Back in December 2016, during our run of Dick Whittington at Fruit, we collected money on the door for two Hull charities doing important work in the city: The Warren Young People’s Project and Hull Help for Refugees.
It was the first time we’d run a fundraising campaign during our alternative pantomime and we were thrilled to see our wonderful audience raise £1,757.58, to be shared between the two organisations.
Encouraged by your generosity we did the same again during Cinderella last month and are pleased to say you absolutely smashed the previous year’s total, this time raising a fantastic £3,140.39!
That money will be shared between Hull Homeless Community Project and Hull Red, a charity that organises social events for adults with learning disabilities.
Thank you so to much to everybody who came to see Cinderella and also helped to support these two charities, your kindness is hugely appreciated!
By Mungo Beaumont, producer
Oh yes, it is! Oh no, it’s not! OK, promise, the worst of the panto jokes are behind me…
I love this time of year. Pigs in blankets beckon, Christmas jumpers are finally acceptable to wear and pantomime rehearsals have begun. Now we know we’re on our way.
It’s our sixth annual, affordable pantomime at Fruit, and writer Tom Wells has dished out another delight with Cinderella. What’s more, the show will mark our final contribution to Hull UK City of Culture 2017. It has all gone by in a whirlwind, hasn’t it?
With so many different types of cultural offerings throughout the year it’s nice to finish on something that feels so familiar - and important. Pantomime is often a person’s first introduction to theatre, so we take it incredibly seriously, underneath all the custard pies.
For the past three years we’ve tried our best to spread the Christmas cheer by giving away free tickets to local community groups in Hull. In 2016, groups from The Warren, Hull Help for Refugees, Hull Homeless and the Butterfly Memory Support group all came along and we’re hoping to do the same this year via our annual crowd funder. If you feel like you have a few pennies to share, please do back our campaign - we’ll love you forever.
Whilst it’s important to remember that Hull will continue to be the City of Culture until 2020 and a city of culture for evermore, it’ll be nice to get to Christmas and look back on what has so far been an incredible journey, for all of us. But then, if you REALLY want to see an incredible journey, you should probably be checking out our attempts to turn a pumpkin into a carriage!
See you at the ball.
Alice Beaumont as Holly and Bryony Davies as Leah in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. Photo by Wullie Marr.
We are delighted to have scooped our second successive Broadway Baby Bobby Award for All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, following Ten Storey Love Song's success in 2016.
Broadway Baby's Editor, Bennett Bonci surprised the company after the show on Friday 25th August to present the trophy. Afterwards he said :
"It’s weird to be so excited about a show that preaches so adamantly against the concept of aspiration. But All We Ever Wanted Was Everything has what Italia Conti’s production of The Laramie Project, which won this year’s first Bobby, has: momentum. In this case, that refers to the feeling that the beginning of the show inevitably leads to its end, with every step along the way a pit stop necessary to reaching our final destination.
In AWEWWE (a useful abbreviation for a verbose title), the momentum starts with the near constant presence of music. Utilised correctly, music can create the emotion to accompany storytelling, and here it is used perfectly. AWEWWE starts with music, provided by the onstage band. As the lead singer/MC starts to spin his tale, the band seamlessly transforms into the acting troupe. Generically, the songs change as the story progresses from 1987 to 2017, but are connected by its root in British music and its rebellious attitude.
Beneath the chords is a story of parallel lives, missed opportunities and dissatisfaction. Two children are born on the same day in Hull. One is rich, one is poor, both will endure hardship, and neither is aware of the asteroid hurtling towards earth. They dream big, but when unable to realise those dreams, their personal relationships and self-esteem suffer. They remain obsessed with the future, unaware that there won’t be one, as the asteroid draws closer.
At the end, the music finally stops. All that’s left is the words of the MC, whose cool and collected demeanor is now replaced with an impassioned rage. “Live your life!” he exclaims. AWEWWE is idealistic; it’s just a different type of idealism. And those ideas are presented through a show that blurs the line between theatre and musical theatre in a way that is entirely its own. The innovation and flawless execution are more than just effective; this show is exciting in its affirmation of the endless possibilities of Fringe theatre. And so I am ecstatic to announce that All We Ever Wanted Was Everything is the winner of a 2017 Bobby Award."
ALICE BEAUMONT, who plays the Asteroid and Holly in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, reflects on her Edinburgh Fringe so far.
We’ve been here three weeks. I love Edinburgh but being a part of the Fringe means being caught up in a very strange world. It’s easy to let the whole experience drag you along in its massive current. I regularly feel complex combinations of wonder and heartbreak, irritation and delight. And always, always an unrelenting self-analysis, both personal and professional.
The ‘success’ of a show (in terms of ticket sales) relies fairly heavily on reviews and word of mouth. If you're lucky it is possible to measure your own show's success on your own terms - not critics', but it is hard to do sometimes. It’s a month of subjective judgement, tweets, stars and recommendations. Sifting through the publicised opinions of others can be tricky, but there's no greater feeling when you realise you believe in the work you're making regardless of anyone else. That’s the dream.
I have found, with so much assessment in the air, the need to look internally and assess myself is palpable. But the less said about that the better; feelings are gross. Instead, here are some things I've experienced whilst being here.
One of those melted clocks from a Salvador Dali painting
Seriously, what is going on? Days are blurring together – right now I’m not too sure whether it’s Sunday or Monday. Or Thursday. I feel like we’ve been here for all of time and simultaneously no time at all. The start of the festival felt like yesterday but in reality we only have a week left. I've stopped trying to figure out what the date is.
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything goes up at 8:45pm so technically we have full days ahead of us before performing but they slip by with bewildering speed. I swear I’m having a morning cup of tea and a minute later I’m doing the pre-show warm up.
I'm sorry to mention the weather (Dullsville!) but it plays a very prominent part in daily life here because of its maddening behaviour. It is, in politest terms, erratic. Blasts of sunshine that make you regret choosing black jeans that morning and threaten to scorch any uncovered skin in a matter of minutes, accompanied by the clearest of skies. Then, moments later icy downpours erupt out of nowhere and last for an hour. Then the sun bounces out again like nothing even happened.
I've stopped trusting the morning brilliance and don't go anywhere without my crap umbrella, which I promised myself I'd upgrade when I got here but as yet have not. The wind is a joke and the evenings feel like November. Despite all that, I rather like its unpredictability, it is in keeping with the other-worldliness of the festival. We've so far, miraculously, avoided a wet Get In. We prepare for our show outside our venue and, fingers crossed, it’s Scottish law that every day from 8:15-8:45pm is a rain break.
Fringe feels kind this year. It’s got heart. People who are here for the Fringe seem so happy to be here and the locals are so welcoming, which is impressive since thousands of us have infiltrated their city. I met an Edinburgh local in a café who was proud of herself for not ‘flipping out’ at a group of actors who were taking up the entire pavement. She said to me that it was wonderful to have so many artists here.
People have been so full of gratitude when we see their show and supportive and kind when they see ours. I marvel at people’s boundless energy whilst flyering. I try to imitate this; I’m not great, but I’m getting better. Most have so much to say about their show and you can see their passion for it right there in the street.
As ever, there’s a ridiculously vast array of plays/musicals/art/cabaret/comedy/poetry. Some brilliant, some not so. This year I’ve been desperate to see complex female characters on stage and I’ve definitely been fortunate enough to witness some. Every time someone mentions an amazing show they’ve seen, I’ve felt the thrill of potentially missing something that might be unmissable. And then I get to see for myself if the hype is true. It’s weird being in a position of being judged as a performer and simultaneously doing the judging as an audience member.
Most of the time I feel a real sense of camaraderie. It’s pretty cool to be here with so many companies all doing the job we love. In darker moments, like after the show late at night climbing the terrifying stairs to our flat I can’t help but think of all the hundreds of people who have spent so much time, money and effort on shows where dwindling audience members are apathetic at best and critics don’t blink an eye at slating them.
It can be a bit brutal here, which reflects the industry in general of course. We've been extremely lucky and I can't really express the gratitude I feel at being here with a show that I love performing in and that people seem to love watching.
The Fringe has been a giant amalgamation of stuff. It’s been a hefty whirlwind and everything is in extremes: too emotional, too big, too fun, too tiring, too strange, too overwhelming, too cathartic, too time-bending, too loud, too quiet, too lonely, too busy, too much. I can’t believe this is our job. And I can’t believe we get to experience all this. For me, being a part All We Ever Wanted Was Everything in Edinburgh has been nothing short of awesome*.
*‘Awesome’ is not the best word here. The thing I’m trying to express is more like a sound, but I’m writing this on a computer and you’re reading… this so a word will have to do.
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything runs every night at the Paines Plough Roundabout until 27 August, 8.45pm.
Marc Graham wins The Stage's Edinburgh Award for his performance in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Middle Child are immensely proud to announce that company member Marc Graham has become the first winner of The Stage Edinburgh Awards 2017 for his performance in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.
The play, a gig theatre epic written by Luke Barnes with original live music by James Frewer, is running at the Roundabout in Summerhall until 27 August 2017.
It is the first prize to be given out in The Stage’s awards at the Fringe, which are chosen by the publication's team of Edinburgh critics and announced every Monday throughout the festival.
The Stage critic Fergus Morgan described Graham as “a mercurial MC who finds humour, hope, tragedy and truth in Luke Barnes' poetic, political story”.
“His is a frenzied, fearless, unconventional performance, as thrilling for its ballsy spontaneity as it is for its obvious integrity. His stunning, galvanising closing speech will stay with me for a long time.”
Alongside the MC narrator role Marc also plays the unambitious Tom and eight year old Colin, as well as singing and playing acoustic and electric guitars throughout the show.
Marc said he was “well and truly honoured and shocked” to receive the award, and thanked Middle Child artistic director Paul Smith, saying: “Without the freedom he's given me to experiment, to play, the encouragement to push to be bold, his blind trust, for almost 10 years now, this role would not have been possible.”
Paul Smith said: “[Marc is] totally dedicated to pushing boundaries and works so hard. This recognition is also a testament to the fact that it’s possible to have success as an actor outside London. Everyone at Middle Child is proud to call Marc one of our own.”
The show continues at the Roundabout every evening (except Tuesdays) at 8.45pm.
We asked company members and the All We Ever Wanted Was Everything team for some words of advice on how to survive a month-long slog at Fringe as a performer. Here’s what they had to say.
Be nice. Everyone is busting a gut to be up there, spending a load of cash they probably don’t have and doing all they can to get people along to their show. You may dislike a show but remind yourself that everyone at Fringe is doing their best to make art in really difficult conditions and everyone is at different stages of their career (everyone’s made a bad fringe show at some point!) Also, if you like a show - shout about it. Don’t try and play the game or be cool on stuff to sound superior. It’s good to enjoy things. Being a shit about it doesn’t achieve anything.
Paul Smith, artistic director
Keep it chill, make friends, have drinks, chat about shows, recommend stuff, take recommendations, notice if anyone is finding it tough and offer a chat. Make sure you and the group you're with are in tune with each other and everyone is okay!
Bryony Davies, performer
Reviews aren't everything
Remember, though they sometimes feel like it, reviews aren’t everything. If you get good ones, great. If you don’t, there’s still every chance that audiences will enjoy your show and you’ll make new relationships. Failing that, you learn from it and come back stronger. Just make sure you know exactly what you think of your show before you go. Write it down; the good bits and the bad bits, the bits you’re proud of and the bits you’re worried about. This may change over the course of the month but it’s important to be sure that’s how you really feel, not just how the bubble of the festival has made you feel.
Paul Smith, artistic director
Do non-theatre stuff
Theatre can be an all-encompassing career at the best of times and at the fringe it can become overwhelming. So whatever you do to get away from it all at home do during the fringe. Play sport, watch sport, go see a film, go for a walk, swim, just give your head a bit of non-theatre space.
Matthew May, company member
Don't worry about other shows...
It's really easy to start comparing yourself to other shows. Maybe they have similar themes or you know people in that company but make sure you don't spend your fringe worrying about if they are doing better than you, or get lazy because they are doing worse. Everyone's fringe is unique to them, comparisons are so much wasted energy. Just do what you do the best you can.
Matthew May, company member
...and love your show
This probably isn't helpful for people already at the Fringe but it is the most important thing. If you are a professional theatre maker don't rush a show to get it to Edinburgh, or take a show just for the sake of it being there. Even if you have a good fringe it is an emotionally stressful month and the one thing that gets you through it is loving the work you've made. It means you can keep smiling when people ignore your flyers; it means you don't mind going on stage smelling when your cast mate has used all the hot water; and it means those shows where you perform to seven people are just an excuse for you to go on stage and have fun.
Matthew May, company member
Sleep is your friend
Sleep when you can. Ed Fringe is super fun and super exhausting. Your body clock will likely get a bit messed up, what with seeing late shows and going for drinks, if that's your thing, so naps are your friend. Performing can really take it out of you so try not to burn the candle at both ends and make sure your body gets enough rest - otherwise watching shows, flyering and performing will become burdensome. Brief power naps are a must!
Alice Beaumont, cast member
Look after your voice
Doing a show every night after flyering all day, or even just being out and about and using our voices, they will get tired. On top of that, there will likely be light sessioning including, but not limited to, drinking, smoking and shouting. Be aware of overusing your voice and stay well hydrated. Drinking water is the best thing you can do for your vocal folds, but remember it takes 3-6 hours for it to reach them.
Joshua Meredith, cast member
Good food and booze and where to get it
Byrony Davies, performer
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything runs at Paines Plough’s Roundabout @ Summerhall every night at 8.45pm from 4-27 August (apart from Tuesdays).
#AllWeEverWanted is part of the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 takeover, alongside: A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) by Silent Uproar; Bare Skin on Briny Waters by Bellow Theatre; Sad Little Man by Pub Corner Poets; and Frogman by curious directive.
By Mungo Beaumont, Producer
The Humber Bridge is an important landmark for anyone who lives in Hull. Stretching out across the Humber, it looms over and beyond the motorway, serving as a welcome reminder that home is only a few short miles away. I’ll always remember arriving back at 5am after our first preview of Weekend Rockstars at Underbelly in 2015, the sun spectacularly rising over the water and its span, greeting our return.
That drive back from Edinburgh was a long one, and anyone who’s seen the Humber Bridge from the east will know that, in fact, any drive from Hull can take its time. Hull’s celebrated poet Philip Larkin described the city as being ‘the end of the line’, and both as a resident and theatre maker it can certainly feel that way; trying to get a reviewer or programmer to see your work when the last train leaves at 9pm is no mean feat!
In that respect, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival offers a lifeline to companies such as Middle Child like nothing else can. Hull is our home – it is where we live our lives and make our work – but Edinburgh serves as our stage to the rest of the world.
This year will mark the company’s fifth year at the Fringe since 2011, and there is no denying that without that exposure we would not be where we are today. We’ve forged relationships with writers, resulting in several commissions; we have won a few awards, which is always nice to stick on a poster; we’ve been reviewed by The Guardian, and we were lucky enough to be asked to become an Associate Company of Paines Plough. None of these things would have happened were it not for the Fringe. Fact.
2017 is a special year. Not just for us but the whole city, and all the theatre companies working within it. Hull UK City of Culture 2017 are supporting a number of us taking work up to Edinburgh: Silent Uproar with A Super Happy Story; Bellow with Bare Skin on Briny Waters; Pub Corner Poets with Sad Little Man; and a new commission by curious directive, who will premiere Frogman. Plus, keep an eye out for our wonderful Hull 2017 volunteers on the 7th August, who will be taking over the Royal Mile in Edinburgh!
We can’t wait to demonstrate the breadth and quality of work that is being made in Hull, at the biggest arts festival in the world.
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything runs at the Paines Plough Roundabout @ Summerhall from 4-27 August 2017. Tickets on sale now.
Everyone at Middle Child is absolutely buzzing to be part of the Arts Council's National Portfolio. This decision allows us to be bolder and more ambitious than ever before as we continue to build on a brilliant year for Hull.
We are now able to put into action our long term strategy of setting fire to expectations of what a night at the theatre can be. We will make the most of the confidence shown in us by the Arts Council and will become a stronger, more diverse company who are truly integrated into our local community.
Thank you to all of the friends, supporters and audiences who have been a part of the Middle Child story until now. We can't wait to begin the next chapter of the gig theatre movement.
We'd also like to congratulate Hull Truck Theatre, Artlink, Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Hull Museums and J-Night for retaining their National Portfolio Organisation status, which taken together is a testament to the city’s success.