Thursday, 17 November 2011

Buried Child

Walking in the studio to see a crop field and hearing the sounds of a soul/country song I was immediately reminded of the sublime set-up of Lieutenant of Inishmore.And what followed was a performance that added yet another high credit to director, Paul Kerryson’s, portfolio.Leicester’s Curve theatre is currently showing their latest production, Sam Shepards’ Buried Child, and this is one show not to be missed.

Vince and new girlfriend Shelley arrive at the remote farmhouse and walk straight into a terrifying night to remember. Why doesn’t anyone know who Vince is? A dark and sinister secret is set to be revealed.
The suspense builds in just one setting, with startling actions and surprising revelations. There’s certainly no place like home in this engrossing and disturbing thriller.

Former Stars in their Eyes presenter, Matthew Kelly, and Home and Away star Michael Beckley, who played McMurphy in Curve’s production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest earlier this season, brought the characters of Dodge (Kelly) and Bradley (Beckley) to life.

As the stars of the show, it was clear that their experience and talents out-shone the younger cast members of Catrin Stewart playing Shelley and Lloyd Thomas as Vince.Stewart and Thomas’ sometimes exaggerated expressions made the second half seem transparent but their performance improved in act three which saw the audience hanging on to every word to find out the buried family secret.

Jane Lowe portrayed wife Halie as a sinister character who was only interested in pretence and denial. Her awkward relationship with Father Dewis, played by Gary Lilburn, was uncomfortable to watch but yet it was hard to look away.The middle son of the family, Tilden, played by Matthew Rixon, had a hard task of being a man who had regressed to being almost childlike because of something traumatic from his past – but what that past experience was exactly was something the audience had to wait to find out.

His on-stage mannerisms were eerie and he moved with caution just like a timid child. The most shocking part of the show came at the end of act two with a disturbing scene between Bradley and Shelley. After the lights when down and came back up again for act three, the audience were thrown into bewilderment by how the characters were going to recover from what they had just witnessed.

To everyone’s surprise act three started as the show had begun, with the characters in a daze and in denial.A huge part of the show was the spectacular set design by Paul Wills and lighting by Rob Halliday.The crop field was used as the roof of the farmhouse by turning it at an angle and lifted into the fly tower.

Whilst Halliday used lighting to illustrate characters ‘upstairs’ in the house in act one and three.
You have until December 3 to see this show so make sure you book your tickets today!
Tickets and information: / 0116 242 3595

Photos by Johan Persson

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Curve theatre seeks child stars for musical Gypsy

Leicester’s prestigious Curve theatre is searching for 16 child stars for their spring 2012 musical - Gypsy.
The theatre, based in Rutland Street, announced their spring season programme last month and is excited to have won the rights to revive this classic which was last seen in the West End during the seventies.

Curve is looking for young people under the age of 16 who look between the age of 9 and 11 to come to auditions on November 17 at 6pm-8pm for girls and November 21 at 6pm-8pm for boys. The applicants must be no taller than 5ft, have a very strong singing voice and the ability to tap dance.

Paul Kerryson, Curve’s artistic director, said: “These are very important roles, Baby June in particular must be able to knock us out with her enthusiasm and volume, she must be able to do the splits and baton twirling would be an advantage!”

They will recruit two teams of eight parts (4 girls and 4 boys) who will rotate performances during the run from March 10 – April 15 2012. The roles available include:

• ‘Baby June’ to look between 9-11 years old, needs to have a loud singing voice, tap ability, and can do the splits
• ‘Baby Louise’ needs to look between 9-11 years old and have singing and tap ability
• Two other girls - to look between 9-11 years old, singing and tap ability
• 4 Newsboys or boy show dancers who look between 10-12 years old who need to be able to sing and dance, tap would be an advantage

Closing date for applications is at 12pm on Monday 14 November 2011.
Rehearsals for these parts will take place in the New Year so applicants need to be available from mid-January 2012 to the closing date of the show, 15 April 2012.

This jewel of American musical theatre is inspired by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee and charts the story of Mama Rose and her determination to live out her dreams of stardom through her two daughters, June and Louise. Curve’s revival of this classic musical fable will star Caroline O’Connor as Mama Rose. Caroline is a multi-award-winning actress who continues to grace the stages of Broadway, the West End, the Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House.

Gypsy was last in London’s West End in 1973. Securing the rights to produce the show is a coup and ticket sales demonstrate that this Curve production is already attracting musicals fans spanning the length and breadth of the country and even overseas from Ireland.

Young people interested in auditioning can register their interest by emailing

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Interview with Kate Cowan

Got an idea for a business but don’t know where to start? Spring to Action is not-for-profit organisation set-up to help support new and small businesses grow in the East Midlands.

Drinking tea and talking shop with co-owner Kate Cowan, read my interview below and find out the best tips for all your entrepreneurial desires.

Kate and business partner Kash Khunkhuna initially set-up the business to enable people from disadvantaged communities to develop enterprise skills to either start a business of their own or use it to gain employment.

The enterprise agency, based in Derby and Leicester, was set-up five years ago just after Kate joined Leicester’s LCB Depot as an Enterprise Support Manager.

Last month, Kate decided to leave the Depot to concentrate on Spring to Action. She said, “I was working on Spring about two days a week whilst at the Depot but as our client list grows I needed to dedicate more time to it.”

Now working full-time on Spring Kate says the timing is just perfect. “Businesses are losing the support of other free services such as Business Link which is now only going to offer an online service.”

She added, “The best part of my job is seeing people realise their dreams and supporting their families.

“My mum used to work for Citizen Advice Bureau so we always had discussions over the dinner table about debt management and so I’ve had an interest in businesses ever since.”

Kate’s proudest achievement with Spring to date is working with VoiceUK. Spring produced a three year business plan and VoiceUK subsequently won a contract with NHS and went from being a regional organisation to national.

In a bid to help young enterprise entrepreneurs, the 34-year-old became an investment panel member for the Bank of TMC.

The Bank of TMC is a programme launched by The Mighty Creatives to support enterprising, creative young people in Leicester Shire; working together to turn good ideas into living, breathing businesses that provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs, create employment for other young people and make a positive difference to our communities.

Davey Ivens, Bank of TMC manager, said, “Kate was able to offer clear advice for the young social entrepreneurs about their business planning and market research. She also helped the Bank remember that we’re working in a business environment and encourage the young entrepreneurs to behave in a business-like manner too.”

Kate, who grew up in Hertfordshire, studied performing arts and arts management at Leicester’s De Montfort University.

She has a passion for project management and said she loves everything “from the budgets to the planning and mapping.”

Kate’s tips for budding entrepreneurs
Think about the effects on your families finances and your relationships
You have to put a lot of effort into setting up and running your own business. Make sure you’ve got the full support of your family behind you.

What’s your survival income?
Work out what is the minimum you would need to earn to survive.

Is it financially viable?
Can you afford to invest time and money into and will it be worth the rewards?

Is there a gap in the market?
There’s no point duplicating a product or service which has been made a thousands times over. Make sure you’re product or service is offering the customer something different or new.

Are you going to enjoy doing the job?
You will be spending all your time and effort working on this so make sure your interest can withhold the length of hours you’ll be putting into it.

Research and don’t get fixated on one aspect be prepared to be flexible
Some ideas will need to be moulded to fit into the market place but if you get fixated on one idea or a particular way of delivering it then it won’t work.

For one-to-one advice or to find out more about Spring to Action visit or find Kate on Twitter @springuk

Thursday, 20 October 2011

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

Prime Minister backs somewhereto_

Prime Minister, David Cameron, hopes to inspire more businesses to open spaces for young people after unlocking No.10 for young people to free run, perform and practice boxing.
Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, somewhereto_ is a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love, within sport, culture and the arts.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, “somewhereto_ is a fantastic initiative to help young people to find the space they need to develop their passions. This is a great example of the Big Society – connecting the businesses that have space they can spare with people in their community who have a dream they can use it for.

“If Downing Street can open its doors to something as adventurous as free running I hope it will inspire other people to see what their building could be used for.”
The Mighty Creatives (TMC) is one of the organisations chosen to deliver somewhereto_ in the East Midlands.

The project is run by Livity, a youth engagement agency, in media partnership with Channel 4 Education and funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games across the UK.
TMC is the young people’s creative development agency for the East Midlands who use creativity to make positive change in the lives of young people and the communities.

Some of the spaces unlocked in the East Midlands so far include Pedestrian Arts Gallery in Leicester, Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and Quad in Derby. To see the some of the venues unlocked visit if you're looking for a different space then get in touch with your regional coordinator.

If you’re aged 16-25 and need a space to do the things you love, or are a space-holder who has access to or influence over how a space is used, get in touch.
To get involved, or to chat about the project, contact

For more information about The Mighty Creatives visit www.themightycreatives

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

"Don't be mad - come and see this play"

Michael Beckley playing Randle McMurphy. Photo by Pamela Raith

Interview with Michael Beckley and Thomas Renshaw

“Don’t be mad come and see this play.” Michael Beckley playing Randle McMurphy

Former Home and Away star, Michael Beckley and De Montfort University graduate, Tom Renshaw, spoke to freelance journalist, Jemma Crowston, about their upcoming roles in Curve’s new production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, which was later adapted for the 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Buffong, award winning film, stage and television director, will bring his explosive adaptation of this cult classic alive in Leicester next week.

Upon being sentenced to prison, Randle P. McMurphy hopes to avoid hard labour with a stint in a mental institution. However, his anti-authoritarian attitude and compassion for his fellow patients make him a prime target for the insanely fearsome Nurse Ratched, which leads to explosive results for everyone, including those caught in the cross-fire.

Beckley, who is most known for his role as Reece Sutherland in the Aussie soap – Home and Away, will play McMurphy for the first time whilst 25-year-old Renshaw will play The Chief for the second time.

The DMU theatre studies graduate first played The Chief as a student, he said, “The rehearsal process have been a lot more thorough and I’ve discovered a lot more about the chief.

“The Chief looks at the world in his own magic way. In the film he is a mute but in the play he acts as the narrator. McMurphy will eventually bring him out of his catatonic state.”

Beckley said that audience can expect more comedy than the novel and film. He said, “Of course there’s humour in a lunatic asylum. Our friends and families have their own little ticks and we do too. We use exaggerated versions of these to portray the characters mannerisms.”

He added, “The novel is so detailed and Buffong has had to cut it down but he doesn’t lose the story in any way. This is one of the best adaptations I have ever read. Each character goes through a journey and by the end of the play they have all transformed.”

The show, which will run for three weeks, uses a rake on set which acts as a sloped hill towards the audience. Beckley said, “The stage is designed to make the audience feel uncomfortable and to feel like they’re in an asylum.”

The pair will join 12 other cast members including Catherine Russell as Nurse Ratched.
Beckley said, “The relationship between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy is between equals. She likes order and calm and he’s all about freedom and freedom of spirit. The whole play will see this story unfold.

“People put on different masks whether it’s for work, when you’re with friends or in another scenario and these men don’t have masks but Nurse Ratched does. Some say that’s why Nurse Ratched is the maddest one in there and she’s running the joint.”

He added, “When all the cast met for the first read through we all just looked around at one another and thought Buffong has picked everyone perfectly for the roles. It went so smoothly and I’ve got a great feeling about this show.”

Renshaw, who grew up near Doncaster, said his favourite scene is the party scene because the cast get to be messy on stage.

Beckley said, “I know this isn’t the answer you’ll want but I love all the scenes. I do particular like the scene between McMurphy and The Chief in act two because it’s a beautiful moment. The rest of the play is full of good meaty stuff that actors love.”

Beckley and Renshaw both agreed that Buffong is a superb director to work for. Renshaw said, “He’s [Buffong] is an actors director. He lets us get on with whatever we want and whilst we’re rehearsing you’ll see him move around the room and make little suggestions by whispering to the cast and then we do the same scene again and it’s completely transformed and you think what did he say?

“I see him as an artist painting a picture. He sits back to look at the whole landscape and then tweaks it here and there.”

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an American play and so UK born Renshaw and Aussie Beckley both have to act using an accent.

“When I played Lenny in Mice and Men I had to put on a mid-west accent and I’ve worked on mainly American plays so I’ve got used to how to use more vocal chords,” said Renshaw.

Beckley said, “Aussies seem to be really good at putting on an American accent. I’m fascinated with phonetics so I’m really interested in sounds and how to make sounds in different parts of your mouth.”

On their first visit to Leicester’s Curve theatre, the cast were given a personal tour of the state-of-the-art space.

“Wow”, said Renshaw. “It’s just stupidly impressive”, said Beckley.

Beckley, who was working as a dresser in London before auditions, added, “England has a lot of old buildings so theatre can tend to be quite small and pokey but Curve was built with a modern sense in mind and there’s tons of space.”

Renshaw said, “I used to work at the Haymarket as a student and I remember how much it felt like a family because everyone was to friendly and personally and Curve have got that too. It’s great to see these kind of traditions carried on.”

The show will run from Friday, October 14 to Saturday, November 5. Tickets cost from £7.25 - £24.50

To book your tickets phone 0116 242 3595 or visit