Last summer was fantastic for the show. We went back to Prague Fringe, we went to Sudureyri for Act Alone Festival and we went to New York to take part in the curated New York City Fringe. Here are some of our memories in picture form to celebrate two years of the show touring. Thanks for the good times!
Wishing all those who organise those festivals and are attending this year a brilliant time - we will see you again soon!
We are returning to Edinburgh Fringe for one week only, catch us if you can.
Emily Carding in Interview with Laura Caparrotti
1. In brief: how did you work on the adaptation?
Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir, a very talented Icelandic director that I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with a number of times, came up with the concept. She edited a rough version of the script which came to about two hours worth of material, focusing purely on Richard's journey through the text and giving him some lines from other characters when it proved necessary for clarity or to move the action along. We then had a two week residency at a theatre called Tjarnarbio in Reykjavik where we worked together on honing the material, cutting away at it and adding new stuff in, until it was down to an hour, and also a lot of very in depth character work. Kolbrun works a lot with Stanislavski's methods and viewpoints and this helped create a very strong foundation for the character of Richard, enabling me to respond spontaneously to whatever the audience brought to the show. It was an open studio process, so we had various people drop in to be audience members and help us work out the mechanics of the show. At the end of that two weeks we had a work-in- progress performance in the theatre which was packed out and very successful. We knew then we'd found something that could work really well and was very innovative. That was tremendously exciting and continues to be so.
2. Is this show still changing from performance to performance?
The show is by its nature slightly different each time because at the very least the energy of the audience shifts things, even if they don't do much. Of course the space and time of day affects it too, but it's so much about the audience. Lady Anne is a key role, and though there's no requirement for people to speak, I have had people do some very exciting and sometimes just plain odd things! For instance I had one Lady Anne who heckled in character throughout (I had to kill her early) and one who sat on my lap.
3. Did you get different reaction from different audiences?
Each audience has its own group energy that is very distinctive and difficult to explain. The space can make a big difference... people tend to be well behaved in a church or chapel for instance and feel much more free to play around, laugh and have fun in a pub theatre. Even within the same space though you can have a very quiet but attentive audience one night and a boisterous audience the next, and very different shows as a result. We'll see how Alpha Omega dance works out.
4. Why bringing the show at the Fringe in NY? What are you looking for?
We're very excited to bring the show to NY because some of our most engaged audience members have been from the States and many people have asked us to bring it across the pond. I think it's such a good fit for this festival. I love NYC so to play there is going to be an amazing adventure!
5. what the NY audience should expect to see
I think they should expect to see Shakespeare in a fresh light, to feel part of the story and to have fun. It's a truly immersive and intense experience. To be moved, as well, by Richard's descent. We all tell the story together and it's a strong bonding experience, after all we're mostly family, friends and even lovers for that hour! Often people like to hug me afterwards. Hugs are great, by the way. I'm open to all the hugs!
First published on http://www.bristolshakespearefestival.org.uk/brite-theater-its-about-you/ 14th of June 2016
Having a show on the road (and not travelling with it) is like having a friend interrailing. You’re so happy to see the pictures and hear about the friends they're making yet can't help feeling you should be on that journey too. People think the difficult part about directing is opening night, the moment you declare 'this is out of my hands now' - it isn't. It’s knowing that your show is out there while you create the next thing. And the next. You started interrailing with one friend but let them go on while you stayed in a different town with someone else. Then met up briefly to catch up before your paths parted again, started a new journey somewhere else again. There's a little part of you that feels like you're cheating on your show each time you take on something else, knowing it’s still out there, meeting audiences.
Richard III (a one-woman show) has been on the road for over a year now; it’s journey starting with development at Tjarnarbio Theatre, Reykjavík in November 2014 before opening at Prague Fringe May 2015. Emily Carding has performed it over 60 times in four countries. That's one hell of a journey and it's not over yet! I’ve been present for a lot of them, but nowhere near all of them. I get show reports and pictures and I send out press releases and tweet etc. It's still our baby. It is always on my mind. It’s still on the road as both our careers take shape. It’s become the piece both of us are known for. So the urge to keep a firm eye on it is high. That is until you realise it was never in my hands to begin with. It’s only partly in Emily’s hands. It is always in the audience's.
That is not to say it varies wildly in terms of the script but it varies wildly in terms of the performance because we set out to explore the relationship Richard has with them. If Lady Anne is easily charmed it's a different show to one when Lady Anne actually spits at Richard. If Buckingham is chummy with Richard we feel his death more. Whether or not we like the audience members who’ve been assigned the roles of the Princes may determine how sorry we feel for Richard when they start to haunt him. It is this, the fact that it is truly audience specific, that makes it hard not to want to see each and every performance of the show.
It is also this that makes it such a mammoth task for Emily, and why, I guess, she’s not getting sick of the role a year on. She is the casting director each night, the one who needs to respond in character to each little thing the audience brings. She has to adapt to each new space, each new ‘actor’ in the other roles. It will never be the same show twice. This liveness is what I love about the show but also what I love about theatre in general.
As the world harks on about Shakespeare's 400th I can't help but think it's not the poetry that keeps us coming to see his plays. It's the fact that we are directly involved. We can't wait to see what you bring to it.
--- Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir, artistic director of Brite Theater and director of Richard III (a one-woman show)
Shortly after Prague Emily hit the road alone to perform at the newly found and totally brilliant Plymouth Fringe Festival at the lovely Theatre Royal Plymouth. I was gutted to miss it but luckily she took her camera with her. Not that it helped with the whole being stranded roadside. But it makes for amusing footage.
She also did two performances at the Exmouth Festival at the Blackmore Theatre, where all the staff treated her really kindly. This was all caught on camera too. So I can pretend I was there. Kind of. And so can you.
I must say as a director it is SUPER weird knowing your show is going on somewhere and you can't see it, you haven't seen the space and you can't see the people behind the scrillion emails each festival is bound to exchange with its participants. Good thing Emily's so darn good, there's no need to worry, but it still feels quite strange. Is this what it's like to send your kids to school? You know they'll do great but you just wish you could be there to see it.
Still can't believe we won those awards at Prague Fringe. Eeeek! And congratulations to those shortlisted for the Plymouth Toast of the Festival awards!
We are back from Prague and still we cannot quite believe our success there. Just today I stumbled upon a review from FringeReview that qualifies the show as 'Outstanding' - its highest rating! It's still not sinking in.
We were so nervous on the first night. Having done a quick run through in the space (our tech rehearsal, but seeing as there is no tech, we just used it as rehearsal, which was handy) we knew that the material was all there, we could do it on this tiny tiny stage, a chair had magically shown up (Giles found one) and it was all looking good. Oh and the gun?
But how it would go with an audience was still to be seen. Would anyone come? We had a little chat with John (Who Waits at the Top of the Stairs) and Dennis (Who Made Me?) who were about to embark on their techs, respectively. We gathered that it was a nice festival but were no closer to knowing what audience numbers to expect. There was no choice but to go sight seeing.
We stumbled upon the John Lennon Wall and the stairs, taking us over the Charles bridge. The city was buzzing, we were getting attention for our paper crowns (worn to keep them from being bent), there were buskers everywhere and gasped with joy when seeing the beauty of the city.
When the time came to perform one would have thought Emily Carding had done it a million times before. Though only half full she managed to deliver all the details of the story smooth as anything and entice people to perform and go on this journey with her. It was one smiley audience that left and one relieved theatre company. No f%$k ups, no major triumphs, just glad to be here and share our work.
The next day Emily woke me with the news. We had received the perfect review. We danced all over our apartment in Prague 9, not knowing what to do with ourselves but laugh. Our Buckingham from the night previous had absolutely loved it, our fears of it not making sense or the audience not responding to it like we wanted them to had been for nothing. After a full day of sight seeing we went back to the venue. Oh my god, there were so many people there! A full house! And all of them expecting 'a masterpiece' - the pressure was on! But lo and behold, the show had gone swimmingly and the audience demanded an encore! Wow! Was this really happening? What a lovely audience! What a great city! Be sure, some celebratory drinks (and a bit of the time warp) were had after seeing Dennis´ play - a lovely piece of storytelling, honest, funny, thought provoking. The journey home was interesting, but we made it eventually!
On the Sunday it was time for the Fringe Sunday showcase, which meant that we went down to Besida after Frunch (Fringe Lunch, the best thing in the world) to see all the companies perform 1 minute of their shows. One minute is tricky but quite fun and you could easily gage what your cup of tea was going to be. It was lovely to get to see a glimpse of Metamorphosis by our new friends in Alliance for New Music-Theater - gutted to miss it (and of course so many other shows, what a lovely line-up)! The evening show was packed, this time with a very eager audience who was more than willing to kill princes and give Richard scorn. Thrilled we ran to see Boris and Sergey's Vaudevillian Adventure by Flabbergast Theatre and absolutely rolled with laughter. What a brilliant show! If you manage to catch it, please do!
On our last day we had an outing at Vysehrad cemetary which was lovely and peaceful. Then we hopped trams across town to trek up to the Palace, which was gorgeous, even as it chucked it down with a shower. Our last meal was an italian chicken vs pizza. We found that people had to be turned away at our last performance it was so packed and that some people in the audience were there for a second time! A lovely evening, we celebrated the end of our stay with our American friends before taking the scenic route to catch the very last metro of the day. Totally in awe of our experience in Prague, of the festival, the city and the lovely people we met. Hope to come back soon!
It's three days 'til the premiere and I'm getting packed. Not that I'm leaving tomorrow, no, I leave in three days. I just like to know that I have enough chic clothes to last me when I still have time to do something about it if the answer is no.
Time. Whenever we have rehearsals I always wish we had more of it. Each day reveals another layer to this text, one could sink one's teeth into it endlessly and it would still be juicy. But one cannot rehearse endlessly, and with this play there's nothing left to do but to try it with an audience again, see if the edits and alterations we have done since our residency at Tjarnarbio Theatre in Reykjavik are working. It's exciting. It's nerve wrecking.
A lot of last minute pressing of the press to cover the event is happening. Emily is making props. We are both tweeting like crazy. I made this website today. But like a packed suitcase I still don't know how the journey will go.
We still don't have a gun or an office chair in Prague. Those won't fit in the suitcase or be allowed through security. But we have mean name tags. That'll do for now.