UPDATE: There will be three further performances later in 2015 in Birmingham, Nottingham and Leicester - any ticket rewards will also be valid in these locations.
Free for All is a new verse play by me, Richard O'Brien, which Haunted House Theatre is taking to the Edinburgh Fringe. If you can't remember when you last saw a verse play, that's good. That's one of the reasons why we're doing this.
For the majority of the history of theatre, plays were written by poets. They didn't start from a realist desire to produce a faithful reproduction of the world - they worked poetically, running on language, creating magic and spectacle from the building blocks of words worked into a certain shape. But since Shakespeare's day, this form of theatre has been less and less frequently explored, and I want to challenge that status quo. I'm a PhD student, part of the Midlands3Cities consortium, researching this development in theatrical history at the University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute, and I set up Haunted House Theatre, with professional director Rebecca Martin from the Sydney Theatre Award-winning pantsguys, to revive a kind of theatre where the power of language can make anything happen. And for our first production, we need your help.
The Edinburgh Fringe is the world's largest arts festival, and we want to make a splash, getting people talking about our work and the unusual genre of theatre in which our play is operating. We're going to work with a largely professional cast, many of them drawn from the Birmingham School of Acting, offering opportunities for artists early in their careers to work with an award-winning poet and director in a form which will be new and exciting to them. And we don't think it's fair to ask these talented people to pay for their own travel and accommodation. We also want to make the show look as professional as possible, and we need money for classy, evocative costumes, props and set decoration, as well as the marketing materials which will allow our play to reach the largest possible audience.
Director Rebecca Martin and I are emerging artists, with a list of early professional accolades to our name but very limited financial resources. What that means in practice: you can trust us to deliver a quality show, but in terms of the highly competitive arts funding economy, we're still starving in our garrets. And have you seen the state of the garret rental market these days?
Edinburgh is the most prominent setting for a team like ours to break through, but it's also an extremely competitive environment, where every penny spent on publicity counts: but what counts more than any of that is a brilliant idea, and we think we have one. Now we want to give it the greatest possible chance of reaching new audiences, hungry for a different kind of theatre.
So what's it all about? Here's a quick synopsis.
"How far would you go to get the best for your children? When ageing activist Barry is persuaded to attend an open evening at a new free school, he discovers he's not the only parent making sacrifices.
But why is Martha's father so against her getting what she wants: a competitive skill-set and a life she can afford? The socialist ghost wreaking havoc on the interactive whiteboard might have something to do with it.
Choice, control and the death of the post-war utopia in this darkly comic verse-play from prize-winning poet Richard O'Brien, directed by Sydney Theatre Award-winner Rebecca Martin."
Interested? Then please help us to create some new, exciting and genuinely unique theatre. Donate generously!
Risks and challenges
Apart from the usual risks and challenges associated with Independent Theatre (ensuring funding, asking cast and creatives to give up their hard earned time to work on a cooperative basis, lack of time, lack of resources etc), there are several other risks we face.
Britain's only poisonous snake lives in Scotland, the Viperus Berus.
It legit floods a bunch there, and Bec is not a great swimmer.
The general critical reception of verse drama has not been great in recent years (which is why Richard's so worked up about it).
And there's Nessie, and she is cranky that time of year.
But we can't live our lives in fear of snakes or floods or the state of modern verse plays or the Loch Ness Monster. We just have to keep our heads held high and make some kick ass new theatre.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)