Monday, 27 May 2013

Theatre: Energetic young theatre company’s first major show

After What Comes Before is the first major performance by Leeds-based Manic Chord Theatre.

Established in 2012 by Alex Monk, 22, Sam Berrill, 22, and David Cartwright, 23, the company describes itself as a young and energetic professional theatre group with a clear emphasis on a physical and competitive style.

David Cartwright, one of the founding members and directors of Manic Chord Theatre explains: “Our theatre is playful, it’s energetic. We start with sports and games that encourage all those things that you associate with a group of lads – there’s a lot of banter and competition. If you think that theatre’s all skipping around and dancing, then come and watch us.”

After What Comes Before follows the story of three scientists who set out to 
create a machine which can extract thoughts. The scientists become consumed by their machine and trapped within the world of the laboratory, slowly becoming the subject of their own experiment.

David says: “There’s lots of energy, lots of chalk flying across the room. There are these three mad professors who become more insane as the show goes on.

“There’s all sorts of wonderful singing and dancing, and other craziness going on. We didn’t want to give answers with the show, but raise questions that an audience would go away and have their own conversations about.”

The ethos of Manic Chord Theatre is based on the Russian style of actor training where the actors, set designers, directors and managers all work together in the same space.

“There’s a kind of ensemble feel, with the ethic of everyone chipping in and everyone having an equal say,” he says.

“That doesn’t mean that when it comes down to it we don’t have a director who concentrates on the arc of the work and the vision of the piece.”

Based in Temple Works, Leeds, the group have been able to develop and refine their work. David believes that some of the building’s energy has filtered into their work: “I think that the space represents all of us – there’s a rawness, it’s a bit manic, it’s got that energy that we’ll hopefully take with us.

“Even though when we’re touring the show we won’t have the battered bricks and the dirty floor, it should still have that spirit to it.”

The path leading to their first major performance has not been an easy one. When the group are not rehearsing or writing, they spend almost all of their spare time working in bars and restaurants.

David reflected upon how lucky the group are to be 
able to continue working on their craft. He says: “We came off a university course 
of about a hundred or so people, and there’s only about five of us – two theatre companies, ourselves and Magpies Three – that have formed something out of that. I think if you have that passion, you don’t have to go down the standard route of getting a nine to five job – it is a risk.

“For me, theatre is about self-expression, it’s about vocalising your feelings or reflecting on your own life and having fun doing that. It provides a mirror – a critique. I would urge people to engage with it, because a lot of people don’t, and they’re not as well off for it.”

This article was published in the Yorkshire Post, May 24, 2013.

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