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The Hypocrite writer Richard Bean backs new scratch night from Middle Child and Silent Uproar

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Photo by Sarah Beth.

Richard Bean, the Hull writer behind hit plays The Hypocrite and One Man, Two Guvnors, is supporting two Hull theatre companies to develop new writing in the city by funding a new performance night.

Out Loud will showcase the work of local playwrights, performed by professional actors in front of a friendly audience at Middle Child’s rehearsal space, Darley’s, in partnership with Silent Uproar.

Also known as “scratch” performances, these rough and ready sharings of scenes from early drafts help writers to see how their scripts work in front of an audience. 

Middle Child and Silent Uproar are working together to select writers, pair them with actors and directors and offer feedback and guidance, supported by financial help from Richard Bean. 

Richard said: “I am excited to support Middle Child and Silent Uproar in running scratch nights for new writers. 

“New Writing, not Shakespeare, is the lifeblood of our theatre, and it is so important for first time writers to understand how their words are said on stage in front of an audience and not read by their mates in their bedrooms.”

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “New writing is at the heart of our work and giving writers opportunities to see their scripts performed is an important step in honing their craft. 

“We can’t thank Richard enough for supporting those people who are working hard to create new stories here in Hull and we’re excited to see what people have to share.”

Silent Uproar artistic director, Alex Mitchell, said: “We believe at Silent Uproar that being able to test out new ideas in front of a live audience is paramount when you are developing a script. 

“We only need to look at a play such as Fleabag, which was born out of the Drywrite Scratch Nights, to see how helpful they can be to interrogate a new idea.

“These nights will offer artists opportunities to take risks and push themselves in a safe and supportive environment. We are thrilled to be launching this project with Middle Child and we couldn’t think of a better company we would want to do it with.”

The first Out Loud night, featuring the work of four writers, will take place on Friday 24th January. Applications are now open.

Middle Child’s Paul Smith added: “Anything goes in terms of style and subject matter, but we are particularly interested in seeing more stories about Hull and the north.”

Playwrights aged 18 and above, who are living in Hull and the surrounding area, can apply by sending in a 10 page sample of their script before Monday 25th November.

For more details on how to apply and what the scratch night offers writers, see the Out Loud page on our website.

Our Theatre Library is going on tour around Hull Libraries this autumn

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We’re teaming up with Hull Libraries to bring a pop-up version of our Theatre Library to residents across Hull this autumn, called Plays Aloud.

Our Theatre Library, based at our rehearsal space on the Thornton Estate, stocks over 1,000 plays by contemporary and classic writers, in association with publishers Oberon Books.

We are now working with Hull Libraries to tour a collection of modern plays around Hull in a specially designed flight case, bringing them closer to theatre fans in the city.

The Plays Aloud project will also promote Hull Libraries’s extensive collection of playscripts at the same time and is funded by the James Reckitt Library Trust.

The project also includes a pay what you can workshop that will bring scripts from both collections to life with a DJ and performers at Hull Central Library on Thursday 17 October.

The interactive workshop is open to the public and will take place from 7-9pm, followed by an after hours social in the library.

The pop-up collection will be available at Hull Central Library from 14-26 October, before setting off on a seven week tour of the city’s branch libraries, where people will be able to borrow plays to enjoy at home.

Middle Child artistic associate, Matthew Butchers, said: “Middle Child are so excited to be teaming up with Hull Libraries to share our mutual love of plays with all of Hull.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing some Middle Child vibes to written words and we hope that as much of the city as possible will get the chance to explore our travelling library.”

“We would also like to thank our publishers, Oberon Books, for being such fantastic supporters of our library here in Hull and making our pop-up collection possible.”

Hull Libraries’ Ellen Bianchini said: “Hull Libraries has a fantastic collection of classic and contemporary plays, and many play sets that users can borrow for group readings.

“The Plays Aloud initiative is a fantastic opportunity to showcase both the classic and modern collections available to everyone in the city who loves theatre.

“We hope it will inspire a new generation of play-readers to get stuck into some great works.”

Our Theatre Library launched in 2018 with the support of Oberon Books to make contemporary playwriting, including big hits from London’s West End and elsewhere, available to people in Hull who might not be able to see shows outside the city.

It can be accessed Monday to Friday at our creative hub in the former Darley’s pub, on Porter Street on the Thornton Estate.

Plays in the collection that will tour Hull Libraries include big hits such as The Believers Are But Brothers by Javaad Alipoor, Dance Nation by Clare Barron, Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellams, Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and The Lovely Bones by Bryony Lavery.

The pop-up library also includes scripts by Hull writers including Maureen Lennon, Tom Wells, Ellen Brammar and Richard Bean.

Hull Libraries’ plays collection can be accessed via the online catalogue on Hull Libraries website.

More details about the pop-up library tour can be found in the Hull Libraries ‘What’s On’ brochure for October-December. 

To book pay what you can tickets for the interactive workshop and after hours social, visit hulllibraries.eventbrite.co.uk

Dates

Mon 14 Oct-Sat 2 Nov – Central

(Inc. Thu 17 Oct – Interactive Workshop 7pm)

Mon 4-Sat 9 Nov – Greenwood

Mon 11-Sat 16 Nov – Ings

Mon 18-Sat 23 Nov – Bransholme

Mon 25-Sat 30 Nov – Fred Moore

Mon 2 Nov-Sat 7 Dec – East Park

Mon 9-Sat 14 Dec – Avenues

Mon 16-Sat 21 Dec – Western

Silent Uproar become our first company-in-residence

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Middle Child are pleased to announce fellow Hull theatre company, Silent Uproar, as our first ever company-in-residence. 

The company behind the award-winning A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) will work from Middle Child’s home, Darley’s, on Porter Street. 

Darley’s, a former pub on the Thornton Estate, is now a creative hub for theatre makers in Hull, as well as the home of Middle Child.

The building features rehearsal and meeting rooms, hot desking facilities and a free theatre library, open to all residents of Hull, that also doubles up as a small performance space. 

Silent Uproar took up residence earlier in the summer and have already begun using Darley’s to develop a new musical about climate change, coming in 2020.

They create ”theatre for geeks”, making working inspired by cinema, comics and pop-culture that playfully discusses big ideas to broker vital conversations.

Silent Uproar artistic director, Alex Mitchell, said: “We are thrilled to become Middle Child’s resident company. 

“The Middle Child team have always given Silent Uproar so much support over the years and we have always looked up to them like a big sister or brother. 

“We are really chuffed about getting to work in the same building as a company that is both inspiring and kind in equal measures.

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “We’re delighted to have Silent Uproar join us at Darley’s and to be able to provide them with a space to continue making excellent theatre.

Artist development is a huge part of our work and want this building to be a space that nurtures theatre makers in the city, with more and more writers, directors and performers using the facilities all the time.”

Paul Smith added: “None of this would be possible without the support of Goodwin Development Trust, who invited us into Darley’s eight years ago and continue to let us make the most of this fantastic building for artists in Hull.”

How the First Show Fund supported Just Club Theatre

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Photo by EHD Photography

Applications are now open for our 2019 First Show Fund, designed to support a Hull-based company or individual to create their first piece of work in the city. Just Club Theatre’s Jamie Nowell writes below how the 2018 fund supported them in the making of Standing Too Close On Our Own in the Dark.

When the three of us graduated from Hull University in 2018, we had aspirations of starting a theatre company, and a play to begin working on. We started to chat with various artists and theatre-makers in Hull and we quickly found the open arms of Middle Child, a company whose work we’d always admired and enjoyed.

Naturally, when they advertised the First Show Fund, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to get the show off the ground. What none of us had ever thought possible, however, were the benefits and opportunities that followed on from the reception of the award.

Initially, we used the fund to cover the cost of the venue hire for the first performance of the show; the company’s launch night in January at The New Adelphi Club. The event showcased the work of other artists from and outside of Hull, then finished with the show. 150 people attended, including artists and creatives from around the city who we hadn’t interacted with before. The fund gave us a platform to introduce ourselves and the work we create, and that performance has led to more success.

We applied for the National Student Drama Festival, and our selector came to the performance in January and that led to us being accepted. It also demonstrated our dedication and determination to make work to representatives of both Hull Truck Theatre and Absolutely Cultured, which helped us with the opportunity to take the show to Edinburgh as part of Hull Takeover, along with other companies, including Middle Child themselves.

For NSDF, we had two performances of the show in Leicester. We then managed to get a four-night run at Sheffield’s Local Theatre in June. Following this, we’ve had an Edinburgh preview in Hull Truck Theatre, as part of the Hull Takeover, in July before taking the show to The Roundabout at Summerhall for a special feature performance on  Monday 19th August.

The First Show Fund has helped us buy some much needed technical equipment for the show, which we’ve used in all these productions. Not only that, but the mentorship offered by artistic director, Paul Smith, and audience development manager, Jamie Potter, has meant that each time we’ve developed the show we’re working to the highest standard we can. This has been invaluable in our journey to becoming a professional theatre company.

We couldn’t have done any of this without the opportunity to book our launch night in January; the opportunities we’ve been given have sprung up from this. Furthermore, the artistic and marketing support has helped us to keep making work to a high standard. We cannot thank Middle Child enough for their valued support throughout our career so far.

You can see Standing Too Close On Our Own in the Dark at the Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall for one night only during the Edinburgh Fringe, on Monday 19th August.
Applications for this year’s First Show Fund close on Monday 9 September.
Photo by Holly Robinson

An introduction to directing, with Fiona Hope

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Fiona Hope took part in our RTYDS Introduction to Directing programme earlier this year and recently joined our board. Over the past few weeks she has also sat in on rehearsals for our new production, The Canary and the Crow. Here’s what she learned from those experiences. 

The Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme (RTYDS) is a programme that creates opportunities for people to learn new skills and gain real life experience to aid their journey in becoming a theatre director. I recently took part in the Introduction to Directing Course with Paul Smith, the artistic director of Middle Child. 

During the course, Paul shared with us his processes when directing a show, right from the moment the script is received. We discussed the importance of researching the themes of the play and getting to know the script inside out. We were also given tools and exercises that can be used in the rehearsal room and given the opportunity to try them out with professional actors. At the end of the process each person on the course had the experience of directing a 15 minute scene that was performed by professional actors in a public showing. 

An insight to the academic and practical side of directing was most definitely an experience I will value and use in the future, but the most important lesson from the week came after the discussion about ‘what makes a great director’ I was the youngest person in the room and before RTYDS I found it difficult to voice my opinions, particularly to groups of people older than me. I used to think authority and assertiveness were the key qualities to a director, neither of which I possess, but Paul proved to me that preparation, a clear vision and kindness are what make a great director.

Other words that the professional actor working in the room with us chose to describe a director included; approachable, honest, calm, supportive, adaptive and passionate. Paul didn’t tell us how to be a good director but he showed us how he does it and his rehearsal rooms are so lovely. 

I have also been lucky enough to be able to sit in the rehearsals of The Canary and the Crow and gain first hand experience of how a rehearsal room is run. This was my first time being in a professional rehearsal room from the start of the process and I began learning so much from day one. It was clear to me that wellbeing and communication is important to the company as well as creating an incredible piece of theatre. 

On the first day it was discussed what we were trying to achieve by creating this show, which is something I have never previously considered. I used to think we make theatre because it’s fun, but what is theatre without an audience? Why do they need to see it? And why do we need to make it? Once this is established, everyone in the room has the same goal, which allows for easy collaboration and creation. 

It has been incredible to watch how an artistic director, a musical director and a movement director all work together to contribute to the same end goal and the techniques the use to get the best out of the performers. Right from the start I noticed techniques that I learnt on RTYDS being implemented in a ‘real life’ setting and all the cogs started to fall into place for me about how a director brings a project together. 

The four week long rehearsal process has now come to an end, with the show about to go into tech before it previews at Hull Truck Theatre and Latitude Festival this week, and I was learning new techniques and skills right to the last day. It always seems difficult to understand anything until you’re thrown into that setting and I am unbelievably thankful for the lessons Middle Child have taught me.

Rozzy, Danielle and Matt

The Middle Child team has expanded

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Rozzy, Danielle and Matt

Rozzy Knox, Danielle Harris and Matthew May. Not pictured: Clare Storton. 

The Middle Child team has expanded and also appointed two maternity cover positions.
Rozzy Knox has started as maternity cover for executive director, Lindsey Alvis. 
Rozzy joins Middle Child after spending the last two years with the London Theatre Company, firstly as a production assistant then assistant producer. She was part of the inaugural team founding the Bridge Theatre led by Nick Starr and Nicholas Hytner; working on productions such as Alan Bennett’s Allelujah! and immersive re-imaginings of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Previously, Rozzy worked for the finance teams for Sonia Friedman Productions and the Ambassador Theatre Group. She’s a proud alumni of Birkbeck’s Business School and the University of Warwick. When not working, you’ll find Rozzy listening to a lot of pop music, and as many food-related podcasts as she can find.
Danielle Harris has started as production manager and co-ordinator (maternity cover) for general and production manager, Emily Anderton. 
Danielle studied a BA (Hons) in Drama and Theatre Practice at the University of Hull, graduating in 2017 with the highest first class qualification of her year. While at University, Danielle volunteered as an Assistant Facilitator for Hull Truck Theatre and was a Venue Stage Manager for various theatre festivals, including Assemble Fest and the National Student Drama Festival, where she received an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Technical Team (2016).
Matthew May has joined as artistic associate, working in the rehearsal room with artistic director Paul Smith and on engagement and outreach projects with young people in Hull. 
Matthew is a founding member of Middle Child and has performed in Ten Storey Love Song, Modern Life Is Rubbish and Saturday Night & Sunday Morning. He has also performed in Silent Uproar’s Pig. Most recently he was the assistant director and dramaturg on Us Against Whatever.
Clare Storton has also joined as a part-time finance assistant, working with Middle Child for one day a week. Clare has worked in the finance sector for 15 years and has worked with Hull Truck Theatre for five years in the finance team, where she now manages all payroll and HR areas.

Find your voice as a critic

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Do you like to think critically about theatre and wider performance and start a conversation about what you’ve seen and experienced? Then our New Critics Programme, back for 2019, could be for you.

The programme features free half-day workshops with three of the UK’s most widely-read critics, plus funding to see and review work in Hull and the wider region, sharing criticism on the Hot Potato website.

Workshops run from Monday 15 July to Wednesday 17 July with Lyn Gardner, theatre writer for The Stage and reviewer for Stagedoor UK, Natasha Tripney, reviews editor at The Stage, and Alice Saville, reviewer for Time Out and editor of Exeunt Magazine.

We are especially interested in new forms of criticism and would love to see applications from people who use video and podcasting, as well as the written word.

How to apply

To apply simply send a review of something, anything, either published or unpublished, alongside a little detail about yourself and why you’d like to participate to reverb@middlechildtheatre.co.uk.

Any of this can be in the form of video or audio, as well as text. You can also arrange to come and speak with us face-to-face, if this is easier for you, although we would still like to see an example of your criticism.

Applications close at 10am on Monday 1 July.

Two new faces join the Middle Child board

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Middle Child this week welcomes two new members to our board.

Fiona Hope is a first year undergraduate student at the University of Hull, studying Drama and Theatre Practice. She also completed a Performing Arts diploma and performed in an Edinburgh Fringe Festival Show before starting at the University last September.

Brought up in Beverley, Fiona has been involved in local theatre from a young age, working closely with a few local companies, including Middle Child and She Productions. She recently participated in the RTYDS Introduction to Directing course with Middle Child and has hopes to start up her own theatre company in Hull, in the future.

John R. Wilkinson is the tenth recipient of the Genesis Future Directors Award at the Young Vic.  He is a text-based director living between York and Leeds, currently Artistic Associate at York Theatre Royal.  His credits include: Talking Heads (Leeds Playhouse, co-directed with James Brining and Amy Leach), Winter (Young Vic) and Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (York Theatre Royal).

He was on the Steering Group for IETM Hull 2019 and is currently undertaking research into new work and touring companies as part of Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creative Practice.

They join current board members Martin Green CBE, Sharon Darley, Jane Fallowfield, Meg Miszczuk, Aysha Powell and David Watson.

Middle Child supporting #HullTakeover companies to head to Edinburgh Fringe

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The Hull Takeover companies. Photo by Thomas Arran.

This summer, Hull is heading back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as Absolutely Cultured’s Hull Independent Producer Initiative, in partnership with Middle Child, supported by Hull Truck Theatre and Back to Ours, support shows by five, highly acclaimed and exciting theatre companies from Hull.

The Hull Independent Producers Initiative supports and develops Hull’s performing arts sector through training and mentoring, along with championing emerging theatre companies living and working in the city.

Taking place from 2 to 26 August, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will once again see a Hull Takeover as Hull-based theatre companies The Herd, Middle Child, The Roaring Girls, Just Club and international acrobats Casus Circus, commissioned by Back to Ours take to the stage to show the world what Hull is made of.

Support at the Fringe

Three of the visiting companies – The Herd, Just Club and The Roaring Girls – will receive financial support from Absolutely Cultured.

In addition all companies will benefit from in-kind support including PR and marketing from Absolutely Cultured as well as wellbeing support from Middle Child.

Middle Child artistic director Paul Smith, said: “The Fringe has played a huge role in raising the profile of Middle Child by putting a company from Hull in front of audiences, critics and producers from further afield, no more so than in 2017, when we enjoyed huge success with All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, as part of the first Hull Takeover.

“To be able to help a new wave of Hull-based companies in 2019 to follow suit, with particular support for wellbeing and mental health at the Fringe, really excites us.”

The Herd, Middle Child, Roaring Girls, and Just Club will also be supported by Hull Truck Theatre to preview their shows as part of their ‘Grow’ season and will benefit from the peer support they can provide each other.

Both Middle Child and Casus will be able to offer the benefit of their previous successful experiences at Edinburgh fringe to the other companies in the Takeover programme.

This will be the second Hull Takeover at the Edinburgh Fringe following the success in 2017, where the Hull-based companies scooped accolades and received praise across the national media.

It was here that Hull theatre company Silent Uproar performed their show A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), which has gone on to receive rave reviews everywhere it has performed on its current tour, and Middle Child sold out the Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall with the multi-award winning All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, which later transferred to the Bush Theatre in London.

Five unmissable shows

The Canary and the Crow

The return of the Hull Takeover sees Hull’s award-winning theatre company Middle Child return to the Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall to present their new lyrical, semi-autobiographical piece, The Canary and the Crow.

Written and performed by Daniel Ward, with music by Prez 96 and James Frewer, this grime and hip-hop inspired gig theatre performance is about the journey of a working-class black kid who is accepted to a prestigious grammar school.

Original live music and theatre combine to tell a story of the struggle between a new environment that doesn’t accept you and an old one that has no opportunity.

31 July – 25 August, 7.50pm, Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall

Standing Too Close on Our Own in the Dark

Formed by University of Hull graduates, founding members and best mates, Jamie Nowell, Matthew Collins and Jake Marsden, Just Club is a new theatre company established in Hull in 2018.

The Hull Takeover will see the company take their first ever show, Standing Too Close on Our Own in the Dark, to the Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall for one night only.

Standing Too Close on Our Own in the Dark was supported by Middle Child’s First Show Fund.

7 August, 10.30pm, Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall

Slime

Perfectly pitched to engage the youngest of audiences, The Herd will perform Slime, the story of a slug, a caterpillar and the quest for a leaf.

This squishy, squelchy, hilarious play for two to five-year-olds is a unique, accessible theatrical experience with immersive and colourful play for the very young.

2-24 August, Edinburgh Central Library, 11.15am

Beach Body Ready

The Roaring Girls create work that is fierce, feminist and fun. They will take their radically and riotously joyful new show Beach Body Ready, to this year’s Fringe, defiantly championing body positivity and sticking two fingers up at how the media says you should look.

This is The Roaring Girls Fringe debut and Beach Body Ready is also supported by Pleasance Futures.

31 July – 26 August, 1.10pm, Pleasance Courtyard Above

The Herd and The Roaring Girls are Supported Companies at Hull Truck Theatre and The Herd are a Hull Libraries’ Associate Theatre Company.

DNA

Originating from Brisbane, Australia, Casus Circus will take its Back to Ours co-commissioned DNA to the festival.

Casus is recognised as a leader in contemporary circus on the international stage, and DNA is a show of physical theatre in which the acrobats explore, wrestle and nurture their real-life stories.

1-25 August, 3.15pm, Palais du Variete, George Square Gardens

The Edinburgh Fringe takes place from 2 August until 26 August 2019, but Hull audiences will have a chance to see previews of four of the shows (Slime, Beach Body Ready, Standing Too Close On Our Own In The Dark and The Canary and the Crow) at Hull Truck Theatre between 13-17 July as part of the theatre’s Grow Artist Development Season.

For further information about the takeover visit absolutelycultured.co.uk.      

The Canary and the Crow

The Canary and the Crow heads to Edinburgh Fringe

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The Canary and the Crow

Artwork by Chrome Waves

Middle Child will once again return to the Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall this summer with a new show for the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Canary and the Crow is grime and hip hop-inspired gig theatre about a working-class black kid who’s accepted to a prestigious grammar school.

Written by Daniel Ward with music by Prez 96 and James Frewer, this lyrical, semi-autobiographical show mixes original live music and theatre to to tell a story of the struggle between a new environment that doesn’t accept you and an old one that has no opportunity.

Middle Child performed at the Roundabout last year with One Life Stand and also returned for a second year with All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, after a sell out, award-winning run there in 2017.

The Canary and the Crow runs at the Roundabout from 31 July to 25 August, following previews at Hull Truck There from the 16-17 July and at Latitude Festival on the 19 July.

See our listing for more details on all of our performances of this new production and to book tickets.

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