Contempt Casting

CONTEMPT CASTING 

Rehearsed Reading Global Queer Plays, Arcola theatre, March 3rd 1pm.

A courtroom drama about the Indian Penal code which effectively criminalises LGBT+ individuals. Taken from a real court case, the play centres on monologues around diverse queer experience in India.
Rehearsal will be minimal, in the week of the show, but with the aim of bringing the script as close to production ready as possible!
Please email tasmine_airey@hotmail.co.ukwith your name, character name and availability for the week of the show. Any videos of your work (a monologue or performance clip) will be most welcome!
All characters are leads. All cast should be of Indian or South Asian descent- much of this play is testimony so we want to represent these stories as closely as possible.
Age and gender suggestions are scripted suggestions ONLY and casting will be gender blind and open to all, so apply for whoever you feel most comfortable playing! This is an LGBT+ play with adult themes.

Judge 1 and Judge 2- two older Indian males


Lawyer- younger Indian male

 

Witness 1- younger Indian woman


Witness 2- younger Indian woman


Witness 3- transgender Indian woman (male to female)


Witness 4- younger Indian male

 

Looking forward to hearing from you all!!

55 Shades of Gay- Casting

55 SHADES OF GAY

Rehearsed Reading Global Queer Plays, Arcola theatre, March 3rd 1pm.
This is a fantastic black comedy about the topic of gay marriage in a small town, originating in Cossovo. Highlights include a talking typewriter, a condom factory and a grenade launcher.
Rehearsal will be minimal, in the week of the show, but with the aim of bringing the script as close to production ready as possible!
Please email tasmine_airey@hotmail.co.uk with your name, character name and availability for the week of the show. Any videos of your work (a monologue or performance clip) will be most welcome!


All characters should be of International descent- we are looking to represent the universality and breadth of queer experience.  Despite the character names- all characters have a breadth of text to cover, there are no small roles!


Age and gender suggestions are scripted suggestions ONLY and casting will be gender blind and open to all, so apply for whoever you feel most comfortable playing! This is an LGBT+ play with adult themes.


Adriano- younger Italian man (other nationalities welcome to apply!)


Tree- Any gender.


Hikimete/grenade launcher- woman of international descent


Mayor- man of international descent


Merlin- younger man of international descent


EU Commisioner- Any gender, comedy role


Typewriter- my favourite role in this play, the legendary talking typewriter, any gender.


Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Jealousy in the Arts

Everybody's felt it at some point, whether we like to admit it or not. That old drama school friend who's just landed their big break, an ongoing mental rivalry with that actress who's at ALL your auditions and keeps 'stealing your parts', every actor has at some point felt that overwhelming pit-of-the-stomach feeling that they're being overlooked as they applaud through gritted teeth.

 

But it really doesn't have to be that way. Surely we're all being judged enough, without judging each other as well? The first thing that many young actors will hear about this job is that its 'competitive', but what they neglect to tell you, is that you're not competing with other actors, your competing with yourself.

 

With over half of actors living under the poverty line, as jobs become scarce and funding is cut, it's easy to start seeing your fellow actors as competitors, rather than colleagues. But that mindset doesn't improve anything for anyone, and it certainly doesn't get you work; it makes you bitter, desperate and isolated. Let's face it, if you're an actor for any other reason than the love of it, you probably should have picked something else, and if you're making yourself miserable, then what's the point?

 

Ruminating and gossiping isn't going to make you a better actor or win you a better role, but supporting each other is. Spend your time 'between jobs' celebrating and championing each other's productions; recommending and promoting each other's work; recommending books, speeches, plays; connecting with people you admire; learning from each other ; making work together just for the joy of it. There is nothing better for your career than knowing your industry and loving your work. The best way to be in the right place at the right time is to be in as many places as possible, so if you feel the green monster peering over your shoulder, tell them you already have plans.

REVIEW: Cherry, theSpace @ Venue 45, Edinburgh Fringe

Cherry is a verbatim piece revolving around the concept of Virginity and the cultural and social issues surrounding its value. Exploring the concept through verbatim monologues, Loose Cannon Theatre compiles the real stories of over 100 anonymous sources in order to question what ‘virginity’ means to us.

A monologic format can often lead to a repetitive purgatory of meaningless words, but for Cherry, the inventive, varied and well-executed theatricalisation of these stories managed to hold our attention for the entirety of the one-hour run time. This variety is key to the success of the piece, providing a huge frame of reference for a cultural survey of virginity; stories of good and bad first-times, virginity trading online, those that remain virgins and the stigma and gossip surrounding those that ‘lost it’ too young. However, because of this inundation of material, the piece lacks the veneer of memorability, providing such a huge quantity of stories and voices that the audience are left a little flooded. The acting is subtle, sometimes getting lost in the more exciting stylised physical performances, and with the huge variety of characters represented, the piece lacks a prominent through-line or character to invest in. Despite this, real moments of beauty manage to push through the ensemble work.

The set is minimal, with a bed in the middle of the stage and a shadow screen lining the back wall, but the business of the ensemble work enacting the stories fills the stage with constant stimulation and allows the quieter, more subtle moments, the time and authenticity they deserve.

For a devised verbatim piece, the script is largely well-structured, grouping together comparative experiences and providing a general structure, though this could be better developed to provide a well-developed and streamlined narrative to guide us through the complex range of language and action portrayed in the stories.

This piece is not only fascinating and entertaining, but of social import, and the cost of it’s varied representations is it’s somewhat inundate use of material. Cherry delves into the world of sexual experience and inexperience with sensibility and comedy, both educating and challenging it’s audience on their own preconceptions, as well as tackling larger political issues of sexual education and consent.

REVIEW: Mission Abort, Gilded Balloon @ Rose Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

With one in three women having had an abortion in their lifetime, and 95% claiming they don’t regret it, Mission Abort, certainly has a relevant audience.  The subject matter was tackled with comedy and ease, but a raw pain seemed to underly the piece, particularly in the sung sections, that left the message somewhat confused.

The narrative follows the story of one women’sjourney through conception, pregnancy and termination, giving a fascinating personal insight into an issue largely discussed and distanced as a political, rather than personal, debate. The script was snappy and full of wit, exploring the full context and consequences of the decision with humour, without dismissing the seriousness of the subject. Direct address and audience participation are used throughout, jarring the audience into an uncomfortable one-sided discussion in which they are brought into the story as silent figures. Audience participation is always a double edged sword, risking the alienation of your audience through insistence and pressure. Due to this use of audience, I would have liked to have seen discussion opened, perhaps through the use of a site-specific space or post-show debrief, to truly allow the audience to voice their own opinions and beliefs, rather than begrudgingly serving the narrative out of a mixture of guilt and embarrassment.

Following on from this, as the piece continued, the presentation seemed increasingly gratuitous, with the introduction of singing. Though the performer’s voice was beautiful, the repetition of this device started to feel a little unnecessary and over-used, and would have been better utilised to pinpoint one particularly dramatic moment.

Despite this downfall, Mission Abort is a funny and interesting piece, deconstructing the more human side of the abortion debate, the feelings surrounding abortion and the larger effects of it’s social derision. For me, the piece needed to be cut to a shorter length, keeping only the most necessary sections, and opened to the audience at the end, but it absolutely must be commended for the importance of it's subject matter and of it’s message.

 

REVIEW: Edgar and Me, ZOO @ Southside, Edinburgh Fringe


Edgar and Me is a piece focusing on a relationship between a pair of unlikely pen-pals; Charlotte, a young British woman, and Edgar, an American death row inmate. A beautiful narrative concept is clearly underlying this piece, exposing the common humanity of two people who seem so disparate, however, the theatricality of the piece in its current state is underdeveloped, and requires more texture in order to encourage an investment in the characters and their journeys.

A one woman show, lasting almost an hour, the piece leads us through the correspondence between Edgar and Charlotte, stopping along the way to give further insight into their relationship. The use of Edgar’s letters as a method of introduction and explanation is an interesting narrative device, but the profundity of language, without dramatisation, started to lose meaning through it’s repetition.

The most fascinating moments of the piece come with the more interactive and meta-theatrical elements; a box of polaroids are passed around the theatre, pictures of Edgar and his artwork. To hold these snapshots in your hands, as an audience member, truly brings the story to life, bring the revelation that this is a real person, and a real story, being discussed, in development I would hope that this element be further utilised to demonstrate the important message of the story; the common humanity, and need for connection, that we all crave.


The passion of the performer allowed for scattered moments of authenticity, but the psychology of the relationship, other than its practicalities, are largely overlooked. This piece is a starting point for a truly brilliant deconstruction, but at present lacks the boldness to pull apart the complexities of the relationship, requiring both distance and intimacy between its participants, which are necessary and unavoidable in its continuance.

 

REVIEW: Twenty-Something, Greenside @ Infirmary Street, Edinburgh Fringe, 4 Stars

Twenty Something utilises the charm of sketch comedy to reach into the depths of high drama. A two-handed performance, the acting is truly mesmerising, and the writing perfectly mimics the speech patterns of Generation Y, in all its randomness and complexity.

 

 

The story follows a brother and sister, Noah and Maisy played by Lynton Appleton and Nancy Hall respectively, as they come to terms with the deterioration of their mothers mental health. However, unlike many dramas that delve straight into the dramatic twists and turns of a narrative with a sadistic glee, this is not a show about dementia; it is a show about people. The piece focuses on the relationships between brother and sister, mother and daughter/son, prioritising the setting up of a relational context, rather than focusing on gratuitous dramatic moments. This comedic focus of the piece contrasts beautifully with the darker moments peppered throughout, though in my opinion, the narrative occasionally gets a little lost or tangential; I would love to see this structure developed a little more.


Set is minimal, and we are largely transported between memories and current events through props and technical cues. These disruptions to the main narrative explore the development of the relationship between Maisy and Noah; growing up, supporting each other, strengthening ties; giving the current events of the narrative a contextual backstory, as well as allowing the audience to feel connected and protective of the characters.

Overall, Twenty Something is a beautiful and hilarious piece of tragicomic theatre, executed perfectly and acted brilliantly. It tackles a difficult subject with charm and subtlety, and is a definite must-see for anyone interested in either new-writing or mental health issues.

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REVIEW; WAGGO, dir. by Elizabeth Manwaring and Hugo Aguirre, theSpace @ Venue 45, Edinburgh Fringe

WAGGO, at its crux, is a show about cheese. A meta theatrical social commentary on coming-of-age dramas, the show manages to wrangle both pure entertainment and a sardonic deconstruction of teen dramas into its forty five minute run time.

 

A pregnant bleep-test athlete, a cat-loving pensioner who's swapped into her nieces body, a geeky sidelined hat fanatic, a slutty white-girl prom queen and an artistic ball of gothic teen angst who is secretly the Loch Ness monster collide to form the Brunch Bunch. The story of WAGGO revolves around a group of teenagers in Saturday detention at High School High (sound familiar?) but it is the approach and theatricalisation of this narrative, rather than the story itself, that brings this show to life. Full of ad-libs and cultural references, the cast recreate teen-movie stereotypes with a tongue-in-cheek commitment that leaves the audience in fits of laughter. Performances are brilliantly funny, and the precision of comic timing, as well as the cast's easy  to improv around demonstrates an incredible mastery of the material.

 

The script is snappy and pacey, inundated with lightning wit and cultural call-backs. For a piece devised by a cast and crew of seven, with no original script and 3 months of creative exploration, WAGGO is streamlined and detailed, managing to be bother crazy and messy whilst polished and slick.

 

Set is basic, just a few chairs and a meta theatrical prop box, with all atmosphere and flashback scenes constructed purely through technical cues and the creativity of the cast.

 

A true ensemble comedy, WAGGO demonstrates creative flair at its best. Take your mother, your niece, your best friend or a work acquaintance, and I guarantee they will enjoy it. In a world that often feels like it's    tearing itself apart, WAGGO brings an escape into nostalgia and goofball comedy that reminds us all of our time as teenage dirtbags and encourages us to take ourselves just that little bit less seriously.

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REVIEW: The Ferryman, dir. by Sam Mendes, Gielgud Theatre

 

 

Despite my very Irish family, I'm ashamed to say there is very little I know about the Irish 'troubles'; an issue I worried might somewhat cloud my enjoyment of Jez Butterworth's newest offering to British theatre, The Ferryman. Transferring from the Royal Court, this piece is everything that new writing should be. Witty, brave, accessible and daring, Butterworth and Mendes have created a modern classic, a heart wrenching microcosm of Ireland in the early 1980s, charting the effects of the wider political landscape on a large Irish family, the Carneys, during an August harvest.

 

Laura Donnelly returns to the West End as Caitlin Carney, a woman stuck between the loss of widowhood and the seduction of the impossible. Her performance demonstrates the flexibility of her practice and her complete dedication to character, playing the role with an easy rhythm that lends her the quality of a slightly alcoholic girl-next-door. Accents were prone to a little distracting slippage, as to be expected for a play set so specifically in rural Northern Ireland, but generally found their stride by the second act. Particular note must go to Paddy Considine (Quin Carney), Dearblha Molloy (Aunt Pat) and Brid Brennan (Aunt Maggie Far Away) for truly stand-out delectable performances that left the auditorium in silence, desperate not to interrupt the fascinating reality that had seemingly manifested before us.

 

Working with both children and animals, the naturalistic feel of the Ferryman gives one the feel of watching a celebrated stand-up comic; never sure what is to follow, but trusting that instinct and skill will prevail. The more mythical qualities of Butterworth's text lent itself beautifully to this heavily realist production design, suspended somewhere between politics and myth, truth and fable The Ferryman thrives as a modern Irish folk tale in the heart of London's West-End.

REVIEW: The Tempest, dir. by Ray Malone, The Rose Playhouse

Lets be clear, I love Shakespeare, but I HATE The Tempest.

Almost every production I have ever seen has struggled enormously. The more complex and flawed aspects of the plot are often left drowned in the language, masked desperately by copious amounts of glittery special-effects. A partnership as unstable and demanding as the DUP-Tory coalition, Shakespeare's most 'magical' play serves to either make or break the companies that bravely tackle it; for SeaChange Theatre, the result is fantastically the former.

Sue Frumin's adaptation in combination with Ray Malone's direction metamorphoses some of the most difficult aspects of the narrative (the man/fish speech and the Sycorax explanation in particular) into the most beautiful. Through dramatizing Sycorax's trapping of Ariel in the bark, the audience are able to understand the crucial relationship between Prospero, magnetically played by Marianne Hyatt, and her spirit Ariel- a nuance which, when lost, undermines the narrative entirely.

The production queers the narrative beautifully, aiming not to mimic traditional theatre, but to challenge and redraw its boundaries, proving an accessible and fascinating experience; this becomes particularly notable in the comic moments, performed masterfully by Gerry Bell and Vix Dillon, who own the stage, turning some of Shakespeare's more rambling and inaccessible moments into gold-dust physical comedy, leaving the audience in fits of laughter.

The intimacy of the space allows an incredible connection with the actresses, particularly in moments of direct address, in this way, we are treated to complete immersion in the cryptic natural world of the island. Special note must go to Rosie Jones, who's physicalisation of Caliban is entrancingly complex and human, providing a further layer to a character often designated as simply the 'monster'.

Do see this gem of Queer fringe theatre if you get the chance, a retelling that goes beyond the antiquated serfdom to 'traditional' performance that the Globe's board of directors seems to be so fond of, to instead find new relevance in an often challenging and misunderstood text.

Check out SeaChange's productions and info here!

How to survive Press Night

Over the last year, I've been reviewing theatre for several publications. As an actress, reviewing other actors, whilst I must admit my focus can often stray to a mix of 'Christ their impressive' and 'I should've played that role', somewhere along the way, in chatting to swathes of press and industry, i've picked up a couple of tips and tricks from the other side of the comp ticket.

1) Press are your friend
EVERYONE who turns up to your press night wants to see something incredible. We want your show to be the best thing we've ever seen, we want to have a brilliant evening, we want to laugh and cry with you, and when we take our seats that is all still a possibility. A bad review is much harder to write than a good one, requiring us to be much more witty to make up for the tone-draining negativity, so unless we have some long-running personal feud with you, we are genuinely rooting for you, I promise.

2) First impressions absolutely count.
Set. Guest List. Front of House. Programme. Programme Notes. Drink Comps.
Many of us start writing the blanket details of our review/opening words when we're sitting in the bar, checking the programme and waiting for the show to start. Put us in a good mood. And so...

3) Consider your pre-show and set, make sure it speaks to what is to follow.
This is the first thing we're mentally reviewing, so this is SO important. If we're sat staring at an am-dram peeling paint cardboard set for twenty minutes, it's going to effect how we read what follows. Equally, if we're staring at an incredible big budget pre-show, if what follows is sub-par, it's going to look even worse.

4) Don't bother with nerves, embarassment, insecurity.
The stakes are not that high, mistakes are expected and certainly won't be the sole cause of a bad review. However, if you're embarassed or nervous about what you're doing, generally speaking, we can see it. In too many professional production to mention, I've seen actors under-commit to their role, making facial comments on failed jokes, or just generally underplaying things in order to save the embarassment of fully committing. GIVE IT EVERYTHING, EVEN IF YOU THINK ITS AWFUL. If you're that uncomfortable with what you have to do, it should have been discussed with your director far before this point, but discuss it with them ASAP. If it really IS that bad, at least by playing it to its full extend you're doing your job, and its not your fault, its your directors. If you give a underplayed i-dont-care-i'm-not-doing-that performance, particularly in comedy, it is most definitely YOUR fault, and people will give you full credit for that mistake.

5) Stick around for a chat
Reviews are based on a full experience, if a member of cast, director, whatever is there to explain why certain things went a certain way or what you were trying to get at with a particular risky choice, we're more likely to understand where your performance was coming from and it may even change the way we see the performance, putting it in a better light. The biggest complaint is generally a lack of clarity, just a five minute chat can remedy that, and might just help us both out.

6) Don't take it seriously
A bad review can hurt like hell, I still have lines memorized from some of my most cringe-worthy moments. But, ultimately, remember it is an opinion. Often, with a good reviewer, actors will know if and why they've got a bad review, even before reading it. But, ultimately, the key is not to overthink- whether the review is good or bad- your job is to listen to your director and carry on as if Press Night had never happened.

Check out my review for Holy Crap for The Spy in The Stalls at http://thespyinthestalls.com/2017/06/holy-crap-2/


 

REVIEW: Teeth 'n' Smiles, dir. by James Thacker, Stockwell Playhouse

‘Teeth ‘n’ Smiles’, written by David Hare, is one of those plays with the potential to go very wrong or very right. For James Thacker’s cast at The Stockwell Playhouse, the case is certainly the latter. Over the course of 135 minutes, the cast expertly lead us through the ups and downs of a failing rock band, led flailingly by the raucous and rather damaged Maggie, played sensitively by Molly Ward, playing their final show at a ball for Cambridge University.

The musical talents of the cast allow the piece to slide seamlessly between gig and naturalist drama, firmly placing the characters in the context of their Punk values- shifted from the ‘acid dream’ 1960s of the original production, Thackers adaptation positions the piece firmly within 70s Punk, a change which firmly posits the piece in dialogue with a more modern context of binge-drinking and rave culture.

The plot centres largely around a love triangle between lead-singer Maggie (Molly Ward), her ex-boyfriend and song writer Arthur (Matt Jopling) and Maggie’s long-suffering best friend, Laura (Elle Banstead-Salim). The tension between Ward and Jopling is played subtly, but exquisitely, with all the beauty of a first love you can’t quite relinquish, whilst Banstead-Salim brings a heart-wrenching performance as the desperately overshadowed Laura who can’t quite compete with their history. Within the band, which runs the risk of blurring into a shapeless mass, each character is clearly defined in relation to the others, with particular note going to Andrew Bryant (Peyote) and Michael David (Inch) who steal the show with incredibly engaging performances. Playing the flustered and isolated medical student Anson, Alex Britt performs with sparkling sincerity, leaving the comedy of the text to speak for itself and demonstrating a beautifully developed instinct for physical comedy and timing.

I wait with bated breath for their next production, and heartily recommend a visit to Stockwell Playhouse for a production that brings its audience screeching through the piece with the mix of laughter and fatality that accompanies the most exhilarating acid trip.

Tickets and Info Available here

Answers from a Feminist

'Oh god, are you one of those man-hating feminist bitches?'

Most women with a career have faced this question at some point, I get it quite often in its various forms. Whether it's a taxi-driver spending 40 minutes telling me how I better hurry up and have children before I get too old, or a man at Starbucks refusing to let me hold the door open for him, the social role I am expected to fulfill has been made startlingly clear, and any attempt to shirk this has been met with raised eyebrows.

So what does being a feminist mean?

I thought i'd compile a list of answers to some of the questions that've been thrown at me over the years.

1) No, I don't hate men. They are people and judged as such, rather than on the binary qualities of their genitalia.

2) I don't know if I want a family. But, for now, I do know my career comes first. This doesn't mean they're incompatible, I believe I could be both a great mother and a great actress at the same time (I know, the epitome of multi-tasking), but for now, I'm not really fancying it.

3) Marriage is a possibility, again, if/when I feel like it, but no, I won't be taking my partner's last name because I am not his property. Also, anyone that comes out of my vagina will be taking MY last name; I think it's only fair for the undue pain and money they will cost me.

4) My ideas around 'chivalry' and 'romance' are not tied inextricably to gender or sex. I'm bisexual, so the idea that a man has to open a door/pay the cheque is not only outdated but impractical. I don't need a knight in shining armour, I need a supportive and loving partner who values themselves and our life together.

5) Female objectification is NOT okay, but neither is male objectification. Nobody should be defined solely by the way they look, we all have more value than that.

Feminism is about equality between the sexes, not about one sex taking priority over the other. I don't believe myself to be any better than anyone else, but I do try to recognize and account for the privileges inherent in being a white queer feminist. In a world that is slowly being torn apart by right-wing nationalists, it's important that we stand up and speak out, not just on our own behalf, but on behalf of all those we believe we can help. For me, being a feminist is not about aggression or social destruction, but empowerment.

Check out my article for 52 feminists here!

Mental Health in Industry

So what's the point of Mental Health Awareness Week?

Over the last week my inbox has been inundated with requests for contributions for posts and articles promoting Mental Health Awareness, so I felt it was necessary to make my own.

Mental Health Awareness is a subject very close to my heart. The 'invisible' illness has received a varying critique in the media over the last few years, but I can certainly say from a personal perspective that mental health is still often overlooked or demonized in the industry. Mental Health issues are often, unfairly, aligned with unreliability, and remain unquestioned or unaddressed on application forms, meaning that many of the jobs I've been a part of, agents I've had, people i've worked with, would have been completely unaware of my mental health status without my overt communication.

So the question revolves around responsibility-

Should people with mental health issues need to awkwardly find a good time to drop in their various concerns or triggers? Who needs to know? Just the manager/director or the entire cast and crew? What qualifies as a 'good time'?

OR

With 1 in 4 people suffering from a mental health issues, could this awkwardness/pain/anxiety be saved by integrating it as part of the hiring process? Surely Mental Health is an important part of Health and Safety checks?

In my opinion, Mental Health, as something that could be considered a disability,

I'm certainly not damning all the companies/agents/directors i've ever worked for, a fair many of them asked, and a few included Mental Health as a part of their health and safety checks (Collins Collaboration Productions here's looking at you!) , but I do think this is something we should be addressing more widely to encourage diversity within our industry.

Stress can often be a trigger for someones illness, causing anxiety/panic attacks etc, are we really asking those people to just figure out a way to address their mental health issues and needs in front of an entire rehearsal room?

It's something to be considered.

Check out my contribution to Damien Killeen's article on Mental Health Awareness Week in the Queer community, 'What would you say to your Teenage Self?'.