Stomping Ground Festival 2017 Round-Up

Stomping Ground Festival 2017 Round-Up

Another festival complete, Stomping Ground at The Albany having given opportunity to nine emerging directors as part of the StoneCrabs Theatre Young Directors Training Programme.

On 15 – 17 March, nine emerging directors showcased their work at the Stomping Ground Festival, a programme organised by StoneCrabs Theatre Company. The Albany, Deptford played host to classic works by Mamet and Fo, as well as contemporary productions by Atiha Sen Gupta and the 2017 Brighton Festival curator, Kate Tempest.

The individuals were given full reign not only pitching, casting and directing, but in producing, marketing, fundraising and ultimately organising the festival itself. During rehearsals, I caught up with three of the young directors – read their interviews here.

I was also lucky enough to see each of the shows as a final piece and review each. See my round-up of the festival below:

 

My top 2 shows: Taking joint first place in this programming are Beth Kapila’s Wasted and Sam Luffman’s After Liverpool.

In After Liverpool, Hollie Hales and Stephen Papaioannou ask questions, short and sharp and direct. Answers, they don’t seem to matter. Deep and meaningful conversation, that’s not important. Similar interests are few and far between – these are simply superficial facts anyway. Where are the details? What is this play about? Does it actually matter?? Luffman injects pace and intrigue instantly into this performance and his work with the characters reveals brief moments of heartfelt honesty that are purposefully thrown aside amongst the rubble of the relationship.

“You don’t give much away” – Luffman clearly doesn’t intend to. James Saunders writes After Liverpool purposefully devoid of those normal details that give colour and meaning to a situation. Luffman understands this, takes the concept and runs with it – simple, stylish, stunning.

 

In Wasted, Kate Tempest’s spoken word script flows like water out of the mouths of the actors. Face-on with the audience, they observe, dissect and analyse the difficulties of today’s 20-something professional, living in London with little money and a general feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction – #firstworldproblems. Beth Kapila treats the individuals as a unit, requires them to be so in sync with each other that moving the text between them is as effortless as a flowing river, the babbling of the language as it echoes through the audience. This is a performance with concept, execution and style pouring forth from all.

Kapila has a detailed understanding of Tempest’s text and provides the burning platform, the impetus needed for all characters to jump into the unknown. A lot of work has clearly been done to engender a collective amidst the actors, such that they can effortlessly bounce off each other and maintain the pulse of the play. Wasted is relevant, well matched to the festival audience and expertly realised in a fringe setting.

 

Actor of the Festival: There is no other contender for this than Reice Weathers one-man performance in Edwina Strobl’s version of Boxman. Weathers establishes his character before the performance begins, an invisible shadow on stage that the audience pass by to take their seats. He hums to himself and rocks back and forth, causing people to give sideways glances and curious expressions. He is an oddity, an object of observational intrigue. His manner has a salesman style to it, friendly and warming that instantly draws you in. Comedy trips off the tongue as sadness lows just below the surface. A torchlight prop differentiates Weather’s personalities, from a tension building historical account to an ever more crazed present persona – this momentum provides for a memorable end to the show.

 

Congratulations to all directors and their performers:

Francine Morgan – The Shawl

Emily Marshall – Counting Stars

Fernanda Mandagará – The End Of All Miracles

Chris Davis – Passing By

Luke Howarth – Captain Amazing

Alex Prescot – The Open Couple

For further details about the Young Directors Training Programme, see the StoneCrabs Theatre Company website.

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