Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine resulting in her being described as the world's first computer programmer.
Ada Lovelace's visionary insight was that numbers could represent other entities than just quantities and proposed that computing macgines would one day be used to create music or images, a century before this became a reality.
These achievements should have ensured household name status along with other luminaries of the age such as Michael Faraday and Charles Dickens however Ada Lovelace's contributions have been obscured with her viewed as a minor figure, if mentioned at all, in the history of computing.
With the Ada project Poetical Machines aim to correct this injustice by telling a story involving one of the most fascinating, brilliant and visionary figures at the dawn of the digital culture that pervades every aspect of our modern society.
It seems clear that a large part of the reason Ada and her contribution has been neglected is her gender so it was important that the project had a strong representation of female artists in its creation. The script is being written by Emily Holyoake with the score composed by instrumental trio Haiku Salut and lighting by Stephanie Marie Bartle. Kate Chapman is the Workshop Director with Hannah Stone as assistant producer and programmer and graphic design by Gemma Leggett .The creative team at present is completed by Giles Croft as dramaturg and workshop facilitator, Gareth Morgan as dramaturg and Poetical Machines' Adam McCready as sound designer. Designers of the visual elements of the piece will be added to the project for the production phase.
A unique element of the #ADAplay is incorporating performance techniques and technologies from electronic music performance and adapting them for use in theatrical performance. This will focus on blurring the distinction between the operators of the technical elements of production and the performers including developing stage or scenic elements that form interfaces with the musical or visual playback technology.
We aim to create a piece of work that can be performed in almost any public space and doesn't rely on the machinery of a traditional theatre. In this way we can perform in schools, libraries, galleries as well as rural touring venues in addition to the traditional theatres and arts centres.
Ada Lovelace was an accomplished musician and we argue the starting point for the continuum of ground-breaking female electronic musicians such as Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, Kate Bush, Bjork, Imogen Heap, Laurie Anderson, FKA Twigs, St Vincent, Haiku Salut and many others. These artists all bring a heightened theatricality to rock music performance and we will explore to what extent that process can be mirrored in theatrical productions.
While Haiku Salut work with Adam McCready on the music, audio and technology aspects of the project Emily Holyoake will develop with Giles Croft a script exploring Ada's life and legacy.
This show will be accompanied by workshops where we demonstrate how the technologies we use in the show can be made, coded and imaginatively adapted by almost anyone.
The hope is that we can inspire young people, girls especially, to embrace STEAM projects as the exciting future for technology and creative expression.
The STEAM movement is taking Science Technology and Maths subjects (STEM) and adding Art & Design, recognising that these are all part of the human creative urge and experience and not mutually exclusive realms. Ada Lovelace understood that and predicted a future where computers would create music and art and not be simple counting machines.
Humankind needs future Ada Lovelaces to survive and flourish and we want to inspire them now with the Ada project.
The #ADAplay team are currently:
Emily Holyoake - Writer
Emily Holyoake is a playwright, screenwriter, and actor from Derby. After graduating with an MA Theatre Practice: Playwriting and Dramaturgy from the University of Exeter in 2013, Emily collaborated with companies across the UK, including New Model Theatre, The Pensive Federation, New Perspectives Theatre Company, Act 2, and In Good Company.
Emily recently completed a UK tour in the Stan’s Café production, Made Up. In 2015 she wrote a female-led science-fiction play, STASIS, which was produced at the White Bear Theatre by Encompass Productions to critical acclaim and fantastic audience responses.
Most recently she has been commissioned by BAFTA-winning director Peter Nicholson (DARTMOOR KILLING, 2015) to write an upcoming feature film.
Emily is passionate about staging stories which examine our relationships with technology and believes these kinds of stories not only pose interesting theatrical challenges and imaginative storylines, but are vital to understanding how we navigate contemporary society.
Haiku Salut - Composers
Haiku Salut are an instrumental dream-pop-post-folk-neo-everything trio from the Derbyshire Dales. The group consists of multi-instrumentalists Gemma Barkerwood, Sophie Barkerwood, and Louise Croft. Between them, Haiku Salut play accordion, piano, glockenspiel, trumpet, guitar, ukulele, drums, and melodica. Their music also features electronic elements, which they refer to as “loopery and laptopery”.
They have recently toured Japan and completed the recording of their forthcoming third album.
Their music has been licensed for TV and film use but this will be their first foray into working in theatre and the demands of creating a soundtrack to support an existing narrative text. Haiku Salut will be composing music for the project and also experimenting with Adam McCready to explore new ways of incorporating techniques and technologies from electronic music performance into theatre performances.
Giles Croft - Dramaturg & Workshop Facilitator
Giles became Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse in 1999. His most recent productions include: Sleuth; Any Means Necessary; The Glass menagerie; Tony’s Last Tape; Arcadia; The Second Minute; The Kite Runner.Giles is also a playwright and his work has been produced widely in the UK and Europe. In 1985, Giles was appointed as Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre, London. In 1989, Giles joined the National Theatre as Literary Manager before becoming Artistic Director of the Palace Theatre, Watford, in May 1995.
Kate Chapman-Workshop Director
Kate Chapman has worked as a dramaturg and director supporting playwrights and theatre makers in the development of new work since 2002. She was artistic director of Theatre Writing Partnership developing new work for theatre in the East Midlands and supporting artists from 2009 - 2012. In this period she oversaw the Momentum Festival for young writers as well as other new work development programmes which sought to extend the reach of the organisation from the support of individual writers to other theatre-making processes. As a freelance dramaturg she has worked for Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, New Perspectives, Kali Theatre Company and Fifth Word Theatre Company. She was development producer in radio drama at BBC Birmingham from 2004 to 2008 bringing theatre artists and new writers to BBC Radio 4 including Amanda Whittington, Nick Walker, Naylah Ahmed, Jake Oldershaw, Craig Stephens and Kaite O'Reilly In 2012 she launched Making Tracks, an artist development project which allowed artists to develop new ideas independently of the demands of commissioners by documenting a journey as a starting point for a new performance piece. The Making Tracks artists were all from the East Midlands and were at different career stages. They included Jane Upton, Mufaro Makubika, The Gramophones, Michael Pinchbeck, Andy Barrett, Amanda Whittington and Esther Richardson. As a director Kate has worked on drama for BBC Radio 4, on touring productions for Eastern Angles, The Spark Arts and Fifth Word Theatre Companies and on community projects and plays in development. Most recently, she directed "The Thrill of Love" by Amanda Whittington starring Maxine Peake, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2016.
Adam McCready - Sound Designer
Adam McCready has been a composer and sound designer in theatre for fifteen years. Prior to that he was a sound operator for large scale musical theatre and before that a sound engineer working with rock bands and a bass player in bands.
Recent work include Sweeney Todd (Derby Theatre and Mercury Theatre); Getting Better Slowly (Adam Pownall UK Tour) The Princess & the Frog; Aladdin; The Glass Menagerie; Any Means Necessary; The Hare and the Tortoise; A Skull in Connemara; Arcadia; How to Breathe (Nottingham Playhouse); What the Butler Saw; A Streetcar Named Desire; Shiv, Butterfly Lion, Dolly (Curve, Leicester); Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to thee; Playland; PlacePrints; Watching the Living (New Perspectives); The Snow Queen (Little Pixie Productions); Private Lives; Noises Off; Educating Rita; (Mercury Theatre, Colchester).
Stephanie Bartle - Lighting Designer
Stephanie graduated from the University of Derby in 2010 with a BA(Hons) in Theatre Arts. Stephanie is currently Deputy Head of lighting, sound and video at Nottingham Playhouse and also works independently as a lighting designer. Design credits include: Alice in Wonderland (Uncontained Arts national tour), The Tempest (Derby University Productions), The Crossing (Tangle Theatre company), Whose shoes?, Jack, Rapunzel (Roundabout Theatre in Education – Nottingham Playhouse), Woyzeck, Enron, Clockwork Orange, Equus, Frankenstein, Dracula (Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre), The Second Minute (Nottingham Playhouse), Once in a Blue Moon (Wriggle Dance Theatre), Three Keepers (WinterWalker), Hare and Tortoise, Princess and the Frog (Nottingham Playhouse Studio).
Hannah Stone-Assistant Producer/Programmer
Hannah Stone has been producing work for The Gramophones Theatre Company for six years. She has produced several national tours to many theatres including Hull Truck, MAC, Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Guildhall, Hall for Cornwall, Camden Peoples Theatre etc. She has also produced tours on many rural touring schemes including Live and Local, Arts Alive, Arts Out West, Borders Touring, Villages in Action, The Touring Network, Night out Wales etc. She also secured several commissions for the company including one to create Wanderlust, a show based on stories collected in rural areas. ★★★★ 1/2 “A heart warming, quirky production that is truly refreshing” (Public Reviews) She has a strong interest in producing theatre with complex believable female characters and has several exciting projects in the pipeline.
Sarah Lewis - Set & Costume Designer
Sarah graduated from Nottingham Trent in 2010 with a First Class (hons) in Theatre Design.
She is an inventive and passionate designer and has worked across the Arts in many guises, creating designs for performance, events, immersive environments and film. She is also a prop and puppet maker (and runs a sideline business, Sarah Makes Puppets). She enjoys delivering creative workshops in these various areas.
Sarah has designed for theatres and companies including Nottingham Playhouse (including over 20 Participation Projects), Theatre Clwyd, The Bare Project, Duck Egg Theatre, The Birmingham School of Acting and Theatre Delicatessen.
Gemma Leggett - Graphic Design
Gemma is an enthusiastic and creative graphic designer with over eight years experience in the industry. She is passionate about design and is currently employed by Nottingham Playhouse, a highly creative environment that allows her to be innovative in her approach to work. She has worked with a broad range of small and large clients across different sectors, including retail, high street fashion, FMCG’s, travel, magazine publishing and of course theatre.
Originally from York, she came to study BA Fashion Marketing and Communication at Nottingham Trent University and being drawn to the creative modules of the course, decided to study Graphic Design at MA level at Leeds University. After stints living and working in West Yorkshire and Leeds Gemma returned to Nottingham in 2012.
Gareth is a dramaturg and theatre-maker based in Nottingham, where he is Literary Associate Artist at Nottingham Playhouse. Other regional theatres and companies he has worked with include Bristol Old Vic, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Manchester Royal Exchange, Derby Theatre, Excavate, Zest Theatre, New Perspectives Theatre Company, Theatre Writing Partnership - where he was Literary Assistant for two years - and Cast in Doncaster – where he was Literary Associate. He was a finalist in the Dramaturgs’ Network 2016 Kenneth Tynan Award for his support of and work with writers across the East Midlands.
As a playwright, his work has been performed at The Bike Shed in Exeter and the SEAS and NEAT international theatre festivals. He also runs Act 2: a new writing company and development platform for playwrights in the East Midlands. He was co-producer of Nottingham's fringe theatre festival, FONT Fest, for two years and works with the College Street Centre in Nottingham on arts, literacy and education projects in Nottingham primary schools, specifically Opportunity Notts. He is also a 2017 Nottingham Roosevelt Scholar.
Gareth read Drama at the University of Bristol, graduating with first class honours, and trained further with master's degree in Theatre Practice: Playwriting and Dramaturgy at the University of Exeter.
As a writer and performer, credits include: Births, Deaths and Marriages (NEAT11 with HATCH and Nottingham Forest FC), Nottingham by the Sea: The Last Resort (SEAS International Festival) as yet, Untitled (Bike Shed Theatre) and Notes on Some Persons, Starting to Crack (Exeter Northcott), Thorney Beginnings… and Bolsover Bingo (Excavate/Creative People and Places).
Directing includes rehearsed readings of Nigel’s Adventure in Welfare Land, Preservation, Scraps and Zombie Apocalypse (Cast), Witkiewicz Now: Theatre of the Fantastic, Stasis, The Visit, Bad Blood, Stateless, Send Them Back and ‘Dis Functional Family (Act 2 – Nottingham Playhouse), Absence of Consequence, The Big Hat and Measuring Us (FONT Fest) and Story Scavengers (Derby Theatre). As Dramaturg/Associate: Dancehall, Kes (Cast), Forever Young (Nottingham Playhouse and touring), Families of Lockerbie, Woyzeck, Tony’s Last Tape, How To Breathe, Kings, Any Means Necessary, Darkness Darkness, Shebeen, Poet in da Corner, Ada (Nottingham Playhouse), Goldfish (New Perspectives), 27/Cat in Hell (LaPelle’s Factory), Thorney Beginnings… and Bolsover Bingo (Excavate/Right Up Our Street) and Thrive, First Person (Zest). As Assistant Director: Suspension (Bristol Old Vic).
Risks and challenges
The first and greatest risk is that the show cannot happen because we aren't able to raise sufficient funds to pay talented people for the enormous efforts and skills they bring that we require to create an inspiring production. As with all theatre productions there is a considerable financial outlay involved in bringing a piece of work to the public before any ticket sales begin to recoup some of that outlay.
Before the public can see the show the writers, composers, designers, directors and performers have to create and rehearse the work while builders and costume and prop makers construct the physical elements.
After that we have to get the show out into venues and marketed effectively so we spread our message and touch as many people as possible from as many backgrounds as possible. This requires the appointment of specialist officers.
So we can do all these things we need to raise funds and a successful crowdfunding campaign is an essential part of that process. If we can demonstrate that enough people believe in #ADAplay to back it themselves then other funding organisations such as the Arts Council or potential co-producing partners are more likely to share that enthusiasm and then come on board and join us. So please help us to reach our funding target so we can help inspire the computing geniuses of the future.
- (29 days)