Looking ahead

We have to admit we have been basking a bit lately ... enjoying the glow of pride that comes from feeling that our audiences have been enjoying and appreciating what we do.

We got stunning reaction to our performance of The Signalman in the beautiful setting of Bonchurch Old Church, as part of Ventnor Fringe in August.  By the way, to those people who couldn't get tickets, we WILL be doing it again very soon.  And we were bowled over by the response to a preview of our new play The Souvenir, performed as a rehearsed reading with live music, at Quay Arts in September.

But there's no time to dwell in the past. We are preparing for a first read through of A Kind of Christmas Carol - our spoof version of the Dickens classic, which will be staged at Quay Arts on December 7 and 8.  Will it be good enough to attract the performers we need? are there are any performers actually available during the busiest season of the year when just about everyone is involved in a pantomime?

Time will tell.

We are now also preparing a programme for next year at a time when there is increasing competition, not just from theatres and theatre companies, but also from big venues and attractions who understandably want to attract audiences all the year round.

We hope we are building a solid enough reputation that our work will always attract an audience, and so far so good.  But we don't want simply to follow the 'bums on seats' approach by staging populist entertainment that you can find everywhere. 

We want to be different, and looking ahead, we have no intention of changing.

But, for now at least, the basking is over ...

2017 - another vintage year

Our New Year resolution remains intact ... to bring you high quality, highly original productions by working with very talented people!

First up in 2017 will be our Spring  production of Anthony Minghella's first stage success, 'Whale Music'. It's an emotional rollercoaster ride, swooping through laughter and tears, day and night, peace and rage, all driven by one young woman's pregnancy.  It's an amazing play and we know you'll love it, but just to add to the experience, we have teamed up with video artist and musician Paul Windridge to incorporate original music and moving image.  So don't miss this one...

We are also working on three other projects - a radio play, written by a nine year old, that won first prize in a competition we organised with Vectis Radio; a new play based on a shipwreck off the Isle of Wight; and - for something completely different - our regular summer production at Shanklin Theatre, which this year will be a brilliant Ray Cooney farce.

There's more to come in the Autumn too, and our Charles Dickens Storyteller is already pretty much booked up for Christmas.

Yes, 2017 is shaping up to be a vintage year!


Whale Music ... exploring the depths

We're excited about our next production!

Not only are we performing the brilliant Anthony Minghella's first stage success, Whale Music, but we are doing it in the theatre named after him.  What's more, the play is set on the Isle of Wight and that's exactly where we are performing it!

As with all his work, we are discovering the many layers of Whale Music, which is performed by an all-female cast.  It is 'an acutely sensitive, moving portrayal of the lives of a group of women which reflects the attitudes and feelings of women today' and with every rehearsal, the cast has found more humour, more conflict, more depth of feeling.

The play was developed by Minghella in the 1970's and premiered in the 1980's, working closely with a group of women while he was at university in Hull, and though the play is obviously by and about women, it has messages for all of us.

Our aim is to do justice to this great play by going into those depths and bringing as much as we can to the surface.

And just to add to what should be an amazing experience for you, and for us, we have added our own layer ... bringing in images and music specially created for Whale Music by Island video artist, short film and music maker, Paul Windridge.

Join us at the Anthony Minghella Theatre at Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight at 7.30pm on February 24 and 25.  Tickets are a tenner, and you can  book them at www.quayarts.org


Return Trip

It's impossible to gauge how an audience will react, even when you are staging something vaguely familiar.

But our latest production, Coach Trip, is brand new, and features - among other things - live and recorded music of the 1940s, a Royal British Legion Standard Bearer, a cornet player, The Last Post, a man who never speaks, a 'coach' made up of white painted benches, and ... well, you get the idea!

So it's doubly rewarding to receive the enthusiastic feedback that has been pouring in since we performed this funny and poignant play at the Minghella Theatre at Quay Arts, here on the Isle of Wight.  Best of all, this story about a coach trip to the war graves appealed to people of all ages.

And that makes us even more excited to have the opportunity to perform it one more time, as a matinee on Remembrance Sunday, November 13, at the same venue, and linking in with a new art exhibition at Quay Arts called 'Impressions of War'.

If you missed Coach Trip first time round, don't miss the bus in November!


Timeless ...

We're excited about our new comedy, Coach Trip, which is being staged at Quay Arts, Isle of Wight, on September 22 and 23.

It's based on the simple idea of a party of older people travelling on a coach to France to visit war graves.

The first decision was whether to make this a serious drama.  The second was whether to set it in a certain period. We decided not to do either!

Coach Trip is timeless.  Its heroes are the so-called 'ordinary people' from any period of time - including the present - who face conflict with humour, whether in  battle or waiting for news at home; getting on with their lives;  refusing to feel sorry for themselves.  

So our play is a comedy - full of laughter and good humour. And as in most comedies, our audiences will need to suspend belief: we have cast members of all ages talking about their experiences in the war, or those of people they still mourn, and they couldn't possibly be that old, could they?!

The fact is that war affects just about everyone, of every age.

My own father died a long time ago, and yet I still remember him talking about his RAF service, and I will always carry that memory with me. We are bombarded with news about fighting, and images of bombing and refugees from conflict every day.

The point of Coach Trip is to emphasise that war is a memory for some, and a current event for others, so it affects us all, and to suggest that there always were, and always will be, shafts of sunlight breaking through the dark clouds ...  thanks largely to our continuing ability to laugh and smile and live our lives as best we can - despite everything.

We hope Coach Trip makes you laugh as much as it has made us laugh in rehearsals.

Please come and support us, in the knowledge that not only will you have a good night out, but you will also be raising funds for the Poppy Appeal.

We are presenting Coach Trip in support of the Royal British Legion.

You can book tickets here ... http://www.quayarts.org/event/coach-trip/



Hove, actually

That's one small step for most people, one giant leap for Origins!

We're pretty excited about making our debut at Brighton Fringe on May 7.  

Hove, actually. The lovely Purple Playhouse Theatre on Montefiore Road. It's the home of the Grace Eyre Foundation, a charity that provides amazing support for people with learning disabilities, so it's good to know that our performances of Wake are contributing to that work.

We're doing two performances (4pm and 6.30pm) on Saturdays May 7 and 14, and June 4. And we're also doing a 10 minute slot at Fringe City soon after 1pm on May 14.

It's all exciting stuff, and, of course, a giant leap for us, because we want this to be the springboard for us (or maybe a trampoline?) to realise our ambition of becoming a recognised touring company.

We're already arranging performances at other South Coast venues for 2017: which makes us think maybe a trampoline would be quite useful - one big enough to propel us cheaply and quickly across the Solent ...  

Anyway, wish us luck for Brighton Fringe.  We hope to meet you, and look forward to a great festival with many good things. (Oh. Excuse me a minute: I'm sure I saw a trampoline for sale on ebay ...)

Are you ready for our Student Radio Play Challenge?

We've teamed up with Vectis Radio to give Isle of Wight-based students an amazing opportunity: to write a 45 minute radio play and send it in by July 1st.

The winners will be produced and edited for broadcast on Vectis Radio later in the year, with our support and advice of course!

There are two categories - under 16, and 16-18.  Students can enter as individuals or as a team of up to six.  The really important thing is that the play must be an original story, and not an adaptation of a book or another play.

Get the full story here

And good luck!

On the radio

We never like being too comfortable, so we are in the middle of our latest challenge - to produce a radio play.

We have chosen 'The Telescope', which was performed to great reviews in our first appearance at Ventnor Fringe, and was also nominated for Best Play at a one act play festival in Swindon a couple of years ago.

It's an atmospheric, touching and thoughtful story about loss and the discovery of hope, set against the backdrop of grey sea and sky.

We're pleased to say that all the recording has been done now, and the play will be broadcast through an internet radio station - Vectis Radio, on the Isle of Wight.  We'll confirm all the details soon, so please stay in touch!

PS Don't miss us at Brighton Fringe! We are performing our highly acclaimed new play 'Wake' on Saturdays May 7 and 14, and June 4 - two performances each evening, at the lovely Purple Playhouse Theatre, in Hove, where all profits are ploughed back into the great work done for people with learning disabilities through the Grace Eyre Foundation.  So please, support us, and support a great cause, too.  Booking opens soon through the Brighton Fringe website!

Going to the next level

We are looking to raise £2,000 to help fund our first ever appearance at Brighton Fringe 2016, - the next step on our  journey to becoming a national theatre company, while holding true to our purpose ... presenting new work and giving opportunities to new people.  

We are excited to announce we will be performing 'Wake' twice a day over three Saturdays at the Purple Playhouse theatre in May and June.

It is our opportunity to show the world what we can do and hopefully make the friends and contacts we need to win new audiences for our work, stage our productions elsewhere, build a future for our theatre company, and give more people opportunities to shine.

We are excited by the opportunities that lie ahead, but we aware that developing and growing is an expensive process. Up to now, we have paid our own way - earning enough from ticket sales to meet the bills and build up a small balance in the bank.

This is our biggest and most exciting challenge, and - although we are of course investing our own money - we need and want support. So we would like to invite you to join us to help make this happen, and maybe even stay with us on our journey. 

To make this work, we need to work hard ... on raising our profile, marketing and promoting Wake at Brighton Fringe, travelling, rehearsing, printing - it's a long list.  Basically, we need your support to help towards our participation fees, venue hire, rehearsal space, travel to and from Brighton, publicity and printing. 

Please help. Any amount from £10 upwards will make a big difference. 

Click here to donate!     Thank you!

For the Origins cast and crew - ranging in age from school student upwards! - performing WAKE at Brighton Fringe is a rare opportunity to showcase the enormous ability of our ever-growing company. And your support is essential to our success.

Comedy is king!

We are ridiculously excited about our new venture, in association with the Bargeman's Rest in Newport on the Isle of Wight.

We are launching comedy play nights on the third Friday of each month, starting in January next year.  They will be amazing!

The idea is that groups of friends, or theatre groups, or individuals, or complete strangers - anyone, really - can get together to put on a 30 or 60 minute comedy play that will have our audience in stitches (no, it doesn't have to be about needlework ...).

The good news is that they can be rehearsed readings, so there are no lines to learn (unless you want to be a real smart alec ... by the way, who was alec and was he a snappy dresser?).

The reason for this over-enthusiastic post is that the deadline for entries is December 19, so not long to go.  All you need to do at this stage is send us a copy of what you want to do.  We'll work out a schedule from January to June based on those entries, and let you know when you're on. You just have to make it funny, turn up at the right time, and pay any performance licence fee that is due for your own play.

And if you're really lucky, you might step up and win a prize at our not to be missed prize giving night in July!

Got to be time for one of those smiley things, hasn't it?  :-)


2016 will be fun ...!

We are launching a new monthly comedy theatre night in 2016.

It's open to all theatre groups on the Isle of Wight and the emphasis is on fun and laughter. Plus, it's in a pub, so what else is there to say, really?

And just to sprinkle a bit of spice on top, we are making it a competition.  

So, groups can submit a script for a comedy play lasting no more than one hour that, if chosen, they can present as a (well) rehearsed reading!  There will be one a month for six months at The Bargeman's Rest in Newport (or more, if groups submit shorter plays that can make up a one hour programme), and then on the seventh month, there will be prizes!

Simple enough?

We think so, and we're delighted the great people who run The Bargeman's Rest are up for it, too.  We're working on a title for this, and so far, we rather like 'The Bargeman's Jest' ...

We'll be publishing some info about this on Friday October 16 over at www.facebook.com/originstheatre, and we'll print the detailed stuff a couple of weeks later.

Should be a laugh!

On the road again

It's ten times more stressful and nerve-wracking, but taking a show on the road is something we love to do!

Last night, we crossed the Solent to Southampton to play our part in a fantastic new festival, the HeArt of Heritage Urban Exhibition, which took over the magnificent St Denys Church, filling it inside and out with works of art, music, theatre, workshops ...

We staged Wake, and attracted a good sized audience for its first performance 'across the water'.

And it was challenging - theatre the way it should be, perhaps? We arrived about 45 minutes before curtain up; helped clear the stage and set it up; found that the main speaker didn't work  just as we were about to go on; and had to manage with stage lighting that left us in the gloom at times!  

And we all loved the experience. It was new and exciting to be there and to perform to a completely new audience, showcasing our work and exposing ourselves to new situations and opportunities ...

The audience feedback at the end was brilliant, and we were all buoyant on the return ferry trip!

So, Southampton, be warned - we'll be back! :-)

Moving on ...

It's around two months since the last blog update, and there's a good reason for that: we've been busy!

We staged the premiere of Wake to a full house as part of Ryde Arts Festival at the beginning of July, took it to Freshwater Memorial Hall for our first appearance there in a double bill with Oddbox Theatre, and will perform it again in the amazing venue that is Chale Church on August 8 (tomorrow, as I write this!).

Then we will be sailing the Solent (and looking back at the wake of the ship at some point, no doubt ...) to perform as part of a festival run by Southampton Chamber of Arts, on Tuesday night, September 15.

In the meantime, we launched our new Charles Dickens: Storyteller service with story sessions and walkabouts at a Victorian Weekend at Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and Mr Dickens has now been booked to appear on stage at Freshwater Memorial Hall on Saturday, September 5.

We are also working towards recording one of our earlier plays, The Telescope, for radio broadcast later this year.  This was first performed at the Ventnor Fringe three years ago, to great response, and was also performed at a one act play festival in Swindon where it was nominated for best play.

Speaking of Ventnor Fringe, we will be performing there next week: a sold out performance of My Boy.  This will be a very special night because we are staging it in the writers' hometown, and in their local pub too.  We believe this will be the last ever performance of this emotional play. But you never know, do you?! 

WAKE: one small word

WAKE - a short lived trail left by a vessel as it travels through water;  emerge from sleep;  a celebration of a life?

In our latest new play of the same name, we explore this little word and what it means for one person - Mel, a middle aged woman, an only child brought up by her religious father, now alone in the world, trying to find her way.

It's a story we hope will strike a chord with many, and we're delighted to be staging the premiere in a converted Wesleyan chapel - The Depozitory, in Ryde - once a place of worship, now artist studios and gallery space.  

The building has moved on, adapted; something we all have to do.

The things we believe in - yoga, money, kindness, religion, career - help us through the day. But what happens when the doubts creep in? Where do we turn?

Mel is about to find out, with a little help from her friends ...!

We hope you enjoy this one hour production, which should make you laugh as well as make you think. 

Tickets are now on sale at www.ticketsource.co.uk/origins, priced £6.60.

WAKE is being staged on July 1 and 2 as part of Ryde Arts Festival.




End and begin

It's hard to let go of a production, especially one as engaging as Warzone proved to be.

It was a great experience for us to work with, and learn from, a cast made up entirely of students from the Isle of Wight, and the audience reaction was brilliant. Add to that the original music and sound effects provided by Ready Made Theatre and it's quite hard to believe it's all over.

But ... is it?!  We have already had interest from another venue in staging this atmospheric and emotional production, so who knows, we may all be back together again before too long.

So it's not exactly the end.  In any case, just about everyone involved is now moving on to new things.

For us, the attention turns immediately to another production of the hugely successful The Signalman, this time at Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and as a fundraiser for Freshwater Library.

In the meantime, we are at the beginning of the process of bringing yet another new play to the stage. Wake is quirky, decidedly different, and thought provoking, and will receive its premiere as part of Ryde Arts Festival on July 1 and 2.  You can find this as an event on facebook, where full details will be posted. Capacity is limited at this venue (the Depozitory), so early booking is recommended. Email us at info@originstheatre.uk if you'd like to secure a ticket or two now.

Rehearsals start on May 5.

Another new beginning!