New Model Theatre’s Tom Nicholas fills us in on the latest news from Outpost 2016, a three week pop up theatre season at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard
Much has changed since the very first Outpost season in 2014. Where once there was very little theatre being made in Plymouth, there is now a thriving community of writers, directors, designers, actors and performers and a plethora of opportunities for each of these to put their finely-tuned skills to good use in enthralling, amusing and challenging audiences.
In 2016, then, we were keen to make Outpost something truly special, to be able to bring together the best of these artists to create three brand new productions in, by and for the city of Plymouth.
Two months ago, we put an audition notice up inviting actors with a meaningful link to the city, and to Devon, to get in touch. The response blew us away. 244 actors applied to be part of the Outpost 2016 Rep Company from which myself and producer Zoe had the tough job of picking just four.
Tessa Mason, Ben Kernow, Lisa Wordsworth and Connor Reed were the team that made it through and who are now working alongside myself and designer Nina Raines to bring to life three contrasting yet equally exciting productions; Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House, a revival of Mark Ravenhill’s darkly comic Product, in which a film producer pitches a screenplay about a business woman who falls in love with a terrorist, and a new play written by myself, Foundations which focuses on the recent Junior Doctors contract dispute.
We’re just about to begin our fourth week of rehearsals in what has been a very intense yet rewarding process. In the time that many companies would have to rehearse just one play, we’ve got to realise three.
But if something’s not a challenge it isn’t worth doing, right?
Outpost 2016 Rep Company in rehearsals
Beyond Face, Don’t BAME It On Us (credit: Gemma Ward)
Open Attic Company, Much Ado About Puffin
Last week we were lucky enough to head down to Ocean Studios at Royal William Yard whose gorgeous Project Space we will once again be turning in to a temporary theatre venue for the duration of Outpost. Whilst there (and to the initial bemusement, and then delight, of those visiting for the Plymouth Art Weekender) we continued our interrogation of A Doll’s House’s script before running through the production in the space itself.
Product and Foundations are a slightly different challenge, both striking a balance between laughter and thought-provocation in their own way. But the performances from all four actors in each of these productions are looking very special already even with the challenge of memorising two plays-worth of lines each!
As always, alongside these homegrown productions, we’re bringing some hit shows from some of the UK’s most exciting theatre artists to Plymouth as part of Outpost 2016. This includes Bertrand Lesca & Nasi Voutsas’ critically-acclaimed Eurohouse which takes a sideways look at the demise of the EU and joins us directly from the Edinburgh Fringe, Dawn State’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, Plymouth company Beyond Face’s double bill evening Don’t BAME It On Us which explores identity in 2016 and two magical family shows Much Ado About Puffin and The Ugly Duckling & Other Tales during October Half Term.
As I hope you can see, we’ve really got something for everyone at Outpost 2016 and, whether its our groundbreaking new productions made here in Plymouth or some of the exciting work which joins us as part of national tours, we’re really looking forward to sharing this incredible season of work with you.
Outpost 2016 takes place at Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard from Tuesday 11 – Sunday 30 October 2016. Tickets can be purchased through the Barbican Theatre Box Office on 01752 267131 or online at barbicantheatre.co.uk/outpost
Outpost is produced by New Model Theatre, made possible through partnerships with Urban Splash and Barbican Theatre and supported by Plymouth Culture and Arts Council England.