Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Serena's Big Ozzie Thank You

It's raining. That is the reason Jethro has managed to get me sat down, in side and writing this blog. So far the weather in Adelaide has been somewhere in the region of paradisal; the sort of weather that fools a Londoner into believing that you can't possibly be allowed to stay here for more than a brief daydream, into believing that the residents of Adelaide must be victim to some horrid forfeit that befalls them in repentance for living in this balmy Elysium. Our host, the irrepressibly enchanting Joanne Hartstone, assures me that no such forfeit exists to her knowledge. I see. She must not be allowed to tell.

Yes Australia is the place where this Londoner has to keep reminding herself why she has subjected herself to living in The Big Smoke. Why is that again? Okay I'm going to stop shitting on London because its wonderful, of course, but it really is spectacular here. There is green and warmth and wildlife and there is A LOT to be said for Australian hospitality. I think that's what I would like to make the subject of this blog; the astounding and unflinching kindness of everyone at the Central for International Theatre.

C.I.T, as they are generally referred to, are our hosts at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Their Artisitc Director, Guy Masterson saw The Boy James in Edniburgh, 2011 and purely on his belief in the wonderful performances of that production (thank you Jethro Compton, Lucy Farrett and Dan Wood) Belt Up arrived in Adelaide, Australia last Monday. Our first day here we were met at the airport by the aforementioned Joanne Hartstone, producer of C.I.T and all-round Wonderwoman. Joanne and her father Jonathan, Front of House Manager for C.I.T, then got us all settled in what will be our homes for the next month; Jethro and I are very happily ensconced at Joanne's and Dom at her brother Micheal's. In case you haven't already figured, this company is very much a family affair and in all the best possible ways. You see, for those of the company who are not directly related to Joanne, us for example, we are still all treated as part of the family. And what a wonderful family it is.

C.I.T is hosting eleven shows at The Adelaide Fringe Festival and on our first evening we all congregated at Joanne's house for introductions. It reminded me of my grandparents' Christmas parties where the extended family all pile in on Boxing Day and reacquaint themselves with one other. Despite being the newbies (or nubiles as one David Calvitto like to call us) we settled in almost instantly thanks to everyone being just so nice. I must also mention the very warm welcome extended to us by the C.I.T team who look after us and tend to all our precious artists' worries; to the lovely Chelsea, the remarkable Amy and her multi-talents, to the one-man-delight that is Glen, the very special ball of sunshine that is Annie and to the effervescent angel, Brodie. Also to Penny, Sammy and everyone at Higher Ground. And to A.C. Arts, especially our secret tech angel, Warren. There is also another very special group of people at C.I.T; the hosts. These are the very kind people who put a roof over all us visiting artistes heads and offer huge support to all the shows. Thank you to Thirza and Piers for my vegetarian sushi.

And thank you to Guy. As well as having enough faith in the company to fly us thousands of miles, he is an absolute gem. An old-school gent with a big heart. My apologies for being a horrid soppy git but I secretly want him to be my mentor, to teach me the tricks and to heed warnings of the trade. To wear hats and drinks cocktails at Sardi's. I realise its not that secret if you put it on the internet but I trust you all to help me play it cool.

Last but in no way least, please raise your glasses to Miss Joanne Hartstone. How she manages to be a first class producer alongside being a first class actress is both highly impressive and slightly baffling. She is a force to be reckoned with. Note, she is also a strong mentor contender.

Anyway, thats enough for now. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone here. It helps in this job if you can surround yourself with professionals of such a calibre as these fine ladies and gents at C.I.T. I makes you feel counted, it makes it all worth it. So cheers.


Serena is performing as The Girl in The Boy James and as Muriel/Sylvie in Outland which are both running at the Adelaide Fringe Festival until 18th March 2012. More details at www.citadelaide.com

Australia: the reviews so far


'This piece is a great example of how theatre should be; interesting, informative, entertaining but, most of all, captivating and totally absorbing.'

GLAM ADELAIDE Full review here

'Allen plays the Lewis/professor character with a physical vitality and staccato rhythm that never loses focus.' ****1/2


'Certainly a must-see Fringe show for its delicate complexity, or if nothing else, its affability.'

AUSTRALIAN STAGE Full review here

'It was beautifully, joyfully, lovingly done.'

ADELAIDE ART BEAT Full review here

'This is an absolutely magical experience that is equal parts funny, thrilling and touching – and a must-see for fans of clever, imaginative theatre.' ****1/2


Number 9 on FRINGE REVIEW'S TOP 30


'disarming, charming and well performed' ****


'This beautiful, but sometimes brutal play, with its amazingly informed and powerful performances from these three magical actors, has the ability, even if only briefly, to awaken your inner child and give you back your childhood.'

GLAM ADELAIDE Full review here

'This production is highly recommended – an intriguing Fringe experience that you are unlikely to find anywhere else – but it will leave you wondering long after you have left the theatre.'

THE BAREFOOT REVIEW Full review here

'An unsettling, thought-provoking and imaginative work from a theatre company to keep an eye on; here’s hoping they’ll make the Adelaide Fringe a regular destination.' ****


'Jethro Compton is mesmerising in an emotional and compelling performance in which there are no holds barred as he shows you his despair and loss. This is a powerful and affecting show, the themes and feeling of which draw you in and pierce your core.' ****1/2

KRYSTOFF Full review here

Number 3 on FRINGE REVIEW'S TOP 30

Relocation Down Under

For the last few years we've been using the same materials and furniture to create our unique set and aesthetic. We sourced most of this in 2010 and have become very familiar with all of it (too familiar...).

When we started making plans for Australia, we realised that transporting the entire set across would take too long; from the end of the Boy James in London we'd have needed a month to get it shipped. So the wonderful people at the Centre for International Theatre (C.I.T.) sourced it all for us. And they have done an amazing job. Everything we had in the UK is no replicated as if in some alternate reality here in OZ.

And he's your first glance of what we've created.

and after:
The Boy James and Outland run at the Adelaide Fringe Festival with The Centre for International Theatre (C.I.T.) until 18th March 2012. Tickets and more details at http://www.citadelaide.com/

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Belt Up Theatre Down Under: Our first images

Serena wandering by the river next to the house we're staying in.

The three of us out for an afternoon stroll.

Our first sighting of a koala bear in the wild

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Macbeth returns to the House of Detention, London






One of the greatest stories ever told and a terrifying new vision...A haunting experience from the inimitable Belt Up Theatre, whose work has taken the UK by storm and has been hailed as a company ‘changing the future of British theatre’ (The Observer) and as ‘Fringe Royalty’ (Time Out London).

Allow the strangers your hand and follow as they lead you far below the streets of London into the tunnels, vaults and cells of Middlesex Prison. There begin your passage; a nightmarish journey into the mind of one of literature’s greatest serial killers.

Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy is mounted by a cast of four that breathe life into the Scottish King and the three weird sisters who guide him on his path to self-destruction.

Locked away from daylight within a reputedly haunted labyrinth you will join Macbeth as he struggles through delusions and paranoia in this relic of Victorian punishment, bricks built one upon the other with a single purpose, preventing the demons inside from being unleashed.

A prison, a workhouse, a system of cells; this is the House of Detention, Clerkenwell.

‘Brilliant’ Stephen Fry

‘Arresting’ The Observer

‘Inspired’ The Guardian

For full details visit www.macbethlondon.com

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Final Images from 'The Boy James' in London

'The Boy James' has closed in London. It will next be playing at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia from 25th Feb - 18th March. Full details here.