West Country a chance to develop their work with support from Bristol Old Vic- being produced and performed, two of which are fully staged productions. In a time where opportunities for fresh, fascinating pieces of theatre are becoming few and far apart, this new scheme will provide a brilliant platform for these wonderful playwrights whilst giving the public the much needed chance to look into some fantastic pieces of developing work- and who knows where they might end up!
Bristol Old Vic: Ocra
FULLY STAGED SHOWS:
The Dissociation of Shirley Mason by Isabella Culver
Show dates: 28th Feb- 16th March
This is Isabella Culver’s debut play, selected from the 2017 Open Session call-out. Following the life of the titular character, the play is inspired by the real-life case of a woman diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and explores the peculiar relationship between her and her psychiatrist. With an incredible ensemble cast, fast-paced movements and transitions follow the turbulent life of Shirley Mason, seeking truth in a case which blurs the lines between psychiatry and art, case studies and tall stories, real hurt and false memory.
Orca by Matt Grinter
Show dates: 4th March- 16th March
Winner of the nationwide Papatango New Writing Prize in 2016, just after being selected as one of the Open Session plays, Matt Grinter’s Orca is surrounded by myth, ritual and questionable incidents. In Midsummer, a new Daughter of the village must be chosen to bless the waters, keeping the orcas at bay. But Maggie is determined not to let her hopeful younger sister, Fan, be the chosen one. No one will admit what has happened to Maggie and dark secrets overshadow this beautiful community.
Bristol Old Vic / Mr Magalump
Mr Maglump by Brook Tate
Show dates: Saturday 9th March 10:30am/ Saturday 16th March 10:30am
A musical for all ages, Mr Maglump is about fitting in and accepting everyone in a community- even if they hide themselves away. No.9 is the one house avoided on a otherwise overwhelmingly friendly neighbourhood street- the home of the dreaded Mr Maglump! But when one brave child finds the courage to ask him for dinner, he discovers a secret that could turn the town upside down- or the right way up? Packed with mesmerizing music and colourful characters, you’ll be humming these tunes for the rest of the week after watching this delightful show!
Wonderboy by Ross Willis
Show dates: Monday 11th March 8pm/ Friday 15th March 3pm
A dynamic but sensitively written play by Ross Willis, Wonderboy explores grief and language through a schoolboy coping with loss. His struggles with a severe stammer are combated with help from his own comic book creation Captain Chatter, with a little help from a supportive school teacher. Together they battle again the taunting supervillain, William Shakespeare and the harshness of real life.
Bristol Old Vic / Kingdom
Kingdom or The Anthropocene by Skot Wilson
Show dates: Wednesday 13th March 8pm/ Saturday 16th March 5pm
In a series of short plays, the common thread for all questions ‘Whose Kingdom is this’? Do humans really have a right to take all they do, even in the smallest way, from this planet which so many creatures call home? Expect to see kangaroo boxing, insects used to hide a murder, sea wall erosion and more in a play that does not preach, but may well make you think more closely about how good we really are at sharing.
Invalid by Nell Leyshon
Show dates: Monday 11th March 8:30pm/ Friday 15th March 3:30pm
A play performed in pitch black. The story centres on a woman confined to a darkened room. Whilst she is bed-bound, her partner easily negotiates the darkness, yet there is a strangeness in this reassurance. Wondering how on earth it is possible to successfully stage a piece of theatre in the dark? Then come along and see Nell Leyshon’s thrilling new play to find out!
(Featured image credits: Bristol Old Vic)
Have you seen any shows from this season? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.